One of the reasons we love what we do is that we get to hear every conceivable rationalization for subjectivity, arbitrariness, and disregard for the target audience.

Case in point: We recently created a new corporate identity and corresponding collateral materials for Gotcha Covered Systems (not the company’s real name), which provides software to the insurance industry. In the likely event that you haven’t checked lately (who could blame you?), the insurance industry continues to be:

  1. Unrepentantly conservative.
  2. Predominantly populated with men in late middle age.

Accordingly, the colors we chose for the ID and the materials were deliberately strong and bold — predominantly red (because it evokes physical courage, strength, basic survival, etc.) black (because it evokes sophistication, security, emotional safety, efficiency, substance, clarity, the absence of nuance, weight, seriousness, uncompromising excellence, etc.) We provided a complete rationale for our choices.

Gotcha Covered’s Marketing Sentinel (not the person’s real title) reacted by saying the colors were too masculine (see 1 and 2 above) and asked if we could re-design the graphics using a more powerful color … like purple.

We paused, waiting for the punch line, a knowing snicker, or any other indication that our collective leg was being good-naturedly pulled. No such luck. Alas and alack, we were, once again, the hapless hands hired to produce another program of do-it-yourself marketing.

Yes. I know there’s a danger in posting this. I know I run the risk of being judged guilty of selfish indignation at the disregard for our advice, of thinking we know it all. I humbly (and perhaps erroneously) submit it’s no such thing. It’s not even an appeal to our accomplished and hard-earned expertise. Rather, it’s a consideration of the waste — of  the time, money, and opportunity lost because so many so frequently fail to distinguish between ego and objectivity.

If decisions about brand, design, and color (let alone language and messages) are made on the basis of subjective likes and dislikes, you can be sure the target audience will be an afterthought, at best. And unless the Marketing Sentinels of the world happen to be  card-carrying, cash-paying members of that target audience, it’s not likely much business will result from their overweening self-absorption.

Harsh words? Maybe. But just think what Gotcha Covered’s competitors will have to say about its new color.

If purple is the new powerful, arbitrary is the new informed.

Ya gotta love that.

En garde!