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Where the Rubber Meets the Road

A combination of good strategy and poor execution is like a Ferrari with flat tires. It looks good in the specs, but fails on the street. This is the case for at least half the brand communication done today. Don’t take my word for it—pick up a copy of your favorite magazine and leaf through the ads. How many actually touch your emotions? Will you remember any of them tomorrow? If not, it’s probably the fault of execution, not strategy. Execution—read creativity—is the most difficult part of the branding mix to control. It’s magic, not logic, that ignites passion in customers.

Our cultural distrust in creativity goes back to the Enlightenment, when we discovered the awesome power of rational thinking. The movement became so successful that rational thinking became the only thinking—at least the only thinking you could trust. Yet in spite of our continuing reverence for rationality, we don’t really do many things by logic. Our best thinking depends more on the “illogical” skills of intuition and insight, which may explain why logical argument rarely convinces anyone of anything important.

Benjamin Franklin, despite being a child of the Enlightenment, showed both intuition and insight when he observed: “Would you persuade, speak of interest, not of reason.”

Innovation requires creativity, and creativity gives many business people a twitch. Anything new, by definition, is untried, and therefore unsafe. Yet when you ask executives where they expect to find their most sustainable competitive advantage, what do they answer? Innovation. Because the truth is, innovation lies at the heart of both better design and better business. It magnifies drive inside the organization. it slashes the costs of inefficiency, duplication, and corporate ennui. It confers the ability to produce uncommon, yet practical, responses to real problems.

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