Bernbach launched his career just as the Great Depression hit its height. He took a job as a clerk in a mail room, but was quickly promoted to the advertising department when his writing skills were recognized. From there he moved to the William Weintraub Agency, where he was partnered with legendary designer Paul Rand.
Eventually Bernbach founded his own small business—ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach, where he was a creative powerhouse. He is famous for his campaigns for Volkswagen (Think Small and Lemon), Avis (We Try Harder), and Life Cereal (Mikey Likes It).
Through his career, Mr. Bernback spoke and wrote about creativity, hard work, and how to best communicate a message. Here are a few of the things he said that will appeal most to small business owners.
Bill Bernbach quotes about work ethic and success
“Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula.”
“Is creativity some obscure, esoteric art form? Not on your life. It’s the most practical thing a businessman can employ.”
“It’s not just what you say that stirs people. It’s the way that you say it.”
“It is one thing to have a selling proposition and quite another to sell it.”
“Playing it safe can be the most dangerous thing in the world, because you’re presenting people with an idea they’ve seen before, and you won’t have impact.”
“Execution becomes content in a work of genius.”
“You’ve got to believe in your product… you’ve got to believe in your work. Only a deep belief will generate the vitality and energy that give life to your work.”
“Getting your product known isn’t the answer. Getting it WANTED is the answer.”
“In this very real world, good doesn’t drive out evil. Evil doesn’t drive out good. But the energetic displaces the passive.”
“Because an appeal makes logical sense is no guarantee that it will work.”
“An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.”
“In advertising not to be different is virtually suicidal.”
“Word of mouth is the best medium of all.”
“You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen.”
—Bill Bernbach, Copywriter and Founder of DDB