Does Your Big Marketing Idea Look Good In White?

I never cared for white cars.

I think it was a Midwest thing. Winter slush puts too much spackle on a clean finish. Greys or taupe or certain blues were better.

That, or how it made a car look fleetish. Official.  God help you if it wore a set of blackwalls. God help you twice if you were tooling your white Crown Vic down the Detroit side of 8 Mile on a Friday night, dodging dirty looks.

Yesterday, I’m stopped at a red and a car pulls up beside me.

A new Mustang. A white Mustang.

1982 MustangI love Mustangs. My first car was a Mustang. Black, though.

But the car I saw yesterday still looked damn good. Better than the brand has looked in ages. Better than a lot of cars have looked in ages.  Clean and sweetly proportioned. So good it made me wonder how I’d look in a white Mustang.

That’s not a shout-out to Mustangs. It’s praise for good design.

Stripped of color, the sculpture left bare, most car designs leave me cold. It’s a lack of inspiration, balance, subtlety. Designers tack on fake fender gills and style lines and LED jewelry as a substitute for finessed form or brave choices.

Great design doesn’t succeed only because of what’s included, but because of what it leaves out.

Ideas are like that. Especially in my business.

In marketing, we have a tendency to layer ideas with decoration, glitter, buttons and widgets. A lot of the time it’s because the idea itself isn’t all that hot. It doesn’t break new ground or drive buzz. We fall in love with the bolt-ons and overlays.

Pig in LipstickThat’s perfectly okay sometimes. I’ve put some very nice lipstick on my own share of pigs. Day-Glo Metallic Flake lipstick. I’ve often been guilty of being the one suggesting the pig in the first place.

We hurry past the sculptural phase of things too quickly just to get some tires on the thing and into the showroom. Then we look back after the paint has faded and realize we’d built just another Crown Vic.

It’s one of those things each of us has to challenge ourselves about, every day. Not just if you’re a creative, but if you’re in any facet of marketing and advertising or product design or ecommerce or manufacturing or sales or anything else.

Imagine your latest big idea as a white automobile. Imagine stripping away the bells and whistles, the flash and flare, and getting down to its core.

Just how big is it, really?

Or did it just seem big because you stuck a spoiler on it?

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