Kitty Litter and Crocs: How Taking Your Words From Abstract to Concrete Can Transform Your Brand

It seems like every other day, there’s a headline about how X is the new Y. 

Orange is the new black. 

40 is the new 30. 60 is the new 30. 

Oat milk is the new almond milk. 

Crocs are the new….Crocs. Again. 

Photo courtesy of Getty.

(And our personal fave, blue is the new pink, ahem.) 

You see the pattern here. Change is a tale as old as time, but it makes it hard to keep up. How do you make your brand stand out when the world is moving so fast? 

That’s a loaded question. There’s a lot you can do. But here’s one really great tip to get started:

Make your words unforgettable. 

Whether you’re an account manager making 20+ phone calls a day, an intern ordering coffee for the entire 4th floor, a tried-and-blue content creator, a finishing contractor for commercial buildings, or a data developer for a new start-up, you have words. 

But people will only remember them if they’re specific.

Remember what kind of brand of shoes we mentioned up there? Yeah, Crocs. Hard to forget…not only for their fashion statement, but also because we got specific. When you go from abstract (i.e. “shoes”) to concrete (“Crocs”), it makes the concept more tangible to the recipient. 

If it’s vague, and they haven’t experienced it, they won’t get it. 

Making it tangible = making it relatable. 

The more detail, the more chance it will resonate with someone, and make it more memorable

Take this fruit concept, for example:

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“The Braeburn apple I had for breakfast” is something much more memorable than “produce”—because it paints a picture in the recipient’s mind they can hold onto.

Here’s another example:

One of the reigning champs of SuperBowl commercials, Uber Eats, took an abstract concept (product delivery) and got concrete with it by showing well-known stars with specific products in their Uber Don’t Eats spot. 

Jennifer Coolidge looks at a roll of aluminum foil and says, “Wait. If it was delivered by Uber Eats, does that mean I can eats it?” 

It dives into a montage of actors attempting to eat everything from kitty litter to diapers. It’s a genius way to showcase a wide variety of their deliverable items that go beyond just the food in the “eats” part of Uber Eats. 

“We can’t eats any of this!” cries Jennifer Coolidge at the end. And this wraps up a commercial jam-packed with very concrete examples of what Uber Eats can deliver and top-notch message marketing. 

What does this look like in different industries? 

For those of us who don’t work for Uber, here are a few examples of what “abstract to concrete” looks like in other industries. 

  • Sales: Let’s say you sell anti-aging skin creams. “You’ll look years younger” isn’t the most inspiring phone pitch. “Queen Elizabeth now looks 86 instead of 96 thanks to the persimmon extracts” is a lot more compelling.
  • Construction: Get specific when helping clients pick out things for their homes. Instead of suggesting “wood cabinets,” show them the “dark walnut Shaker cabinets.”
  • Real Estate: Talking interest rates? Try something like: “You’ll save $35,000 over 10 years if you purchase at 7%” instead of “you’ll save a lot of money if you lock in a mortgage now.”  
And you don’t have to be a writer

You’ll notice in the examples above we’re not talking about writing tips or giving novel-writing suggestions. Using concrete words instead of abstract ones doesn’t require any writing skills. It just asks you to think a second or two longer to choose more specific words. 

Your homework:

Look around you. Take that cup on your desk with this morning’s leftover coffee or room-temperature water. Describe it. What kind of cup? A company-branded mug, brightly colored glass, or a cup made from Mexican pottery maybe? Is the water tap or bottled? 

Now, try it out in the workplace this week. See what a difference it makes when you go from abstract to concrete.

Your clients, and your bottom line, will thank you.

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Blue Flamingo is a creative messaging, communications, and PR firm known for helping organizations stand out and get noticed.

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