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Sep 9, 2020    Burn Book

Entrepreneurial Culture: Is It Possible to Over-Optimize?


When you hear about streamlining this, optimizing that, in virtually every industry, one might start to wonder, where does it end? The word “optimize” had virtually no use before 1970, saw a spike in the early 2000s, and has been popular in the startup/entrepreneurial worlds ever since.

Seriously, in retail tech marketing, we’re streamlining the browsing and checkout process to take as little time and effort as possible. In fintech marketing, convenience and optimization goes so far as to no longer — pretty much ever — require an in-person visit to handle money, invest, pay off debt, and more.

For our industry, as a brand naming agency, “optimization” couldn’t find a better example than how we guarantee sales and growth in a business through just 1-2 words– their name, or conversion rate optimization (what is CRO?) of an entire sales cycle. We don’t think you need more examples to see how this permeates every industry from SaaS and ecommerce to construction and wellness.

But also in our industry, as we’ve been noticing over the last decade, many corporate naming agencies and marketing firms are taking streamlining too far. These experts in optimization have optimized their talent to a point where, in all seriousness, they seem to be handing out the same worksheets, taglines, and growth hacking campaigns to their clients, citing that they know what works– now do it.

They’re right… in a way.

For a fintech brand, a blue logo will be received better than a purple. And the website font should be bold and sharp, not fun or flowy. You should advertise on Facebook and put emojis in your email subject lines. These are all the basics of color theory, consumer psychology, and digital marketing.

But it’s also essentially one to three templates these B2B branding agencies are providing to their clients: a step-by-step process that they have used 100 times before you that, chances are, will have some benefit for you. But here’s what else templates guarantee: falling in with the masses.

Of course research-backed consumer psychology should be used in the right spaces– and of course that will yield better website conversions than a site that ignores all that research. But it also means that your website, your brand, your campaigns look exactly the same as everyone else in your industry. No matter what differentiators you have in product, tech, service, etc., the precedent has already been set that at first glance, you look like everyone else. You operate like everyone else.

You and all your competitors end up operating off the same growth hacking template, meaning anyone who does it right can most likely stay afloat, and not one single brand will actually be on top.

Slowly Sinking Ship

We call this flatlining; our CEO wrote about it in Forbes if you want to go into greater detail, but the gist is this: anyone can stay afloat by following templates; only those who dare to take risks and search out The Anti-Template will rise above.

We’re anti- a lot of things: norm, rules, sleep, standard workplace professionalism, yada-yada. But we’re most strongly anti-template. That’s why Rock Candy Media in Austin built a team made for working on the fly, being real with our clients, and doing the unexpected. That’s how we know the difference between doing and accomplishing. And it’s how you’ll know the difference between being afloat and rising above.

If that sounds scary, you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. But we’ve got the case studies to back it up, and not one of them is alike. Hit us up for your own Anti-Template–we’ll even help you kill your current marketing agency contracts.

Let Your Curiosity Take Control