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Daring to be brave…daring to be different

The power of bold communication by political, sporting and business leaders captured our attention this month.We’ve been watching US President Barack Obama advocate for gay rights, AFL league CEO Gillon McLachlan condemn racism in football and banker Cameron Clyne call on business to do more for society.

Currie believes the world needs leaders who inspire positive change.

These are people who are willing to speak with conviction, give voice to imagination, who dare to be different, and who have the courage to be heard above the din.

We think you find the same attributes behind stand-out marketing communications.

Hang-gliding in a straight-jacket

Too long ago my colleague Johnny Warburton likened advertising creative to “hang-gliding in a straight-jacket”. It could be tough. This is because clients often refused the bravest creative ideas. Johnny argued that unless you’re prepared to “zig when others zag” you won’t be distinctively different.

The rationale here is that unless your content – a brand, an advertisement, a banner, a speech, a blog or a media release – looks and sounds different or provocative it won’t get noticed.

Not long after this talk we hosted a breakfast entitled Marketing without money, based on the book of the same name by John C Lyons and Edward de Bono. John Lyons was the guest speaker.

Necessity is often the mother of invention.  So it was for the 20 entrepreneurs interviewed for the book. Each of them had created famous brands and businesses from the smallest of budgets. John said: “They used creative, conceptual thinking and courage as their main resources.”

These entrepreneurs, many of whom are less well-known than the brands they created, include Paul Cave, BridgeClimb (of Sydney Harbour Bridge fame); Dick Smith, the founder of Australian Geographic; Theresa Rein, founder and MD of HR firm Ingeus; and the late Dr Carl Wood, the global “father” of IVF.

A summary of key learnings from each entrepreneur makes compelling reading. The words, “think differently”, “be different” and “do things differently”, appear often in this chapter.

What do you think?

My takeout is that most – if not all – of these business leaders will agree with Seth Godin: “Very good is an everyday occurrence and hardly worth mentioning.” (The Purple Cow, 2003).

Now, leadership is not for the faint-hearted. Here’s what our team said about it this week.

Leadership is about being prepared … there are few who are truly prepared (or have the courage) to do it.
Leadership means being willing to say something that is worth hearing, and doing things that might be unpopular.
Leadership requires support – if you’re going to go out on a limb, you need that support behind you. (Great leaders earn that trust and get that support).
For our part we assist leaders at public and private sector organisations to make sense of complex issues, engage influential stakeholders and tell stories that inspire positive change.

We admire people who champion bold and provocative ideas, who value fresh thinking, and honest communication, and who start conversations about changing things for the better.

So, here’s our challenge. Let’s be different, be brave.  We dare you.

Best wishes,

Mark Paterson

* Currie Communications is a proudly-certified B Corporation – a company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems – and the exclusive Australian affiliate for the Public Relations Global Network.

About Mark Paterson

Mark’s first job was milking cows. An award-winning career in journalism followed. These days when he's not trying to save coral reefs in Indonesia, dreaming about playing tennis on the Masters circuit or raising three kids in a blended family he thrives on consulting work that connects profit with people and planet. The son of corgi breeders, Mark would like to change the world for the better. Read more posts by Mark.

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