Be The Expert, Say No

Let me paint a picture for you. You’ve been up for 48 hours. There are Pantone books, coffee cups and sketches scattered about your office. You spent two hours picking just the right green for the primary color palette (not too much yellow, not too much blue). Today is the day you present the new brand identity to the Board. You understand your target, you know the product. You’re confident. They are going to love it.

You take your seat at the table and give the best pitch of your life. Everyone is excited. You’re on fire. Then you hear the unmistakable voice of the company CEO say ‘This is great, but I really like blue.’

We’ve all been there– our hearts broken by this one simple sentence. There are two things you can do in this situation, you can either say ‘Okay, we’ll change the palette to blue.’ or you can say ‘No’.

You’ve done the research, you’ve studied the emotional effects of color, you know what will work. The company has hired you to be the expert. Not the CEO, not his wife, not some ‘friend who designs websites’.

Being a ‘yes man’ can be a slippery slope. When you start giving in, you lose credibility. By the time you’re done, the logo will have been developed in a board room. One caveat, you must back up your ‘No’ with data with experience, case studies or research.

As brand strategists and creatives we must learn this simple word. Surprisingly, it can earn you a lot of respect.

Beth LaPierre is a Brand + Creative Strategist. When Beth is not helping build brands she’s on her snowboard, spray painting something, or drinking copious amounts of espresso. Follow Beth on Twitter.


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