Being first with a good idea is really difficult and may not happen but once in your lifetime, if it happens then. Apple’s iPod, Coca-Cola, WD-40, Dixie Cups, Post-it Notes, Duct Tape, and Google are just a few great ideas that were first to the market.
What is perception?
Most people don’t know the name of the man credited with the more practical and successful inventions than any other American. He sold most of his inventions for relatively small amounts of money compared to the returns realized by the people who bought them. Why did he sell? He seemed to lose interest once the device was invented and he always wanted a quick return. He lacked the power of conviction and did not have faith in his ideas? What was his perception?
Walter Hunt born in 1796 in Martinsburg in upstate New York. Industrial historians consider Walter Hunt to be America’s “First Genius” yet he died in 1859 relatively unknown and some say in poverty. His son did manage to sell some of his patients but was not able to create any lasting memory of his father.
My uncle, a research chemist, shared a book with me recently called Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein – Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe. Author Mario Livio chronicles the mistakes made by some of the most brilliant scientists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Livio’s mission is to show that making mistakes is essential to progress in science as people struggle to figure out the unknown. And each of the mistakes he highlights laid the groundwork for later essential discoveries from the structure of DNA to advances in astrophysics. Reading the book led me to reflect on the importance of mistakes to learning and succeeding in our lives.
What is perception?
We come to problems with our perception because that is what we have. It is only natural. However, it won't be easy because perceptions are reality. So think like a 7 year old and change those perceptions. Think different. Think like a brand developer.
There are four rules we think are the key to success. We made a poster to illustrate these rules and very cleverly called them “The Four Rules of Success.” You will find our posters in elementary, middle and high schools across South Carolina. We offered it to schools and most accepted because they believe there is a valuable message in our poster. You will also find our poster in businesses all across this country and even in China (we offered the poster on our website and we had one request from Beijing). The following story illustrates the Four Rules of Success.
Topics: Brand development process
If it were easy everyone would differentiate. I was talking to one of my favorite clients recently and she said “We created a logo ten years ago and we used blue and green as our colors. This was something very unusual in our profession. Today, everyone of our competitors have adopted blue and green as their logo colors.” When you differentiate others will follow and imitate. That’s when you know that you are the leader.
Don’t misquote me. Clients know a lot about their products and their customers but clients are humans and humans have perceptions that sometimes are wrong and this can be a huge problem. Remember—in the brand development process perception is reality. The following is a story of how I believed a client when they told me their perception. What we perceive we believe.
If you want advertising to work, tell a story. I will get the message about your differentiation.
What does a story do? It creates a movie for your mind’s eye. A good story will be played and replayed in the mind for days, weeks, and months to come.
Sometimes a simple idea is more effective and engaging than a collection of ideas that try to communicate all of the features and benefits of your service. The problem with the simple idea is not the idea but the client’s resistance to it. They feel that it’s just too simple to work. It doesn’t tell all about their product’s benefits. Often a simple idea is humorous and they feel their problem demands a serious solution because their business is serious. They are afraid to have some fun at their own expense. But we love people who have a sense of humor and who don’t take themselves too seriously. The same is true for products and services…especially serious products and services. A brand developer knows not to take your product too seriously, your customers don’t.
Serious products such as home and auto insurance have produced some of the silliest and funniest advertising on TV today. Progressive Insurance is using Flo’s family dinner conversation to make fun of its own marketing. Geico is outspending all insurers using silly situations with a gecko and a pig to tell their story and they’re increasing sales.
Americans love freedom of choice — having options and keeping our options open. We believe more choices add to our happiness.
But what if it isn't true that more choices make us happier? In the traditional view presented by economists, people are rational actors who strive to make logical decisions based on their best interests. According to this model, having more options leads to better decisions. But you only need to live a few hours around real people to know that humans are more complex and unpredictable than the rational model suggests — they don’t always make logical decisions, or choose according their true interests.