The Impact of Big Ideas in Action All Around Us

The Impact of Big Ideas in Action All Around Us

Take a look at all the big ideas that have had a huge impact on our lives in the last ten, twenty, thirty years.

Consider the internet, the iPhone and all the Apple products, smart cars, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, social media. Think how much time people spend nowadays looking at their screens instead of each other’s eyes.

  • How people consume entertainment has changed radically, thanks to YouTube, Netflix, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and countless other enterprises popping up each day.
  • How consumers make purchases has shifted due to enterprises like Amazon and Alibaba.
  • Crowdsourcing is on the rise, promising new ways of rallying support and raising funds.
  • Solar energy appears to be on the verge of a massive expansion.
  • Other disruptive changes appear to be just around the corner:
  • 3D printing as a basic manufacturing technology
  • Driverless cars and trucks.
  • Mechanized warehouses and distribution systems.
  • Reorganization of universities and higher learning under the impact of massive open online courses.

On the global scale, as is well known, there has been a major shift in manufacturing away from places like the USA and the UK, to manufacturing hubs in other countries: first Japan, and then South Korea, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh. The social order has shifted dramatically in some countries: for example, the decline of the middle class in the USA and the rise of the middle class in China and India.

What Is a Big Idea?

A big idea for your brand is not a communication campaign slogan or a tagline. It is not your “elevator pitch,” which is the sound-byte size summary of your brand’s positioning strategy. (Of course, you brand’s big idea will be very consistent with your brand positioning, your elevator pitch, and your tagline.) The big idea is not a re-statement of the brand’s functional and emotional benefits.

Here, then, is our attempt at a reasonable, working definition of big idea collected over the past 30+ years from the top minds in the industry:

A big idea expresses the needs and wants which a brand satisfies. It communicates the brand’s ultimate purpose or commitment in a captivating way.

Your brand’s captivating expression:

Words that go beyond the literal, words that typically carry appropriate double and triple meanings or connotations.

The needs and wants your brand satisfies:

This includes functional problems that the brand’s performance solves, also those deeper-seated desires that accompany them.

Your brand best satisfy to what target:

The most meaningful differentiation—aimed at the brand’s intended target.

Your brand conveys:

What your brand either explicitly or implicitly indicates by its word-structure.

Your brand’s ultimate purpose or commitment:

The brand’s most highly valued sense of purpose; more than any other brand like it, what your brand is committed to.

Is It a Big Idea or Not?

You can use the following ten criteria to evaluate whether what you have in mind for your brand is a “big idea” or not. The first three criteria are must-haves. The more of the other criteria your idea meets, the more likely it really is a big idea.

Will It Change the World?

For the better or worse, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg changed the way we behave. Can your big idea change attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors?

Words can be powerful when they are backed up by action. Think of Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech” given in 1963 and fast-forward to the image of the first African American president being elected in 2008.

Ideas are powerful when they open up new ways of seeing and thinking; add to that the emotional factor ideas evoke, and concrete actions to implement them, and ideas can become unstoppable.

If your startup brand can alter the course of things for your customers, for other companies, and for the market as a whole, it can be a game changer. If your idea will create disruptive change, it might affect millions of people, and entire markets and industries. Your startup may be on your way to exponential growth.

What will the future bring then? A billion customers? Enough wealth and honor to share will your company and its people and worthy causes around the globe. Enough to invest in creating other creative companies and ideas, and take chances with other unproven ideas.

No One Else But You

How tightly can your idea be linked to your brand and only your brand? Again, let’s take a look at Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Amazon. The products and services they offer originated with them and are linked with them in people’s minds. Every company can say “We have the best quality” or “We have the best service” or “We have the best people” – no one can own a generic idea like that. But when Apple says the iPhone or the iMac has the best design, the link is tight, because to tech-savvy customers, “good design” is synonymous with Apple.

Clarity, Usability, Simplicity

Anyone from an untutored kid to a Ph.D. scientist can use Skype, set up a Facebook page, watch Netflix, Hulu or pirated movies, use an iPad and Google. Simple, intuitive design is the basis for the “I get it” reaction we want from users. Simplicity means fitting in with the way the human mind works. Complexity is an interesting subject for complexity theorists, but for the rest of us simple is human nature. Customers have more choices than ever – keep it simple so you don’t loose your customers.

I have noticed that the best ideas are the simple ones that never confuse people. They make things easy for us to get, they make our lives simpler. The well-established apps are constantly being updated and improved. We’ve gone from rapid prototyping to prototype or die, to launch or die.

Launch fast and have your customers tell you what to put in and what to take out. Watch their faces as they react. If they are confused, go back and simplify – they may even tell you how to do it. Do it fast. It is better to launch and improve later, rather than trying to perfect it first and miss the moment.


When I see something new and interesting, it grabs my attention and I am laser-focused on that. I think most people have a natural tendency to focus on the novel, the unique, the original. People crave “new impressions” in all areas: that’s why they seek new experiences, new places, new movies, new partners, new restaurants, new gadgets, new apps. We need fresh impressions as much as we need food. New impressions are food for the mind.

When the new becomes the familiar, things change, and our attentions shift. Even as we go about our daily routines, our minds are instinctively drawn to anything new or out of the ordinary.

Brand marketers looking for big ideas should always be on the lookout for ways to harness this powerful innate human tendency. Give people the fresh impressions they crave again and again. Surprise them. And always be ready, before the new thing becomes the same old thing, to provide people with the next fresh new impression.

The Unexpected

The unexpected will always get people’s attention – that’s how our brains work, that’s how our perception works.

In the context of branding, offering customers the unexpected immediately makes you stand out from the competition. People who are used to Windows world switch to the sleek, intuitive UI gives them a user experience that is totally unexpected, and they become overnight converts.

Good surprises make people feel special. Who would have thought that in such a saturated mature market like yogurt, that a challenger like Chobani with become the #1 yogurt brand – and with an owner who gives 10% of the profits to the employees and millions to the Syrian refugees! The unexpected is not always a new gadget. It could be a new way of looking at something and doing something in a way, that let’s you capture the trust and attention of potential customers.

Sex appeal

Like millions of other people, I find the whole iPhone experience very attractive. It has a kind of “sex appeal” attraction that pulls people in. Sexy ideas easier to find through open-ended imagination and serendipity; no predefined routine process will lead to them.

Pay attention to customers’ reactions. What do they gravitate to in the Apple stores and the Genius Bar? What catches their attention? What topics are stirring up a lively discussion in online communities?


Big ideas command your attention. They stick in your mind and are impossible to forget. where you can’t forget. Big ideas stick in our consciousness and never leave your minds – they are mantras. Mantras have traditionally been used to focus attention: to neutralize negative thoughts and fill the mind with a positive energy.

Big ideas that focus your mind and clarify key ideas can exist in all sectors and industries, even the ones you may consider complex. When they touch certain archetypal layers in our consciousness and deeply hidden emotions and survival needs, they can be a powerful force. So use them carefully and for the good.


A brand can go viral many ways. Early adaptors, influencers, word of mouth, social media are powerful. They can spread the big new ideas in a powerful way, and before you know it, millions have watched, shared and passed it on, and that’s good. The more widely it spreads, the more powerful the new big idea becomes. A big idea is so convincing it compels those who hear it pass it on to others.


People have an innate interest and fascination with themselves. You know the story of Narcissus in Greek mythology, the one who fell in love with his own reflection. Imagine Narcissus today with an iPhone and how many selfies he would be posting and Tweeting. You can empower a brand simply by appealing to the self-interest of people. "Vanity - is definitely my favorite sin" as Al Pacino said in the movie Devil’s Advocate.

Most people are interested in themselves, this is especially true of the young. If you appeals to their preoccupation with themselves, you will get their attention. Maybe you will be able to bring in more donations for a good cause by letting them feel that they are doing something good. So get their attention, sell them your brand, and them have them Indegogo or Kickstart something.

Do You Love It?

Studies of effectiveness in advertising have shown that the most important factor is to be likable. Whether or not people like the ad makes all the difference.

A big new idea should be likable and novel, tell a clear story, and be appropriate to its surroundings.

Here Is A Big Idea!



GK Brand created the brand naming of Planet Labs. Founded by a team of ex-NASA scientists, Planet is driven by a mission to image the entire Earth every day, and make the global change visible, accessible, and actionable. Making global change visible, accessible, and actionable. Visit:

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Vasken Kalayjian @gkbrand @tribeglobal -- Award-winning GK Brand. Tribal Global branding expert, speaker and author of BRAND REAL: The Startup Entrepreneur’s Guide To Effective Branding And Building Value-Based Organizations. For more about Vaksen and Brand Real, go to

Brand Real: The Startup Entrepreneurs’ Guide to Effective Branding and Building Value-Based Organizations. Available on AMAZON and Barnes & Noble.

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