Hire a design consultant. They don't love your brand as much as you do

Latest video from LinkedIn. Would love to hear a perspective from those in charge or working with in-house creative teams that hire consultants (and those that don’t).

It’s hard to get new ideas with an old perspective. As an outsider, I’m always looking at the problem differently than an internal team. It’s that context that brings good design and innovation.

I’m from a very different industry. I’ve always championed the companies that I work for, but I always remind colleagues that if the competitors weren’t bringing something unique and desirable to the table, they would be out of business. I don’t think I’m unique either.

However, stakeholders can have another view. I’ve had a few bosses that told me that the competitors were all junk and “we” don’t make junk. When those bosses have hired consultants, they’ve green-lit the designs that were the most like what they already make (and always made me wonder why they hired someone externally).

I don’t disagree, especially about an outsider having a valuable perspective. But in terms of a consultant “loving” or being wed to a brand as much as the internal design team? It really depends on what or who it is. Some might have less personal investment, but in other cases they might actually have more.

I’ve seen internal design teams become bored with their brand and all too easily fall into the groove of incremental (or ornamental) change. This may or may not come from the top levels of the company, who become more interested in keeping Sales and Marketing happy than pushing the envelope. Innovative design involves taking risks, which is probably why many companies find it safer to follow other companies lead than blaze their own path.

In any case, such companies are even more ripe for some outside perspective, assuming they are willing to listen!

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The video seems pointed toward product management, marketing, maybe in-house design teams that could be looking for a consultant. Makes sense. You are looking to get hired for a project. Had to remember that as I listened to the video.

“A consumer has no brand allegiance”. Have to disagree. My impression of the sporting goods world is that brand allegiance trumps* fit, function, color, style, intended purpose. You pick a brand and then back-fill a story to make it a rational choice for yourself. Of course this doesn’t hold true for all industries - 99% of exercisers don’t remember what brand of treadmill they ran on at the last gym visit.

*this also is how politics works at least in our dysfunctional country