An honest chat about honesty… and why understanding your customers matters

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BJM Digital

The problem isn’t quite what you think – which is a good thing

You may be unsurprised to hear – not that many companies are honest with what they really want – and maybe you’re not either.

But far from this being due to some regime within the business – many simply don’t think they can put their heart on the table in front of their team. Vulnerability does come with risk!

So it’s up to us to normalise honesty in a group environment, so those around us can feel safe to do so as well.

“Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Just be yourself. That’s what’s really cool.”

David Starsky

Kickoff time is the perfect time

Similar to many digital agencies, our kickoff meetings are where we flesh out the high-level details of a project, along with the technical and user needs, and finally the nice-to-have’s etc.

And *initially*, many of the client’s responses centre around metrics and current visual trends – understandable, but quite standard.

At this stage, there’s not a whole lot of heartbeat, conviction, or excitement. And again, this isn’t a big surprise – because the expectation that a kickoff should be exciting and exhilarating has very rarely been set!

We’re not so different, you and I…

As an aside for a second, put yourself in the shoes of a customer or user: with nothing that sets those goals apart from any other company or project, why would you choose them? 
The short answer, you likely wouldn’t, unless it meets your needs.

The problem with creating / serving or selling purely for function is that your customers will only buy from you if your products stay the best, most affordable, fastest, or most accessible, etc.

If your customers have no emotional resonance with your brand, they’ll jump the second your products are off-game for a better option – and there are many.

“Most of us think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, but we are actually feeling creatures that think.”

Jill Bolte-Taylor

It takes a great amount of intent listening and prodding to start teasing out the warmth and desire from a team, where they let the walls down and go for it – but it’s so worth it.

Some of the most wooden project briefs jump to life, and you wonder what the world would have done without these guys or what they do.

Now of course, it’s ok to not know what you want at the outset – but it really should be a priority to explore, and maybe a slightly scary one. That’s absolutely fine.

Of course, work is involved!

Now of course – not all parts will be passionate or exciting – there’s a lot of ‘doing hard things’, to get things over the line, but that’s a far cry from just meeting goals and going home.

But if you feel you have to switch off desire, passion and honesty for a project’s duration, you will resent it from beginning to end.

You are not a unit that produces, and you are not a robot that occasionally feels – tap into how you and your team operate best, and try different ways to to maximise that. If your team starts using language around possibility, you’ll know you’ve on the right track.

The ‘what’ that you produce may need to adapt and change – take it slow, and evaluate how and what needs changing – but take it as encouragement that you’re tapping into real creativity at this stage.

From an external viewpoint, not only will your users / customers / clients pick up on that belief, you’ll actually want to create, optimise, experiment and pivot a whole lot more internally. And over time you’ll get so excited doing it, you will end up naturally differentiating your brand, and standing out from the brand, you’ll become a market leader in ways you didn’t expect. 

So buckle up. And if you’d like to chat with us around user experience research, brand rollout or general next steps, please don’t hesitate to reach reach out – no obligation, and you’ll walk away with a sense of security and excitement of what’s possible.



Take a risk: write down what you, your team and your company really want.

  • This may be hard, and not all the elements will be possible, but it will be a heck of a lot more exciting for you, and your customers than trying to beat your competitors in a

You don’t need to be the best in the industry.

  • If you do start down the road less travelled, you will not be the best – but your passion, curiosity and excitement will differentiate you, and your customers will see it.

What you can do today

Start by yourself first.

  • Put a 5-minute timer on, and write down some things that you really value.
  • No one has to see it, but it may open something up you didn’t realise. Do this a couple of times over 1-2 weeks.

Get your immediate team involved with a 15-20 minute exercise.

  • Don’t set high expectations, as your team will likely be nervous and risk averse to start with.
  • Lead them with some of honest answers yourself to help open the field up.

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