If you were around in India in the 1960s and 1970s, you probably remember a toothpaste brand called Binaca. In those days, if a little kid or a pretty woman flashed a smile, people would quickly brand it a Binaca smile.
Advertisements for Binaca toothpaste famously, and quite memorably, captured the moment with that magic phrase: “The Binaca Smile’. It never went out of fashion.
Binaca’s heady success can teach us a lesson. Even today, long after the toothpaste itself has disappeared from retail shelves, from our lives, and even from our memories, this lesson remains relevant.
Now, let’s take a look back.
Binaca was a rather popular toothpaste brand in those days. It came in blue and white-or was it blue and yellow? carton, and held out the promise of strong teeth, healthy gums, and a Binaca smile.
What’s more. every carton had a surprise gift inside! A little plastic animal figurine. A different one in every pack. I still vividly recall the sense of expectation and surprise, as we opened the carton to pull out a new animal. A new surprise, time after time!
It wasn’t unusual to visit a friend’s place and find a mini-zoo in the showcase, courtesy of Binaca. We’d trade duplicates, discuss our newest additions, admire the wonderful new giraffe-and never cease to be enthralled by those teeny-weeny plastic animals.
While the Binaca folks delivered consistent, good-quality toothpaste month after month after month, the trick lay in the surprise gift. That little animal figurine probably cost the toothpaste manufacturer very little but meant so much to consumers.
It held the magic of surprise! Brushing your teeth, with Binaca or anything else, was drudgery. But the joy of opening a Binaca carton to see the animal tucked inside? That was Incomparable!
In our lives, we do everything in a programmed manner and tend to miss out on the zing, the surprise element, the little animal in the box. At work, bosses expect consistency, dependability, and solid performance. Throw in a little extra, and you will soon be on the fast track. Consistent performance is a given. But ask yourself, what’s your little animal figurine?
As customers, we’re like that too. We want a dependable brand with consistent quality, but we like to be surprised. One of my family’s favorite restaurants in Mumbai, All Stir Fry, serves up consistently nice, make-your-own-wok meals.
My daughter loves to go back, partly for the food and perhaps partly for the little fortune cookie they give us at the end. The meal is good. And reading the individual predictions inside the fort cookie. Even better!
In our personal lives, the same concept holds true. The rhythm of daily routines can occasionally feel mundane. Yet, by infusing spontaneity and surprise, you have the power to transform the ordinary into cherished memories.
But hey, add a little surprise, and you add magic to the relationship. Anniversary dinners are great, but they are expected. Predictable. Try taking your wife out for lunch on a busy working day instead, just like that. Or take your kid’s friends out for some sugar candy on the beach. Just like that. Little surprises can be quite magical in their impact.
Delivering toothpaste of consistent quality is good, but it is seldom good enough. Success comes when you combine dependability and awe, predictability, and surprise. Surprise can never be a substitute for dependability, but it makes for a wonderful value-add. For bosses. For consumers. For loved ones.
We all need to come up with little plastic animals. Remember, these freebies don’t cost much, but they make a huge difference. Pick up the phone and speak to a friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Send a little thank you to your colleagues. Send a piece of that homemade cake to that neighbor you don’t always meet.
If you didn’t do any of these-no one would notice. But if you do- they will never forget! Think of the joy you’d be providing when someone else reminisces on the memories of those surprise moments- putting together all those little figurines you’ve given them. Imagine watching them show off those little surprises that they have so lovingly collected over the years! Pure magic.
We can apply these principles to multiple areas of our personal and professional lives. Here are a few ways you can incorporate them into your lives.
Workplace: Going beyond the expected can help you stand out and advance in your career. Just as the little figurine added to the toothpaste box delighted customers, adding that extra effort can distinguish you from the rest.
Consumer Preferences: Consumers appreciate both consistency and surprise. Offering reliable products or services is crucial, but adding unexpected bonuses or gestures can create memorable experiences.
Personal Relationships: In relationships, being dependable is vital, but introducing surprises can add excitement and strengthen emotional bonds. Whether it’s a small gift, a thoughtful note, or an impromptu outing, these gestures can create fond memories.
Communication: Reaching out to old friends or colleagues can be a pleasant surprise, reminding them of your connection and fostering goodwill.
Random Acts of Kindness: Doing something unexpected for others, like sending a thank-you note or sharing homemade treats, can brighten someone’s day and create a positive impact.
Nostalgia and Memories: Over time, these surprises become cherished memories that people look back on fondly.
Consider the profound impact these little surprises can have, not only on yourself but also on those around you. It’s all about nurturing genuine connections and instilling a sense of value and appreciation. Grand gestures aren’t required—just a sprinkle of thoughtfulness and imagination.
It’s a reminder to go beyond the routine, Create your own surprise animal-in-the-box and inject a bit of magic into everyday interactions.