In last week’s Passion Profile, I pulled a quote from Seth Godin about the definition of ‘brand.’ But something else he said stuck with me and really hit home:
Design is essential but design is not brand.
For a perfectionists out there, like me, this is huge. We want everything to look perfect, feel perfect and be perfect before we launch a project, put something out to the world and take a risk. It’s both a blessing and a curse to be married to this perspective; on the one hand, when we do do something – it’s right; on the other hand, we can very easily get caught up in the planning stages, and in the details, taking an extraordinarily long time to make the leap. By doing this we are shortchanging ourselves – and our potential clients, readers or audience – by limiting the opportunities that might flow out of just putting our Thing out there. Waiting on the ‘perfect’ design or website or tool is a Red Herring Roadblock to Launching Your Big Thing. (tweet it!)
Tips for Outsmarting the Red Herring of Perfection: Part 1
Don’t Get Hung Up on Looks
O.M.G. How easy is it to get caught up in how amazing everyone else’s site, business cards, logo, book cover, videos, etc. etc. etc. look? The awesomeness is everywhere we turn. And it feeds into our own insecurities about how our stuff looks. Comparison can be crippling and we need to STOP. (If you’re having a particularly hard time with this one, take a look at Helen Jane’s Solutions for a Painful Internet). In the context of branding – the experience you create for your audience is so much more important that the design of your marketing materials. This is not to say that you should put something out there that’s shabby, it’s to say that you should not let the lack of your dream design hold you back from sharing your gifts with the world.
My advice: take a cue from the Lean Startup culture and the concept of launching with a Minimum Viable Product. An MVP (as the cool kids call it) has three characteristics:
- It has enough value that people are willing to use it or buy it initially
- It demonstrates enough future benefit to retain early adopters
- It provides a feedback loop to guide future development
Granted, this concept is thought to work best for technology products or services where the users are savvy enough to see the potential in the product and are willing to deal with less temporarily, but I think that we can all take a lesson from this strategy, no matter what our industry. If you’re nervous though, and you exist in a world where everything IS awesome (i.e. digital publishing), you might consider another take on the MVP strategy: Minimum Delightful Product. The MDP concept suggests that “delightful products are adopted faster, get better word of mouth, and create higher satisfaction.” If this resonates with you, consider focusing on these three things only:
- creating an experience that make people feel good;
- presenting a simple, clean design; and
- providing a quality product.
Following either of these models for launching lets us determine whether there is ‘something’ to our idea, while allowing us to receive valuable feedback in how to grow, tweak and improve without getting caught up in the cosmetic and without spending a huge amount of time and resources on an idea that doesn’t have legs. It’s smart way to overcome that roadblock and move forward on your path to launch.
Look for Part 2: Do the Work, next week!