Start with internal project objectives
This morning I wrote a note to introduce a new branding project to our team and share internal objectives ahead of our official project kickoff. In the note I included a list of what I felt OUR objectives for this project should be (not to be confused with client objectives). And although the list was drafted with this specific project in mind, in reading back through it, I realized the principles were universal and could be applied to any strategic or creative branding engagement. Not every item on the list applies to every scenario, but for the most part, these points have been time-tested and have helped us develop highly successful, award-winning brands.
Make it relatable
Every item on the list is intended to force our team to consider real outcomes and measures. The first bullet, “GET THE CLIENT EXCITED!!!” is one of the most important. Getting your client excited about the work you do is critical. This applies to internal teams as much as it does external partners. If you do great work but are unable to get your client excited, there’s little chance your work will succeed.
Energy and enthusiasm are part of the project
There are a couple critical factors to getting your client excited:
- Energetic Communication: Communicating and openly sharing your excitement for a project goes a long way. A level of excitement that continuously burns throughout client relations and presentations will be infectious and help keep your client engaged. Energy creates energy, so make sure your most energetic team members lead the charge and understand that their energy and enthusiasm are part of the project.
- Clear Focus: Secondly, and more importantly, is using the objective of getting your client excited as a guide to exploring and focusing on what they care about most. By investing more energy on what will inspire and motivate your client, instead of solely focusing on prescribed activities, your approach will better align with their aspirations and your chances of success will be increased.
A simple measure to guide a complex project
I frequently use the idea of “getting the client excited” as a measure for our work, and during internal project reviews will challenge our teams to identify what about our proposed strategy or creative approach will get the client excited, and why? Asking these questions forces clarity into our thinking and keeps us from losing focus on the client. I use a similar approach when team members ask for advice on how to handle specific parts of a project—my answer is always, “do something that gets the client excited”, which then forces us to think more strategically about what that means and how to achieve it. It’s easy to deliver something that meets requirements, it’s MUCH harder to deliver something that gets your client excited.
Having simple and clear internal objectives that force examination of your work’s effect is a critical first step to building a powerful and effective brand.
As a result of our work, we will:
- GET THE CLIENT EXCITED!!!
- Crystalize the client’s vision and magnify it in ways surprising and inspiring to them
- Powerfully and radically differentiate the client from others in their industry
- Create a brand that projects confidence and boldness, communicating a leadership position
- Make every person at the company feel they’re part of an elite group
- Get partners and competitors to take notice, shaping new perceptions of the client as an advanced and visionary organization
- Inspire recruits to want to work for the client and be associated with their brand and vision
- Build a bigger narrative around the client’s accomplishments
- Provide a platform to govern the brand that includes everyday tools and high-level guidance to ensure consistent application
To achieve this, we will need:
- To understand our client’s work, significance, and what truly differentiates their offering
- To understand cultural and internal dynamics unique to the client
- To understand how the client competes and who they compete with
- To understand the most important audiences the client needs to influence to achieve business success
- To understand what customers value most about working with the client or engaging with their products
- To understand the client’s most remarkable market distinctions or successes
Aligning your teams with clear internal objectives and success measures at the outset of a project has a powerful effect on achieving brilliant outcomes. And in the case of our project, I closed my note to the team with, “Thank you all! Let’s create an AWARD WINNER!!!”
And I am confident we will!