Why everything looks the same. But shouldn't.

It’s impossible to interact with our industry for even a day and not see a headline which translates in one way or another to ‘everything looks the same’.

But actually, there’s a reason for this conformity — it’s called human nature, we’re hard wired to fit in.

Be it that pair of Nikes on your feet, the Barbour jacket hanging from your shoulders, or the dip-dyed blonde hair, the decisions we make on a daily basis are driven by biases that are older than we are.

These biases are natural and nurtural.

Most of us spent the first 18 years of our lives trying to not get bullied — conformity keeps you safe.

And it gets worse

In a world where first impressions are more important than ever (swipe right for yes anyone?), the temptation to look, talk and appear exactly how we should, gets compounded.

The problem is, when it comes to our work, this familiarity can sabotage the growth we so desire and are paid to deliver.

Taking the easiest route, ignoring the tough questions, asking for proof, using research groups — all reinforces the natural bias towards fitting in.

However, noticing things that stand out is actually human nature too — we actually take more notice of anything that breaks the monotony of expectation. Be it bright red hair, gawdy coats, or oversized, slightly too short ankle whisperers.

Back in 1933, a psychology student called Hedwig von Redorff produced a piece of research showing that when we design things to stand out, they get noticed more.

And yet 85 years later, we’re still writing endless blogs about the need to do so. Why?

Because like avoiding bullies, conformity never got anyone fired!

Except maybe it should, because conformity never changed the world either. It never made a double-digit YOY percentage increase; it never forced reassessment of a brand’s relevance; or reinvigorated a brand that’s beginning to hear the death bells tolling.

The answer starts with two critical factors.

Firstly, ACCEPTANCE — that distinctiveness is essential, not brave.

Secondly, ATTITUDE — to attack a problem in the right way, to ask the challenging questions, to accept that it might not be easy, to accept and expect that the destination will justify the journey.

It’s why we’re building our agency around it — the modus operandi that we should ‘Fight The Familiar’ to deliver work that outperforms.

Because our industry is full of people who just play at it.

People who do work for the sake of it, not to deliver results — people who believe KPIs are just about delivering on time and on budget, rather than shifting volume and adding value.

We’re people who care too much to let that happen, people who challenge harder, are more curious and creative and never quite satisfied by great work but strive to deliver better impact and better results every time.

It’s a philosophy we’re wedded to and committed to, and one that will deliver for our clients and our agency — every single day.

Chris Falconer