Painted blue brick wall with a white arrow pointing right
Painted blue brick wall with a white arrow pointing right
#changethegame, #newnormal, #changebestpractices

Redefining Normal: How to Change the Game in Marketing and Design

Paul Kiernan

While it's essential to stay informed about industry trends and best practices, looking beyond the confines of your business can provide fresh perspectives and unique insights that set you apart from the competition.

In 2008, the U.S. Men’s basketball team traveled to Beijing to do more than win gold; they went to redeem American basketball's place on the world stage. This was about pride and reestablishing dominance in a sport the Americans had owned for many years. The results are history. America beat Spain in a gritty, hard-fought game, and the dream team became the redeem team.

There is an excellent documentary about this team and USA basketball's winning of the gold. Watching this film and looking at it with fresh eyes, without preconceived notions that it’s a sports film, what does that have to do with your marketing team? Approaching it that way allows you to be open to inspiration outside your company or specific business.

Where are we inspired?

Finding inspiration from unexpected sources can be the key to unlocking creativity and innovation. While it's essential to stay informed about industry trends and best practices, looking beyond the confines of your business can provide fresh perspectives and unique insights that set you apart from the competition.

One often overlooked source of inspiration is the world of professional sports. The strategies employed by top athletes and coaches can offer valuable lessons for marketers seeking to excel in their field. From the meticulous planning and preparation of a championship team to the agility and adaptability required to navigate a competitive landscape, there are countless parallels between the world of sports and the world of marketing.

Watching a pro sports game can provide a masterclass in effective teamwork, strategic thinking, and relentless determination—all of which are essential for marketing success. Whether it's studying the way a coach motivates their players or analyzing the tactics employed by top athletes, there's much to be learned from observing the dynamics of a winning team.

Similarly, the world of art can be a rich source of inspiration for marketers. Whether it's admiring the bold brushstrokes of a masterpiece or pondering the deeper meaning behind a thought-provoking sculpture, art has a unique ability to stimulate creativity and evoke emotion. By immersing themselves in the art world, marketers can gain fresh perspectives on storytelling, aesthetics, and brand expression.

For example, a painting may inspire a new color palette for a branding campaign, while a sculpture may spark ideas for innovative packaging design. By drawing on the rich tapestry of artistic expression, marketers can infuse their work with a sense of beauty, originality, and authenticity that resonates with consumers on a deeper level.

Another fertile ground for inspiration lies in the lives of great inventors and innovators. From Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, history is replete with examples of individuals who defied convention, pushed the boundaries of what was possible, and revolutionized their respective industries. By studying their stories and the principles that guided their work, marketers can gain valuable insights into the mindset of a visionary and the process of innovation.

For instance, reading about the trials and tribulations faced by inventors like Nikola Tesla or Marie Curie can instill a sense of perseverance and resilience in marketers grappling with challenges of their own. Likewise, studying the iterative process employed by innovators like Henry Ford or Elon Musk can shed light on the importance of experimentation, iteration, and continuous improvement in the pursuit of excellence.

Looking for inspiration outside of your business is essential for staying ahead of the curve in today's competitive marketplace. Whether it's drawing lessons from the world of sports, finding inspiration in art, or studying the lives of great inventors, thinking outside the box can provide fresh perspectives and new ideas that fuel innovation and drive success. So, don't be afraid to venture beyond the familiar—inspiration may be closer than you think.

Neon sign against black reading: Normal Gets You Nowhere, with the word Nowhere upside down.

Standing Out

In the ever-evolving world of marketing and design, standing out from the crowd requires more than just following the latest trends or adhering to conventional best practices. It demands a willingness to challenge the status quo, to break free from the constraints of tradition, and to forge a new path forward. While it's essential to understand the rules of the game, true innovation comes from daring to rewrite them altogether.

At the heart of this transformative process lies internal change— redefining what is considered normal within your team and organization. It's about fostering a culture of creativity, experimentation, and collaboration that empowers every member to think outside the box and challenge conventional wisdom. So, how exactly can you and your team embark on this journey of reinvention? Let's explore some key strategies.

Cultivate a Culture of Innovation: True change begins from within. As a leader, it's your responsibility to foster an environment where innovation is not only encouraged but celebrated. Encourage your team members to share their ideas openly, regardless of how unconventional they may seem. Provide them with the resources and support they need to turn these ideas into reality. By creating a culture that values creativity and experimentation, you lay the groundwork for transformative change.

Embrace Diversity of Thought: Diversity of thought is one of the most powerful catalysts for innovation. Surround yourself with people from different backgrounds, disciplines, and perspectives. Bringing together individuals with varied experiences and viewpoints creates fertile ground for the cross-pollination of ideas. Encourage constructive debate and dialogue, and welcome dissenting opinions as opportunities for growth. Remember, it's often through the collision of diverse perspectives that the most groundbreaking innovations emerge.

Challenge Assumptions and Conventions: Question everything. Don't simply accept the status quo because "that's how it's always been done." Critically examine the prevailing norms and assumptions within your industry and ask yourself: Why do we do things this way? Is there a better way? Encourage your team to challenge conventions and explore new approaches. By questioning the existing paradigms, you create space for true innovation to flourish.

Experiment Fearlessly: Innovation inherently involves risk, but it's a risk worth taking. Encourage your team to experiment fearlessly, to push the boundaries of what's possible. Embrace failure as an essential part of the learning process and celebrate the lessons it brings. Create a safe space where team members feel empowered to take calculated risks without fear of judgment or retribution. Remember, some of the most significant breakthroughs in history have come from those willing to venture into the unknown.

Iterate and Adapt: Change is not a one-time event; it's an ongoing process. Embrace a mindset of continuous improvement, and be prepared to iterate and adapt as you go. Solicit feedback from your team and your customers, and use it to refine your approach iteratively. Be willing to pivot quickly in response to new information or changing market dynamics. By remaining agile and adaptable, you position yourself to stay ahead of the curve in an ever-changing landscape.

A male lion on a windy savannah

Lead by Example: As a leader, your actions speak louder than words. Lead by example, and demonstrate your commitment to innovation through your own behavior. Embrace change wholeheartedly and encourage others to do the same. Be willing to take risks, make bold decisions, and challenge the status quo. Show your team that you're not afraid to venture into uncharted territory, and inspire them to follow suit.

Risk: Risk is the pulse of innovation, the heartbeat of progress, and the catalyst for redefining what's considered normal. In marketing and design, embracing risk is not merely a choice; it's a necessity for staying ahead in a rapidly evolving landscape. Risk pushes boundaries, shattering the confines of conventional thinking and paving the way for groundbreaking ideas. It sparks creativity by challenging the status quo and encouraging out-of-the-box solutions that captivate audiences and leave lasting impressions. Moreover, risk cultivates resilience and adaptability, essential qualities in an era of constant change. By taking risks, marketers and designers open themselves to new possibilities, unearthing untapped potential and discovering innovative approaches that set them apart from the competition. In a world saturated with mediocrity, risk is the secret ingredient that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary, propelling brands to new heights of success and relevance. Embracing risk isn't just about courting danger; it's about seizing opportunities and shaping the future on one's own terms, ultimately redefining what's possible in marketing and design.

Stay True to Your Vision: While it's essential to be open to new ideas and perspectives, staying true to your vision is equally important. Define your values, your goals, and your unique point of view, and let them guide your decision-making process. Don't be swayed by the latest fads or trends; instead, focus on what sets you apart and what makes your brand truly special. By staying true to your vision, you ensure that your innovations are not just different for the sake of being different but are rooted in a more profound sense of purpose and identity.

Summing Up

Changing the game in marketing and design requires more than just following the rules—it demands a willingness to rewrite them altogether. By cultivating a culture of innovation, embracing diversity of thought, challenging assumptions, experimenting fearlessly, iterating and adapting, leading by example, and staying true to your vision, you can empower your team to redefine what is considered normal and make the game yours. So, throw away the rule book and embark on the journey of transformation. The future belongs to those bold enough to shape it. Want to know more about your new normal? Talk to the experts at ThoughtLab.