What can muffins teach us about marketing

Muffins are simple but delicious and elegant crowd pleasing treats. While I enjoy them as an occasional morning treat, I must admit that I did not see how muffins could add any additional value to my life. My attitude about muffins changed recently upon a discovery of a simple but delightful analogy by Alan Webber* in his book Rules of Thumb (I highly recommend it). Here it is:

After I left HBR to start Fast Company, I used to say that HBR was a bran muffin: it was good for you, but it was awfully hard to swallow. Fast Company was designed  to be a blueberry muffin. Our act was to be graphically fun and visually playful, to make our articles fast-paced and our language colorful. We wanted our readers to get a serious  business education without really knowing it. We called our act “edu-tainment.”
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My 2¢: Understanding something unfamiliar often starts with a good analogy. Do you want your venture to be perceived as bran muffin, or a blueberry muffin? I am not telling you what to do. I am telling you to decide. A subtle but an important difference.

*Alan Webber has a truly impressive track record. A few highlights: he cofounded Fast Company after spending six years as the managing editor/editorial director of the Harvard Business Review (HBR).