Creative Thinking

Why behaving like David Bowie is the secret to memorable branding

Published on

March 13, 2024


David Bowie Neon Sign

How many brands are you bombarded with in a single day? From those filling your Instagram feed before you even step foot out of bed, to those appearing on the pages of your newspaper and those emblazoned on billboards as you walk to work, they’re absolutely everywhere.

And that’s prior to pouring your first cup of coffee and opening the lid on your MacBook. But how many do you actually recall on any given day or relay to friends and family over a pint that evening? I’d hazard a guess that it’s not that many.

Indeed, a sea of sameness means that distinguishing one brand from the next is increasingly difficult, not to mention even remembering them. So, what’s the problem? Being creative and distinctive is difficult, yes – but not impossible with the right experts and an open mind – while sticking to tried-and-trusted approaches can be comforting, particularly if they’ve worked in the past. The problem is, you risk boring existing customers – after all, not all of them are looking for nostalgia (wink, wink, brands-that-shan’t-be-named) – and stop attracting new leads. Or worse, appealing to everyone with vanilla branding that doesn’t engage your target audience. In short: sticking to the familiar is not without risks itself.

Ingrained in human nature, playing by the rules has long been a way to survive, but it’s certainly not a way to thrive. Think about the world’s most iconic rebels and rock stars – it’s the James Deans, David Bowies and Amy Winehouses who think outside of the box, make an impact, rise to fame and leave a lasting legacy. In entertainment, much like marketing, those who conform to what’s popular – or familiar – are quickly forgotten (X Factor ‘stars’, anyone?). In fact, the personas of these entertainers have been crafted by marketeers like yourself, which is why only the boldest have endured. 

With all that in mind, you almost predict branding. Sustainability will always be indicated by green because of its association with nature. Medical, banking and technology are likely to be blue due to its connection with confidence, stability and wisdom. And red dominates the food industry to grab attention together with complementary reds and oranges you can almost ‘eat’. Similarly, you can guess their narratives: sustainability messages will be conveyed via lush fields, undulating mountains and crashing oceans (or, God forbid, another wind farm); motoring will be communicated by cars winding up more hills; and food will be melty, drippy, porny. Etc., etc., etc.

So far, so snooze, right?

That’s all because decision-makers in boardrooms have chosen the safest routes to reassure stakeholders, protect budgets and please crowds rather than the boldest routes that will elicit questions, divide opinions and defy expectations. But when it’s all about creating a meaningful connection to your target audience that your brand can own and will cut-through the competition, playing it safe is actually the riskiest thing you can do when it comes to your marketing. Only the boldest survive, after all.

Our minds are trained to group similar concepts together which is why a stand-out idea is more likely to stick in our memory. It can be something as simple as an unexpected colour palette to represent the category of your business. A completely disruptive campaign that nobody’s seen or done before. Or, a calculated risk that sits somewhere in the middle to prick the ears of your audience and get them to engage with your brand.

Get in touch with Bray St. to discuss how we can help your brand deliver cut-through.

written by

Nicky Rampley-Clarke

Editor & Content Strategist

Become a Bray St. brand and choose long-term success
We partner with brands we believe in, whatever your stage of growth. If we've found each other, then we share the same vision.
Get in touch