Last week, I was out shopping with my mom. We were talking a lot about the economy, jobs, banking, and generally "serious" topics.  At one point in the conversation, she was about to say something really vital.  Really groundbreaking.  Really important.

Well, I'm just disappointed that ... there's a pink gorilla ...

Yes, standing on the side of the road was, in fact, a very large pink gorilla.  He inadvertently derailed our entire conversation because, for the next week, neither of us could remember where she was going.  From that point on, all we could think about was the ridiculous mascot standing on the corner.

I once saw Seth Godin's book, Purple Cow, at the book store.  It seemed like a novel idea at the time, do something remarkable - create a purple cow.  Something that stands out from its surroundings.  In marketing we too often try to do things the tried-and-true way they've worked in the past.  We build templates, derive formulas, and build models for our marketing messages.  Advertisements fit a pattern, and brand building becomes a stagnant process - yielding a dozen Starbucks with maybe one or two differences between them.

Then you see a pink gorilla on the corner and everything changes.

What have you done in your business that is the same as your competitor?  Have you followed a model to build your brand?  There's nothing wrong with using a guide as a starting point, but how strictly have you adhered to my (or anyone else's) rules on brand development?  How much more effective could you be if you were in the pink gorilla costume?