You can find innumerable posts on the ideal client. It can be a pretty extensive list. They should value and trust your expertise. Be honest and fair. Don’t haggle on price and should pay on time. They should be responsive. Must have realistic expectations, and so on. These are all good and some of them are imperative. But we find that there is a shorter list of qualities that make for a great client/consultant relationship when it comes to guiding a branding process.
1. Be Considerate
Being considerate doesn’t sound like an unreasonable request. However, it is surprising how inconsiderate some clients can be. And that may not necessarily be intentional. It comes down to treating your consultant like you would like to be treated. It’s not that hard and the project engagement will go that much better. So try making requests rather than ordering or demanding. Your consultant has a life and working on your behalf 24/7 will be counterproductive. Acknowledge communication rather than ignore it until it serves your own purpose to do so. Manage your time so everything doesn’t have to be a last-minute rush. A good client understands the value of a little consideration.
2. Commit to the Process
The process serves an essential purpose. It’s to help ensure informed, considered, and objective decisions. It only works however if everyone involved in the project commits to it, dedicates the time, attends meetings and pays attention, and does their homework. It takes time and dedication. Understanding that will help prepare the project leadership team for the commitment they will need to make. A good client will set aside the time and actively engage in the process.
3. Be Open Minded
Many clients come into a project with a preconceived idea of what the ideal solution is. Then they wait for their consultant to eventually reach the same conclusion. And that usually doesn’t happen. Why? Because the money you are paying your brand consultant goes towards objectively assessing, diagnosing, and evaluating different solutions that meet the brand objectives. It’s certainly fine to share what your preconceptions are. But be open to the ideas that your consultant brings to the table. That is why you hire experts. A good client will set aside their preconceived ideas and let the process play out.
4. Embrace Creativity
According to a recent article in a Harvard Business School study creativity was found to benefit businesses in 4 key areas: innovation; productivity; adaptability; and growth. Other studies have demonstrated that companies that embrace creativity outperform their competitors by as much as 20%. So it would seem that in building and managing your brand that creativity would be equally beneficial. Think of companies like Uber, Zappos, or Woot who were not afraid to be creative with their names. Being creative is not the same as being crazy. It’s a way of thinking beyond tradition and “safe”. Good clients will embrace creative thinking to accelerate their brand.
5. Learning Is Its Own Reward
The best decisions on a branding project come as a result of what you learn in the process. And it’s not what you learn about your own company or brand. It’s about understanding the principles upon which your brand is built and managed. Most companies have a vision and mission. But how do those fit in the scheme of a larger brand framework? How do they relate to the brand promise or value proposition? And what role does brand architecture play? Understanding the principles around these and the many other dimensions of brand building will help inform the decisions you have to make. What you learn in the branding process is an invaluable side benefit. A good client will be open to the learning experience and its value well beyond the project results.
A Little Good Goes a Long Way
Branding projects are challenging. They can be complex, time-consuming, and stressful. The brand consultant is there to help and guide the way to alleviate all of that. Being a good client will not only make the relationship work better but will lead to a better end result.