Who do we talk about? What do we talk about? We talk about people, places, events, products and anything unusual, extraordinary and worthy of acclaim. We do this because it makes us different, cognisant, cool and if we get it right, remarkable. Whenever we tell someone about a hidden gem of a restaurant, a new product or destination, we are seen as cool, remarkable in our understanding of the scene and using information and word of mouth to stand out from the crowd. Many join the Twitter universe to achieve remarkability but few shine, as evidenced by their lack of followers.

So it comes as no surprise that a Wharton School study analysing the worth of remarkability, shows the value of sharing something remarkable. Examining over 6,500 brands and products, they asked people to score remarkability to analyse how perceptions were correlated and how frequently they were discussed. Some conclusions were obvious as banks and financial institutions were not talked about as much as Facebook, Google, celebrities, movies and hot eateries. Other brands stood out because they not only strayed from the norm, they created a new norm of remarkability. Jimmy Choo shoes are the same price as a small Korean car, uncomfortable after five minutes of standing in them but from a fashionista stand point, clear winners for remarkability, correlating with increased exposure, branding and profit.

The ability to surprise, delight and at the same time exceed expectation is the hallmark of remarkable brands and remarkable people. Seth Godin in Purple Cow, discussed the finer points of remarkability, acknowledging remarkable doesn’t mean remarkable to you, it means remarkable to me, it’s very individual and remarkability lies on the edges and is about the best, the fastest, the easiest, the biggest, the brightest, the most fashionable and the most difficult to accomplish. To Seth, it is not the same as being noticed, as walking down the street naked will get you noticed but it won’t accomplish much else.

So from an individual standpoint, what can we gain from the Wharton study? It’s not about buying what’s fashionable because that trend soon becomes unfashionable. It’s not about achieving once and then living off that accomplishment. It’s about finding your inner remarkability, what differentiates you, by way of thinking, by way of achievements, by way of constantly reinventing yourself and by way of understanding your relationships, your brand and what you bring to the table.

In today’s crowded market place, to accomplish and achieve remarkability, you need to step out of your comfort zone, you need to push back your fear of change and you need to do it with authenticity. As Oscar Wilde so succinctly put it “be yourself; everyone else is taken”, giving breath to the idea of individuality as a key to being remarkable. To be remarkable means moving away from the middle ground and that means no longer being able to please the majority. That is the greatest fear for most people, but if you never polarise anyone, never push the envelope, never stand for your commitments, what hope is there to be remarkable?

– Oliver Tams