Because there isn't a doubt in the world that someone else has already had it. No matter how clever, interesting, and unique you feel that is, it's almost certainly not. Hell, somebody has probably had your second idea too.
We had a guest speaker come in from The Brand Factory this week, and he gave us some great tools for developing and/or re-developing brands. I was compelled by many of the things he said, but this most of all. It's a truly simple concept, but as soon as he said it, I was really struck with both how obvious it was and how dead on it was.
Recently, a promotion we'd been working on with a client and a few of their other agencies for months was cancelled. However, during the midst of our brilliant planning and scheming, we discovered that their competitor was about to launch a promo of their own a few months earlier -- with effectively the exact same name. Naturally, the agency that had done the initial planning came up with a quick change-over to get it all fresh and new again, but we were all kind of taken aback. Was there insider information being leaked? Had one of us accidentally spoken about the promotion at some busy restaurant and been overheard?
You know what? I doubt it. Because it was the first idea.
Last week, Jen emailed me at work with another related note -- while on Facebook, she had discovered that our client -- in another country -- had done a very similar promotion. Different name this time, but exceedingly similar concept.
Yep. Another first idea.
I was working on a promotional concept with a classmate last month, and we were all prepared for our presentation. I woke up ultra-early on the morning we were to do it, as it had occurred to me -- every idea we'd put together was an idea that had been done before. It was chock full of first ideas, but whatever had woken me up in my sleep was a second or third or fourth one. I rushed to my computer, revamped the presentation, et voila. Now that was an idea. I later presented it to a client -- she now has us scoping it, as it doesn't appear anything of the sort has been done before.
So yeah. I probably have about ten million actual examples of this happening over the years, but I won't bore you with any more -- as a professor of mine likes to call them -- war stories. I'll just tell you this: First ideas should from here on in be the first things to go.