The Theory of Negativity for marketing is like the law of attraction plus reverse psychology. It’s where a company’s brand, company name, logo, tagline, imagery, and advertising are as much about what is left out as what is actually said. It could be a company name that has nothing to do with what the company sells, like Caterpillar. It could even be the opposite of what the company represents, like Virgin or Slack. Apple’s logo has a bite taken out of it, which represents evil as well as being less than pristine, used up, or trash. Theory of Negativity messaging should say the opposite of what’s expected. It gets people to pay attention, to wake up and shout, “Say what?!?”
However, the messaging itself should be positive. Negative messaging might get people to agree with you (“Climate change is destroying the planet,” “Trump is a bigoted liar,” or even something as innocuous as “Are you tired from a long day at work?”), but it won’t get people to buy from you. No one wants to feel that way, and when you trigger these feelings, people begin to associate the negative feelings with your brand and products. Thus, our messaging should avoid focusing on pain points, fear, and other negative emotions.
We do far better when we sell aspiration, love, and other positive emotions instead (“Nature is so beautiful,” “More people are becoming woke every day,” and “Wouldn’t you like to feel refreshed and energized?”). Dreaming feels good. That’s an easy but valuable gift we can give to people.
We’re all bombarded with so much negative every day. We should let our positive messaging be part of our Theory of Negativity brand.