Four reasons expert bias could be hurting your brand
Why it doesn’t make sense to hire experts to help with your brand and then not take their advice.
For many owner-founders, who’ve worked tirelessly to launch a business from scratch, knowing their brand inside out is what keeps cash flowing. Being in the know means being in total control – not a problem per se, but when it comes to brand design and how that’s used across the business, guidance from others could be the advice you can’t afford to ignore. Here are four primary reasons why good creative advice matters to your business.
1 – Expert bias is tunnel vision by another name
Expert Bias or Expertise Bias. Call it what you want, but the effect is the same: you’re so knowledgeable about a certain subject or sector, you can’t see anyone else’s perspective. This is true of anyone, from any sector: the doctor who can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t look after their health, forgetting that the majority of the population have no medical training and seek the advice of doctors precisely for this reason. Similarly, a manufacturing firm are experts in their field but may well have little knowledge of the basics of PR and communications – we’ve seen famous examples of this, frustratingly even when a firm’s own PR teams are involved.
Tunnel vision accomplishes little, because it reduces the scope of potential so drastically. This is the reason why outside help is so important: an objective view that doesn’t share a sector bias with the companies they’re working with, thus bringing new and often abstract views to the table – often prompting brands to recognise tunnel vision they didn’t realise was there.
2 – Control stifles creative risk
Brands live and die on the people who rely on them, so unless your business offers a service that’s been all but made obsolete by the coronavirus pandemic, someone somewhere still wants what you have to offer. That’s something to treasure, and a pivot in marketing or product strategy could make your current customers value you even more, as well as giving you the edge over your competitors.
Remember, innovation isn’t just about designing a new product or changing your branding: a new content strategy, showing how customers are using your product or service during the crisis and encouraging them to provide and share their content with the world, can increase your visibility and importance in the market without costing the earth.
3 – A serious brand audit takes serious focus
As brand consultants and designers, we frequently work with clients who either have no idea what they want, or know exactly what they want. It’s what makes the job varied and exciting: collaborating with others to realise their dream, or having someone put their full trust in you to create something with total autonomy.
The latter is commonly the preference for a brand consultant, especially when it comes to creative fields like design and writing, undoubtedly because the implementation of strategic creative processes doesn’t work when it’s being blocked. One of the most common obstacles is business leaders refusing to sign off on creative ideas – perhaps because they don’t think it’ll work, or because the market won’t respond to it. Any good brand consultancy will do deep research before making any suggestions to ensure their ideas are as informed and, in essence, risk-free as possible. Of course, nobody can know whether even the most over-engineered branding will actually work – in the last five years alone, some of the world’s biggest brands have fallen victim to a misguided rebrand (see this blog post).
Conversely, sometimes it’s unengineered ideas that are the blockages: countless businesses spend millions on social media strategies because they think they should, not because it makes sense for the business, and then end up lamenting a poor return on investment. By stepping back and letting expert advice guide parts of the business strategy, you’re able to mitigate potential losses.
4 – Effective brand strategy should be unbiased
Brand consultancy has a broad reach, incorporating everything from commercial roadmaps and product design to video content and social media posts. It ties all these elements together into a cohesive strategy that embodies what the brand stands for. Crucially, this strategy is decided by the movements of the marketplace and the place of the client’s business within it, hinging on rationale that should be unbiased because it’s based on the demands of the consumer rather than the wants of the business. Of course, this isn’t to suggest that graphic designers don’t do their research, but the reality is that graphic design is a function rather than a process – most graphic designers don’t need to present in-depth analysis justifying their design decisions.
Expert bias collides with brand rationale when owners are so close to their business they can’t see it from an outside perspective. You wouldn’t paint the walls of your house orange before putting it on the market – even if you really, really love the colour orange – because data shows potential house buyers respond best to neutral palettes against which they can imagine their possessions. Here, the objective – to sell your house – trumps your desire to have orange walls, even if orange walls are on-trend. Of course, a house might be so desirable that it sells even with orange walls: brand consultants would examine why the house is so desirable regardless of wall colour and use those lessons to sell less desirable houses.
Expert help produces exceptional results
The world of branding is constantly changing, defined by the shifts in consumer demand and availability of resources. What your brand says about you isn’t limited to colours, shapes and textures but set deep in company values and propositions. Branding experts can help you identify the principles your business needs to attract and retain new customers, tying together key messaging with the words and visuals needed to tell your story.
Sometimes, the determination a founder needs to start a business is the same drive that makes them overlook the details needed to make a brand excel. Even though they know exactly how their business works, establishing the product or service as a valuable, sellable brand is a precise process that needs the support of experts who know what makes branding tick.