By Mike Woronuk

Too Many Cooks in Your Brand Kitchen?

My cousin was watching The Price is Right recently, so for a bit of nostalgia I joined in. It was a typical scene; someone was trying to guess the first digit in the price of a car. They fervently solicited opinions from everyone in the audience. Now, the fully equipped Prius could have been a twenty-something thousand-dollar car. Or, the first digit could have been a three. Who knows—maybe even a four.

The audience consensus was three. The contestant—who said he’d recently been Prius shopping—was convinced it was two. But he went with the crowd, and lost the car. (Cue: Sad loser musical sting) The audience members shrugged it off and got ready to misadvise the next contestant.

At Bartley & Dick, we call that falling into the opinion trap.

And it doesn’t just happen on game shows; talking yourself out of something right is a real-life dilemma faced by even savvy decision-making marketers. It could be a positioning statement. Brand identity look. Or a big creative concept.

Let’s say that there’s logo design on the table, and you’re quite happy with how it meets your objectives. Then, just before pulling the trigger, you ask others to take a peek. Your boss says it’s too complicated. Some team members think it looks dated. Helena from accounting thinks the soaring bird is a flying cello. Roger unfavorably compares it to an airline logo he once saw, but can’t remember which one. (He later says perhaps it was a bank.)

As a result of their input, you tweak the design. Then you revise. Rethink. And adjust it.

And in the process…you water it down.

The sad fact is: the more people you invite in, the more off the mark the idea’s likely to get. (This visual metaphor says it all…)

You had a good idea in hand, one that took your complex business story and connected it with a simple, memorable concept. But with their “help,” you modified that good idea into a secondary or tertiary choice. And perhaps it’s the safest bet.

But safe doesn’t get results. Keeping the right criteria at the forefront of your decision-making does.

Committees can criticize advertisements, but they should never be allowed to create them. - David Ogilvy

And while this blog has so far been all about not taking advice, we’re about to give a whole bunch. But fear not. It’s advice we are eminently qualified to give, and it offers some guiding principles for good decision-making. Always keep these four tips top of mind, and you’ll be impervious to falling into dangerous opinion traps.

1. Complexity: A strategic communication must lead with a singular focus or idea.
2. Missing concept: Never lose sight of the bigger picture or take a design too literally; concept is key.
3. Missing context: Your audience looks at your brand within a specific use case. This is often called framing, which means your audience isn’t likely to confuse a soaring bird for a cello.
4. Do I like it? Be mindful of personal opinions. Try to look at it from the perspective of your audience and ask yourself “Will this resonate with them?”

Remember: no one knows better than you. Follow your objectives, and your gut—and your brain—will tell you what to do.

By the way, the price of that Prius, including dealer prep, tax and license, was $27,919.

But you probably knew that.

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