What is an Antifragile Brand? – How to Become an Antifragile Brand

A killer branding strategy that very few founders or marketers know about.

In plain language, antifragility is the opposite of fragility.

If you mess with something fragile, you do damage. If you mess with something antifragile, you make it stronger.

Take golf as an example. The fragile golfer loathes the wind. The antifragile golfer uses it to their advantage.

And it’s the same with brands. The majority of brands are fragile.

Increases in volatility (randomness, stressors, mistakes) are a PR department’s worst nightmare.

Just look at Facebook’s share price in 2018.

But occasionally, just like Lewis Capaldi or the skilled golfer playing in the wind, brands can actually benefit from increases in randomness, stressors or mistakes.

How KFC did it?

Last year KFC ran out of chicken and was forced to temporarily close 700 UK branches.

For the majority of companies, such a monumental fuck up would be a complete disaster.

The default response is to issue a formal apology:

We’re launching a full and frank internal inquiry Bla Bla Bla …

But this is fragile.

It only ever adds fuel to the fire. Fortunately, KFC’s PR team intuitively grasped antifragility.

Instead, they took out a full-page ad in UK newspapers, showing an empty bucket of chicken and the letters of their famous logo rearranged to read “FCK”.

KFC print ad design

People started to see the funny side, and just like that, an impending disaster was spun into a positive PR story.

That’s antifragility.

How to Become Antifragile

The key is ownership. You either own the story, or you let the story own you. And as we’ve seen through this article, the best route to taking ownership is:

  1. Embracing your flaws
  2. Not taking yourself too seriously

For example:

You will never get bullied for having big ears if you walk around with a t-shirt saying, “I’ve got big ears”.

This is Eminem’s rap battle theory: you say everything about yourself before somebody else does.

And then you’re antifragile. Nothing anyone says can hurt you.

If you’d like to learn more about antifragility, the concept was developed by the great Nassim Taleb, and his book, Antifragile, is the place to start.

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