Dare to be different
One of my favourite phrases is “zig while everyone else is zagging”. Google is a classic example of this and their dominance in the IT industry is because they dared to be different. At a time when the leading search engines were adding more—more information, more advertising, more entertainment, etc.—Google stripped back all the clutter and presented their service in it’s barest form, the simple search engine.
But it’s not enough just to be different, you have to be strategically and creatively different.
There has to be a reason for your difference that your target audience will like. Google knew that removing all the clutter and focusing everything on the search engine would be a breath of fresh air to internet searchers. They weren’t afraid that the entire search engine model was moving in the opposite direction to theirs. They presented a strategy they thought the audience would love and it worked.
The same methodology applies to branding. In fact, I would go as far to say that good branding depends on giving your target audience a reason to engage with your product or service, and to remember it. If your brand or brand identity is modelled on that of a competitor or other organisation, it is in danger of being confused with theirs.
An example of this is the multitude of businesses I see in Adelaide using either a state map or a national map in their logo. This decision is usually made in order to communicate the region or locality within which the organisation operates. Not only is this an unnecessary message, but it severely diminishes the audiences ability to remember it because it partially resembles all other logos that use the same map. Think about it, how many logos do you recall that use a map? I’ve seen hundreds of them, but only remember two or three at most.
Logos that are creatively unique are much easier to remember because they create their own unique impression or memory in our minds. And it’s not just logos that work best in this way. A book, or website, or item of clothing we want people to remember has to be unique. If it’s not unique in some way, it is much easier to forget. And if it’s absolutely unique and engaging, it’s almost guaranteed to make a long term impression.
Advertising is a great way to achieve goals like increasing market share (especially economic tough times) and increasing sales or profit margins. But it is easy to fall in to the same trap as many other organisations and use advertising to simply promote services and products.
Advertising is expensive and many organisations make the same fundamental error in their advertising communications of failing to distinguish themselves properly from the competition. Organisations that use advertising purely to display their products or services are not enabling the full potential of their advertising budget.
Advertising has the unique ability to communicate layers of meaning through storytelling, revealing not only your product/service, but also the unique qualities that differentiate your brand from others like it. This can have a huge affect on your customers and other stakeholders, significantly increasing their perception of you brand.
The best way to get the most out of your advertising spend is to develop a brief that includes a ‘Single Minded Proposition (SMP)’. The SMP is a core underlying message that distinguishes your product or service from the competition in a single sentence. Once you have a good SMP, creative types like me can develop an idea that targets the right audience and communicates the SMP across a variety of advertising mediums such as print ads, the web, social networks and even TV & radio.
Please feel welcome to contact me with your opinion, comments or questions related to this article.
Founder of Flux Visual Communication