The Non-Obvious Insights Blog. Non-Obvious Insights
The Non-Obvious Insights Blog.

Dedicated To Helping Readers
Be More Interesting
Since 2004.

As Featured In:

The Upside of Being Ordinary And Obvious

IMB_BlackberryKeyboardHow much time do you spend trying to be ordinary or obvious? Probably not a lot. In fact, most marketing people actively avoid talking about the ordinary or obvious qualities of their business. Instead we spend days in creative brainstorms trying to create new messages find that brilliant unique thing that no one else has. We want to use new and sexy social media tools and find a winning creative idea that will get everyone's attention. And we forget the ordinary and obvious stuff.  

But what if the most unique thing about your business was also the most ordinary? Here are a few reasons why the ordinary and obvious side of your business may actually be your biggest asset:

  1. Customers have ordinary and obvious requirements. It is easy to think that having an endless list of new product features will appeal to people. The problem is, it is confusing. I recently went shopping to replace a light bulb in my ceiling. The one I bought was the one that said the size most clearly on the box.  
  2. The ordinary and obvious are the most important. The number one reason I book any flight has nothing to do with comfort of the seats of what type of food they might offer. I look for a direct flight. Whichever airline I can fly directly to my destination with is the one I choose. Exactly how many airline ads have you seen in the last six months that ever focus entirely on the fact that you can fly directly from point A to point B? I can recall only one – Singapore Airlines promoting their direct NY – Singapore flight.
  3. The ordinary and obvious may have its passionate fans. Anyone still using a Blackberry today (and I am one of them) does so just for one reason. It's not the collection of apps (which suck) or for the stunning quality of the screen resolution. No, most are just so familiar with the keyboard that they can't imagine doing work and typing emails on a touch screen. Again, how many Blackberry ads have you seen promoting the quality of the experience of using their keyboard versus slow and inconsistent touch screens? Exactly zero.

I love a good creative idea as much as the next marketing person. The point of the post, though, is that sometimes the most stunningly creative thing you can do is choose to focus on the most obvious and ordinary part of your business. You might be surprised at how effective it can be. 


14 thoughts on “The Upside of Being Ordinary And Obvious”

  1. Great blog Rohit. Perhaps people should be encouraged not to “overthink”, but rather to “underthink”. And in Blackberry’s defence, they do have a commercial where a lady talks about how she gets and responds to so many emails that she “couldn’t imagine doing that on a touch-screen”.

  2. “sometimes the most stunningly creative thing you can do is choose to focus on the most obvious and ordinary part of your business.”

    oh, I love that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about these things 🙂
    Keep your blog updated 🙂

  3. I think it takes a creative mind to take the obvious and ordinary, and then turn it into a brand. Apple did this with Siri, considering how voice-enabling features were already integrated into smartphones before the company made a brand out of it.

  4. I guess a lot of this is about image.

    Winning awards for example — a lot of the stuff that does that doesn’t even communicate well. But it’s fancy pants stuff to show off with.

    Brilliant and unique is great, but only if it actually works; if it gets to the core of the product and the core of customers’ motivations. Getting to that core, in my view is often about the ordinary; but it’s not obvious to all. And it can be exciting, even if it’s not fancy pants.


  5. I just saw at the grocery store this great line of generic pills that are so clear, I bought them. All it said on the from was “Help, I have a headache”. There was a whole line of them. “Help, I can’t sleep”, sore throat, flu, back pain, runny nose, and so on. It was the store brand but the marketing was so straight forward, I bought them and they worked perfectly.

  6. People don’t have time for reading between the lines anymore. You message should be laser accurate to your point. We can help you with (service), we can improve your business, this is how, this is the cost, to proceed call us or email us here. Lets get started.

  7. Sometimes “sexy” is just plain obvious and ordinary, that is the real beauty of sexy. If something is practical, and it works, and it is efficient, there is no need of pampering it up with extras that are sometimes useless. There is nothing a customer hates more than being confused when trying to buy something, and obvious and ordinary avoids this confusion. It gives the customer the feeling that he is knowing what he is doing, he won’t feel intimidated, and he will buy. As simple as that.

    Tulane University

  8. Hi Rohit,

    I believe most companies ignore the obvious and try to create a masterpiece of creativity. This usually results in a piece of marketing that doesn’t work to sell their product or service. I agree that customers have certain reasons to purchase an offering that are fairy commonplace, you just have to take a breath and fight the temptation to try to be brilliant!

    Thanks for sharing,



Leave a Comment

The Non-Obvious Insights Newsletter. Non-Obvious Insights
Layer 97
The Non-Obvious Insights Newsletter
Layer 118

Skip the obvious and anticipate the future with our weekly newsletter. Join over 25,000 subscribers and start receiving the stories (and insights) you’ve been missing.

All Books

#1 WSJ & USA Today Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 10 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


Have a Question or Inquiry?

Just fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!


About You

What Are You Contacting Us About*:

Your Message