Archive | July, 2013

Does Your Square Peg Fit That Round Hole Yet?

7 Jul

A buddy told me a story.

He was having a deck built.

The contractor quoted the job by the square foot.

When it came to determining the exact size of the deck the contractor said, “People usually wish they had it built a couple of feet longer”.

My buddy, having what you might call a suspicious nature, figured the contractor was just trying to pocket a bigger paycheck.

That was seven or eight years ago.

Every summer since then, my buddy wishes he’d had that deck built a couple of feet longer.

I work with words instead of wood.

Businesses often ask me to write web copy.

Typically their needs fall into one of two scenarios.

They’re refreshing an existing website or developing a new one.

In either case, I often find myself explaining that they need to work on their branding first.

Sometimes because it’s weak or non-existent and sometimes it’s no longer appropriate because the business has evolved.

I’m not talking about a logo here, as much as the non-visual attributes that go into building a brand.

People aren’t always receptive to the suggestion, which brings me back to my buddy’s unfounded suspicions about the carpenter.

To some extent it’s understandable because branding is development heavy.

Sometimes you get lucky, but usually it requires a bit of thought.

And thinking is intangible and hard to quantify.

As a rule, the earlier in any process – the more thought or development as opposed to execution – is involved.

Now it doesn’t require much development to arrive at an end result that’s workmanlike.

By workmanlike I mean running with an idea that makes enough sense, as opposed to working through it, to arrive at something that truly makes sense.

It’s worth pursuing the latter because, when you really get the branding right, it’s much easier to get the marketing right.

Get the branding even a bit wrong and you’ll forever have the feeling of trying to push a square peg into a round hole.

Or end up with something that works fine on paper, but just doesn’t have that little spark that connects with people.

It’s a process and you can drill a few dry holes before you strike oil.

That makes some clients nervous.

Of course when you do strike oil the return on your investment is exponential.

But not everyone wants to ante-up.

That’s OK.

You can only advise people who are open to advice.

The ones not holding onto a square peg.

Or wishing their deck was a couple of feet longer…