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Resist the Usual: Why Brands Need Big Ideas

It’s not Easy, but It’s Worth It

Over the years, advertising greats have gifted us with sage pieces of advice that continue to ring true because of their timeless relevance and accuracy. Although simple in nature, making good on these virtues in practice is not. After all, these lessons were learned through decades of wins, losses, and everything that comes along with those experiences. It would be impossible to create such lasting advice without the knowledge gained from realizing what works and what doesn’t. 

“The value of an idea is in inverse ratio to the number of times it has been used… our job is to resist the usual,” declared Raymond Rubicam in a statement to his agency Young & Rubicam about 100 years ago. A statement as penetrating today as it was back then.

Rubicam’s advice is hard to argue against. So why do many brands choose not to follow it?

The reason is that putting out creative that represents a brave, new idea takes guts, hard work and skill—as well as an understanding of our own human nature.

People are creatures of habit. We like doing what feels familiar because it gives us a sense of security. Being “different” can make a lot of us nervous. Blending in with the crowd is comfortable and safe. Unfortunately, repeating what someone else has already done is sometimes inaccurately labeled as “best practices.” 

Will anyone remember you if you choose to blend in with the crowd? When it comes to marketing, blending in will do you much more harm than good.

That’s because another brand is going to come along and break the rules. Stand out. Shake things up—which often leads to gaining attention and market share. 

And then suddenly the choice to give in to the temptation and comfort of the “usual” becomes regrettable. 

Big Ideas are Good Business

For brands, differentiation is rule #1. Once strategic positioning of a brand is established, the best vehicle to make that differentiation happen is a “big idea.”

This is where creativity powers business results. Big ideas are discovered by leveraging the unrivaled creative power of the human imagination. Big ideas solve the business problem of “How do I sell this?” by creating something that people want to be a part of. That’s how brands become successful and stick around. But refining a big idea takes more than imagination alone.

During the creative process, many ideas will come to mind. It takes a skilled and instinctive creative to know which ideas to keep and which to leave behind. Some ideas are exciting, but won’t work because they have a flaw. A flaw that would result in a half-true message, a faulty execution, or some other type of impediment to a sound campaign. And no matter how exciting the idea might be, you’ve got to let it go.

Pursuing a flawed idea will eventually lead you to a dead end, resulting in lost time and lost budget. In my experience, recognizing these flaws early became easier over time. It’s a skill that goes widely unnoticed, but is very valuable to both client and agency in producing an effective campaign on time and on budget.

Equally as important as knowing when to let an idea go is recognizing when you’ve got something good, but not good enough.

Good creatives can come up with an idea that will command attention.

Great creatives know when they’ve come up with a good idea, but also feel in their gut that there’s still a better idea out there that will command even more attention.

And there almost always is.

It’s a good idea to take a step back when finalizing which ideas to execute. Does the idea break free from convention? Does it represent a new voice in the category? Does it differentiate the brand? If so, you’re on the right track. 

Unfortunately, as the quantity of digital ads that we see rises exponentially, the quality of the work is sharply declining. There seems to be no strategic positioning or creativity behind the execution. A lack of thought and effort has largely replaced the dedication to crafting brilliant ads that existed for so many years. Have we accepted taking the easy way out as a best practice because ads are so numerous?

To be fair, the small format of digital ads does present a significant modern creative challenge. On many digital platforms, we generally don’t have the luxury of composing the ad on a widescreen frame or full-page print ad to show off amazing art direction. Nevertheless, if we want the viewer to read it, remember it, or take action, it must compel them in some way. This makes the foundation of a big idea even more important. If space is so restricted that we’re limited to just a tagline, it had better be a good one. One that tells your story in a way that—you guessed it—resists the usual.

Need a Big Idea?

Are you looking for marketing team who knows how to dig deep into your business and deliver a campaign that cuts through the noise? At Liquid, we have an experienced team of strategists, writers, designers, and digital marketers who are eager to learn the ins and outs of your business and collaborate with you to create impactful brand campaigns that resist the usual. Contact us today to learn more!