Do we have to pander?

The road to the bottom is paved with good intentions, or at the very least, clever rationalizations.

National Geographic goes into a cable TV partnership and ends up broadcasting shameless (shameful? same thing) reality shows, then justifies it as a way to make money to pay for the good stuff.

Restaurants serve chicken fingers to their guests' kids, because it's the only thing they'll eat.

Some comedians give up their best work in exchange for jokes that everyone will get.

Brands extend their products or dumb down their offerings or slap their brands on inferior substitutes all in the name of reaching the masses.

And that's the problem with the shortcut. You trade in your reputation (another word for brand) in exchange for a short-term boost of awareness or profit, but then you have neither. Yes, you can have a blog that follows every rule of blogging and seo, but no, it won't be a blog we'll miss if it's gone.

Should Harley Davidson make a scooter?

Yes, you can pander, and if you're a public company and have promised an infinite growth curve, you may very well have to. But if you want to build a reputation that lasts, if you want to be the voice that some (not all!) in the market seek out, this is nothing but a trap, a test to see if you can resist short-term greed long enough to build something that matters.