Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Your Logo Doesn't Matter

Your Logo Doesn’t Matter

Joe Buissink and I are doing a series of seminars (they’re free by the way which is, I think, the right price to hear me but a bargain to hear Joe!) around the country. Joe spends the first hour and 45 minutes (It’s supposed to be an hour and 15 but I never really care. I never get tired of looking at his incredible stuff!) talking about art. I spend the last 15-20 minutes talking about business. People who’ve come seem to be enjoying it and we get a lot of questions afterwards. Many of the questions I get have to do with a slide in my deck entitled, “Your Logo Doesn’t Matter.”

It doesn’t. Or it doesn’t as much as you might think it does. Here’s why that is true. You will never win a client because you have a great logo. Period. No one is going to sign up with you simply because they like the really cool custom typeface or your particular shade of celadon. I know. Shocker. What amazes me is how often I am asked what I think of a particular logo and the amount of time and energy someone may be putting into it.

I call that “Logo Myopia.” Typically you are a victim of Logo Myopia when during the scope of a rebranding exercise you find that you have become completely fixated on the logo. Typical symptoms include dreaming of logo variations, incessant logo doodling, hiring yet another designer because the last 9 didn’t quite come up with exactly what you were looking for, posting your logo to online photographer forums to hear what other photographers think about your logo (a good idea if you are targeting photographers!), etc. Go ahead and take a second and wipe the sweat off of your brow. We’ve all been there. I know about this syndrome because I’ve been it’s victim. It’s almost like you’ve got these blinders on and all you can see is the logo. Oh my God! I’ve got to have the best Logo! AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

Take a minute and breathe. There’s hope. Here’s the thing. It’s true. A great logo, no matter how great it may be, will never get clients to come to you. To be sure. Your logo should fit your brand. It should essentially say something positive at a glance. But that’s about it.

Now. There is one final thing about logos that is important, especially to my many photographer readers. While a great logo will never win you a client, a bad logo will most certainly lose you some. So if your logo sucks you need to sweat it a little. Just don’t let myopia set in.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Never lose a client to politics or religion. (unless you want to)...

Yesterday I posted this statement on Twitter: Politics and Religion are the two worst reasons to lose a client. I inadvertently touched off some controversy. (funny how a post that was designed to discourage controversy could do so!) People feel passionately about these things, so I guess I’m not all that surprised. Rather than try to have the discussion in 20 words or less, I’m posting some thoughts here with the knowledge that many may want to weigh in with their own.

First off. Let’s review the statement. Considerate a postulate. (the kernal for a debate). The statement was: Politics and Religion are the two worst reasons to lose a client. Let’s take that apart a little...

I did not say that politics and religion are the dumbest ways to lose a client. There are, without a doubt, many dumber ways. Bad customer service, failing to listen and react to what your clients are telling you (and not telling you). Bad business practices, etc. These are all dumb. However, most smart people avoid these methods for losing customers. It is when our passions engage that we sometimes do things we don’t mean. Like giving people with different passions the impression that we don’t want to serve them because they don’t look or act or think (or worship) like us.

There are people for whom this is not true. There are people who actually think they are right and frankly they may be. These people seem to want to convince the world of their rightness, either so they can convince the world to go their way or just because it feels good to be right. I’m neither that smart nor that solid in my personal convictions. I guess I’ve decided that it’s more important for me to just be the best me that I can be and let others do that too. It is not for me to wag my finger and say they’re wrong. There are lots of folks who seem perfectly ready to step into that role.

Understand also that this does not apply to legalities. When preference crosses a line of legality it is for any contributing member of a society to step up and say, hey, that’s wrong. But when that line is the grayer line of religion or the extremely murky and highly polarized world of politics, I simply prefer to leave the argument to others.

So for me, Politics and Religion are the worst reasons to lose a customer. I don’t feel that I am superior to someone who chooses to believe different things. Therefore I don’t feel that someone who chooses to believe different things is inferior. Why then would I want to put something out there that causes someone to be uncomfortable with doing business with me because their convictions and mine may not line up? Isn’t it better to serve them as a client, treating them with respect and dignity, then to attack something about which they may feel passion? In attacking the thing it is far too easy for the person themselves to feel attacked and it is then that it is likely that any chance for a client relationship is severed.

It is true that politics and religion are about principles. There are those who seem to stand very firmly on their own. I actually do too. It’s just that one of my principles is a deep respect for the sanctity of each person’s experience and the knowledge that finding one’s way is hard enough. I would much rather help those who need it by setting an example through who I am then try to do so through words and phrases born in byte sized chunks over the ether.

So that’s what I was trying to say... I know there are those who feel much differently. I respect that too. If you want to lose clients because of your passions about politics and religion (“if they don’t think the way I think I don’t want to serve them”) more power to you. In that case, then for you politics and religion definitely wouldn’t be the worst reasons to lose a client...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Marketing isn't hard. We Just Make it Hard.

“Hey Jim. I’m wondering if I can ask your opinion on something?” I get these emails all the time. The most common questions I’m asked? “What do you think of my pricing” and, “How do you feel about my (insert one here) logo, branding, new site, etc...

There are two things that I tell everyone. Number one... Never ask my opinion on something if you don’t want the truth. My friends tell me I should come with warning flags. It’s true. I should. If you ask me what I think and I think something is bad I’ll tell you that. That’s the first thing I say. Here’s the second.

What I think doesn’t really matter all that much. Why? Well unless your optimal client is a 40 something year old, bald, slightly overweight, harried executive who drives a Ford Pickup Truck, is married, has two boys, one in high school and one entering college, who rarely shops, is obsessed with camera equipment but not many other electronics and who spends about 50% of his life on planes and in hotel rooms, my preferences about your branding, pricing and logo aren’t going to do you much good. Frankly, neither will any of the other photo “gurus” who make at least part of a living giving advice to other photographers.

Here’s a better idea. It’s a piece of paper exercise. A sit down with a cup of coffee and an actual piece of paper and a little time exercise. A close your eyes and dream a little exercise.

I want you to think of your ideal client. Form a picture of that client in your mind. Think a little about who they are. This is the client you most want to serve... Now, on your piece of paper write down ten specific traits about this client. Ten things that define who they are.

Here’s an example: “Mom, between 25 & 35, married, works part time, loves her kids, drives carpool, shops at target, listens to hip hop (when no one is looking), is comfortable in her own skin, reads mystery books.” Now give her (or him) a name.

Here’s a little known fact. There is no person named Tommy Bahama. He’s a persona. He’s the outgrowth of a much more detailed exercise just like the one above. Every decision the successful retailer makes is vetted by Tommy. “What would Tommy think?”

Once you’ve picked out your ten traits, think of a few clients who match those traits and make them your own personal captive focus group. When you want to make changes, etc., email them and ask what they think. Their opinion is much more valuable than mine.

Take that piece of paper and pin it up wherever you work. Any time you are working on something related to marketing, take a moment and read those traits again and ask him or her in your mind what you should do. You’ll be surprised how much clarity this will bring in your business decisions!

In the next couple of days we’ll talk about Logo Myopia and a series of other challenges small businesses face. Marketing isn’t hard. We just make it hard.