Does your brand stand out from the crowd?

Clients aren't all the same, so why do some agencies try to fit the same strategies and methodologies to different clients instead of working on differentiation? Matt Kemsley discusses in this guest post.

Most people are familiar with Where’s Wally? Where’s Wally is a series of children’s books created in 1986 by the English illustrator, Martin Hanford.matt-kemsley-founder-at-matterhorm

Wikipedia says: ‘Readers are challenged to find a character named Wally hidden in the group. Wally’s distinctive red-and-white striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses make him slightly easier to recognise.

Anyone with kids has bought one of these books, hoping for a few hours of quiet time on a wet Sunday afternoon, only to find themselves cursing the aforementioned Wally while searching for him within each amazing illustration.


Pic: Twitter @whereswally

Now, in isolation, Wally is a distinctive, striking character. He can be found in his thick red and white striped jumper and a bobble hat, blue home brand jeans, bottle top glasses, and a cane.

His appearance is quite unique and impossible to miss, and he is certainly not the sort of person you’d normally encourage your kids to seek out. And yet, secrete him amongst a thousand anonymous ‘me too’ individuals, and he vanishes. He becomes invisible. And finding him becomes a real struggle.


Pic: Twitter @whereswally

Because even when you’re dressed up like a supply teacher gone wrong, when placed in a large enough crowd, no one notices you. Now, I follow many brands on social media, and I am constantly amazed by just how little interest they seem to have in standing out.

I recently saw an Instagram post from a top running shoe brand that featured a running individual. Yes, they had running shoes on, and yes, the background was quite beautiful, and yes, it was an okay photograph. But running? Really?

On that day, there were 60,000,000 other posts on Instagram, and I can guarantee you that other than the model who was featured in that photo and the photographer that took the photo, my mentioning it here is the most that anyone has discussed about that image.

Then there are car brands showing their designer cars being driven, airlines showing beaches/ski fields, bottled water companies…you get the picture… boom boom. So why bother?

Now, brands will argue that they have to be on the social network, and I am slightly sympathetic towards this apparent necessity. Of course they do.

And because they’re aware of the potential of social networking going horribly wrong, the trade-off seems to be that if they have to promote their products, they should do so in the least offensive manner possible. They’ll just go through the motions.


Regardless of category, you can make your brand stand out. Image from Twitter

If they lived in the world of ‘Where’s Wally’, they’d want to be in the crowd. That way, everyone would be looking at them without really noticing them. And if they don’t really get noticed, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, nothing. Nothing will happen, because no one’s offended, because no one’s noticed. Job done. So, the marketing strategy is to not get noticed. Where’s the fun in that? Actually, forget fun. Where’s the potential long-term business sense in that?

Surely in the world’s most over-subscribed media, where the competition isn’t other brands, it’s some guy in Boston lighting his own farts, the very least you should do is try and stand out.

The beauty of social media from a consumer’s point of view is that they don’t have to engage with brands, unless they want to. People won’t follow their boring mate, so what chance has a boring brand got?

The point of this analogy is simple. If you substitute the red and white striped attire, the bottle top glasses and the cane for creativity, then surely your posts stand a much better chance of getting noticed in a world where getting noticed is incredibly difficult, if you utilise creativity for your own evil purposes. And getting Taiwanese students to like your work isn’t creativity…it’s cheating.

If ‘Where’s Wally’ proves one thing, it’s this—if you don’t use creativity, your chances of getting noticed are impossible. And if you’re not getting noticed, what’s the point of being at the party?

Matt Kemsley is the founder at Matterhorn.


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