The Death-Knell for Innovation




What I really dislike about the ordinary is its sameness – both visually and intellectually. When individuals and their personal opinions fade into the so-called mainstream, because suddenly everybody’s doing what everybody else is doing too.

To be yourself – an individual who stands out – takes guts and the fortitude to break free from established patterns. To progress despite external discouragement, to endure, remote from the lives others live, and liberated from the models they try to impose on you. To dare to live a life detached from what the communal mainstream deems as proper and correct. Because at some point or in some way, every community ultimately imposes a “common factor”.

Naturally, communities also have their advantages: The more homogenous the masses, the more energy they can generate. With everybody pulling together, the strength of the individual is multiplied exponentially. But, when a community becomes divided it’s a laborious, sometimes even debilitating process, whereas the actual conflict might ultimately spark mutual inspiration and result in new ideas. I’m convinced that where innovation is involved, mainstream is a death sentence. Or when last did mediocrity create something new, something impressive?

And this applies to smaller personal matters too. The people who fascinate us most are those who progress through life with unassailable convictions and are oblivious to the mainstream. Individuals who dare to follow their beliefs, have determination, insight and courage. For me, in any event, my favorite encounters are those in which out of the blue my perceptions are turned upside-down, and highlighting that what I thought I knew about an issue is really only a fraction of the entire spectrum. That’s what I call inspirational!

On the positive side, rising above the common run is something you can actively engage in. Through education, activities, exploits. The more you immerse yourself in a topic, a talent or an aptitude, the more developed your own opinions and skills become. All of us have an aspect in our lives we can improve upon. But transcending the mainstream also requires initiative, commitment, passion. And, maybe, that’s what I like least about mainstream: the sneaking suspicion that it’s linked to laissez-faire.

A glance at the current media landscape is a good example of this – or is it just me who feels that everything has been sounding like a tired imitation of BuzzFeed this past year? Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. But reinterpreting the original content in a more personal and interesting way, to have the courage of a different opinion and to share it rather that just sitting at your desk and parroting existing content. Is that really asking too much?

So, however, popular it is, paradoxically, not wanting to be average, I suggest we should all try a little harder to achieve that goal. Start the day by giving yourself a little nudge that sets you apart. Whether as a person or as a brand: Let’s spread a little inspiration around! And the result will be the same in real life as it is in branding. Well worth the effort!


This article also appears in PUNKTMagazin. The Swiss magazine combines economics, investment and lifestyle and is published every two months. Branders CEO René Allemann writes a column for the publication. You'll find more information on PUNKTMagazin here:

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René Allemann

René Allemann

Born in Zurich, René Allemann founded the consulting firm Branders in 2005. With 20 employees, the branding agency creates, maintains and manages brands. The Brander journal is published by the Branders Group.

The Brander is a publication of the Branders Group