Why brands should Zig where others Zag

How many times have you checked BBC news for the facts? Using the reliable, compliant, and steadfast Auntie Beeb for the mundane, verified details of a breaking news update. Only to repeatedly share and discuss a salacious opinion piece from one of your preferred, more animated media outlets instead.

The answer is, probably quite often. Why? Because good brands deliver a frictionless, seamless experience – and powerful ones deliver something different, something memorable.

For too long brands have been buying into the fallacy that creating a simple, straight-forward customer experience means creating an unforgettable brand. The truth is something far less spectacular.

In reality, a seamless, friction-free experience only works to satisfy a disgruntled customer and does very little to inspire a happy one. And who spends more money? A recent Forrester report states that happy customers spend 2 – 4 times more than simply ‘satisfied’ ones. Yet other stats show that companies spend 80% of their time on removing friction for their most unhappy customers.

Essentially, on the people who ultimately spend less time, money, and effort on them. Surely then, a greater ROI is better achieved by creating extraordinary memories for customers, rather than trying to remove any bumps, personality, and individuality from your brand.

In a world where everyone is hell-bent on providing good, problem-free experiences – adding to the pile of vanilla, monotonous brand offerings just coasting through the zeitgeist – it’s time to provide something different. And to be truly different, brands need to zig when others zag.

What does it mean to Zig and not Zag?

To really strive for difference, the art of zigging requires a different way of thinking, and one that doesn’t blindly focus on creating a seamless experience. To become a top zigger in a world full of hapless zags, brands need to start thinking about the following:

• Being loveable, not necessary.

• Exceptional experiences create good memories.

• Can you deliver something people love rather than what they simply just like?

• Strive for an emotional response, not a satisfied one.

It’s true that customers still need to be nurtured and looked after, but to really harness the power of the zig, a brand needs to not only speak to the, but to also stand out from the crowd – no matter how safe that crowd feels.

What intentionally zigging in a world gone zag looks like.

To forgo fail-safe customer experiences and instead throw your lot in with infamy may seem like a wild, out-of-the-box notion – but there’s plenty who are already at it.

Take unconventional dating app Thursday.

There’s nothing unconventional at all about Thursday really, they just chose to zig when the already saturated dating app landscape was well and truly zagged.

Savvily capitalising on the candid narrative played out via memes and tweets about dating in your 20’s, Thursday mixed talk-worthy marketing stunts with authenticity. Bringing a new dating experience to life. Plus, by only making matches available on (yep you guessed it) a Thursday, the app successfully gamified what is universally acknowledge as a repetitive, monotonous process.

Similarly, the beauty industry is one where the big players religiously follow a certain bland brand formula. Until Florasis. Founded in the Eastern City of Hangzhou by Lake Xizi, Florasis, or Hua Xizi 花西子 as it’s known in Chinese, is a brand unafraid of maximalism.

Specialising in packaging and products featuring traditional and historic Chinese design and craft, Florasis makeup is detailed to the point of artistry. Whether it’s a carved lipstick inspired by a Chinese relief sculpture, or packaging crafted with patterns seen in traditional Miao silverware – customers get an instant heirloom quality from every product.

Now sitting comfortably in opposition to the Western beauty giants that have previously dominated the market, what Florasis does so well is disrupt the industry’s fixation on functionality. A much-needed shake-up in an historically clinical, copy-and-paste type industry.

Still not convinced? In a UK market that has declined an average of 6% each year of the last five, it’s easy to see why brands opt to play it safe. Sticking to the zag, towing-the-line, and ticking the boxes to ensure survival. But is playing it safe a false economy?

Just look at Deadhappy’s reported growth in 2021, not only defying market trends but also defying industry conventions.

That’s because DeadHappy has radically rethought everything about the business it’s in. Its revenue is generated through selling Life Insurance, but at the core of its identity is a deeply embedded mission to change the way we think about death and after-life planning.

Flexible, affordable, (and dare we say it) even enjoyable, DeadHappy is a great example of a new kind of next-generation challenger. Not only in terms of its accessible brand ethos, but in the way it’s re-built what’s gone before and run with it. Plus, any brand that uses the messaging “please die responsibly” is most definitely full of ground-breaking zig.

Another fine example of prioritising being bold over being bland is Skincare brand Haeckels.

Like many others, the cosmetic industry is a crowded place to be. Plus, with brands routinely shouting their sustainability credentials, it’s hard to cut through the noise. Shrewdly, Haeckels has seen which way the wind is blowing and has expertly zigged its way to becoming a challenger, stand-out brand.

Framing its legitimate sustainability credentials through a distinctive and compelling narrative about place and identity. By not being afraid to break the industry mould, Haeckels has come out on top, successfully morphing from a good brand, into a powerful one.

Unleash the Zig in your brand!

Here at Designmc we can help discover what it is that makes your brand different – then how best to deliver that message to your audience. Helping you to create extraordinary, memorable moments that inspire loyalty, not mundanity.

To find out more about how we can help your brand strive for difference, get in touch at hello@designmc.org