Escaping the Sea of Sameness

The world is full of me-too players. Half the cars on the market are nearly identical. Detergents, sodas, and potato chips are pretty much all the same no matter what the ads say. When was the last time you went to a restaurant that was so different that you really noticed?

Competitive advantages of the past have become commodities. Having good customer service or high quality products no longer make you special; these are merely the ante to play. You have reliable shipping? So does everyone. You offer a great warranty…. Who doesn’t? A website with helpful information? Me too.

In the ad agency world, one that is ostensibly known for creativity, the agencies all sound the same. Visit the website of ten agencies and they will be largely indistinguishable. Your choices for just about every site include: about the agency, clients, case studies, blog, contact us. For a company that is supposed to help you stand out, they pretty much all blend into the pack.

Boone Oakley (Charlotte, NC), on the other hand, is one agency that did something radically different and remarkably creative. They built their entire site in YouTube. It tells their story, shows their creativity, and completely differentiates them from the pack (it is also hilarious). . I am so impressed by their courage to be different compared to the rest of the pack. They take a stand and don’t water their message down trying to please everyone. They let their creativity shine. They’re memorable.

This week, take a hard look in the mirror and compare your business to your competitors. If you are like many companies and have very little true differentiation, maybe it’s time to explore the possibilities. Create a Top 10 list: The Top 10 ways our company could be radically different than our competition. Brainstorm how you can stop getting lost in the shuffle, and become the Boone Oakley of your industry.

As competition increases, the spoils will disproportionately go to companies and people who can escape the ordinary. In the words of Steve Wynn, “What would have drawn a ‘wow’ 15 years ago won’t draw a yawn today.” If you are not creating “wow”, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and pour your heart into breaking free from the sea of sameness.