Opinion Process

Don’t let me fry, superhero…

Imagine you are on the top of a very high building. It’s on fire.

There’s no way out. Then, enter Superman. Great, you think. Superman’s gonna save me. Awesome! You need Superman more at this moment than at any other moment. You’re on the edge. If you had marshmallows, they’d be toasted.

Imagine, though, if Superman flew towards you, pulled up abruptly and executed a perfect triple somersault with 3/4 twist and pike to finish. In mid air.

You stare open-mouthed in terror. Superman isn’t going to rescue you. What the f*ck is he doing? Superman is pretty impressed with himself. I mean, no-one else can nail that mid-air somersault like he did. He’s so unique.

You stare, and Superman does a few more tricks.

You burn to death, agonisingly. Superman flies over your charred remains some half hour later.

‘Man,’ he thinks, ‘something went down here’ – ‘too bad nobody stopped it.’

Did you see how that worked? There was a need: a real, urgent need. There was somebody who could meet that need. Somebody who was perfectly placed to do so in a unique and perfect way. In this case, the need went unmet. You fried. Superman lost out on the satisfaction of being of real service because he missed the point.

There are many unique things about me. But people don’t really need my chocolate-mousse making recipe or the way I can swim a whole length underwater. My clients—my sweet souls—want me to use my word-and-picture superpowers to rescue them from having less impact than they should.

There are things I can do that I think are clever and cute and fun. But nobody really needs them. We sometimes get so wrapped up in discovering what’s unique about our approach that we forget to check whether the approach is the right one. (That’s not to say don’t do the clever, cute and fun stuff. DO it, with passion and voracity, for fun and art and flavour and joy. It just might not be what your perfect clients out there actually need from you.)

Ask yourself whether you’re too busy scoring a perfect 9 on a mid-air somersault to notice that you’ve actually left people in need frying.

If you’re trying to run a business doing what you love, you’ve gotta link up actions to beneficial outcomes.

“What’s the trick to making a brand meaningful? Focus on outcomes, not outputs. The criteria, says Umair Haque, are simple: “Did this brand make you fitter, wiser, smarter, closer? Did it improve your personal outcomes? Did it improve your community outcomes? Did it pollute the environment? We’re trying to get beyond “did this company make a slightly better product” to the more resonant, meaningful question: Did this brand actually impact your life in a tangible, lasting, and positive way?””

Soooo….let’s imagine you’re a superhero (or superheroine) and get very clear on this:

  1. Who would you be coming to help?
  2. How are you going to rescue them? What’s their burning building?
  3. And how does the fairy story end for them?

By Jo

Writer, artist, builder

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