‘In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.’
We share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees, but that 1% makes quite a difference. Or at least we'd like to think so. Research into the similarities between the human and chimpanzee genomes was first published in 2005.1 It revealed that while humankind split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago, only 1% of the 3 billion letters that make up our human genome differ from our hairy cousins. However, it turns out that you don't need to change much of the genome to make a new species. Where we chose to differentiate (the cerebral cortex) turned out to be an excellent choice.2 Our brand positioning from an evolutionary point of view is ‘Sapiens’, the wise. From a more tangible product feature perspective, we should probably say ‘the brainy’ (our brains are three times larger than our nearest ape cousin, but I'm not always so sure we use them that wisely). Either way, a small difference can make a big difference.
Around the same time we discovered we're more ape than we think, I was invited to present to P&G's European resourcing team. The brief was to take a look at what they were then doing from an employer brand marketing perspective and make some suggestions about what they could do better. This proved to be an immense strain on the cerebral cortex, because they seemed to be already getting almost everything right. Almost. My 1% play was that they seemed ...