Rory Sutherland makes the distinction between ‘satisficing’ and ‘maximising’ brands.
Satisficing brands are safe choices that get the job done and are ‘good enough’. Maximisers are more expensive, and therefore more risky, but promise a much more special experience.
Patek Philippe is a maximiser, while Swatch is a satisficer.
As freelancers, we can often help our clients – and ourselves – by being satisficers. But instead, we push ourselves to be maximisers by honing and polishing our personal brands. Looking for a way to stand out.
The problem is that living and working this way – sometimes, even just thinking this way – can be exhausting.
If you spend too long searching too hard for your competitive advantage, key differentiator or USP, you can end up with a ‘compare and despair’ mentality. You’re forever obsessively benchmarking yourself against your peers – and feeling that you’re coming up short.
But you’re not a brand. You’re just a person.
We can’t all be exceptional, by definition. At least, not all the time.
Yes, we’re all individuals, with unique strengths. But at certain times, for certain clients or on certain projects, what we do is just ‘good enough’. Someone else could probably do it just as well. And that’s fine.
Creativity and originality are important forms of value. But so are reliability, consistency and flexibility. And they all build trust.
Maybe if you just ‘show up’ for this job, the client will come back to you for something more ambitious later on.
Then you can go from satisficing caterpillar to maximising butterfly.