The Law of the jungle: Blend in, if you don’t want to get eaten. Stand out, if you want to attract a mate.

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Everyone in the influence business wants to attract mates for the brands they work for.

So, why do so few stand out in the jungle?

Ever notice how almost every car ad looks the same? Why most theme lines are empty statements? Why it’s okay for some brands to simply exist in the category with its competitors? Shouldn’t a brand try to devour it’s opponent?

Why is a tie with a competing brand enough?

It’s because blending in is easy. It’s safe. Think about all its benefits. You won’t be criticized if the other brand is doing the same thing as your brand. No one can call you out for being “too risky” or a daredevil, a rule breaker or a loose canon. Why take chances when you can join your competitor at the buffet table? Why not just embrace the tried and true? Collect a paycheck, pay your bills, fatten your company-matched 401k? Stay in the game?

To win, a brand must be distinguished from the crowd. It must stand out. Be different. And the audience has to see something about themselves in the work. When this happens a relationship erupts between the brand and consumer. The consumer is drawn to the brand close enough to wrap itself around it. The brand becomes seamlessly interwoven into the consumer’s life, making the consumer and brand one entity.

Let’s face it, an attraction to a brand says a lot about who you are. Or, who you want the world to believe you are. A brand is a badge. It’s a club.

Are you a Bud or Stella? Are you Gap or Gucci?

The ultimate goal for anyone in this business is to entice a consumer to join their club. More members means more products sold. The right members means long-term growth.

When I started my career it was drilled into me that advertising will only do its job if it’s distinctive, relevant, and shared with the targeted audience appropriately. It seems like a pretty simple formula, but the layers that lie within it make it a paradox. It’s what makes the creative process so much fun, and so painful, at the same time.

But, no matter what the cynics, pontificators or the seemingly unlimited number of brand experts popping up on the web who have never contributed a single idea to build a brand say, the first and foremost thing to do is get the brand noticed through the limitless and unyielding messages in the media jungle.

You must stand out to attract users, clients and customers. The ones that do, usually end up being called crazy things like “boss” or have their names on the door.

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