The more you saw red, the more they saw green.

In the past year, some of the most viral conversations in the world have not been about fragile geopolitics, a crumbling environment or an impending economic meltdown.

They have been about ice buckets, blue (or gold) dresses, and a bright red coffee cup.

But why? Why were these (seemingly unrelated) stories so successful at capturing our attention?

They created friction.

Interested in creating a remarkable amount of attention (for a dress, coffee cup or marketing campaign)? Your message needs to incorporate a remarkable amount of friction. Friction creates interest, debate, consideration and action. At Esparza, all of our work is designed to create friction — because without friction, your target simply has no itch to see, hear or read about what you have to say.

We believe there are three main keys to crafting a message that’s capable of generating friction:

1. You must be definitive. 

The red cup symbolized either an attack on one of the largest religions in the world — or absolutely nothing at all. There was no middle ground within that conversation. The infamous dress from a few months ago was either blue or gold…two colors on the complete opposite end of the color spectrum. When it comes to your marketing campaign, you must take a clear position—do not fall victim to embracing the middle—there is no friction there.

2. You must force a larger conversation.

A coffee cup forced us to take a position on religion. A bucket of ice forced us to publicly denounce a horrific disease. A dress forced us to question how we see every single color in our world. Your marketing needs to ask the biggest (relevant) question it possibly can of your target. Big questions, get big attention. 

3. You must show, not tell. 

In order to have the friction to go viral, your message needs to be able to be understood visually. If we can’t understand a story in a picture…we won’t stop to read about it. This is true for all of the examples above, and it has been true for thousands of years as well. Whether it was a young man bravely standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square, a grainy video of a President being shot in Dallas or a manmade footprint on the moon…pictures start a conversation — words end it. 

When it comes to your messaging — ask yourself, where’s the friction in this? If you can’t find it, nobody else will either.

The bottom line? If you really want your message to travel at the speed of light, be prepared for it to create a lot of friction along the way.