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.