Stand Out From the Crowd By Making Unusual Connections

Many of us underestimate the power of making unusual connections and using analogies and similes to describe something in more memorable way. Here are a few examples.

Little-Known Rapper Relates to a Redhead Orphan Girl

In 1998, Jay Z was far from a household name. One way to stand out, is to make connections that are unique and original. Before Jay Z’s 1998 hit “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”, no one would have seen a connection between a classic musical sung by a cute little white orphan girl and the hip hop world of drugs, guns, and parties. That’s not all that hip hop is about, but that was the mainstream perception of artists like Jay-Z at the time.Jay-Z Hard Knock Life - Annie

Soul records from past decades was the typical source material for sampling. I definitely don’t recall many mainstream Rap artists using anything from Broadway. But that’s what made the hit song so memorable.

Jay Z: I wasn’t worried about the clash between the hard lyrics and the image of redheaded Annie. Instead, I found the mirror between the two stories — that Annie’s story was mine, and mine was hers, and the song was the place where our experiences weren’t contradictions, just different dimensions of the same reality.
– Jay Z “Decoded”

Kevin Liles: Jay found a chemistry with a mainstream sample that allowed him to be Jay Z. The song made him accessible from Brooklyn to Arkansas to Paris to London to Germany to the world. It brought a more diverse audience and provided the platform for further acceptance to his greatness. He became more than our culture’s best-kept secret.
– Kevin Liles

It’s also what separates the better writers and thought leaders from everyone else. While he didn’t produce the song, Jay Z had his eyes (ears) open for new ideas. Saw the “novelty” and took the track from something being played by a DJ to intro artists at concerts to an international Billboard hit.

Thrill Junkies and The Minivan Effect

On The Coaster Critic, I used what I called The Minivan Effect and my take on a wave of negative reactions by roller coaster fans to a family attraction:

As both a roller coaster enthusiast and a family man, I can see both perspectives. But what disappointed coaster fans may be dealing with is something that I call the “Minivan Effect”. If you’re not a parent, and especially if you’re young, there’s no way you can see the appeal of a minivan. I used to loathe them. I hated driving behind them and couldn’t get over just how uncool they looked.

When you’re a parent, your priorities change. You drive slower and utility far outweighs coolness. I couldn’t see that as a single 23 year-old in a brand new, speedy Sentra SE-R. And many (not all) thrill-loving coaster enthusiasts can’t see the appeal in a family attraction like Mammoth. It’s all about perspective.

– Me
Reactions to Holiday World’s Mammoth & the Minivan Effect

With this post, I didn’t launch my career or score a crossover hit, but I may have calmed the some of the angry horde of adrenaline junkies upset that a popular theme park was “only” building a high-tech water slide and not a new roller coaster. I also gained some notoriety and shares from the park.

So rather than just telling everyone to calm down, I gave an analogy from my own life.

Ann Births a Volkswagen

Ann Handley recently described the process of publishing her new book Everybody Writes this way:

Writing a book is like birthing a Volkswagen. The process is about as pretty as you’d imagine that to be: it’s long and arduous and you sweat a lot, and most of the work is done while crying.

– Ann Handley
“Introdcing Everybody Writes”

We can all assume that writing a book is hard and takes a lot of work. Ann took that concept to a new level with this descriptive simile. She gave us an idea of just how hard it was for her.

Memorable? Very.

The Takeaway
These analogies and connections are so effective because they create mental pictures or draw on familiar concepts others can relate to. As the saying goes: “Show, don’t tell.” These connections are just another way to do that. As you go about your day look for interesting analogies and connections. Say things in a unique and different way to stand out from the crowd and write memorable content.

Oral History of Jay-Z’s Annie Theme Hard Knock Life
Hard Knock Life on Wikipedia

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