I recently read a tweet that positioned a new app as “Instagram for writers.” Apart from my initial thought of “isn’t that just Twitter?”, it reminded me of how the (admittedly rather great) web app Mural.ly touts itself as “Google Docs for visual people”.
With social networks pushing deeper into the vernacular, marketers are leaping faster than ever to name-check the everyday giants and shoehorn something familiar into their blurb in order to communicate instantaneously exactly what their product does. In other words, it offers up an incredibly useful mental shortcut.
On the flip-side, it gives the impression that we’re doomed to never discover anything original ever again, just the same things re-packaged in a slightly different way. It’s saying that whatever we’re familiar with at present is pretty damn good, but this new service will change everything… only in a way you’ll totally recognize and be at ease with.
This kind of transparency wouldn't work in traditional advertising. “Drink Roller-Cola - it’s exactly like Coca-Cola, only better.” “It’s Subway, but with baked potatoes.” No implications, just out-and-out statements; references to what we’re comfortable with, what we already know.
It got me to thinking about all the potential apps and websites out there, sitting in waiting for this kind of treatment. Here’s how one might describe them…
“It’s the new Vine, for those with more than six seconds to spare.”
“It’s the latest time-management tool. Like Wunderlist, only for people with nothing to do.”
“It’s Twitter for the Ask Jeeves generation.”
“It’s basically a 3D Youtube for commuters.”
“It’s like IMDb, but populated with Wilhelm screams.”
“It’s as if MySpace and Pintrest had a baby.”
“Think Spotify, only in a universe without music.”
“It’s Foursquare, for people who only eat cake.”
“It’s eBay for petting zoos.”
Have a go yourself. You’ll find it’s surprisingly fun, but above all, you’ll see just how incredibly quick and easy it is.
This blog post is also available on Medium.