A while ago, I was invited to meet the business owners of a very successful company. They were discussing whether or not to introduce a new brand. And they asked me, the expert on brand portfolio strategy, if I could help. Was my ego touched? Yes. Did it feel good? Not really. Why not? That’s not easy to define. After the first enjoyable meeting I wrote a project proposal. It was quite brilliant, as it didn’t just contain a process to answer their question, it also addressed questions they hadn’t but should’ve asked. They were not enthusiastic. Ouch! Ok, so maybe I had misunderstood their needs. I adapted the proposal according to their remarks, but to be honest, I didn’t really see the benefit. It somehow felt like we didn’t find the same things important. They would understand my arguments though, as long as I had the chance to convince them. During the second meeting, it became clear that their thinking had evolved. That was good news; they solved a lot of questions since the first meeting. But it was also not so good news, as it made the (adapted) proposal outdated. They asked me to rewrite the plan according to the new information, which I did. Since the central question was changed, it took quite some time and energy to fix it. But as the new central question was much more interesting, I didn’t mind. And hey, this was a really successful company, they asked me, and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Again, I produced a brilliant plan. It was pragmatic - just how they liked it - and at the same time it contained all the things I find important in branding projects*. I just had to convince them to find those things important too. There was just one tiny little issue: I wasn’t so sure if this was going to be a fun project. I really liked the people, but it felt a bit like I was stretching myself too much to fit their expectations, and we hadn’t even started yet! Two weeks later, they called me to thank me for my efforts, but they had decided to give the assignment to another company. Intuition is a funny thing. It’s that little voice inside claiming to tell you ‘the truth’. That little voice telling you what you feel. That voice we often discard, as there are rational arguments telling us differently. And rational arguments to convince others. But, as I should know by now, people are not driven by rationality; they are driven by emotional appeal.
Although these particular business owners used rational arguments to explain their decision, I must accept that I just wasn’t emotionally appealing enough to them. Maybe they listened to their intuition earlier then I did. BTW, they have amazing plans and I wish them all the luck.
By Kim Cramer PhD
*Thinking emotive, co-creating the solution, integrating disciplines and involving all employees in the transformation.