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Don't Just Think Different, Do Different

Aside from the sheer marvelousness of its execution, “Think different” still stands as a model of a brand connecting at a deep, powerful, and personal level with its audience. It has also become a mantra for marketers who want to separate their brands from competitors.

Trouble is, too often marketers never get past the thinking to actually doing something different.

Time and again, you hear the cry for differentiation. A differentiated product. A differentiated value proposition. A differentiated brand experience. Clearly we’re thinking about different. Yet too much advertising remains clichéd, watered down, diluted by marketing committees who say they want to stand out, but feel safer fitting in.

“There are a million reasons why there are so many clichés, but it boils down to this: It’s easier to say no than it is to say yes,” says Reuben Webb, my new creative partner here at Stein IAS. (Didn’t you hear the news about our new agency?)

Reuben and I have made it our personal mission to stamp out “tatty old clichés” in marketing. In fact, Reuben wrote a book on the subject.  

Reuben comments, “Saying no to a bold idea carries no risk. Yes means commitment to something that will definitely get noticed. But will it be liked?”

If you’ve done your due diligence and know your audiences, then you should have confidence that it will be well-received–and you should have faith that a good idea will deliver results. Because it will deliver, and far better than a safe, accepted, settled work. 

Case in point: We recently launched a campaign with Human Capital Management giant ADP on the topic of U.S. health care reform. In doing our due diligence and speaking with ADP’s target audiences, we learned that they see health care reform as an incomprehensible mess. So, among the campaigns we developed was a concept that reflects what HR and finance leaders see–totally jumbled headlines that portray the noise and confusion around health care reform.

The campaign looked and felt very different from anything in the market and from the advertising ADP has traditionally done. It’s bolder and cheekier, but still deeply rooted in the wants/needs, sensibilities, and worldview of ADP’s customers and prospects. The team saw the ad, got a tingle, and green lit the campaign.

The results? Off the charts. Incredible response to ads in every channel–response that’s not just compelling clicks and ringing phones, but creating big business opportunities. It’s a testament to what happens when you not only think different, but do different.

In conclusion, a shameless plug: Reuben and I will be speaking at the Business Markesting Association International Conference the end of this month on the very topic of killing clichés in B2B marketing and advertising. If you’re attending the conference, then join us for what promises to be a highly entertaining session.