No one ever got famous by playing it safe

Grey's Jesper Norgaard believes 2023 is an opportunity to break the chains of comfort and reconnect with bravery

Steve Jobs changed the world of technology when he put 1,000 songs in our pockets. History had its eyes on Lin-Manuel Miranda as he rejuvenated Broadway by merging hip-hop and one of the Founding Fathers. And Ed Sheeran gave everyone shivers as he went from small-town busker to world-touring megastar. These people have one thing in common — they didn’t play it safe in their pursuit of greatness, and as a result, ended up with more success than most of us could ever imagine.

But despite these examples of where boldness and bravery can take you, I feel that our industry has become too familiar with its own comfort zone. Look, I get it — playing it safe can be tempting because we’re hardly going to offend anyone by sticking to the beaten path ahead. And whether we like it or not, this low-risk approach can lead to good creative ideas.

It’s like that old saying that no one ever got fired for hiring IBM. The problem, however, is that those people didn’t build successful empires either. To do this, we need to embrace what lies beyond our comfort zones, be bold and brave, and construct ideas that drive fame for our brands.

Why is this important?

Like me, you probably already have portraits of Binet and Field above your desk in elegant golden frames (I’m kidding… they’re wooden), so I will spare you the data and charts. But it’s been proven again and again that fame is a key tenant of brand growth, which is why it’s so important!

Fame can be constructed in many ways. Some put a gorilla behind a drum kit and hope for the best. Others toss heavy hammers towards a 1980s flat-screen TV. And some take a knee with an NFL player who has something on his mind. None of these ideas have ever been near a comfort zone — and that’s what makes them so great. They’re bold and brave — and in effect, they make people talk and drive fame.

This is something we talk a lot about at Grey — you know, Famously Effective since 1917 and all that. With our partners, we always try to build ideas that create cultural value and drive conversation. Because that’s what brands need — bold ideas with cultural energy. Ideas that spark something in people. Ideas that push beyond the comfort zone to uncover and build fame.

Break the chains of comfort

In recent years, it feels like we have somewhat lost touch with our bravery. And honestly, I think we can all understand why, with what we have just gone through as a society — it’s difficult to blame anyone for playing it safe for a while. But as I take stock of the year while breathing in the December cold, I can’t help but feel that there’s something in the air — a fresh start.

As we move into 2023, I believe we have an opportunity to reset, break the chains of comfort and reconnect with the bravery I know we all possess.

Ignore that piece of research that will kill a much-loved idea. Introduce a product that people don’t expect. Follow a gut-feeling that can’t be explained with data. However the bravery manifests itself, welcome it like an old friend — because we need that bravery to get to bold ideas that drive fame, and in effect, success.

So, as we round off the year with minced pies, mulled wine, and questionable Christmas jumpers, let’s all commit to 2023 being a year full of bravery and fame. Huzzah!

Featured image: Gorilla / Cadbury

Jesper Norgaard

Jesper is part of the strategy team at Grey London. Having lived and worked in three different countries, he brings an outsider’s perspective and a huge variety of experience. He’s a brand thinker and a digital native with a strong understanding of how the digital world works - both technically and conceptually. When he’s not thinking about people, brands and the spaces in which they collide, he’s probably brewing Ethiopian coffee, baking his famous Danish rye bread or diving down obscure YouTube rabbit holes.

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