A meme is a new word, coined in l976. It’s the simplest possible way to communicate an idea. A caveman named Uba once stood in a chilly stream up to the middle of his thighs, attempting to catch a fish with his bare hands. Not surprisingly, Uba didn’t catch one. When he returned to his cave, and told his despondent family that there would be no dinner tonight, then he noticed three rudimentary drawings on the wall of the cave. One was of a Thunderbird. Another was of a deer-like figure. The third was a stick figure of a man holding a stick with a fish impaled on the end. Uba rushed back down to the stream, broke a branch from a nearby tree, sharpened the end with a rock, then caught enough fish to feed himself and his family. They were all saved by a meme, an instantly recognizable transmission of an idea, simple and clear, no explanation necessary. Memes can be visual, such as an international traffic symbol, verbal, such as “Lean Cuisine,” or they can be action, such as a hitchhiker holding out his thumb. In this day of endless and ever-proliferating marketing from all sides, you need a meme to stand out in the clutter. You should use that meme in all of your marketing, on your website, on your stationery, on your business card, wherever and whenever you can. A logo is no longer enough. It represents a company, but that stops too short. A meme represents both a company and an idea — most likely, the main benefit offered by that company. The Green Giant is a meme. So is the Michelin Man. The Marlboro cowboy is a meme. Your job: develop a meme for your business. Do it now and use it for the life of your business. Memes travel from mind to mind. They’re easy to spread and easy to create. Just think of the major competitive benefit that you offer, then determine how to best communicate it visually or with a phrase. Think of how the eagle is a meme for America, flashing headlights a meme telling you to dim your brights, and the flamingo a meme for Florida, and you’ll realize how common memes are.
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