“All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.”
- Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
Once upon a time, a long time ago – I wanted to look like Barbie. In fact most little girls wanted to look like Barbie. We all wanted the same handbag, shoes and headband, we wanted to walk the same way, dance the same way, speak the same way – be the same.
How incredibly boring. It was in my early 20s that I cottoned on to the somewhat blatant realisation as a consumer, that no matter how many creams, dyes, crimps and primps I applied to myself – there was just no way I was ever going to look like Barbie. Which is just as well – because I don’t want to anymore.
Advertisers over the last few years have been speaking to the real me. Well, they don’t know it’s the real me – they have no idea that I’m relating to their messaging – but here’s why and it’s very simple – they stopped telling me to be like everyone else and started telling me to be the best version of me.
Lately we’ve been working across a number of sectors – hospitality, beauty, food, fashion, electronics, appliances – sectors that have previously enjoyed slight overlaps are now sharing one uniting, positive key driver – the facilitation of individualism.
No longer should your brand be saying ‘let’s all do things this way!’ – it should be saying ‘we recognise you face a unique set of challenges on a daily basis – but this can help!’ It’s all about the approach.
Illusionist and general mentalist, Derren Brown once did an experiment where he took groups of people in different cities around the world – asked them to draw around their hands, number them and send them to him anonymously to analyse. He took them away under the presumption that he would, from the outlines, be able to determine unique characteristics and personality traits for participants. A week later he rejoined them and gave them all a numbered envelope, containing their special unique analysis.
There were tears as each person read through their personalised description, “I can’t believe he understands me this way” “This is exactly who I am.” “How could he know this about me!” The kicker? He wrote exactly the same thing in every description. Every participant held, word for word, the same description.
We are unique but we have a lot in common.
Talk to people as though you recognise they’re individuals. It works.