Image: Dreamstime, edited

Creative Matters: Surprise, Surprise!

Innovative Brand Marketing Done Right. Here’s A Secret

As a branding and digital marketing firm, we are advocates for design that looks different and stands out. After all, if you want outstanding, you better stand out, too. But there is always a fine balance between looking innovative and being perceived as unproven. It’s also a reason why entrepreneurs often shy away from innovative design. A bold trailblazer plowing through uncharted territory sure finds admiration for his actions, while a confused guy who drives on the wrong side of the freeway rather gets into big trouble for doing things differently.

The magic buzz word of the past 10 years has been and still is disrupt. Introduced by Clay Christensen in 1995, Disruptive Innovation* has created a global buzz. Disruption as a strategy is used in design briefs as the ultimate Open Sesame to enter new markets: Simply shake up established structures and processes — and you’re in. Boom. Present a new product or service and customers will come running. Disrupt = Success. Still, the equation does not add up. One key feature is missing. Blowing an air horn during a piano concerto will certainly get people’s attention. However, it’s very unlikely that the security guards will find much love for this kind of disruption — and neither the audience who wanted to hear Beethoven.

The same applies to business concepts. Art Peck, the CEO of GAP Inc. brings it to the point:

“Periods of disruption are periods of disproportionate opportunity. More money is made during disruptive times — but is also lost — than is made during times of stability.”

And that’s the key issue here. Disrupting things is only part of the equation. What’s missing is the piece that connects the new and the old. Disrupting things is ok, even necessary in order to break up old structures and to innovate, but it needs to be in tandem with a connecting element. It needs the context of a familiar environment or function. After all, we’re creatures of habit, and we usually trust only what we know and what we are familiar with. It’s a fine balance of Connect and Disrupt that allows a challenger to enter the picture.

Having developed over 300 brands, we at Marc Posch Design have created a solid formula to merge those two important factors that are essential for building outstanding and memorable brand identities:

Impactful brand marketing is always a combination of roughly 80% information and 30% surprise

It’s 80% that represent a trusted image, an anchor, a value people can relate to, but the 30% portion is what disrupts, what makes a design seductive and triggers curiosity. It’s the winning combination and the right balance of Connect and Disrupt that helps ideas become powerful brands.

It’s those magic 30% that provides the authenticity we always strive for.

The new super-brands often have an element of surprise built into their visual representation: One example here is a logo we all know and treasure, the iconic apple from Cuppertino. Does it pop up in your head? Of course! See, how powerful it is. Now, just imagine the logo without the bite; it would be just a fruit. Dull and average. The bite is what makes it one of the most recognizable company logos in the world today, a simple but brilliant detail. And — on a subconscious level — it also reminds of Apple’s success strategy: Think Different.

Amazon has it’s swoosh that connects the A and the Z (From A to Z!), Gillette features a razor cut, while FedEx has a white arrow built into their famous logo. Look carefully and you will find this quite often among the most powerful brands. Surprise is what makes a brand interesting. Backed up by a compelling brand story and applied as a representation thereof it sends a strong and memorable message.

“A brand that looks innovative but won’t connect with its audience is like a Chinese paper lantern that goes up in flames instead of shining in the dark. And a product that’s presented to an audience without being innovative is just a commodity.”– Marc Posch

But Surprise doesn’t end here

Surprise also happens when a customer experiences excellent customer service, or a hotel guest finds a piece of chocolate on the pillow. Surprise is the unexpected detail that tells I care about you, it’s that extra mile. In order to become a beloved brand, it is important to uncover a memorable experience that goes beyond typical expectations: a simple hand-written Thank You note sometimes has more impact than a glossy company brochure.

This is when a carefully implemented and persistent Disrupt/Connect tactic creates loyal followers. And having loyal followers as brand ambassadors is something no campaign and no amount of money can buy. It’s what creates global mega brands.

PS. Before you do the math and send me a note that 80 + 30 doesn’t add up, think again. It does add up — to 110%. Isn’t that what we should all aim for? Cheers.

(*Disruptive innovation, a term of art coined by Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.–

Marc Posch Design, Los Angeles. Branding and Digital Marketing. A team of creatives, thinkers and developers. We are known for helping emerging tech and manufacturing companies to disrupt, stand out and grow. With our experience, deep industry expertise and all the collaborators to make it happen, we inspire success.

To find out more about what we can do for your business call 213.341.1642. Or visit Thank you.

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