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I heard a stat this week that went something like this: Take all of the content that has ever been produced from the beginning of time until 2003 (pictographs on cave walls, books written, songs recorded, paintings in the alcoves of gothic churches, etc.). Take ALL OF THAT CONTENT and fast forward to today. Every 48 hours, the world generates as much content as has been generated from the beginning of time up to the year 2003. Take it as a sensationalist stat. Take it as twisted and skewed and chewed up and digested figure. Then spit it out and recognize that today, people are constantly churning out words and images – content.

Which leads me to the million dollar question: how does a brand cut through the clutter of this hyper-informed, super-connected, content generating society? Even with the answer, action must follow. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to some smart people that seem to be taking action in ways and with efforts that have blossomed into success. Here are five takeaways that I’ve been pondering:

1. How To Stand Out: This past Thursday, I attended a Speakers’ Spotlight event where one of the featured speakers was a gentleman named Ron Tite. He said this: There are three ways to stand out:
1. What you say (content of your message)
2. How you say it (unique way of delivering a common message)
3. Say something that’s relatable.

I feel this is so applicable – both in my career and in my personal life: how I present myself, how I market my company, how I have a conversation. Here’s K-Mart delivering a common message: “we can ship your purchase” in a unique (and hilarious) way:

http://youtu.be/xCGfgnU18yk

2. Your Stories are More Powerful Than Your Data: Also from Ron Tite’s talk, which ties in to being relatable with your message. What it means to me is this: I can tell you about how great my product is. I can repeat a tagline or regurgitate a slogan. I can show you my best photos or cool product features or great prices. But without sharing the stories, without relating the excellent customer service experiences of our customers, without delivering a message that people can relate to, connect with, and share, my “tell” won’t translate into a “sell”.

Ron claims that the ad campaign of the year came from McDonald’s with the “Our Food Your Questions” campaign. Have a look and judge for yourself:

3. “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

I once worked for a call centre where I took booking requests for vacation packages. I thought I had it all figured out: a professional phone manner, a pre-determined script that would smooth the way for seamless package bookings, a light and cheery flight attendant voice that would perk up any 50 year old golfer. One day I had a phone call that started like this:
Me: “Thank you for calling Kimberley Vacations”
Caller: “Hello? Hello!?”
Me: “Hello Ma’am, what can I do for you today?”
Caller: “Oh, I thought you were a recording!”

As unflattering as it was to be equated with a tele-robot, the main message for me was this: You can be professional and perfect and do your job exactly as the job description is written. But at the end of the day, if you live your life in an ordinary way, you’ll achieve ordinary results. Because people will forget what you do and they’ll forget what you say, but they won’t forget how you made them feel.

Love it or hate it, Dove’s Campaign for Real beauty definitely attempts to create a feeling. You may remember these:

4. Travelling is not about things. It’s about discovering the places that have meaning and meeting the people that shape those places.

This one came from a gal by the name of Judi Samuels who discussed what it means to “humanize your brand”. She related this quote to Target’s first Canadian commercial. Instead of showing the iconic rocky mountains, mounties in their funny brown hats and red coats, beavers and maple syrup, the commercial shows familiar, yet unique Canadian places and spaces and, most importantly, people. It’s filmed in a way as if to ask Canadians “hey, we want to get to know you better than your stereotypes, wanna be neighbors?”
Target Canada Commercial

And finally, the common bond that I believe links all of these nuggets of wisdom:

5. Be human. Judi Samuels summed it up in a few words: “Don’t think ‘what’ is your brand. Think ‘who’ is your brand”. With brand standards and public relations policies, and social media guidelines and automated customer service centers, this can be the toughest nut to crack. Asking “who is your brand” doesn’t necessarily lead to a clear and easy answer. And just because you might be able to answer that question, doesn’t mean you have a clear idea of what to do with it. One thing that is clear is that those companies that allow themselves to be human, those that show their imperfections, their sense of humor, their quirky sides, those brands are most often the ones that cut through the clutter.

Now, can you handle just a little more cheese? This one is pretty good:

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