I used to play guitar. I was pretty good at it. I had 4 years classical training and then moved on to electric guitar. I played in a band.

What was my style?

Well, I tried to be as innovative as Jimi Hendrix.

I tried to be as brilliant as Prince.

I tried to be as virtuous as Eric Clapton.

I tried to tap into the Southern roots of Johnny Winter.

I tried to create sound structures like Andy Summer.

And I never became a great guitar player.

Just like thousands of others who tried to be like other guitar players, just to become a cheap, replaceable commodity.

What was the problem?

I was never myself. I was never different.

And that’s the big problem with advertising.

We spend too much time being like our competitors. Just a little bit better. We want to be loved and cherished so much, we do anything to please the public. We spend millions to find out what people are  thinking and then give them what they want (even though we really don’t know what they want. Ask the iPad buyers.) We spend even more millions to gather data nuggets in order to rack up minute, incremental gains.

While we’re busy doing all that, we become all the same.

It didn’t work for me as a guitar player. It doesn’t work for individuals. And it doesn’t work in advertising.

You need to be different.

Don’t try to please everyone. Don’t try to be likeable.

Stand for something. Be different.

That’s what attracts people. That’s what makes the heart race. That’s what everybody desires.