Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

The Version the Prospect Remembers

The thirty-second elevator pitch is a classic sales tool that helps you define exactly what you do in terms the average person can understand. Most field reps sharpen and refine this speech to a fine point. Designers shouldn’t be any different, except their point may be a bit more blunt.

Scenario: You’re in a big shiny building in Manhattan. You get in the elevator, but as the door is about to close, a Very Important-Looking Person jumps on. They introduce themselves as the Vice President of a Highly Desirable Client.

<DennisHopperVoice movie="Speed">Pop quiz, hotshot. They are getting off on floor five. You’ve got thirty seconds to make your pitch and get a business card in their hand. What do you do? What do you do?</DennisHopperVoice>

The English-ish Neu-speak Version

“I leverage brand infrastructure to perpetuate corporate identity systems across a spectrum of media. Best-of-breed methodology coupled with fluent design language results in integrated, vertical marketing initiatives that produce unique messaging opportunities for substantial return on investment.”

The Politically Correct But Unremarkable Version

“I take your existing company identity and make it look better on the web and in print. By creating a better-looking public face, new marketing doors are opened, resulting in more customer awareness and increased sales.”

The Version the Prospect Remembers

“I make your shit look good so it sells more stuff.”

Of course, whether they actually call you, or even take your card, is another story.

Most corporate-types don’t recognize the value of design, or how elegant communication and brand helps a company market its products or services. Most have stopped caring. They’re beaten down by the high-pitched whine of marketing executives spreading their thick icing of buzzwords and neu-speak over a (very) thin cake of strategy and the foreign and intangible evangelism of black-turtleneck creatives. The mere thought of “branding initiatives” and “vertical marketing” bring visible pain to their face.

Use normal words and simple thoughts to describe your services in thirty seconds and people will understand you. Use brevity and blunt language in five seconds, and people will remember you.

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commentary + criticism

Chris Griffin

wrote the following on Tuesday August 29, 2006

Was this from a personal experience you had, and more importantly, is that what you said to the corporate big-head man?

If so what was his response?


wrote the following on Wednesday August 30, 2006

It’s sort of a broad metaphor for a bigger point, and that is speaking to prospects and clients on their level, not above them. I’ve experienced bigger business success when I communicate frankly and to the point.

To answer your question, this was not an exact personal experience. But I have used such forthright language before. You have to guage the personality of the person — and it’s a tough call — but if you guess correctly, the client/prospect will very much appreciate your candor.

Martin Walker

wrote the following on Thursday August 31, 2006

I’ve used the The Version the Prospect Remembers once and in return received a look of horror as if to say, You mean the thousands we’ve just invested in a horribly-coded, designer-dependant website that we can’t update ourselves, should in fact have been spent with you. Yes.

Roy Jacobsen

wrote the following on Wednesday September 20, 2006

Simple take-away: Bullshit doesn’t sell. It doesn’t get any meaningful message across. It might impress the easily impressed and the gullible.

Straight talk doesn’t necessarily sell either, but it gets the message across, and that will at least open the door. And it impresses those who are fed up with bullshit.