Once upon a time, Steve Martin used to do a gag in his stand-up routine, where he’d get everyone to repeat the “Individualist’s Oath.” He’d say, “repeat after me…I promise to be different…I promise to be unique…I promise to stop repeating things other people tell me to say.”
Funny stuff. As with most of Martin’s stuff, there was a serious point underneath the veneer of lunacy. Everyone wants to be unique, for being unique is a great way to be noticed. It’s what Seth Godin talks about in his book, Purple Cow.
Why is unique better, and why do so many people settle for “just like”?
I have a theory. (Big surprise.) Unique puts you apart from the rest of the pack. Unique is uncomfortable – at least until the rest of the pack acknowledges it, and copies it. Unique is…difficult.
Ries & Trout made their careers in marketing talking about mindshare – being first in the public’s mind when they think about a category. Without mindshare you won’t get marketshare. So…how do you go for “unique”?
Unique is more than coming up with a wierd name, or a “different for different’s sake” positioning. Unique is that rare bird that is different – and better. (How do you capture a unique bird? You ‘neek’ up on it.) Unique products have that “A ha!” effect associated with them. Once you see them, you realize they represent both a simple and elegant solution.
Unique names are just as rare, and just as valuable. We spent weeks agonizing over the name for our marketing agency. In the end, “Novel Idea” really said what we wanted to convey. I feel sorry for the guys that settle for using their founder’s name attached to the word “marketing.” I mean, how creative do you think a company is going to be that can’t think of an original, interesting name for their own firm?
Here’s a challenge…when you are trying to create a new product, a new service, or a new name for something, forget about conventional. Don’t settle for good enough. Go farther. Take the extra time to find the unique approach. It’s worth it.