When did 'brave' become a bad word for brands?

Inherently, there is hurt woven into the dictionary definition of brave - 'ready to face and endure danger or pain'.

'Be brave', says Carson Gray Elias (pic credit: Craig Sugden)
'Be brave', says Carson Gray Elias (pic credit: Craig Sugden)

But let us never forget that there is also strength and power in forging ahead into new territory, taking risks, and fighting dragons…

So why are brands so frightened to be brave these days?

In a new dawn of ephemeral media, where content can literally disappear in the blink of an eye, course-corrections have never been easier.

Bad reception? Take it down.

Controversial topics? Disappear.

Scandalous photos? Distance and removal.

These are all far cries from the issues of yesteryear. Retractions were made, but months later in tiny print and addressed to ears no longer listening.

The new era we are in was made for being brave. For taking chances, and realising that nothing is forever.

To be fair, there are some brave movements being made in the beauty space, which is (finally!) challenging traditional industry standards and Barbie constructs.

The fresh embrace of the ‘unique’ – the different, the free – has created a new mentality: an eradication of labels, and the embracement of the offbeat.

L’Oréal has helped to lead this plucky thinking with their brilliant #YoursTruly campaign, featuring its first male in the brand's True Foundation campaign (above).

This shift in perception, whilst targeted primarily at millennials, is also changing the minds of Gen Xers.
This shifting of the zeitgeist is empowering, challenging, compelling, and brave.

For those of us who remember the 'brave' days of Calvin Klein’s heroin-chic Kate, the shaved Gucci logo revealed by an eager tug at pants and Abercrombie & Fitch’s half-clad (sweet smelling) lads welcoming shoppers whilst grinding to techno – these are the advertising stories of legends and icons.

Brave brands gave the middle finger to the industry while going into uncharted territory.

The point of this list isn’t to taunt censors but to provoke thought, in action and spirit.

There is a brave new world out there for whoever wants to seize, shape and own it.

But let us all hope, chant and pray that 2017 is the dawn of FKA Twigs, and the sunset of reality television.

Fresh ingredients are always better than canned. It’s what icons are made of.

Carson Gray Elias is head of No. 82, part of MSLGROUP

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