Weird Al Differentiation

What Weird Al Taught Me About Differentiation

I was a weird kid. As a weird kid (and perhaps still not so far off as an adult) I always leaned into the more offbeat things in life. My 12-year-old self wasn’t educated on brand differentiation and I wasn’t deliberately trying to be a counter-culture hipster, I was just built that way…weird.

But do you know who the GOAT weirdo was? In my opinion, without a doubt, it, was and continues to be…Weird Al Yankovic.

Al, in all his creative weirdness (and genius!), taught me my first invaluable lesson in differentiation.

Back in the 80’s you had to physically handwrite and snail mail fan letters. Along with a few of my other weird friends, we decided to do exactly that to let Al know how much we appreciated him.

As I got to the part of every fan letter where you close out with “I’m your biggest fan, I would love an autographed photo” little Jesse James Wroblewski decided to disrupt the fan mail process.

Opposed to following the flock, and because I knew my audience, I closed my letter with a weird request “I’m your biggest fan, if you have any laying around, I would love an autographed photo, of… Joyce Dewit .”

It was clear, by his response, Al didn’t have any actual photos of Janet from Three’s Company lying around. He did, however, promptly reply with this signed autographed photo which says, “To Jesse, With Love Joyce Dewitt.”

Over 30 years later I still love Al and everything he does. I proudly display this photo because, honestly, I just think it’s funny. But looking back through a different lens it was Al who helped me learn the importance of differentiating myself in a crowded space as well as that of knowing my audience.

BTW: most of my friends who used the generic sign-off are still waiting on their autographs.

Thanks Al!

Jesse James Wroblewski

Differentiation Consultant

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