Inside Out or Outside In?

Working teams sometimes get locked in difficult battles when it comes to settling on a creative direction or execution. I’ve noticed that many of these encounters are caused by how the two sides, usually in heated debate, are either looking from the inside out or the outside in. Both are adamant that they are right, and in a way they are.

Inside Out

Brand people come at if from the inside out. They work extremely hard to craft the Brand essence, steward it along and look for ways to find an edge against the competition. This naturally drives them deeper and deeper down into the brand while the customer remains on the surface. Their strength is having a rich understanding of the Brand and how people might be drawn to or influenced by it. I said people, not necessarily customers. When they move to execution they struggle, because they know so much about the brand as well as what their competition is doing, and want to include much of it in the work. The result is often cluttered with not clearly connected phrases and symbols.

Outside In

On the other hand the Customer Experience folks suffer from the opposite syndrome. They frequently look down into the brand from the outside trying to solve a problem or accomplish a task for the customer. Their approach is often very rational and functional. It will get the job done quickly. Perhaps too quickly. Removing friction is their goal and in doing so they miss opportunity to create a bond with the customer and extract extra value.

Resolution

Agencies or even other people within the company can play a role in helping to resolve the problems. Being a diplomat and brokering a compromise can work quite nicely. It’s tricky because there is a tendency to split the difference, which usually means you end up with Frankenstein.com. One solution is to allow each side to put their work in market and let the customer decide. That is more expensive and takes longer. Another way is to look closely at the problem to be solved. In most cases one can spot which side of the field should get priority. Look again at the objectives, research or the creative brief. The nuggets should be there. Make that the tentpole and sprinkle (or hint) the other stuff around it. Mind you this method works best with messaging or communications like emails and landing pages. Once you are in functionality land, all bets are off. I’ve seen it be a very effective device for educating customers on complex features or benefits as well.

Try hard to be the one that steps through the door and looks back at the other view. It will enrich the experience, and it’s always good to take in new scenery.

Graphics: Rafaël Rozendaal

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