My average brand project lasts about thirteen weeks. And fully half of that time is spent learning. I do my research. And I talk to all the people you’d expect, the C-Suite, the marketing and sales teams, your best customers. And then I talk to all the people you don’t expect: the newest hire, the woman who’ll be running the place in ten years, the guy you stole from the competition, the person manning the front desk (they know everything); in short, everyone who can help me see all the disconnects between what management says and what is really happening.
Same for clients: I know what your best clients are going to say before I ever talk to them. But what about the ones who fired you and you don’t know why? The ones who have never hired you in the first place? I’ve never had a former (or non-) client refuse to speak to me. And I’ve never had one maliciously trash the company out of spite. They’re happy to help you understand why they’re not working with you.
I talk to everyone I can because the first rule of brand creation is that you are not creating anything. You are editing. You are consuming and distilling and crystallizing, and then building back up. It’s all there. It’s always all there. You just need someone who has the distance, the perspective and the experience to see it for what it is.