June 26, 2013

It Doesn’t Matter If You Like It – It’s Not About You

don't fall in love with your own ideaIt’s your business, right?  So shouldn’t it matter whether you like the product/design/graphics/packaging/etc?  Actually, the answer is no.

So I’m working on a pretty big project right now.  It’s a visual project and one’s that’s incredibly creatively interesting.  It’s the type of project that’s keeping me up at night as I ponder through all the various design options.  Not surprisingly, I’m drawn to the design that most suits my personality and my personal preferences.  It makes sense, right?  I should like the final outcome.

Actually no, even though I am drawn to a specific set of aesthetics, the truth of the matter is that this isn’t about me.  For the project to be successful I need to create something that will appeal to the target customer and, in this case, a 16-year-old girl and I probably have very different tastes.  I may like mine better, but if I want to create something that jumps out and attracts that 16-year-old girl then I need to keep her in mind at all times throughout the project.

This goes so far beyond just design elements though.  The products you create, the ingredients you use, even the marketing tools you use should all center around the target consumer and not what you personally like or use.  Another project I’m working on, for a separate company, is constantly trying to figure out how to stretch their limited advertising budget and just when they think they have it nailed the CEO will swoop in and ask them why they aren’t advertising in the weekly paper because ‘everyone reads the paper.’   Actually, not ‘everyone’ reads the printed paper but because the CEO does, s/he believes that therefore everyone must (even though no one on the marketing team gets the printed paper – they all read it online).  Worse, research shows that the target audience doesn’t read the printed paper either but try convincing the CEO of that.

Don’t get so close to your projects that blur the line between what you like/what you want and what the target market likes and wants.  Because at the end of the day, it’s the target market that counts (and they usually count with their wallets).

By the way, 10 points if you can figure out why I used this specific image to compliment the story.  See the answer below underneath the Related Articles.

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The image accompanying this article is a copy of a painting of Narcissus by Caravaggio in 1594-1596.  Narcissus comes from Greek mythology and the story goes that Narcissus was an extremely beautiful boy who fell so in love with his own image that he couldn’t stop looking a reflection of himself and died.  To this day, we call people who are consumed with an overwhelming sense of self-importance ‘narcissists.’

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