Today I would like to present you with a scenario which, by example, will hopefully help you avoid some of the pitfalls of becoming counter-productive throughout the process. Many business owners turn into ‘design hijackers’, and end up wasting money on branding and design.
Not that they shouldn’t hire a good designer and/or consultant; but business people can become their own worst enemy.
Our story begins with Fred, the owner of Basket Cases Ltd. Fred’s company imports and sells pink iPod cases exclusively. While the customers who have bought iPod cases from him are happy with them; his products are not selling as fast as he thought they would, and he realizes his business needs to be more than a music player case and a transaction.
His customers should be more attracted to his business and products, and he wants to create a connection and loyalty that comes with a strong brand. Other people have done it, so why can’t he?
In talking about his frustrations of not knowing how to go about creating a brand; a friend recommends Shirley’s Innovation Temple, a local ‘thought leader’ in creative design and branding. Fred ‘Googles’ her company, finds her website and portfolio impressive, and gives her a call right away.
Shirley arrives for the initial design consultation and Fred shows her his boring white sign with black letters, along with his atrociously ugly website and business cards. He complains about what an idiot his last designer was and Shirley agrees; she hasn’t seen a website that revolting since about 1997.
They both have a good laugh, with Shirley assuring him that her studio will help him create a brand that will be the envy of the entire city. Fred is sure that this is the designer for him, so he cuts her a cheque right away to retain her firm’s services.
Shirley is happy because this client ‘gets it’. He really seems to realize his problem and genuinely wants to do something about it.
A couple of weeks later, they meet again so Shirley can present some preliminary design concepts. She has created a package with updated logo ideas, signage, business card and website designs; as per Fred’s instructions.
She proudly unveils the smart and attractive layouts her studio has spent the last two weeks on, and turns to Fred.
He gives the illusion of being in deeply intelligent thought. Furrowing his brow, he strokes his chin and clears his throat; then smiles and says, “It is almost perfect!” Shirley visibly relaxes, but somewhat prematurely as he continues, “But…
“Our product is cutting edge and futuristic, so lets add some stars and planets to reflect that.”
Shirley tenses again and her eyes grow wide in shock. “Stars and planets?” Her voice is barely a whisper.
“Our target market is girls, aged 12-18… girls love puppies. Lets add some puppies. I know my mother-in-law would recommend it anyway…”
“Puppies… mother-in-law?!?” Shirley squeaks. Then she remembers that the last website they scoffed at had stars and puppies.
It looks like it wasn’t the last designer’s fault… Fred is a ‘design hijacker’; and is shooting his own business in the foot this time, just as he did the last.
Well, I am running out of room and not finished yet; so we will have to continue our little saga next week (click here for the next installment).
This is a true story that happens almost every day… names have been changed to protect the innocent. This article was written by Jake Bergen; the Marketing Director at Tractor Beam Marketing (www.thetractorbeam.com), the author of ‘Social Skills: Facebook Basics for Business’, and the founder of Social Media Club Edmonton. © Tractor Beam Marketing Inc.