Why? Well, it seems like I've been sitting in on more and more meetings where prospective clients want to jump right to a website and business cards. They're excited to get started on a new project and launch their big idea out in the world. They have a logo they sort of like and not much in terms of a formal message. But they don't seem to want to take the time to figure out how to simply deliver their big idea in terms that will inspire future customers or even their own employees with a succinct statement that encompasses their dream.
The feedback I get when I ask the question, "Do you want us to take a look at your messaging first maybe come up with a mission statement, elevator pitch, and tagline that will encompass all of these great ideas and inspire and inform the design?" the reply I get is usually… "we don't have time money patience to work on that fluffy stuff" usually delivered just like that…breathless as if in the midst of a business marathon they feel the breath of their competition on their necks sneaking up behind them.
I know that competition is tough in the business world and our "always on" electronic presence makes us feel that any pause will surely result in complete annihilation by the competition. That's when the video below starts floating to the top of my mind. Steve Jobs made this speech in 1997. Before the iMac, before the iPhone and iTunes. He had just returned to the company and Apple was floundering with a $4 per share stock price and a failing line of beige boxes that looked (and performed) very much like the Windows-based computers of that time. A different CEO given those circumstances might have tried a different tactic. They may have decided to roll up their sleeves and get to work on what they knew: building computers. Mr. Jobs on the other hand saw the worth of voicing the company's ambition and vision and "Think Different" was created. Sure the campaign got attention for its simplicity, style, and design…but more importantly it set a tone for the new direction of the company, told customers what they could expect, and fired up Apple to reach those goals.
So, when I hear "we don't want to over promise," "we don't have time for the fluffy stuff," "that's too simple…no one will get it," and "we don't have the budgets that Nike and Apple have to launch this little Green Tech company" my mind drifts to this video and it gives me courage to challenge those assumptions. Sure you can over promise. You have time for the fluffy stuff because clouds are made of it and it makes so much possible on this planet. As for cost, we don't charge what TBWA/Chiat/ Day charge. And as for time, now more than ever in a world where messages are flying by in 140 character blurs you need to make sure your new big idea has an expression that is succinct, simple, and challenges your customers to stop and think of the possibilities of doing business with you…to Think Different.