While it may be counterintuitive, leading with a negative thought may be the best way to create powerful fun. I have been in the business of creating and developing valuable tools to brand and market for over 40 years. Connecting brands to fun is the expertise that I have lived and breathed. One of the few common threads woven into all of the successful brand development has been starting with a simple question.

What is it you don’t want?

When the Phillie Phanatic was being created, Bill Giles didn’t wanted the expected. When my company created the vision for the Mascot Hall of Fame, we didn’t want it to be reverent or formal. When we started to deliver fun to corporate employees, we didn’t want their leaders absent; and when Gritty was created, Joe Heller, the Flyers VP of Marketing, didn’t want him to look too friendly (mission accomplished Joe!).

Why is the negative easy for us to define? Because we all have a Negative Brain Bias hardwired into our psyche after millions of years of evolution. We needed that bias then for survival but today we find ourselves still contented by the negative. We can leverage this otherwise-irritant that effects our moods to help us become more successful, creative and healthy. What we don’t want is always visceral, crystal clear and easily to express. Once we do so, what is left is what we do want! This is a powerful tool that we use often when we start our mascot design process. We’ve discovered it shortens and increases the effectiveness of the design cycle. It works when we design a marketing plan for our clients by asking them first what they don’t want to be and that answer leads to more authentic storytelling.

For you, while dealing with your challenges about creativity, branding, marketing or whatever life is throwing your way, always ask yourself what you don’t want first because what’s left is what you do want!