Joe Biden has been getting plenty of heat in his 2020 presidential bid for such things as questions about propriety, the Anita Hill, and previous lackluster campaigns.
But graphic design?
Yes, quite. This expectation for campaigns may seem like nitpicking, but there are two important lessons to learn for entrepreneurs. Let's start with the first.
Customers judge you
In the case of the Biden campaign, people didn't like the logos. Really didn't like the logos. New York Magazine put together a compilation of the complaints, such as it looks like Obama's campaign logo and that it makes it seem his name is "Jo." In Inc's sister publication, Fast Company, Mark Wilson noticed that in one version, the "E" made of three horizontal red lines works with the previous "D" to look like a hand. When people wonder if a candidate is a bit too ... um ... hands on with people, it's a poor image choice.
But this is an extreme example. Problems are often less obvious and still people size up you, your company, and your products or services. They are considering giving you hard-earned money in exchange for something that is supposed to make their lives better or easier. At the slightest provocation, they put their wallets back.
Many business owners overlook things that they consider unimportant, and yet can be warning signs to owners. Depending on the type of business, people might perceive an out-of-date website as an issue because you don't seem to keep up with what they expect. A hotel with worn carpets and furniture in the rooms can generate many negative reviews on travel sites.
Practices that you think are smart could be pretty dumb. I can think of a restaurant that used to be a favorite breakfast spot for my family. New owners took over and almost right away decided to serve only one piece of toast with a dish that might cost $10 to $14. Popular uproar caused them to change their minds, but it was an indication of how they were thinking. (Apparently, they're already selling and getting out after less than a year operating.)
Weigh the critics cautiously
The second lesson is that just because people object to something doesn't necessarily mean it's a problem. Most of the criticism of the Biden logo has been on Twitter. Media outlets pay much attention to the platform because journalists are regular users and figure that everyone else is. Not really. Twitter users are hardly representative of anything other than Twitter users.
A new study from Pew Research Center suggests that only 22 percent of people in the U.S. use Twitter. Overall, they're far from a snapshot of the American public:
Twitter users are younger, more likely to identify as Democrats, more highly educated and have higher incomes than U.S. adults overall. Twitter users also differ from the broader population on some key social issues. For instance, Twitter users are somewhat more likely to say that immigrants strengthen rather than weaken the country and to see evidence of racial and gender-based inequalities in society. But on other subjects, the views of Twitter users are not dramatically different from those expressed by all U.S. adults.
The posters--80 percent of the traffic comes from 10 percent of the users, or 2.2 percent of the population--are even more distinctive. They are more likely to be women and also more inclined to tweet about politics.
Reacting to the comments--and the tendency I've seen on Twitter for frequently active people to aim at comments they think are clever and devastating (which sometimes they are)--could mean making decisions that that vast majority of your potential audience wouldn't care about.
That's the second lesson. It's important to be sensitive to how people react. Before you take a step, however, go through the following checklist:
- Are the critics part of my real audience?
- Are they representative members of the audience?
- Do they know what they're talking about?
- Are they right and do the criticisms touch on core values and fundamental brand issues?
- If I make a change, will it likely matter?
Many people go off on anything as a form of sport and often do so without any knowledge or particular expertise. Listen to people, but don't react like a puppet.