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2 minute read / Mar 8, 2024 /

The Opposite of a Good Idea is a Good Idea

For those of us who love logic, the paradoxical title of this post should catch your eye, just as it did mine.

In Alchemy, the founder of a major brand agency describes the way many of the major consumer companies in the world created brands.

We call it breaking out : a double entendre which means both growing faster than competitors but also in a different way than their competition.

Rory Sutherland, the author explains it this way :

“The fatal issue is that logic always gets you to exactly the same place as your competitors.”

So he advocates to

“Test counterintuitive things, because no one else ever does.”

He cites examples like Dyson (people really want cool vacuum cleaners) & RedBull (sell a drink whose taste consumers broadly dislike). Ad campaigns with fuzzy animals draw more users & more non-profit contributions.

There are other gems : we buy brands to satisfice is a reformulation of the trope No One is Fired for Buying Software from the Incumbent.

The book argues that the unexpected drives consumer behavior. I wonder if the analogy holds for software purchases where procurement teams likely quash the counterintuitive magic in a sales process through discipline.

But some of the observations might very well suit the bottoms-up PLG motion.

The insights echo of category defining PLG companies like Slack & Notion which challenged utilitarian incumbents through personality & design.

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