Had a great time speaking about Surprise Marketing at McGill U's Graduate Business conf last week. Although I closed a long day loaded with content, panels and keynotes, the audience stayed attentive and focused, and kept me there past the 5:00 p.m. shutdown (on a Friday yet!) with sharp questions about the relatively un-academic topic.
One query really hit home:
How do you keep people Surprised when your brand has a long-standing and strong identity? Wouldn't radical change negatively affect the equity built-up over the years?
Whoa! My answer was that the Surprise didn't have to be radical, just unexpected, and being unexpected doesn't always mean starting from scratch.
Not bad, but not as good as it would've been had I read Ted Matthews's book "Brand: It Ain't The Logo." In it, he (and co-authors Greg De Koker and Andris Pone) really nail the balancing act a Surprise marketer must perform with this explanation:
"New happy creatives may or may not realize that coming up with something fresh is actually a lot harder than dreaming up something new.
"Being fresh requires that you always work in a single, unchanging context: what the brand actually stands for.
"New, on the other hand, means the freedom to start over on a clear canvas every time.
Uh, that's what I MEANT to say...