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The Idea Log: How to get noticed in business

Perception is everything in business. And perceptions are shaped by what people experience in the real world and by what they see and hear in the media. As we’ve seen with recent political events, feelings regularly trump facts, so the Idea Log, Idealog's spirit 'animal', is back again with some suggestions on how to gain attention and create positive perceptions of your brand. 

Did you know wood products are New Zealand’s third biggest export earner? You did? Well, given your surprising knowledge of our industry sectors, you’ll also know that it is a low-value commodity. And speaking as a log, it’s also murderous and barbaric. So I’m here to propose a few solutions to help get our country’s A into GDP, like how to get noticed in business.

Advertising philosopher Jeremy Bullmore once wrote that “People build brands as birds build nests, from scraps and straws we chance upon”. He updated that later and said that those scraps and straws are actually “laid in our path by the brand's owner – the packs, the promotions, the price, the advertising – in the cunning hope and expectation that the brand we thereby build will be the one we'll come to love and favour.”

All businesses need to lay their scraps and straws in the path of their potential customers if they hope to prosper. There’s often a disconnect between how we see ourselves and how others see us, but as Don Draper famously said: “If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation.” And, similarly, if nothing is being said, make sure you give them something to talk about by following this handy advice.

Look at everything through a brand lens. Go to your local optometrist and have your company’s logo lasered onto your cornea, so that’s all you see, all day, every day. Only then can you make decisions with your company’s true purpose in mind.

Use your brand name as a verb: Google, Frisbee, Hula Hoop. Hacky Sack … There's no greater recognition for a brand than getting "verbified." So just start using your company name in conversation at every opportunity. Even if it makes very little sense, you’ll still be getting your brand out there into the world.

Conduct elaborate, highly dangerous stunts: Successful entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Richard Branson understand the importance of grabbing attention for new launches. But instead of paying for advertising to get their message in front of an audience, they tend to pay for stunts that other people want to do stories about, whether it’s putting cars in space, or driving across the English channel in a tuxedo. But to really grab the headlines, you need to put yourself in real danger like they did in the old days. So try to jump your branded motorbike across a ravine, go over a waterfall in a branded barrel, or tie yourself up in chains and attempt to get out of a branded box filled with water. Note: flashmobs are dead.

Fake your own death. We all know dead people do better financially (if you’re a hugely successful musical megastar), so go sailing by yourself, abandon ship, swim to shore, buy some fake IDs from a gang member, stock up on supplies, go on the run, get your grieving family to mention the company name through a veil of tears during the press conference and watch the sales start rolling in.

Manufacture a wardrobe malfunction at a major event. Just as the manufactured pizza rat video captured the attention of the world, so too could you capture your customers’ attention through strategic nudity. Wait for a major international figure to visit New Zealand, rig up an elaborate pulley system and attach it to your pants and, just before they shake your hand, let ‘em drop to reveal a pair of branded undies. The international media will lap it up and, while you will be a laughing stock, you’ll also be laughing at all the stock you’ve sold.

Corporate rapping. Hip-hop is the world’s dominant musical style. So tap into that popularity and go viral by showing what your company can offer in rap form.

Create ridiculous, attention-grabbing brand extensions: If Elon can create a tunneling company or sell out of flamethrowers, your landscaping company can definitely create a new soap range called Ethnic Cleansing that is handmade by refugees for refugees.

Manipulate data. Fake news is good news when it comes to perception shifting. So create a simple Facebook quiz that shows people what kind of log they’d be after answering a few questions, suck up the data, get access to their and all their friends’ accounts and then post about how much they love your company. Who needs to pay influencers to spruik your wares when you can use illegally accessed social media accounts?

Create a scandal. The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about. So get ex-employees to come out of the woodwork and tell the media that you have broken many HR, food preparation and alcohol production laws and created a culture of depravity. Ask for forgiveness. Offer an ‘apology’ that shows no sign of remorse. Buy search terms like sexual harassment and watch the traffic roll in.

Live your brand. Or, more accurately, live with your brand constantly by getting it tattooed on your forehead.

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).