Originality in business: Where is its place in today’s marketing climate?

Originality. How important is it to your brand? And is true originality even still possible or necessary anymore?

In today’s world – with a little help from the Internet – we have access to a complete history of everything. And this has led many to believe that “it’s all been done before” when it comes to marketing.

If we break apart originality, we’ll see that it exists now as a matter of levels on a spectrum from familiar to new, with truly new being an impossible-to-achieve ideal.

Tried and true

Oftentimes, brands need to stick to a “feel good” strategy, and build on ideas or themes that already exist. Think Nike’s “JUST DO IT” and Under Armour’s “#IWILL”. These two companies are facing each other in an intensely competitive market and wrestling for the attention of the same audience — both trying to solidify a space with consumers.

Starting out, Under Armour entered the market with products that were very different and disruptive. To balance that, they needed a point on which to anchor their brand and to convey familiarity among athletes and gym-goers that would tell them, “You know us”.

They had to forfeit some originality in order to be relatable in their space and therefore, competitive. Coming off as completely foreign in the athletic market could have cost them.

Standing out

But sometimes there is a value to not being tried and true in a competitive space. Think Old Spice and Buckley’s. These two products are competing against countless others that each claim to do the same thing. Anchoring onto these other products too much would just cause their message to be white noise in a crowded space.

The value of originality is sticking out in a congested marketplace and being able to reach new audiences. Sometimes brands have to come up with newer and better ways of saying or showing things, and need to prove their inventiveness in order to make an impact.

Old Spice’s “The man your man could smell like” campaign and Buckley’s “It tastes awful and it works” campaign both approached marketing in a unique way, and achieved originality in how their brands are communicated to consumers. They have made themselves stand out with memorable qualities that only come from being different.

Breaking the mould

And then there are times that call for breaking the mould altogether – originality in business model and marketing.

Think Uber. They’ve broken ground and strove to be something new in the market, and different from what anybody has seen before – revolutionizing.

As a new concept and fresh take on the taxicab, Uber needed to harness the idea of originality and elements of unfamiliarity in order to make people think about transportation in a new way. And ultimately, they changed the market.

The authenticity opportunity

Maybe we need to alter the way we think about originality, and whether this should be something that all brands strive for. Maybe being genuine is more important, and whether this means “uniqueness” is a question dependant on your brand.

Originality can be hard to achieve, but some brands require it. Authenticity is perhaps more achievable and more important for the majority of brands in today’s marketing savvy and cynical world.

In the end, it’s about knowing who you are, what you want your message to be, and connecting with audiences in an honest and meaningful way.

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