Why your brand should stand out, not fit in.

I remember one particular occasion being stuck on the tube at Hammersmith on my way home from work. The hot, sweaty carriage was rammed with standing commuters, students and a few builders.

There was not a single sound made by anyone, apart from the tinny sound from a Japanese kid’s headphones as he sat slumped, transfixed with his forehead pressed against the window.

”You don’t get anything for yer money these days.”

blurted the smallest of the three builders.

”What you on about now?”

asked one of his mates.

”Twenty quid don’t get yer anything anymore…Basically gets yer about a tenners worth.”

”So what’s a tenner worth then?”

replied his mate.

”Bout a fiver…!”

(then a pause for a few moments…)

”What’s a fiver worth then…?”


“Okay…give us a fiver then.”

Came the reply from his other mate.

Most of us laughed, some shook their heads, and one kid sat oblivious to the moment. But it broke the silence, and it has stayed with me since.

The point I’m making is that all too often, it’s easy to just go with the flow. Disappear into the crowd and do as everyone else is doing. It’s safe to stay within your comfort zone and make no effort to change a situation.

The same could be said of a brand – be it new or established. I recently had a meeting with a client that wanted an ad campaign that would ‘blow the socks off their competitors’.

But when the client laid out three images across the boardroom table, indicating the kind of approach their company wanted to progress with, they were similar to their competitors. Immediately noticing this, I dropped our ad concept into the middle of the images.

”I like that…but we normally go for this type of thing.”

he said, pointing to one of the safer images.

”Do you want to stand out or fit in?”

I asked.

”I’ll go back and tell them we’re running your idea.”

He replied.

The client understood the need to push the brand, to go against the flow and the result was a very successful campaign.

Now that’s got to be worth the money.

By Russ Henderson

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