In mathematics, the lowest common denominator (LCD) is described as “the lowest common multiple of the denominators of several fractions.” In advertising, using the lowest common denominator means appealing to the broadest possible consumer base for a particular company or product. The methodology behind the LCD principle is pretty clear: the larger your net, the more fish you are likely to catch. However, appealing to the lowest common denominator comes with one major problem: so is everybody else. In advertising today, that is the most cardinal sin you can commit.

Advertising is about connection

While you do want to get your message out to as many people as possible, the other key goal that advertising strives for is individual connection. If people feel like your organization’s message is speaking directly to them, then you’ve already won their hearts. An appeal to the lowest common denominator does nothing to build this connection, because it makes it so difficult to reach a personal attachment to something that strives away from the very things that make it unique.

People don’t like a corporate palette

While there may be some industries that will benefit from having a corporatized image that strives to be impersonal, this isn’t true for pretty much any consumer-facing business. People want to feel like a business is making a personal appeal to them as individuals. LCD marketing almost always feels fake and manufactured, because the very nature of LCD marketing is that it is lab-built by test groups and meant to appeal to the greatest number of people without actually making real connections (and thusly, leads).

The internet is built for specifics

In terms of internet marketing, the very structure of search engines and the way that people interact with the internet is built to cater to specifics. The advanced algorithms used by Google and other search engines are getting better and better at matching people up to specific content and products that directly cater to their interests. In this way, making meaningful connections with fewer potential clients is going to be far more valuable than reaching out to a wide array of people that actually don’t match well with your business, which is the side effect of LCD marketing.

While there is definitely a place for universality, don’t lose yourself to the worst possible thing that a consumer-facing business can be: boring. LCD marketing is a strategy that undermines longer-term growth by assuming that we are all the same, rather than by recognizing that we are more united by what makes us individuals.