An effective brand requires tension.

People are awakened and amused by novelty. But they are comfortable with the familiar.

For a brand to stand out and make a statement, it must begin by being unique. And by sticking with that personality, people will become familiar with it. It might take some time, but in the interim, people just may talk about the new brand because it is unique.

Novelty is a buzz-generator.

But I’ve seen near-panic from several clients reacting to a novel brand and/or brand elements. They are afraid to go where “no (professional) has gone before”. In an effort to be “open-minded”, they may resort to informal “market research” polls to determine if a unique brand concept is “meaningful”.

In most cases, the results were obvious: friends and associates want the familiar rather than the unique. They want to “protect” the entrepreneur.

Those clients are seeking comfort just as intensely as they are novelty even if they won’t admit it. Comfort often wins out at the expense of a differentiated brand, so the brand never raises above the static. But one unstated goal is met – no one is offended or challenged.

Commonality and conformity has never generated buzz.

Novelty in face of conformity produces tension, and if there’s anything that produces buzz it’s tension.

So a little discomfort in the branding process is both healthy and effective. Go for it! My advice: go for the unique and damn the faint of heart.

Martin Jelsema

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