Whenever I write this column, I start by thinking about the things I’d really like to talk to the senior-most people in my clients’ firms about over coffee—so, grab one and let’s chat.

There is an adage that good creative work is a trade-off between time, quality, and money. You can have two out of three: fast and good but not cheap, cheap and good but not fast, or fast and cheap but not good. In my experience, particularly here in Vietnam, clients are prepared to pay a little more or even sacrifice quality but never concede to a need for more time. Allow me to use my quarterly five minutes to make a case for taking the time to do things right, particularly when it comes to branding.

Your brand is essential. If created and used correctly, it is your hardest working employee—taking no salary, lunch breaks, or annual leave—and our most valuable asset (and I mean that in a literal dollars-on-the-balance-sheet sense). It is the heart, soul, face, and spirit of your business. Creating, refining, and nurturing your brand as it grows is the most valuable way to make use of your working hours. Yet, inexplicably, many C-suite decision-makers insist on fast-tracking the process to the detriment of the quality of the work.

Imagine you had something dire to attend to, let’s say heart surgery, for example. Your doctor tells you the surgery will take ten hours and the recovery will take three months. Would you say any of the following?:

  • “Could you get a few more surgeons to work on my heart and do the op in half the time?”
  • “How about just putting three out of five stents in, and we’ll come back for the rest later?”
  • “Don’t worry too much about stitching me back up. That’s just cosmetic.”
  • “If I concentrate really hard on my recuperation, can I just take one month instead of three?”

Well, you could, but I suspect there would be consequences.

We’ve been working with a wonderful client whose business has been established in Vietnam for more than 25 years. Their founder and chairman is a true visionary; his team are passionate, dedicated, and impeccable at what they do, but their brand needed attention.

Over four months, we worked together to set the brand’s direction for the next ten years. Retaining the value of their experience, we set about introducing new energy, purpose, and agility to allow them to stay at the forefront of a rapidly evolving category. In my final review ahead of presenting the new brand guideline, I realised we weren’t ready. This document needed to capture the imagination of everyone involved in the brand, and we weren’t quite hitting the mark. So, I did what my client service team hates the most—I asked them to ask for more time. Four days later, the team produced quite a remarkable document. It’s the perfect roadmap to guide the storied brand on a future-proof journey to success. I’m humbled and incredibly grateful that, for once, when we asked for just a little more time, the client saw the investment was worth every minute.

Sometimes brand strategy and creativity just take time, perhaps the teeniest bit like heart surgery.

[Originally published in C Vietnam magazine; by Matt Millard]

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