Anybody can have a good idea… but… how will you pull it off and how will you stand out from all the rest?

Amplify’d from

It’s long been part of the conventional wisdom in the ad world that a good idea trumps a good execution. After all, the idea alone should be enough to carry the day.

For the sake of clarity, let me define what I mean by “idea” and “execution.” An “idea” (in the vernacular of ad purists) is what Ted Bates called the “unique selling proposition” — ideally, the one notion you want the consumer to associate with the product. The execution is the art direction, copywriting, film technique, etc., that bring that idea to life. The argument runs that if the idea is strong enough, then an ugly typeface or not-overly-clever commercial will not be able to diminish its power.

That theory worked well when (a) consumers did not have direct access to a product and (b) were exposed to the idea via mass media on a regular basis. But when those conditions no longer exist, execution takes on a more pivotal role. It’s what helps us distinguish one product (or website) representing a larger idea from another.

To wit: There are countless sites that provide cooking recipes. It’s the how — the execution of the site, and how it looks and feels and handles — that determines the difference between success and failure, between a user staying on the site or moving on.

You can think of websites in the same vein as retail. Most of the “ideas” are not that unique. There are lots of stores that sell midprice jeans and khakis, but something about the way the Gap executed that idea enabled it to stand out from the pack. Ditto Pottery Barn: Lots of stores sell country style furniture, but Pottery Barn became a global phenomenon because of the way it executed that concept, making it a lifestyle rather than a purchase.

How this plays out in the digital realm can be seen by looking at some of the winners in the first annual Hive Awards for the Unsung Heroes of the Internet (a show I started this year in conjunction with the fine folks at International Award Group).

Take, which took home a prize for best web application. TripIt does what any number of other sites do or attempt to do: organizes all of your travel plans in one spot. But it’s the execution — the way it does this — that’s made it so popular. There’s no learning curve to the site; everything is incredibly intuitive and it’s clearly designed with the user’s convenience in mind.

TripIt is also social: You can share your travel plans with friends, coworkers and family members, thus making coordinating plans even simpler. Here again, it’s not so much that they’ve made the site social; it’s how they’ve done it, in a nonintrusive way that doesn’t put the onus on the user to figure out what’s going on.