Let Your Freak Flag Fly to Business Success

Two people looking at any Andy Warhol exhibition, Campbell Soup cans
Indiana Holley
Sun 06 Oct

Advertising, architecture, the arts, crafts, design, fashion, film, interactive software, technology, music, publishing, television and radio.  What do they all have in common? They all had their origin in individual creativity, skills and talent, yet are often perceived as either different or unconventional. However, their creators still had the courage to take the plunge, step outside of the norm and pave their own way.

A classic example of this was the phenomenal success of a well-known pop icon, Andy Warhol. Love or hate his work, Warhol is arguably the most influential artist behind some of the most infamous art of the twentieth century. Renowned for being peculiar and strange, Warhol took an unconventional idea to new extremes.  He blurred lines, pushed boundaries and harnessed a group of dedicated followers, providing him with an endless revolving door of eager clients.  To this day his market is booming, with a Warhol painting selling at a whopping $63.4 million this year.  How did he do this, you ask? He dared to be different, and with sheer confidence, he managed to turn his target market into product evangelists.

And the desire to create those unconventional ideas is stronger than ever before. We have now landed in an era where unconventional businesses are in huge demand, especially small and micro-businesses that can generate cutting edge creativity.  We have the internet to thank for that - opening our world to an ever-changing platform of creative expression, which in turn, generates a rapid growth of hungry niche marketers eagerly awaiting new and radically outlandish developments. 

So how does one create a unique flavour of business?

In a business world that’s a vast sea of sameness, there is a huge demand for products and services to stand out from the rest.  It’s not easy to know how to cut through the noise in order to grow an unconventional business.  

We’ve been taught to research and discover a niche in the market that can benefit from your product or service. Where we identify a gap in the market and offer solutions to target people’s needs.  While all very valid, this is only half true.

Marketing itself is not rocket science, but consumer behaviour can be. Warhol understood this when he invited his clients into his world.  When it comes to attracting your niche market, the secret is simply understanding human behaviour.

We are all different, but in many instances our brains are prone to react in a similar manner. Understanding these subtleties in the human mind can help your business find creative ways to authentically attract your target audience.

The answer is to turn to your feeling brain, the one that drives your values!  You may be asking, “what the heck is a value?”.  This may sound like something out of a self-help book, but go with me on this.  To put simply, values are what guide our behaviours, like growth, family, belonging, respect or connection.  In Warhol’s case, his value was the integrity to be himself. Choosing to honour in his own uniqueness, gave his followers the permission to do the same.  This is basically the key ingredient of who you are and the purpose that you serve.

Your values will become the stepping stones that guide you through the whole branding experience and all the little details, such as your website’s aesthetics, language, attitudes and social media will, simply fall into place.

How does this translate into creating an unconventional business? 

Simply put, owning an unconventional business is the art of non-conformity.  It is having the courage to own who you are, regardless of what other’s think or say.  It is the so-called vices and the quirky components of your personality, that are in fact the building blocks to paving your own way.  You know the ones, the traits that in the past you desperately tried to hide from the world in fear of being judged.

In actual fact, if you were brave enough to share these traits, it could potentially be the blue print to developing a stand-out business.  When you invest in and celebrate the so called “wrong” traits within yourself, you attract the right kind of opportunities, people and community who share the same values as you.

We have become a society striving to obtain false ideals of perfection.  The desire to be perfect suggest a state of flawlessness, without any defects. Ironically, these beautiful gems of imperfections are what make us human and are in fact the common thread that is shared between ourselves and others.  It’s what helps us to gravitate towards our people.  

So your feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt has a beautiful side. If you want to be more creative, more desirable, more outlandish and just down right different in your business, then perhaps instead of trying to hide your inadequacies, take a page out of Warhol’s book and strive towards celebrating your craziness, your humanness, your YOU.  I can tell you now, that if Warhol hadn’t celebrated his inadequacies, he’s art wouldn’t be the most talked about, still today.

So give it a go and let your freak flag fly!  Whether that is creating a restaurant just for dogs, designing edible shoes, becoming a professional mermaid or throwing pop-up cuddles parties for creating boundaries and connections, your market is eagerly awaiting for you to provide them with an out-of-the-box experience.

And if your business is unconventional, and it works, it will be an unconventional success.

Indiana Holley – Medical Researcher and Behavioural Specialist

Indiana is a blend of wilderness, wellness and science.  A soul who roams freely, with a deep desire to understand the human mind.  Over the course of two decades, her love of behavioural and health research has seen her work used on a wide range of public health programs and policies, and she is no stranger to writing on these important matters either! Probably located in a tent somewhere, Indiana is also passionate about getting out into nature and forging connections with others to share in its beauty.  As such, through nature-based activities, her business Three Feathers supports modern women in managing their stress, anxiety and low self-esteem.