On turning down a brief
24 July 2018 Woody
The following is a letter to a prospective client who provided a beautifully written, comprehensive and helpful brief.
Essentially the brief asked for a brand identity refresh but didn’t call for any strategic work to provide insights and strategy that might lead to a lastingly powerful idea. We politely declined the brief because we thought it missed the point.
I think it was Gerald Kaufman who described the manifesto of his own party in 1983 as the “longest suicide note in history”. This may prove to be the second longest.
I don’t think design is your issue.
True enough the design could do with a refresh. Maybe even an overhaul. Perhaps a revolution.
And when you’ve done it – there will be benefits. A good feeling internally perhaps, peering with competitors better, new prospects believing they are hooking up with the right people.
But we’d argue the benefits will be marginal.
And short lived.
There’s a section in your brief that says “describing us”.
Which then uses 322 eloquent words.
That’s the bit where Heavenly work at our best.
To get it to five words.
Or two. Or one.
Because in this impatient world, that’s all the time people will give you.
You can’t distinguish yourself from the competition by design except at a superficial level. People get that one company spent more on design than another and it has little impact with them.
When choosing business partners, customers look for substance, character, passion and shared belief. By and large these are linguistic distinctions and increasingly, thanks to technology, they are sonic differences.
As a company we are fascinated by how a brand sounds – not just tone of voice but delivery. If your website spoke, how would it sound? How would it sound on a smart speaker. Not just the voice-over – the depth of character.
Sonics (like haptics, olfactives and the wider group of organaleptics) are more likely to be the real brand discriminators of the future. I appreciate that in [your sector] that might be hard to imagine but there’s always a risk somebody else will.
I’m not saying that cool smart design isn’t important. We have the best studio in London producing the most amazing brands every day. We pour huge amounts of talent into making things look amazing.
But only after we have an idea.
Something that will bind the proposition together. Make it memorable. Relatable. Likeable. Sharable. Ownable.
I’m simply saying that design is a green fee.
Commercial success is the only truly relevant purpose and that comes from total brand design not look and feel.
Brevity is Heavenly.
Good luck with the project – if you still want to, give me a call.