The toughest thing about being a creative is the high expectations. This includes the client expectations (even though they have no ideas or vision), as well as my own expectations on what is being created. In my world, concepting for branding, as well as the creation of the visuals to the copy writing, can evoke gigantic feelings of "lacking".
Confidence is imperative to us creatives. Confidence frees your brain to connect the dots or dig beyond the obvious or just go down a road that might seem silly or dumb. Once I tackle my nasty Nancy voice in my head, I actually start to truly create. That voice in my head doesn't just create a lack of confidence, it also continually reminds me of the impending deadline. Like I need that additional pressure. I hear "gees, you don't have enough time" or "why did you wait so long to get started". I'll admit I do have an issue getting stated. Don't get me wrong, I have a creative plan that is the result of many many hours and days of research, but actually sitting down to design, write, build the website, etc. is the issue.
What you need to understand about living in the world of a creative is that I never know what the final product will look like, and that can create feelings of "not good enough" or concern that I'll have "no legitimate ideas". Or, it "won't be as good as the last project". Or that the client "will hate it". None of these things have ever happened in my 17+ years in this industry, but it doesn't stop my brain from going crazy.
Normally, the rule is never stop with your first idea. First ideas aren't usually very creative or deeply thought out. Sure, they often solve the problem, but it takes time to get down to the end line of ideas. For example, when naming my company, No Moss Brands, I fell in love many many times w/ other names. But for one reason or another I kept going until my 89th name…No Moss Brands. And then I stopped.
I'm dedicated to the craft of creativity and very rarely present a client with only one comp…usually it's three different brand directions. Each of the directions is usually a solid solution, but some ideas are clear-cut winners in the eyes of the client. I have learned over the years that it's difficult to know exactly what solution the client will select. I've also learned to never present concepts or ideas that I don't believe in, because inevitably that's the one the client will select and then I'm stuck working w/ a concept that's not my favorite.
So the other day when I sat down with my client of two weeks to show him the branding concepts, which included logo and tagline, I realized I had broken my own steadfast rule. I presented my client w/ exactly ONE concept and direction. I won't lie when I say I didn't have a lot of other options due to a very very short timeline, and quite honestly, I really didn't have enough solid information to even begin developing a brand direction. But, I felt strongly enough about this concept that I even went as far as to produce several other marketing pieces with this same look.
As you can imagine, this is risky, and I know it's risky. I also know this is a surefire way for the entire relationship and trust to be negatively affected. So, when I showed the ONE brand direction conceptualized through a logo, tagline, business card, slim jim flyer and other pieces it could have a bad outcome, and it did. My client said the last thing I wanted to hear "NO" followed by another "NO" and then another "NO". Sure, I was freaking out inside. I'd never had a client look at my work and INSTANTLY say "NO" so definitively. Egads!!!
I looked at him, and said, "Buddy, what do you mean no…you have to give me more than that". I continued with "I can't move forward or get to the place you want to be if you don't share why you are saying no". He turned to me, dead eyed, and says "someone told me to not use my disability in my marketing". Phew…I can work with that.
I say "who told you that"…which I really didn't care what the answer was because I knew this approach was the right approach. I say to him, "branding is about distinguishing yourself from your competition". Followed by "why would you want to avoid the very thing that is your distinguishing factor". Seriously folks, I often work very very hard to come up with a true Unique Selling Position USP), but in the branding world I like to refer to it as Unique Branding Position (UBP). This particular client had a built-in UBP that he embraces whole-heartedly. I also said "it'd be like someone saying to me can you play down your African-Americanism". Can't do it…won't do it…makes no sense.
Luckily this entire conversation was only five minutes in duration and within that time he revealed that the brand direction was the EXACT direction he wanted to go, but because he was advised not to he moved on. I said, "well, you can tell THEM that your professional brander with over 17 years experience and experience in his industry says they’re wrong". I hope he said it, because I honestly believed it. But more importantly, his "NO" turned into a resounding "YES" in no time at all. Put that in your pipe and smoke it Nancy Nasty!
You might also enjoy "In the Mind of a Creative" or "Madonna, Michael Jackson or Lady Gaga: Branding or Talent?"