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Does Your Work Standout? 5 Tips To Make Sure You’re Not “Bad Different”

Does Your Work Standout? 5 Tips to Make Sure You’re Not “Bad Different”


Obviously, the impulse comes from a desire to stand out. If you are doing what everyone else is doing, how will anyone ever pay attention? When it comes to our work, the quirky differences are what make us interesting to other people. Why is this the case?


There is a science to why we notice when things that are different. Neuroscientists call this “selective attention.”

Selective Attention has primary functions:

  • Picking out what’s an important part of a constant flow of information (ie conversation or written document)
  • Protecting those important things in our mind so we can use and learn from them and not lose them in the sea of other information
  • Noticing things that are different is a function of filtering information. Meant to keep us from being overwhelmed and from missing important context. 

An example: Cavemen would know when a bear might be in the area because the smells in the air may be off or they may hear growling in the distance. They may know when the berries they forged are poisoned when people start dying shortly after eating them.


We generally love it when someone does something that stands out and is different. But just because something is different… doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good.

Brands tweeting “on fleak” or “totally rad” – Most times makes you cringe. Someone should tell those brand ambassadors, “you’re awful, you’re missing the mark and you feel forced. The spirit is missing.”

Many companies try to be different to grab your attention, but in doing so, they end up damaging the image of the product rather than make it stand out.

Heinz may have had many motivators to make colored kinds of ketchup like green and purple, but it didn’t mean it would be an effective approach to standing out. At one point Heinz colored ketchup lined shopping aisles and stood out against a sea of red… however, the colored ketchup appeared unnatural and unnerving, leading to a decline in sales. The impulse for Heinz was the need to be “different.” But this is an example of “Bad Different.”

Another Example: John Delorean had invented the sports car. The 1980s the Delorean car. The super-futuristic robotic hawk with aerodynamic plating. “I want to make great unique cars that people will love,” he said. When released, Delorean manufactured a limited run of 100 of them with 24-carat gold plating at $25,000 each… and only 2 sold. In 1980 no one had heard of “Back to the Future” because the movies didn’t exist. So the car was very different and was not received well. Different and too far out, Different and complicated. Different and bad.

So what is it we should be focusing on instead? BEING BETTER. However…


Someone can come up with the next “better” tomorrow or in the next hour. Being better is a constant state of work and tireless effort. So instead…


Believe in doing the best work possible and never settling for average. If all you care about is doing good enough, just getting the numbers to line up, and have no worry in the world about tomorrow, you may have fallen victim to shortcut culture and don’t care about your colleagues, audience or craft… and you might find yourself creating some purple ketchup.

But if you’re focused on being refreshing you should focus on WHO you are being refreshing to.

The audience, the customer, the client, the team, the people you serve. HOW? Honesty.

People who seek shortcuts, who are trying to engage with an audience through ulterior means seem dishonest. Something will be perceived as good because it comes from something real.


Continuously, consistently, genuinely and honestly serve the audience best.

Contact us today to talk about how you can be refreshing to your audience.

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