When the world zigs … zag

This is a headline from the Zag poster that Levis jeans ran in 1982 to launch their (at the time very unique) black denim jeans. The headline was written by Barbara Noakes who was working at the well known advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH). The Zag concept is a great articulation of not being part of the herd, of being different.

When the world zigs, zag. Levis black jeans advert from 1982

Why the black sheep?

But how can your business benefit from this idea of being different and going against the herd? Well this idea of difference translates well to company communications. However being different is something most companies find very unnatural to do. Companies like the safety of sameness and not standing out. In the cover of sameness you don’t have to worry about losing. Losing your job, losing your market position or losing your customer base. But really isn’t the real business risk not standing out at all? In a world where social meadia and company messages and advertising are coming at consumers thick and fast, can you really afford to stand back and let others take the lead. No really successful global company promotes blandness do they? If they did they wouldn’t be successful, they’d be unheard of.

Zag don’t zig

You need to be at the forefront of your customers minds at the point of purchase, achieving that is all about memory recall. Customers must remember your brand and your message for all the right reasons. Because you have celebrated your unqiueness not hidden it. Say it loud, say it proud. John Hegarty, head of the advertising agency BBH liked the philosophy behind this advert so much that he adopted the black sheep embelm as part of their corporate identity. How does your company attract attention in its market? Are your marketing communications distinctive enough? Do they tell the world your reason for being and why you are unique? Are they telling an interesting story about your company or product? Do you use unusual images to promote yourself and aid recall?

Seamless zig zag vector pattern.

Don’t just say it. Do it

Your company needs to communicate its differentness in all areas of its business. Every day, every communication and consumer touch point must be a demonstration of your commitment to your own uniqueness in everything you do. Your difference must be a measure that all things stand against. If a communication or interaction is found wanting, don’t do it, go back to the drawing board and start over.

Finding your zag

Try this simple test. Our brand/company is the only __________ that ___________ . In the first blank space put your category. In the second put your uniqueness (your zag). For example: our shoe company is the only one that rebels against the norm. Just look at the famous Lemon and think small adverts Volkswagen ran in the 60s. And Paul Smith with its unmistakable Englishness augmented by the unexpected. If you can’t say you’re the only one doing something, go back and start again.

An example of Volkswagens zag

Has it got legs?

Once you have your difference you need to communicate it in different ways, is it robust? Will it run and run? Is your uniqueness transferable across all media? Is it relevant? will it stand the test of time? Consider all these questions before running any company marketing. And make sure the design, marketing or advertising agency you choose is the right fit for you and has the relevant creative skills you’ll need.

Why not apply this creative approach to all your marketing communications and find your zag today. I hope you have found this article useful. And as always if we can be of help please do not hesitate to contact us. Thanks for your time.

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