Sweat the small stuff, sweat it all

Last week, I attended a roundtable of CEOs. And one CEO of a well-known and privately held firm provided a showcase of his upcoming rebranding effort.
Interestingly, the consumer company had done focus groups and figured out what they needed to do with the rebranding focus to appeal more broadly to consumers. While the stuff they made was viewed as the most valuable of all the alternatives, other companies with better packaging won the early ‘pick up’ test. The agency had then gone out and developed 5 concepts, 2 of which met the aim of the redesign. 3 were just tossers that didn’t meet the objective. [Why do agencies do that?!]
And one of the ideas really had some fundamental spark, a merit beyond the obvious. [Agency, redeemed!]
But here’s a little detail that was missed.
Being in the design world (marketing graphics servers at Apple, define NAS solutions for the creative world, selling web graphics software at TimeWarner, launching a bunch of graphic software programs), I’ve picked up the meaning of colors over time. And it’s a very specific kind of expertise that really applies in the visual branding side of marketing. That’s why I had a strong reaction to the color choice on the rough concept. The design company didn’t direct the customer when they choose the color they wanted. So the team involved liked red, a really nice red. I like red, so I get it. But nobody said to the client that the color red is typically chosen to show spark / conflict / passion / creativity. The agency was doing the client a disservice in the guise of ‘listening to the client’.
Sometimes, perhaps even most times, the only person who can give the “tough” advice is the consultant or advisor. And when we don’t, we’re cheating the client and ourselves.

The company that this CEO runs has incredible brand value already. It is known as loyal, safe, trust worthy, rich, and reliable. I would naturally think the company then should choose colors like blue and possibly white which represent trust and purity of thought respectively. Colors are very built into how people interpret things like packaging. It’s not as much subtle, as it is a specific thing that needs to be managed.

Sometimes in my line of work, I obsess about both the big and the little things. I’ll fuss about the words we use to describe a market dynamic, or what colors we use to plot research, or some specific element of a program go-to-market mix. I’ll advocate a point of view to clients that some work they’re doing on category positioning is taking them in (what I believe) a wrong direction. And perhaps nobody notices at the time, but I hope the long-term impact of market growth can be attributed ever so slightly back to both the big picture and little decisions I helped to make. I’ve found that elegance of successful business or marketing strategies is made in some very ‘small’ choices and decisions along the way.

0 Responses:

  1. Marsha. March 28, 2006 at 9:13 am  |  

    Whether we know it or not, everything counts. Those details that appear so small they aren’t noticed come back to haunt us when the product packaging, taste or texture is “off.” On a subliminal basis, everything is being weighed – and perhaps those invisible elements are even more powerful than what is immediately obvious.


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