We all have cute ideas. The ones that pop into your head while you are driving your car, or cleaning your shower.  You get this cool little idea, something funny, clever or quirky. It might be a business thing, or a personal thing. You know it would help promote your business, or make your family laugh.

Sometimes we get carried away by just how clever our cute idea is.

Secret Santa gifts are fertile ground for cute ideas. You buy something that’s very funny when the recipient opens it, but almost immediately it becomes house clutter for years to come.  Business branded goods sometimes fall into this category. Stress balls, key rings, branded yoyos. All cute ideas, but if your customer doesn’t actually need the item, it’ll end up as landfill sooner or later.

This can happen with marketing materials too. Perhaps you’ve thought of a really neat way to visually illustrate a key benefit of what your product or service provides in paper form. You excitedly got this sales piece created and printed, but, for some reason, it has ended up as very expensive cupboard fodder, that you rarely share with your prospects.

Sometimes, working with a design agency in an ‘occasional’ way is the culprit. You are a new client. The agency wants to impress you (so that you’ll stick around), so they put their best creative brains onto the case, in order to generate a cute idea for your business. And some of these ideas are amazingly good (idea envy). The problems come when the cute idea doesn’t sit with your business brand. Or, the tone of voice it would require is at odds with the rest of your communications. Or, the idea is a good one, but it doesn’t work for your particular dream client.

You might have spent a lot of money creating this item. And, you’ll probably blame the agency for doing something flashy that cost you an arm and a leg, and didn’t get used properly. But, I’m afraid (sorry!) it’s likely to be your fault.


I suspect you didn’t brief the agency properly.

Yes, okay, they could have asked better questions. But, if you rushed the brief and didn’t make sure they had access to a detailed overview of your Dream Client, a clear idea of your business objective, Tone of Voice guidelines, Brand Values, a Key Message Profile, etc, etc, then I’m afraid, it’s definitely your fault.

Agency work is only ever as good as the brief given. I’m trying not to be too judgey, I’ve made this exact mistake in my past, that’s how I know it to be true.

Giving this brief is part of the process involved in protecting and building your brand. For any cute idea to get from the ideas stage to the execution stage, it needs to go through a rigorous set of evaluations. And, when I say rigorous, I’m thinking of something akin to the challenges that Indiana Jones went through on his Last Crusade.

Ask yourself:

  • Would my Dream Client like this and find it amusing or interesting?
  • Does it support my Brand Values?
  • Does the writing needed to make it work match the rest of my business?
  • Does it resemble the design style used in my other marketing items?

If the answer to any of these is no – reject that cute idea immediately.

For example, if your business stands for ‘integrity’ or ‘reliability’ or ‘no-nonsense’ having the cute idea of using a ‘scratch card’ gimmick in your latest communication piece just doesn’t match up to those values. A scratch card represents chance, luck and gambling. There’s just not a clear link and it won’t reinforce what your company stands for.

Say no. Even if it means breaking the heart of a hardworking creative by rejecting their wonderful concoction.

Don’t worry too much, they’ll probably recycle the cute idea somewhere else for another business that it’s perfect for.

Cute ideas getting you nowhere? Please let me help you to stop wasting money. Get in touch now to find out how.