Bang! Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World

This is a brief report on my attendance at a Company of Friends discussion of the book Bang!: Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World. In addition to the usual Company of Friends professionals in attendance, this meeting featured special guest Robin Koval, co-author of Bang!. Robin shared her stories about her book and the advertising game.

Robin’s best-known work includes the AFLAC (quacking duck) and Herbal Essences (orgasmic shampooing) advertising campaigns. Both these campaigns made bold statements that helped turn unknown, faltering brand names into well-recognized and popular products.

Bang! defines and illustrates how to create a “big bang” in business. A big bang is an initiative that disrupts, may seem illogical, has a dramatic and irreversible impact, cannot be ignored, and becomes an icon. Sometimes, creating a big bang is the most effective way to make a message heard.

The discussion covered how to make a bang, when it is advisable to do so, and why a bang is useful.

The following are some characteristics of a big bang:

  • A big bang disrupts A big bang is illogical
  • A big bang has a dramatic, immediate and irreversible impact
  • A big bang can’t be ignored
  • A big bang becomes an icon

This book provides a number of ideas on how to create big bangs for messages along with some good management and leadership ideas. The book is an easy read but not a simple parable like Who Moved My Cheese.

The overall messages of the book:

  • Forget about vision – things move too fast to keep to a vision for very long Think and create in the here and now
  • Forget about conventional wisdom
  • Forget about fear – be courageous in creation and delivery of ideas
  • Don’t over analyze
  • Don’t get stuck in the process trap – less process equals more progress when it comes to creativity
  • Shrink the space – having people work closely accelerates progress
  • Shrink the hierarchy
  • Shrink the clock – set short deadlines, sometimes artificial, to create more tension and pressure
  • Stop being so polite – maintain proper etiquette, but be willing to put your emotions and feelings on the table
  • Let employees find their niche
  • Look for ideas in unlikely places
  • Break a habit each day
  • Encourage failure – don’t fear it
  • Stop trying to be so smart – sometimes its useful to play dumb
  • Stop being cool – sometimes the simple, hackneyed gimmick works best
  • Stop denying your feelings – its okay to bring your baggage to work if you can all get the job done

Some things to see if you have a big bang in the making:

  • Is it elegantly simple?
  • Is it polarizing?
  • Will it catch fire?

Some things to do to sell the big bang:

  • Set the stage – make sure the environment will be conducive to success
  • Rehearse ’til you drop
  • Go low-tech – sometimes talking is more effective and personal than PowerPoint
  • Know your audience
  • Assume nothing
  • Have a warm-up act – have someone good at greeting, giving a joke and generally warming the group up

Some things to do to create an environment for making big bangs:

  • Bring your baggage to work – you can’t have depth of character if you don’t show it
  • Be manipulative – influence the environment around you in positive ways
  • Be a “yes” person – instead of saying “no,” try saying “yes, but”
  • Throw your ideas away – allow group claim to ideas
  • Act as if your life depends upon it
  • Make it personal


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