Alright class, time to sit down crisscross style — today we’ve got a scary story. One day there was a company, and it was scared to do things differently. It saw others, sometimes even competitors, implementing successful, new marketing techniques, and thought “hey, I want to do that!”

And they did. Copying styles, tones, avenues. Some would say they lost their very souls. In the end, they were completely forgotten. Why? Because in a world of copycats, it’s easy to get lost in the herd.

How to avoid that pitfall

The title may have been a bit of a spoiler: to stand out, a company needs to do things that scare it. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean creating advertising campaigns consisting of roaming ravaging groups of zombie dinosaurs, although we’re not opposed to the idea. No, it’s a simple matter of taking some risks, believing in concepts, executions, and ideas while having the fortitude to follow through with them.

Now obviously, these ideas can’t just be random nonsensical concepts akin to some confusing piece in a modern art gallery. They have to reflect your brand, the values it represents, and be supported with a sound strategy. But these aren’t constraints, they’re guides, and still leave quite the box to play in.

That doesn’t sound too scary

In a vacuum, this all seems pretty simple and straightforward. But doing things different is inherently slightly risky. But the best things in life come from taking risks. Think of it like asking your crush out back in high school. Yea, they may say no, and yep, that sucks. But you learn and grow from it, moving on to grander things. Or, and this is crazy but hear us out — they say yes, and you have an awesome time, all for having the temerity to do something you believe in.

And when it comes to business and marketing, putting yourself out there in a potentially vulnerable scenario can seem a little similar. But when it’s backed with sound strategy and reflects your company’s values, in our minds the biggest risk is not to take any. We can’t lie — there’s obviously potential consumers won’t love it as much as you do — although with a strong understanding of who they are, the odds of that happening grow increasingly unlikely. But in a glass half full mindset, if it does turn out you missed the mark with your idea, you actually learn more about your customer’s behaviors and beliefs than you would have by rolling out something that’s been done before. And at the end of the day, the worst thing possible for any piece of marketing is for it to not be memorable.

Inspiration to learn from

Every huge company people know and love has gotten there by pursuing scary ideas, by challenging their customers and elevating the dare we say it art form of advertising. Think Apples, Nike, Old Spice or Geico. However, herein lies a problem we see far too often. People see these companies and their success and feel like replicating them is the right answer. Think of how many tech companies you see copying Apple, how many sports apparel brands crib the exact same tone as Nike.

You know you’ve seen it, but probably have a more difficult time remembering the names of those companies. Why? Because Apple and Nike took the risk to pursue scary ideas first, so they have that tone and feeling almost monopolized. To be successful, it’s imperative to pursue your own version of a scary-smart groundbreaking idea.

So what should really scare all of us? Simply, the mundane.