March 11, 2022
March 11, 2022

The Industry Expertise Gap

Do you know how many shades of white BENJAMIN MOORE carries?

Over 150.

Yeah, over a hundred shades on white!

Do you wonder how many people can tell the difference between all those shades?  I think of a typical homeowner, going to paint their home and just seeing… WHITE.

But to an interior designer, for example, they are all so different.

     Sidenote: If you want to know where you are on the spectrum of Only-See-White vs 150-Shades-of-White, you should check out ColorPicker. It’s a fun game that you can see how well you distinguish shades of colors.

Back to the interior designer. Each of those 150 shades of white is an example of Expected Industry Expertise.  When you are an industry expert- when you are steeped in the knowledge of any particular industry- you notice more you because you know more. This is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a very challenging thing for companies if you know way more about your product or industry than your customers. It causes a communication gap between you and the people you're trying to sell to.  Here’s the challenge: you need to help them get to where they are. Or if not all the way where you are, at least bridge the gap.


We ran into a cool example of Expected Industry Expertise last week, with a client who was a classical musician with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and was looking to create a brand around his media. During a logo exploration, he’d narrowed down to two looks that were variations of the same logo with just a small change in sizing of some of the text. To the naked eye, these logos would look quite similar. Yet, when processing with us about the decision between the two, the client did not think so. He noted, “Logo A is like Mozart and Logo B is like Beethoven.”


I didn’t get it. One word was a little bigger on the second option.  Mozart?  Beethoven? Alas, I am not a world class musician. I am not deep in his world of music. His baseline thinking told him Mozart was a very precise, very calculated, very refined composer. Beethoven on the other hand was more chaotic, more gut driven and more natural. Those distinctly different ways of being we're all encapsulated to this client just in the small variation of text size he saw in the logos. Until he explained this, I didn’t see it, and now, I can’t unsee it.


With further thinking, you realize music and design are more similar than we initially might expect. They are both creative mediums and although, both artists have different tools and skillsets, they can both evoke emotions and create different tones/feelings. A musician can set atone by using specific chords, tempo, and melody. A designer can set a tone by using a specific color palette, typography, and patterns.


Our client certainly wasn’t the first to feel this connection between the two artforms. In fact, the American Institute ofGraphic Arts (AIGA), has a section on its website called “Design+ Music” dedicated to this relationship. There you can find a slew of articles that discuss how they go hand in hand. Music can be inspired by design and design can be inspired by music.

So, yes, one logo was Mozart and the other wasBeethoven, and he made the correct decision for his brand based on what he wanted his brand to be. And while someone else might have just saw a slightly smaller type size, he saw a brand decision.

It is the same concept at play as the 150 shades of white – or any other deep, intricate distinction that you make within your industry that the regular person might not see. Just because other people don't see it doesn't mean it’s not important, but you have to bring them to this space so they can see it too. It's up to you, or your brand, to bridge that gap for your customers so that they can see which one is Beethoven or which one is Mozart. So that they can see that Eggshell White is decidedly different than Cloud White, and what the implications of that difference are. The implications are why it matters. It's not JUST that Eggshell and Cloud are different. Perhaps it’s that Cloud is a warmer shade of white and goes more with their cozy ambiance, or Eggshell could bring out the grays in their sofa. The WHY is of peak importance. Pave that bridge for your listener, for your customer. Help them get to where you are without the years of experience that you've put into your industry. You need to know where your audience is, and as their guide, bring them into those intricacies, to help them make the right decision for them. Added bonus: this type of information adds confidence to a purchasing decision and increases client satisfaction. And that’s where the magic is.

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