I Saw Someone Zag Today

I Saw Someone Zag Today by Ottawa Graphic Designer idApostle

It’s not very often a brand surprises me and creates an immediate connection. What was once the domain of Girl Guides selling cookies seemed very rock ’n roll today. It convinced me there would always be alternative ways to reach your audience while remaining authentic to your brand.

The doorbell rang, and I went to answer it. When I opened the door and received a pleasant hello from a girl, I was then asked:

“Are you a music fan?”
I answered, “Yes.”
“What kind of music do you like?”

Strange questions I thought for a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesperson. I decided to play along and answered her question. The twenty-something then went on to tell me a little about her band, then showed me her CD and reached out for me to take her iPod and have a listen to her music.

I didn’t.

Instead, I asked how much the CD was. After paying her and wishing her well, I went back inside to tell everyone about the girl selling music door to door. It’s Thanksgiving here in Canada and family was gathered to celebrate the holiday. The visitor sparked conversation around music, marketing, and the joy that comes from being surprised.

I am a big fan of music. I have witnessed the death of local music stores and have adjusted to purchasing my music through iTunes. Then, along comes something different — buying music on a CD from a band member who came to my door.

There will be the occasional door slammed as the girl continues her way around the neighborhood, but when she happens upon a house with someone who loves music, she will proudly talk about her band, how they do all the graphics themselves and about their videos. She will greet them with her strong personality, put a smile on their face and likely sell another CD.

After buying something they had no idea they wanted, the person will go inside and show their family and friends the CD. They will talk about the unusual experience they just had. They will check out the band’s website, listen to the CD, and they will remember the band’s name and the experience for some time.

The girl at the door was evidence that a brand must foster an honest connection to have an impact. This very rarely happens between a brand and myself. Why can a small band from Ottawa do it so well when many companies with marketing, strategic plans, big budgets and experience fail? I think it’s because it rang true, was surprising, heartwarming and it captivated me. Great traits for any brand and somehow still very rock ‘n roll.

If Miss Isabel doesn’t come knocking on your door, you can find out more about her band Your Favorite Enemies here. The title of this post refers to the brilliant book Zag by Marty Neumeier, I recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.


  • Steve Zelle says:
    Oct 19 at 05:09

    Thanks Andrew. No zagging happening in the UK? With so many of our day to day experiences coming across as generic and “well worn” it didn’t take much for this effort to stand out. Let me know if you happen upon a unique UK brand experience. 🙂

  • joshuaballeza says:
    Oct 20 at 07:34

    That’s a pretty awesome story. I love it when some great marketing happens like that. Saul Bass says that zag[ing] is also unpredictable but when it’s done right I think that it has such a huge impact catching people off guard.

  • BenH says:
    Oct 24 at 10:30

    However, if all musicians started doing this we would treat them the same way we treat Jehovah Witness’ or Greenpeace or any other door knocker selling something!. The experience is based entirely on that individual, their personality and sincerity – not really strategy – which is by definition or effect – insincere.

  • Steve Zelle says:
    Oct 24 at 10:49

    Ben, If this started happening regularly, I would become annoyed. It is the unpredictability of it (like Joshua noted) that made this special.

    I would like to hear more on why you feel strategy cannot be based on individual personality (especially when a band is involved) and why you feel a non strategic act is by definition insincere.


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