The Arland Group is a boutique creative agency. We want to ask you an important question. Would you rather work with people who want to work with you? Or, would you rather work with people, who work for people, who make them work with you?

When Losing Business is a Winning Move

by Keith Seiz

2 December, 2013

I lost. In my almost eight years of pitching, selling and telling people about The Arland Group, I’ve compiled a pretty solid record. Put me, or me and Deb in front of a potential new client, and most likely, we’ll win the business.

But I lost one last week. Made it to the final three of a brand redesign project for a West Coast company and failed to bring home the goods. It’s never fun to lose, but looking back, I’m really glad I didn’t win this business.

I lost because the potential client was a bit afraid that we would take the brand redesign a bit too far out of their comfort level. They were a conservative company in the financial industry, and they were looking for a “brand refresh.” I don’t believe in refreshing a brand. It’s an impossible task designed to placate timid clients, but not something that’s going to make an impact on the growth of a client’s business.

You don’t “refresh” brands. You tear them down and rebuild them. Sure, you sometimes arrive at a point that is very similar to the existing brand, but you have to burn the house down before you can build something new and improved.

There cannot be rules in a branding redesign project. Everything has to be at least considered in the first round of creative. It’s part of the process. A client has to allow you to bring them ideas that they never considered before. Even if they don’t make it past the first round of creative, it’s imperative to think about new approaches.

The last thing I want to hear when refreshing a company’s brand or logo is, “we can’t change the color” or “we really like the font.” Right there, you have already put my creative team in handcuffs and predetermined the brand based off of fear of change.

The creative process has to happen organically. If we rebrand a company, and its identity ends up being a minor, natural evolution, I will be completely satisfied with the finished product as long as the creative process is allowed to occur. As long, as someone is open to new ideas, I know the finished product will work, even if it’s not a significant change.

But when rules are put in place before a single idea is hatched, I know the project is not right for The Arland Group. We’re creative people and we have to be able to be creative in order to execute a finished product that makes an impact.

I don’t think the business I just lost would have allowed us be creative. They wanted a refresh, and we wanted a redesign. May seem similar, but there are vast differences in those words.

By losing the business, we won by not taking on a project that would have drained our creative team and stressed our client.

Isolation

by Keith Seiz

2 March, 2012

I’m writing this blog from 31,000 feet in the air. It’s late, I’m tired and I’m questioning whether or not I’m going to get a second gin and tonic before landing in St. Louis.

I’m also wondering if my mom is going to have to wait long for me to arrive. Yes, my mom still occasionally picks me up from the airport. I know I’m 34, run a successful agency and said agency would have no problem footing the bill for long-term airport parking. But, it’s good seeing mom, and the $144 I save in parking fees can go to keeping our overhead low and rates reasonable.

I’m flying home from Spokane, Washington. Most business trips I take are in and out. I see the airport, the rental car, the client and my hotel room. This trip, however, I have an outstanding traveling partner in our creative director and my friend, Jonathan. So instead of airport, meeting, hotel, airport, we extended the trip a couple days and headed into the isolation of Northern Idaho to be creative.

We did everything we could to remove ourselves from the business of our business.

We talked a lot, laughed a lot, argued a bit, had a few cocktails and even went skiing. Most importantly, we were creative without forcing it. No set times to dedicate to a specific project.  No squeezing in an hour of design work between conference calls.

We just lived life outside of The Arland Group while talking on and off about four major branding projects we are working on and the type of creative we would need to make them amazing.

And you know what, we killed it. We’re talking award winning ideas.

The lesson: isolate yourself from your business to produce exceptional work. It doesn’t matter if you toil in the creative field like we do or crunch numbers for an accounting firm. Get away. Shut your door. Turn off your computer and cell phone. If you can, don’t go into work and go somewhere else instead where no one can reach you.

Pick up a pencil and a pad of paper, think and start working. You’ll be amazed at what you accomplish.