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That’s what boring brands do.

The world is too noisy, the competition too diffuse.

Modern technology means that if you don’t capture your target audience’s attention, imagination and adoration, your company will fizzle towards a slow death. Unremarkable. Unremembered. Unlistened to. Unloved.

And while many of us wouldn’t care too much if that happened to most of the old-fashioned legacy companies out there, when you’re building a challenger brand – one that wants to shake things up, one that wants to change the world – or at least some small part of it – perhaps your product or service boosts your customer’s confidence, makes them feel less alone, helps them spend more time with the people they love or maybe saves lives or even helps to save the planet…

If your company does one of those things, but fails because it did boring marketing – because nobody paid attention – that is a travesty.

If your company does one of those things, the most risky thing you can do is play it safe.

And so, in a series of videos exploring extra-ordinary marketing, I’ll be examining companies who stand out, who conscientiously and creatively choose which rules to break and who do some of the most compelling marketing around.

But in today’s episode, I’m going to set out my criteria for choosing these examples, explaining, as I go, why it’s important to always be a ‘C’ word.

This is Extra-Ordinary Marketing.


I’d like to start by doing a little experiment, if I may? I’m going to show you six images of well-known items and I’d like you to think about whether you would classify them as extra-ordinary or not.

Don’t worry too much at this stage about defining what extra-ordinary means to you; just go with what your gut tells you. Do you think the following things are banal, plain, boring or every day? Or do you think they are unusual, innovative, interesting or unique?

So here we go.

  • Up first, a brick.

  • OK – now the pyramids at Giza.

  • Up next, a wheel.

  • And now the Tesla Cybertruck. (Oh yeah!)

  • What about breathing?

  • And finally, transcendental meditation.

Most of us probably agreed on which of those things we believe to be ‘ordinary’ – plain, boring or everyday. And which those things we believe to be ‘extra-ordinary’ i.e. things that are in some way unique. Perhaps we feel they stir the imagination. Perhaps they inspire us. Or transform us into a better version of ourselves.

But, of course, many of you will have picked up that those examples came in pairs. The pyramids are created from lots and lots of single bricks, arranged in a way that we understand to be creative or compelling in some way.

The Tesla Cybertruck, of course, has wheels. As well as a fair bit of chrome and a huge amount of raw sex appeal.

And meditation? Essentially just a fancy set of breathing techniques.

And yet there’s this guy. Wim Hof – some of you will know him as the ice man. Hof has achieved notoriety, built an entire business and presumably made a great deal of money through essentially telling us how to breathe – that thing we all do every day, all day. And are able to do from the moment we are born.

Of course, he’s packaged it up in his own, particular way. Note the name of Chapter 4 of his book, the Wim Hof method.

But none of that can distract from the fact that, at its core, what he’s selling is instructions on how to breathe.

Simon Sinek does a similar thing with bricks. In his book, Start with Why, he talks about understanding – and being able to articulate – the difference between what you do, how you do it and why you do it. Essentially, his point is that we can all say what we do, some of us can say how we do it but very few of us can say why we do it. And yet, according to Sinek, when we know WHY we’re doing something – what the greater purpose, cause or belief is that we’re serving by doing our work – we are far more motivated and, frankly, far better at what we do.

In his example, if you’d asked the ancient Egyptians what they were doing, they would have answered laying bricks. Possibly some may have stretched to saying they were building a wall. Neither of which are very inspiring (unless, maybe, you’re a Donald Trump supporter, in which case, thank you for your time – see you later). However, when you know that, by laying those bricks and building that wall, you’re actually helping erect a pyramid – a tomb for their leaders, a home for their Gods, a direct conduit to heaven – well, that’ll get you out of bed in the morning.

The point being that so much in the world – so much that we see around us – is created from ordinary, plain, boring constituent parts. What matters – what elevates the ordinary to the position of the extra-ordinary – is the story we tell ourselves about them.

Are we laying bricks or building pyramids?


The good news is that what this all proves to business owners, founders and entrepreneurs is that you don’t need to be re-inventing the wheel to create the next Tesla Cybertruck.

The bad news is that what you do need to be able to do is to be able to tell a good enough story about your product or service to make people want to come along for the ride.

And that isn’t easy. However, as a marketer, my entire job revolves around helping companies to stand out. To be extra-ordinary. And I have a formula, which I’d like to share with you today.

This formula tells us that there are three routes to becoming extra-ordinary.

And these three routes are all centred around being a ‘C’ word.

Now, I’ve been called a lot of ‘C’ words in my time but when I’m working with my clients, I’m usually focussing on three in particular that help take our communications to the next level.

And those three words are: Credible, creative and compelling.

To be considered ‘extra-ordinary’ you have to be seen to excel in at least one of the three. If you can effectively be perceived as all three, then frankly, you’d struggle to not stand out from the crowd.

Let’s take them one by one.


Credibility is all about understanding the structures within which you’re working.

It’s about having a deep understanding of the past, people, places and philosophies that make up the rules of whatever game you’re playing, be that healthcare or home décor, finance or fashion. It’s about demonstrating that you have curiosity and a willingness to learn and improve yourself. To build on the work that has gone before. About showing you’ve put in the work and have the scars to prove it.

Do all of this and you’ve given people a reason to believe in you. You’ve established their trust. You’ve established a right to lead.

As John C Maxwell – the No. 1 leadership and management expert in the world according to Inc. Magazine – said; “Credibility is a leader’s currency. With it, he or she is solvent. Without it, he or she is bankrupt.”


Pablo Picasso once said, “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist”. And, while being credible shows we have a proficient understanding of our subject, it does not, in and of itself, mean we’re able to convey that information to another in a way that is coherent. We could all provide an example of a person we know who clearly understands a deeply interesting subject intrinsically but who is boring as hell to hear speak about it.

Interestingly, the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung – in identifying the 12 fundamental archetypes that exist in what he called humanity’s “collective unconscious” would agree that the path to true creativity comes through an understanding of the rules.

In this diagram, which is often used to help people and companies to discover their own archetype, the fundamental driver of the ‘artist’ is identified as a desire to provide structure. Only having done that, is the subject able to innovate (i.e. “break the rules”) and, hence, become an artist (sometimes also referred to as the ‘creator’).

While this may seem confusing at first – after all most artists I know are the least structured, most scatty individuals on the planet – when you think about it, it makes sense. After all, what actually IS art if not the organisation of abstract thoughts, ideas and emotions into a form that may be conveyed to another; a song, a painting, a book for example?

This ability to create something that is both new and also easily conveyed from one person to the next is critical in our ability to be extra-ordinary.

And, to be clear, this ‘something new’ usually does not mean inventing something from thin air – more likely it will be a re-arranging of pre-existing elements (an unusual chord sequence) or a twinning of things that haven’t gone together before (such as two seemingly disparate flavours being combined in a new dish).

Whatever it is, this ability to take what you’ve learned and provide a new perspective on it in such a way that makes it appealing to an audience is the second route to being extra-ordinary.


Finally, we have compelling. And this is all about how much your audience are willing to come along with you.

The UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian is famous for his studies into communication and likeability and what he has found time and again, is that only seven percent of how well your message is received comes from what you say. 38% comes from how you say it and 55% comes from other, more visual signals such as appearance and body language. In other words, 93% of how much your audience engages with your message has nothing to do with the actual words you use to convey it.

This is crucial when it comes to understanding how to stand out – how to be extra-ordinary.

When it comes, especially, to the non-verbal side of communication, our brains rely on simple, easily recognised signals or cues to help it understand what’s going on.

And this is where we return to Jung and his archetypes. These personality patterns, he argued, are not learnt. They are hardwired into us before we are even born. This was important for our evolution. In order to survive, it made sense for the human brain to establish a set of signals that clearly and automatically distinguish a friend from a foe, an ally from a threat.

These characteristics help dictate our behaviour, informing us of the need to fight or flee from that which is dangerous and seek out that which is there to nourish and sustain us.

These neurological shortcuts led to us developing the archetypes of characters such as the ‘Caregiver’, the ‘Hero’ and the ‘Lover’. And, re-enforced by decades of Disney films, nursery rhymes and our own experiences, without even noticing it, so Jung claimed, we fall back on these 12 basic characters to help us quickly understand the people around us and adjust our attitudes, actions and expectations accordingly.

This is true of people but it is also true of companies where the most extra-ordinary ones are able to develop feelings of extreme loyalty in their customers simply through making them feel like ‘Brand X’ *gets* them, putting them on a par with a best friend or admired teacher.

For brands such as these, customers will queue round the block for your store to open, they will invest in every new release you put out and they will go out to bat for you whenever the company is criticised. In other words, they will be compelled to support the company no matter what.

That is truly extra-ordinary.


There is a famous saying; “Not everyone who’s famous is talented and not everyone who’s talented is famous.”

And the same goes for companies. Not every household name makes the best version of their product. And, likewise, there are literally thousands of companies making important, innovative and vastly superior products to those that are already on the market, that die every single day because they have absolutely no idea how to communicate what makes them extra-ordinary.

The world is smaller than it’s ever been. Back in the days when the only people you knew were your family, the neighbours who lived in your street and the colleagues who worked in the same place as you. Back in the days where you would get all of your shopping from going to your local high street – a place that would have one butcher, one baker and, presumably one candle-stick maker. Back in those days, it was enough to be ordinary. It was enough to just give the people what they wanted. A white loaf. A bag of sausages.

But the world is smaller than ever before. The ability to travel and, more recently, the internet mean we are now exposed to many more people, experiences, products and opinions than ever before. This gives our customers way more options. But it also makes it harder for us to stand out.

All of a sudden, being ordinary is no longer an option.

It’s no longer enough to simply make a thing that people want and rely on a lack of competition to ensure you’re a success.

Simon Sinek says that “there is barely a product or service on the market today that customers can’t buy from someone else, for about the same price, about the same quality, about the same level of service and about the same features. And if you truly have a first-movers advantage, it’s probably lost in a matter of months anyway.”

If this is true, simply talking about what you do or how good it is, won’t help you stand out.

You must communicate in a way which is credible, creative and compelling.

You have to tell a better story in order to be extra-ordinary.

Don’t lay bricks. Build pyramids.

And if taking a risk makes you feel nervous, just take Wim Hof’s advice and remember to “breathe motherf*cker”.

Thank you for your attention.

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