Every brand person has been there—sitting in a meeting when someone from the agency presents a design, strategy or new product idea that is so surprising, they’re just not sure what to think. Is he joking? Did she not get the brief? Does our agency not have a drug screening policy?
And, assuming the brand person doesn’t just dismiss the idea out of hand, the mere thought of getting internal buy in and executing it can be enough to cause some serious heart palpitations. But, as strange as it sounds, that’s a good thing. A really good thing.
No doubt, it’s scary to push a brand far beyond the friendly confines of where it usually operates. And things that don’t fit cleanly within expectations and the guidelines outlined in the brief can cause great angst and make you want to run away. But don’t! You see, comfort usually leads to the conventional while discomfort can lead to innovation that’s truly disruptive.
That’s why the top agencies strive to make their clients feel a little uncomfortable (in a good way!). They realize the importance of strategically pushing brands to the point where clients start to get some butterflies because they know that great work can be uncomfortable—and totally worth it. Of course, you should always explore a range of on-strategy options—and the farther out ones aren’t always the best options or the ones that get picked—but you’ll never know what you could be missing out on if you don’t explore all ends of the spectrum.
Imagine being a part of the Old Spice brand team when their agency said, “We’ve got this great idea for reinventing the brand. We want to shoot a commercial that features a man instantly transitioning from a shower to a boat to riding a horse on the beach. Oh yeah, and on the boat, he’s going to be holding an oyster full of event tickets that turns into a pile of diamonds. Cool? So, when can we start?”
Or being at Progressive when someone said, “Hey, how about if we advertise all of our competitors’ prices right on our website?” Or sitting with the Kotex brand team when their agency said, “We know younger women love bold, bright colors, but we really think the packaging for U by Kotex should be mostly black.”
It would have been easy for these brand teams to get spooked and push for a safer approach. But they embraced the uneasiness and were rewarded handsomely for their courage.
So, if you want to increase your odds at discovering the next great breakthrough idea, focus on becoming comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. In fact, encourage discomfort—it’s good for the brand. At the very least, you’ll get an idea of what the brand could be and how far is too far. And, more importantly, something truly game-changing could break through, all because you were bold, said what the heck, why not and had the audacity to step outside of your comfort zone.
Adam Siegel is an Associate Creative Director at Seed Strategy where he draws upon his diverse experience in advertising, research and innovation to craft breakthrough creative and winning concept copy.
John Kitzmiller is a Creative Director at Seed Strategy where he utilizes his diverse background in advertising, marketing, package design and strategic innovation to help clients craft complete brand experiences from sheet to shelf.