Being Inside the Bottle

Businesswoman stuck inside a bottleNo matter how long I work as a creative professional, I am always amazed at how much more there is to learn.

Example: I’ve been around the design block more than a few times, so one would think that when it came time some years ago to update my own brand identity, it would be a piece of cake. Not so — the universe had yet another teachable moment waiting for me.

I dove into the project using the same process I’ve used successfully for all my clients. I have honed this process over time and it has helped me win national awards for logos and other projects.

But somehow I couldn’t get into the groove and craft a course to a great solutions for myself.

Identity Crisis

I was about to go straight to Major Identity Crisis when I was saved by my good friend and fellow designer, Ellen. With me as the client, we worked together. She would gently but firmly give me a metaphysical poke when I missed the obvious, or dithered between choices, or overthought or…

With her helpful objectivity, I was able to develop an updated logo that I felt great about. Identity Crisis averted!

But the question of why I couldn’t get there on my own niggled at me. And then I came upon an enlightening explanation: Being Inside the Bottle.

Inside the Bottle

Many have written about this. The simple explanation goes like this:

Imagine that a product or service is the contents of a bottle, and the bottle is the packaging that inspires a favorable purchasing decision.

Designers and marketers are in the business of crafting that bottle for our clients. We figure out how the bottle should look as what it should say about what it holds.

We can do that because we are outside the bottle and can see the contents clearly.

Outside the Bottle

But when our own services/products are what’s inside the bottle, that view is murky, so it’s hard to make clear choices about how to present our work to viewers outside our bottle.

That’s when you call in the troops. Ellen’s help was invaluable because in addition to being a skilled designers, she understood my markets and my business goals, and unlike me, wasn’t stuck inside the bottle.

This is what I have done for many years for my clients, but could not do as well for myself. It was a great learning experience to have the shoe on the other foot.

My clients all have the same challenge. I have a clear view from outside their bottles and can guide their brand identity choices during the development process.

This point of view is especially useful when clients need to update their existing identity to reflect changes in their organization, such as adding services or products. Or they may simplay realize that their current logo no longer reflects their true value.

If you’re wondering if your view from inside the bottle needs some objective input, contact me for a free consultation. I work with my clients as a team — together we can figure out how to present the contents of your bottle.

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