All the brands we annually celebrate at The Gathering for their courage and innovation in the marketing space, could have easily gone the traditional route of others in their industries. They could, with much less effort and contention, have massively overspent on television, or flyer programs—or discounted their products to feed an adrenaline addiction.

But they didn’t. They spent their budgets improving their products, investing in their people, and fully engaging their customers.

And for that they get more than some dangerous-looking Gathering hardware. As this Motley Fool article points out, they get sales that outperform their industry by double digits, unprecedented levels of customer loyalty, and stock market affirmation that would make Warren Buffet blush.

My hope this February, as we all troupe out to Banff for The Gathering 2018, is that there is less oohing and ahhing at these extraordinary brand stories, less placing their leaders on high pedestals—and more recognition that these brands could so easily have been ordinary, if they had settled to play it safe. My heartfelt wish is that the gathered throng suddenly gets that “extraordinary” is within the reach of any brand. It just takes those in charge of their marketing to stop, think, and realize that being courageous is actually the least risky course of action this, or any other, year.

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