Distinctive Makes a Difference

July 10, 2022


A Thousand Songs in My Pocket

I remember thinking I was the coolest guy in the world when I took my iPod to the gym. It’s funny because I’m not an early adopter and I’ve never really been into gadgets. But I got my first iPod about a year after they came out, and I can’t think of anything I ever bought that made me feel so good. 

Effective advertising tells people how your product is going to solve their problem. My iPod solved a problem I didn’t even know I had. I needed a device smaller than a Sony Diskman that could hold my entire CD collection. And there it was. 

“A thousand songs in your pocket” was the perfect slogan, even though an iPod actually holds a lot more songs than that. A thousand songs on one device sounded pretty miraculous at the time, and the slogan flows really well. (Like all forms of writing, copywriting is essentially poetry.)

Selling Joy

Byron Sharp* notes that the iPod advertising campaign “did not mention the term ‘MP3 player.’” In fact, “their advertising didn’t talk about this new technology at all.” 

Instead of selling new technology, Apple was selling joy. As Sharp explains, the iPod advertising campaign 

always employed the same silhouette figures against colourful backgrounds and these figures were always joyfully dancing (while listening to their iPods) and the white headphones were always obvious. Technical details were left to sales people and web sites to explain.

Carbonated Cough Syrup


A lot of people are willing to pay three times as much for an 8-ounce can of Red Bull than they would for a 12-ounce can of soda. But when it comes to ingredients, the only real difference is that Red Bull has a lot more caffeine and a smidgen of Vitamin B. 

So how did Red Bull convince so many people to pay so much more for a beverage that tastes like carbonated cough syrup?

The obvious is answer marketing, which is the art of convincing people to buy things. One of the most effective ways to convince people to buy things is by appealing to their internal narrative, which is the story everyone tells themself about who they are.

According to Seth Godin**, “our actions are primarily driven by one question: ‘Do people like me like things like this?’” If you align your product with the customer’s internal narrative, you can make oodles of money.

To align their product with the internal narratives of millions of customers, Red Bull spends billions of dollars in advertising every year, creating the perception that people who drink Red Bull are:

  • Young
  • Healthy
  • Athletic
  • Male
  • Carefree
  • Adventurous

Different Can, Different Product

People drink Red Bull to get amped up on caffeine. But Red Bull had to convince customers that they weren’t just buying a new type of hyper-caffeinated soda. Instead, Red Bull sells people a whole new lifestyle.

By making the can so distinctive, Red Bull creates the perception that it’s a totally different type of product. 

Rory Sutherland*** of Ogilvy & Mather Group explains: 

How can Red Bull charge £1.50 a can when Coke only charge 50p? Weirdly you make the can smaller. Suddenly people think this is a different category of drink for which different price points apply. If the can had been the same size, I am not sure they could have charged £1.50. Logic won’t tell you that and research won’t tell you, because in research we all pretend we are maximisers and hyper-rational.

by Richard W. Bray

* How Brands Grow, p142

* *This Is Marketing, p104

***Quoted in The Choice Factory by Richard Shotten, p67

the love of a child

July 17, 2021

unruly, rambunctious, exhausting and wild
there’s no greater love than the love of a child

boundless, colossal, extending for miles
there is no restraining the love of a child

needy and hopeful, touching and mild
the heaviest burden, the love of a child

investing your marrow, refunded in smiles
there’s no greater love than the love of a child

by Richard W. Bray

The Sparkle in My Dreams

June 6, 2021

I'm at the tip of the top
There's a pep in my step
I got the hippity hop
Winning all of my bets

I’m hanging on a hope 
Met a special sort of friend
I’m such a silly old dope
Am I falling again?

Gonna get a new start
I’m so happy I could scream
For the bounce in my heart
And the sparkle in my dreams

I’m hanging on a hope 
Met a special sort of friend
I’m such a silly old dope
Am I falling again?

By Richard W. Bray

Fancy Land

May 24, 2018

All is grand in Fancy Land
With towering mushrooms growing wild
There’s purple skies that mesmerize
And no one ever hurts a child

The unicorn band in Fancy Land
Plays heavenly tunes with a thundering beat
Wishes are granted and all is enchanted
And everyone has enough to eat

Hate is banned in Fancy Land
Everyone lives how they want to be
An endless sensation of happy creation
Where all the creatures are roaming free

You’re welcome to visit Fancy Land
As long as the magic lives inside you
With access forbid to all but kids
But grownups wanna go there too

by Richard W. Bray

Alliterative Animal Kingdom

April 8, 2013

download (2)

Round the rampant rugged rocks
Rude and ragged rascals run.

W.H. Auden

Queasy koalas quarrel and quibble
Noisy gnus nag and nibble
Hefty horses heave and hoe
Shameless sheep shop and show

Playful pigs prance and preen
Careful cats cook and clean
Dancing dogs dally and drink
Thirteen thoroughbreds thank and think

Buoyant bunnies broil and bake
Rampant rhinos rush and rake
Slippery seals splash and splish
While wayward weasels wonder and wish

by Richard W. Bray

you can’t take back the hurt you give

August 12, 2022

it's easy to hurt
another human being
if you're careless
if you're stupid
or just plain mean

you can't take back
the hurt you give
you're gonna
have to face it
as long as you live

it doesn't matter
how bad you feel
it ain't gonna help
the other person heal

you can't take back
the hurt you give
you're gonna
have to face it
as long as you live

by Richard W. Bray

before the fall

August 3, 2022

Build a house upon a sinkhole
You can reinforce the walls
Build a house upon a sinkhole
You can bet it's gonna fall

You can look out real far
And never look too far in deep
You can look out real far
And always wonder why you weep

You can live inside a daydream
It's got a really nice view
You can live inside a daydream
But it never comes true

You can tell yourself she loves you
Any day she's gonna call
You can tell yourself she loves you
You know what comes before the fall

by Richard W. Bray

pumped and puffed with so much pride

July 30, 2022

You've had enough and now you're through
With everyone you ever knew
Who didn't do what you want them to

Holding on to hate so tight
You're righteous and you're always right

Making lists of friends and foes
For every thought they ever chose
Paranoia grows and grows

Pumped and puffed with so much pride
Everyone must take your side

Every grievance needs a name
Where you can cast a heap of blame
Hiding from your inner shame

Your tender heart is hurt and scarred
Envy grows and dreams die hard 

by Richard W. Bray

over and over

July 16, 2022

did you hear about the crazy thing
that Crazy Alice did?
been talking about Alice
since you were all kids

day after day, over and over
the same old conversation, over and over
nothing ever changes and you keep getting older

dry and dreary words
like cobwebs in your throat
stupid as a maggot
stubborn as a goat

day after day, over and over
the same old conversation, over and over
nothing ever changes, and you keep getting older

grab another name
and pass it all around
your whole wide world
is a dusty little town

day after day, over and over
the same old conversation, over and over
nothing ever changes, and you keep getting older

by Richard W. Bray

Don’t blame the world

June 25, 2022

I thought I was your only one
You tore my insides out for fun

Don't be so careless
Don't be so dumb
Don't hand over your heart
To self-centered scum

You were such a sparkly girl
You dropped a napalm on my world

Don't fall for the phony
Don't fall for the hype
Don't expect a dream
To repair a broken life

Life is a bucket full of stink
I'm gonna end myself with drink

Don't sing the blues
For your stupid decisions
Don't blame the world
For your own masochism

by Richard W. Bray

Find your flow

June 18, 2022

Life is liquid
Find your flow
Don't worry too much
Where other people go

Life is matter
And energy
You're connected to the sun
You are part of every tree

Life is music
Hear your call
Don't let anybody tell you
One size fits all

Life is love
You are never alone
The whole world lives
In your blood and your bones

by Richard W. Bray

the dancers and the dance

June 11, 2022

I almost shriveled up and died
But then I met you when I did
You taught me how to fly
Made me feel like a kid

We never said goodbye
We just went our separate ways
And your melody renews
Day after day

We never had it all
And we had so much more
Blankets and pillows
And cuddling on the floor

Owning every moment
Life is just a glance
Motion never ends:
The dancers and the dance

by Richard W. Bray

Pretending Away

May 29, 2022

Telling more lies
To prove you aren't a liar
Committing arson
To cover up a fire

Pretending away
Facts that burn your soul
Pretending away
Truth that takes a toll

Festering lilies
Troubles grow like weeds
Caress and fondle
The monsters that you feed

Pretending away 
The pain and the smell
Pretending away
The things you never tell

Cardboard illusions
Menageries of glass 
Forsaken future
Imaginary past

Pretending away
What everybody sees
Pretending away
Your own reality

by Richard W. Bray

the space between

May 18, 2022

Time was somewhere else
In a universe of two
Bewitched and bedazzled
There was only you

The light, the air
The space between
Charged by the sparks
That cannot be seen

Colors overflow
Molecules conspire
Angels hold their breath
And stop to admire

The light, the air
The space between
Charged by the sparks
That cannot be seen

by Richard W. Bray