Knowing the difference between “new” and “different.”


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“New” has long been THE buzzword in marketing. Nothing gets our attention like “new.” “New” implies all sorts of goodness: “improved,” “better” and “hipper.” “New” is the propellant a product needs to break through with fussy consumers.

Or is it?

The problem with so many “new” products and brands is that while they may be “new” they aren’t really “different.” They are just mash-ups of what we’ve seen before, with a bunch of marketing hype thrown in for good measure. It is amazing how many “new” products soon blend blandly into the great morass of choices customers face. In many ways, we’ve become immune to claims of “new.”

“Different” products, on the other hand, scream for attention.

Such is the story of Vibram’s Five Fingers running shoes. The first time you see someone running in them, you can’t help but do a double take. They look nothing like any “running shoes” you’ve ever seen. They look more like over-sized gloves that goes on your feet.

Not just “new,” but “different.”

Dyson vacuums are another case in point. Bagless suction, ball maneuvering, and distinctive candy-colored looks. Not just new, different.

The great opportunity that comes with being different is the invitation it gives you to start a conversation on your terms. “Why’d they design it like that?” is an obvious first question (and conversation starter). Suddenly, if you’re Vibram, or Dyson or Apple, you have an engaged participant anxious to hear your story.

Mind you, while “different” may start a conversation, it’s up to your product’s performance to deliver on it. “Different” without a product pay off is no more than borrowed interest. Think Alpha Romeo. Or (this is suddenly dating me) Olivetti typewriters. Both were head-turningly different. And both were notorious for being crappy products.

In these days when there are so many “me-too” kind of products out there, see if you can come up with a way to be not just new, but truly, meaningfully different. It’s not easy, but it could possibly propel you to the top.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mickey Lonchar
Mickey Lonchar has spent the better part of two decades creating award-winning advertising with agencies up and down the West Coast, Mickey currently holds the position of creative director with Quisenberry Marketing & Design, a full-service advertising and interactive shop with offices in Spokane and Seattle, Wash.


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