Zag when the others Zig

One of the best books I have read for some time was released late last year.

It is called 'Brand like a Rock Star', and is written by Steve Jones who is the Vice-President of Programming for Newcap Radio in Canada.

Below is a shamelessly pilfered excerpt from one of Steve's newsletter mailouts on the importance of differentiation for brands, and it is particularly applicable to radio stations, as we discussed last week here.

If you have no effective and meaningful differentiation then you have a problem.

Here's what Steve says…….

There is always room for someone who does the opposite of what everyone else is doing.

Adele proves it every day as her soulful album outsells so much of the fabricated pop music around her on the charts.

And Belgium-born Australian singer Gotye (pronounced Got-ee-aye) is about to do the same with his understated and haunting breakup song “Somebody That I Used To Know“.

There’s no guest appearance from Pitbull. It doesn’t sound like Katy Perry. Good luck finding a Nickelback guitar riff.

“Somebody That I Used To Know” is so simple that it’s complicated. It sounds like nothing else out there, and that’s why the world is paying attention to it.

The business takeaway is that sometimes it pays handsomely to zag when everyone else is zigging.

If you do things just like your competitors do, you’ll be invisible. You’ll be doing the expected, and human beings ignore the expected. We only notice the unexpected.

Think about your drive to work this morning. Did you notice every single highway sign that you saw? Of course not. But had you seen, as Seth Godin wrote, a giant purple cow on your drive to work, you would have paid attention. You would have stopped to take a picture.

Keep in mind that this isn’t being different for the sake of being different. If your “zag” lacks anything meaningful and positive, you might still get noticed… but it probably won’t help you.

But when your business finds that magic combination of a meaningful and positive difference that goes completely against the grain of what is expected in your field, it is usually a branding home run.


If you own a copy of Steve's book you will know that it is brilliant. If you don't, you can buy it here and it is well worth it, this book rocks. Pun intended.

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