Yesterday, I wrote about overcoming the fear of being unique in your marketing. This morning, I experienced something that hammered home the power of uniqueness.
I was listening to an old Stevie Nicks song, "Blue Lamp", as I worked. At one point, the music comes to the end of a phrase that's occurred before in the song. Each time the phrase had ended, it launched directly into the next phrase. So naturally, I expected more of the same.
But this time, there was a pause...
And then the next phrase came -- pretty much just like it had before, though it felt like they'd chopped the measure in half.
Simple changes, but wow! So powerful!
In music, little unexpected changes are often used to spice things up. What Stevie Nicks did was a simple example of what's called "phrase extension". Usually, part of the phrase just before the end is repeated, perhaps with some variation, drawing it out and building the tension before the final cadence resolves it.
I'm reminded of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. At the end of one of the movements, Bartok leaves the listener hanging by building up the musical tension and then just ending without resolving it at all. It's almost painful...but you can't say it's not powerful.
The art rock band Yes did the same thing with one of their songs in the early '70's. The original version of Heart of the Sunrise ended without resolving. What made it even worse was that it was the last song on the album! It took some getting used to, but once I did, I loved it.When I bought the album on CD years later and discovered that they'd tacked on a more accessible ending, I was so disappointed that I ripped the song, chopped off the end, and burned myself a new CD!
There's a lesson in that.
I prefer the version of the song that's musically "wrong". Why? Because it's unique. It's interesting. It's daring.
How boring would music be if every song sounded the same? Who's that band who had a big hit some years ago, and it was great, but all their other songs sounded exactly the same? Boring!
I remember listening to the Fixx's album, Reach the Beach. What a masterpiece. The entire album is full of little unexpected treats. And I mean little -- like a single beep placed just once in one song. What did they do -- hire somebody to come in and play that one beep for the album?
Of course not, but they did think to add the beep. Unique. Unexpected. Subtle. Powerful.
It's worth pointing out at that none of the examples I've given were about random noises thrown in for shock value. What they did was unexpected, but supported the overall goal of the music.
Likewise in marketing, if you're just doing publicity stunts for publicity's sake, you may get attention for it. But if people don't remember you or your product when they remember what you did -- if they don't remember why you did it and how it ties into your marketing message, then you've lost the most important half of the battle.