Afraid to Stand Out?


When we reveal a new marketing strategy to a client something strange happens. There’s an initial cringe factor. Then fear starts to creep in. And eventually they come to terms with the new direction.

They are justifying their own internal fear of standing out.

Almost all successful marketing and brand strategies involve going against the grain. Bucking the conventional—being different—is what it takes to get exceptional results. Whether the strategy is to change to the product, target a different market segment or modify the price, a new direction disrupts the status quo. To stand out you have to stand up, you have to change your position in some way.

Differentiation is an essential step for success as consumers and customers remember things that are unique. This ‘brand recall’ is critical when consumers enter the buying process.

So why don’t more businesses launch these strategies?

While many leaders understand that being different and standing out is good, they can’t bring themselves to pull the trigger. And there in lies the problem. Leaders, like everyone else, have been socially and psychologically conditioned to believe that being different is bad. By adopting the ‘herd’ mentality a leader has a false sense of security, they feel insulated from the big, bad forces of the marketplace but they are not as safe as they may think.

Businesses don’t thrive when their corporate culture fosters this “safety first” mentality and blending in is not an attribute of a successful leader.

In response to this fear, some leaders will begin to “tweak” the differentiation strategy and change it slowly to where they are comfortable. In our industry, we call this Client-led Creative. In my opinion, it’s the reason most campaigns are simply average.

“The only way to avoid criticism is to do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.”
– Aristotle

If you apply this quote to business:

“The best way to waste a good marketing budget is to blend in and stand for everything.”

My advice to clients is to embrace creative discomfort and trust your agency on the creative but with three (3) conditions.

  • It must be aligned to your organization’s core values.
  • It must deepen loyalty with your core target audience.
  • It must never be illegal (even if the idea is amazing).

Be different. Stand out. You will be criticized and not everyone will like your decision, much less be comfortable with what you’re doing, but that is the path to bigger results. Trust me.

Have a great day!
– Braden