Enough with the freakin' vanilla

The world was never changed by cautious copycats. Don't be one.


Like vanilla ice cream?

When’s the last time you raved about a shop that has the absolute best vanilla?

I thought so.

I recently heard Seth Godin mention how vanilla is everyone’s second-favorite flavor. 

Surely no one – artist, business, non-profit, or human being – would want to be everyone’s second-favorite _____________ (fill in blank here)?

But in fact we do. Why?

Safe and lame
It’s safe being vanilla and second-best. No one will say “that vanilla is too outrageous” or “that vanilla is obviously not for my demographic.” Nope, we expect vanilla to be nothing more than it is. Expectations are low and, if for some reason we don’t like it, there are hundreds of other ways we can get a dang-near similar concoction. 

It’s easy to succeed at being a bland also-ran. But the impact is low and it’s not any fun.

Bust out the lavender
If you decide to follow Glace’s lead, however, and create Lavender-Honey flavor or Butterscotch Bourbon, someone – maybe most people – are not going to like it. But there will be an enthusiastic core of Butterscotch Bourbon fans that go to Glace because it's the only place that offers it. 

Glace is fascinating (again, not to everyone) because it’s not DQ or 31 Flavors or the soft-serve machine in the back of the fast-food joint. It’s because you can get a Salted Pretzel Root Beer Float. Which a lot of people won’t like.

It’ll probably never franchise or expand to a 15,000-square-foot mega mart with a drive through. If it did it would no longer be Glace.

It might go out of business someday (I hope not). But while alive, it truly lives. At its only location, people stand in line to get the goodness.

Enough with the freakin’ vanilla
So, my friend, don’t be vanilla. You are a unique creation. There’s a gift that only you can give the world. 

I’m talking about your sense of humor, personal experience, talents (yes you have many) and the way you relate to others. Some people won’t like it. 


Fitting in never wins accolades. But everyone is desperately trying to do it. Take tattoos. At one point they were for counterculturalists and old Navy vets. Now they’re for moms who drive SUVs. They’re even in stock photos for churches!

Trying to stand out or be hip with a tattoo? Think again.

Trying to stand out or be hip with a tattoo? Think again.

The work only you can do
Be true to who you are in your personal life, hobbies, business and profession. Take a risk, roll the dice. More importantly, make a difference.  

Quit worrying that your brand is not universally lauded like water, copy paper and soap. That’s kind of selfish.

There’s a book to write, a child to raise, a house to paint and a world to change.

As Sherlock Holmes tells Dr. Watson, “There’s not a moment to lose!”

Roy Harryman is the principal of Roy Harryman Marketing Communications, a firm helping small businesses and non-profits connect with their customers, prospects and suspects.