The other day, one of my very favourite clients and I had a disagreement. It was over making necessary changes to her branding.
Whenever we’d discussed it in the past, she’d – how do I put this politely – freak out. Now this woman is vibrant, level-headed and right on the cutting edge of business. Yet when it came to moving forward on this, she found it really difficult – almost panic inducing. She’d already knocked the project on its head at the end of last year because of a hideously short deadline and having too many competing cooks involved.
At that point her branding went from okay to awful, despite the addition of the most perfect tagline for her business. Unfortunately – for a brand that needs to be bold, vibrant and just a little irreverent, the new tagline had been reduced to whispering bashfully, almost awkwardly, on the page. Hence the brand now looked even more incongruent with the business she was creating.
Fast forward several months and I kept looking at the concept boards in my office and the initial design concepts we were about to refine when it was stopped in its tracks. Now, I’m the first to admit if something’s not up to snuff and this wasn’t in that category at all. In fact, I knew in my bones that it was the right way forward for her and her clients (some of whom I know well – and are also clients).
So when the gorgeous client came back to me for something else, I decided that I would talk to her about her new branding issues and have another go. She said she could go there, but I could see the panic in her eyes. And said we’d leave it for now.
But it kept taunting me from the corner of my office. Hence when the client said she was going to have a suite of new stationery done, I couldn’t stand by and let her waste her money on something that was not just lackluster, but didn’t fit her, her clients or what she was trying to do at all. So I suggested we try again. She agreed.
The next morning I came in to an email halting the project again. She’d lost sleep and couldn’t go there. But this time, rather than back down, I calmly spoke my mind and insisted that she trust the rebranding process and my experience and that we finish what we started. Whilst I was on the phone I sent her a just-finished revision of the concept.
And I waited…..
She went from flustered and stressed to smiling. Yes, smiling. The new design hit the mark and made her smile. More than that, she then started telling me, how perfectly it reflected her clients. BINGO!!
Sure little tweaks still required, but we were now definitely on the right track.
The moral to the story:
- If you’re embarking on something that’s difficult, be careful who you accept advice from. In this case, the wrong advice could have killed the client’s brand or at the very least profoundly muddied her message.
- Ask to speak with previous clients about their experience of the process
- Once you’re working with the right marketing professional – give yourself over to their process. It should never be about them being right and which then necessitates someone else being wrong. Not at all. Rather it’s about trusting in a tried and true process – with all its ups and downs. Sometimes it’s quick, sometimes not. In this case the process was to get to and then reflect the heart of the brand in the eyes of its owners and its customers. It was an interesting journey, but the brand is now so much stronger for it.
- If you’re a design or marketing professional and you know that where you’re going is the right place for the client – DON’T GIVE UP!! But make sure, it’s not just because you like the design – but your process should get you out of your own way. Sometimes taking a bit of a stand with a client is necessary to get the best from the project.
And as an aside: Thank you to my lovely client (you know who you are) for having the courage to go back there and allowing me to help create her new look. Your branding now reflects the wonderful, vibrant, strong, bold woman that you (and your clients) are. Now go change the world!!
This article showcases something unique to our creative industry– he ability for aesthetics to render level-headed business people to an emotional heap. Color alone can create powerful emotional reactions in people. The best advice I give my clients is “creative is a business decision, not a matter of personal preferences”. Sometimes that helps, lol. Thanks for writing about this. – Tina at Yellowfin Creative