Rules of Engagement…

Well bombarding people with lots of technical information is not a good start. I sometimes think that our job, as a branding consultancy, is to build a bridge between our clients and their audiences.

An accountancy firm’s technical proficiency may be terribly interesting to the firm itself but in all honesty their clients couldn’t care less.

Initially at least…

I have always worked on this premise; clients don’t care HOW you do things as long as you get them done. And you only have milliseconds to interest them.

Now that may be a bit harsh. I am sure several of our clients are very interested in font weights, graphical systems and photography styles. But usually not at the beginning. Get them more into the process and that’s a different story.

‘Strictly come dancing’ is an analogy I enjoy sharing. How many people are genuinely interested in ballroom dancing?

The weekly viewing figures have 10 million souls tuning in for their weekly fix. I very much doubt they’re all ballroom dancing fanatics. However, chuck in some celebrities, Bruce Forsyth and some amusing judges and it becomes a different proposition.

It may be the fluffy stuff that engages us but we get there in the end. What businesses (and professional service firms in general) need to realise is that the fluffy stuff matters. Being interesting is the price you pay for the right to get a good hearing. It buys time and builds the bridge between your audience and the technical data of your subject matter.

It’s why the likes of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Barack Obama are amongst the more successful politicians of our time. Just human enough to want to hear more but substantive enough to be credible. They bridge the gap between emotive content and technical credibility very well. Technical wonks like Al Gore, Gordon Brown and Hillary Clinton fall just a little bit short.

What I am finding a lot right now is that professional service companies (good companies) are still continuing to bombard their potential clients with heavy technical information at the initial point of engagement. Even, on the front page of their websites and print materials.


No offense, but would you share every last detail of yourself on a first date?


And yes, the other person would rightfully want to run away.

Words are lazy.

Anybody can churn out absolutely everything they’ve got.

That’s the easy bit.

Editing is where the work comes in; thinking about what to include? What to leave out? Too dry? Too coarse? Too technical? Too light even?? This is the process that makes it more palatable to the audience. It’s the most critical bit and unfortunately the most widely ignored.

It’s also where the work is.

“I’m going to give a long speech today. I haven’t had time to prepare a short one.”

Sir Winston Churchill once famously quipped. You could forgive him, he had the right idea.

Yes, the technical info is important; it’s the substance that you need to be credible. But have the good manners to give it to your audience on a need to know basis. Keep it light, make it interesting, images speak louder than words and people are impatient for you to get to the point.

The gap between what you think your client wants to hear and what they actually want to hear, when you first engage, tends to be bigger than you think.

And you only have milliseconds to close it.

I do hope I haven’t ran on…


About the Author

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Benedetto Bordone
Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design work to build emotive brands.

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