June 26, 2011

Get your brand to the intersection of S and D

A young marketer asked for help on a LinkedIn discussion board: what advice would we give him as he started his career?

Our reply, in three words: Never Accept Ordinary.

Good advice, sure, but perhaps ordinary. So, let’s expand on it a little. Great brand connections often begin at the intersection of Surprise and Delight. Never settling for the normal/functional/expected/ordinary is a power-packed way to put your brand smack dab at that not-often-visited crossroads.

Print ads for Apple Computers in the 1970s often had an irreverent comment in the footnote, about what-the-lawyers-made-us-say. The legal disclaimer got the disclaiming done, functionally, but with the unexpected addition of S and D that spoke to a whole generation. Yes, many ads do that today, so it’s no longer surprising, but in its day it was a seductive breakthrough.

While most business careers don’t fit the job description airline pilots use (“hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror”), all of us encounter many apparently mundane duties and communications that cry out for ordinariness (“It’s just the assembly instructions” “It’s just the neck label” “It’s just a routine request” “It’s just a PowerPoint slide”). Resist those siren calls. Drive your brand to the intersection of S and D.