October 08, 2013
You know you’ve picked a great job when a crucial part of it is called discovery.
(We have a great job.)
Discovery, in the Ologie sense, is an important part of the branding process that we apply to every one of our clients: universities and banks, retailers and hospitals—all of them. It involves reviewing a client’s existing materials, sizing up industry peers, talking with dozens of people, and generally gathering every scrap of information we can get our hands on.
Is it as awesome as microscopes-and-Mars-rovers discovery? We think so.
This kind of discovery means traveling to new places, taking in the culture, meeting people who love what they do, and getting to know them really, really well. Making it happen takes a lot of effort, and making sense of it all takes even more. But discovery, done right, reveals one of the rarest quantities in the universe:
Does that sound overblown? It shouldn’t. Finding the story and making it true is everything, and the discovery process is what makes it possible. Here’s what makes it a truly enjoyable experience.
You get to see things for the first time, every time.
The rock on campus that graduating seniors paint every year. An 89-foot neon star shining down on the valley below. The hum of the head office and the vibe that varies from floor to floor. Every environment has something special that transcends physical surroundings and provides a genuine sense of place.
You go local from the get-go.
At the same time you’re seeing the surroundings with new eyes, you’re also digging for the insider perspective. Zeroing in on the tiny details and the old legends. Looking at the big picture and the sweep of time. It isn’t always pretty, but you gain a unique view—and sometimes you even become a bit of an expert.
You get to be the best audience ever.
People love to talk about themselves. And for us, doing the asking is a privilege. Not every interview is a riveting confessional, but the subject is almost always grateful to be asked. And making someone’s day is a great way to spend yours.
You never get the same answer twice.
Every discovery interview is designed to elicit open-ended responses to very specific issues. No two subjects ever see an issue the same exact way, and that’s good. Out of these many responses come depth and clarity. But soon enough, you notice something…
You start to hear the same thing over and over.
It’s uncanny how themes emerge, and you begin to hear what almost, possibly, if you squint just right, seems to be a story. Sometimes it points to an even bigger strategic challenge than you’d anticipated. Sometimes it drives you straight to a conclusion. (When you hear it, you know.)
You get killer sound bites.
It happens at least once in every interview. The subject is talking candidly about a certain issue, when there it is: a completely spontaneous, unrehearsed, perfectly formed thought that gets right to the heart of the matter and sends you scrambling for your pen or iPad. Sometimes it’s a single gem; sometimes it’s a whole string of pearls. But it’s always glorious.
You get what you came for (and usually something better).
There are two conflicting approaches that make for successful discovery. One: Know what you want to find out and plan accordingly. Two: Be ready to throw everything out and go with your gut. It’s this second idea that yields true discovery, because you always end up someplace you couldn’t have anticipated.
Discovery is just one phase of a larger process, but it’s a vital one. It’s both methodical and unpredictable, and as scientific as you can get without getting in the way of inspiration. Finding that balance takes faith in your tools and a willingness to veer off into uncharted territory. That’s what any heroic explorer would do.