At Mercury, we anticipate and welcome the discomfort that comes with creating something new! And we help our clients hold tension in the process.
For us, “holding tension” means recognizing “either/or thinking” and replacing it with “both/and thinking”. This is the idea that multiple things can be true at the same time. When Mercury uncovers conflicting thoughts and ideas coming from our clients, we ask deeper questions. We listen intently to the answers to pull out common threads. Often, we discover commonality in even the seemingly most contradictory things. These help define the essential value of a brand.
Creating clarity and alignment for a brand is not a linear process. We may spend more time defining and narrowing ideal audiences. Sometimes, team members will have conflicting views on different market segments or differentiators. And sometimes, insights gathering uncovers a perception that clients and industry partners have that doesn’t align with the leadership team. Wherever it happens, we like to dig in.
Hear from our Founder, Justin, and Brand Strategist, Cheri, in this 4-minute video as they discuss the growth that happens when you get uncomfortable:
Do you know the value of your brand?
Can you and your team articulate your value simply and clearly?
Cheri: We recently worked with a large organization and started discovery with all of their leadership team. And we were going through, kind of cooking along with discovery questions, and it was going well until we got to the question, “what does your company do? Explain it to us in short phrases”. And almost every member of the leadership team had a different answer. And initially, we thought, oh, man, you don’t know what you do. You’re a presumably successful company, and you don’t know what you do. And that wasn’t really the case.
They knew what they did, but they didn’t know how to describe it consistently for their ideal audience. And coming out on the other side of that was really key. That consistency was key to helping them find that and discover that.
Justin: So I was in that session with you. What also happened with everybody is they realized “we’re not speaking the same message”. So there’s that aha moment. And the beauty of that is when the whole team, that leadership team realizes that they know what they need to work towards. So they got clarity on the issue. And now how do we fix it? So there’s some impressive buy-in and excitement, even though that’s a tough moment in the discovery session.
Cheri: It was a fun one and fun in terms of holding that tension with them because everyone wanted to be right. Everybody was right. That was the point as well. Just inconsistent. So holding some of that tension with them to lead them down the path of finding that consistency, providing guardrails so that they could do that within their leadership team. It was fun for us. I always say if everyone’s uncomfortable, we’re getting somewhere.
Justin: Talk a little bit more about that. We talk about tension and how that’s important in our sessions with our teams, explain why tension is good and why specific words are important.
Cheri: Growth really happens at the edge of uncomfortable. If you’re too comfortable with what you’re doing, you can absolutely keep the status quo for quite some time. But when organizations are having a brand problem, it’s a clue that it’s because they’re too comfortable, they’re too close to it. They’re too close to the messaging. They like their colors. We’ve had brands, even when we get to the point of redesigning brand elements. And they say, “well, but my whole closet is filled with that red Polo with that logo on it.
Cheri: I can’t imagine! I would have to change out my whole closet.” And that can be an uncomfortable thing. Even that tiny degree, that little degree of “wow, I have to go shopping or order new clothing” can cause that tension. And I think to have a partner that helps you hold that and talk through it, somebody that’s talking through it from the standpoint of an ideal audience, and why it’s the right move, rather than the comfortable thing to do, is where a rebrand partner can really come into play and help through that. We talk about that a lot, though, and my easy answer is growth lives at that edge of uncomfortability.
Justin: And we’re creating value, and that whole process is messy. We have a method for it, and there is a framework that we follow, but it’s that messiness that uncovers the true value, not only within the organization, but within that leadership team. And it takes a little work to get there. And – we don’t do everyone’s wardrobe, right? We don’t change out of their closet. So, just checking.
Cheri: We don’t do fashion shows. Maybe that would be fun, but we don’t do fashion shows.