When an accountancy firm kicks off a brand or website project, speed is often the matter of first priority.
Can we start today?
How long will it take?
When will it be done?
What can we do to move it along faster?
I absolutely salute the enthusiasm and eagerness to start. It’s very likely you’ve been putting this off for a long time, and now that you have decided to press the start button, you don’t want to delay even one second. No more delays! Let’s do this!
Here’s why it’s absolutely critical that your big creative project must have rest time built in, and why you can’t go from no brand to amazing-new-brand within a week or two.
(I’m going to use a branding project as my primary example, but the same principle applies to a website design & build.)
Your creative team needs rest time so their creative juices have more time to flow.
If we broke down the actual hours and minutes spent on every element of your branding project, you might be surprised at what is spent where. “Wait – it only took you ten minutes to do that? Why didn’t it take longer? Why are you charging me so much then?”
But as an expert provider of professional services yourself, you know (or I hope you know) that the services you deliver are not based on time alone.
You’ve likely heard the story of the complex machinery which broke down, and the expert engineer who was brought into fix it. He looked around, peered into a few things, brought out a small hammer, and tapped something. The machinery whirred into life again, and the engineer sent a bill for $10,000. “What??” says the manager. “That only took you a minute!! I could have tapped with a hammer myself!” The engineer says, “Yes, the fee is $1 for the minute, and $9,999 for knowing where to tap.”
As accountants, the work you do with your clients – particularly on large projects requiring great expertise and skill – includes your years of experience in ‘knowing where to tap’.
In our creative agency, it’s the same. We know accountants. We’re experts in brand design (particularly our Head Brand Designer, Col, who has 20+ years working with accountants and small businesses).
Col and our design team can do incredible things in the space of a few minutes… but your project can’t be distilled into a few minutes. We don’t know exactly when those few minutes will appear, in the midst of the hours and days and weeks we’ve set aside to work on your brand.
We’ve learned over time the importance of rest in everything we do – it’s one of our four pillars. Building in rest time for our team means that you get the absolute best from us, and it also allows you to have breathing space, too.
You need the rest time so you can digest what’s been discussed and be absolutely sure this is the direction you want to go.
Some accountants we work with take a long time to decide. Others make decisions almost instantly – large or small. Neither one of these is right or wrong: it’s simply part of who you are and how your mind works. (If you’re curious about your personality, I recommend the 16 Personalities site. Their test is startlingly accurate, and the personalised emails they send are one of the few that I’ve never wanted to unsubscribe from, because they’re so relevant.)
Regardless of the speed at which you want to decide things, when it comes to a creative project it’s important that you too have space to make sure you’re going the direction you want to.
We’ve had clients tell us that they definitely, absolutely, are confirmed on a new name for their firm…and within an hour’s branding workshop are beginning to think otherwise. We’ve seen accountants mull over fourteen different names and end up sticking with the one they have. Decided absolutely on colours, and then upon reflection change their mind.
Again, those are all perfectly acceptable and right. Changing your mind is not a problem. (Changing it constantly and never deciding is a problem, but we can help you with that too.)
Part of the rest time built into a creative project is to help things simmer in your own mind. Look around at other brands and companies. Notice colours and fonts. Pay attention to what your brand really means, and how that can be displayed. Talk to – and listen to – your clients and prospects (the target audience towards whom your brand is directed).
Even if taking a little extra time still results in your going with something you had initially decided on in a few seconds, the rest time allows you to be absolutely confident in that decision. As business owners, we can make decisions swiftly and based on gut feel, and that’s completely normal. But continuing to dwell on it, and take small actions, over a period of a few days or weeks or even months helps to cement that as the right decision.
Don’t be the roadblock: Tips for ensuring your creative project isn’t held up
Here are my tips for navigating through that big creative project, with rest time included.
(These presume you’ve selected someone who is an expert and has the track record to prove it, and that you actually like the people you’ll be working with.)
- Do ask how long things will take, but be prepared for it to be longer than you were hoping. One of my favourite quotes of the year so far is from a client, who upon being told we needed a week between calls, said “I don’t like it, but I respect it and I agree with it.” Respect the need for rest time.
- Ask what you can do to ensure you’re not blocking the project. Can you do more research? Provide more direction or ideas? What’s required of you?
- Look at other companies at the start of the project, not the end. It’s brilliant when you share with us websites that you like and don’t like, marketing ideas you’d love to action. That all happens at the beginning. Once you’re well into the project, it can throw you off to compare your half-ready brand or website to someone else’s solid concept which has been running for years.
- If you disagree with your experts, tell them. Then listen to their feedback and the reasons behind it. Have an open mind.
- Don’t be so open that you have no input. “Oh, any colour is fine” is much harder than “I really like – or don’t like – these colours.”
- Be cautious in getting feedback from friends and family. They love you, and they will default to protecting you, not challenging you. Unless your sister or cousin or mum are your ideal target client, hold off discussing your new project too much until you have solid concepts to share.
- Always, always prioritise your clients and target audience over yourself. If you hate the colour red, but for branding purposes this will be the most appealing to your audience, at least consider it as an option.
If branding is an area you’d like to explore, kick off with a two-session branding workshop with myself and Col. We recorded a video this week to explain why this initial workshop is the starting point for most brand projects, and it’s on that page.
Enjoy your next creative project!