People often think that detail, the excessive attention to minuate, the kind of thing that goes into say high end tailoring is a luxury, a nice to have not a need to have. But detail is actually about examining every element, considering it and making a clear decision in line with an overall plan, detail is not about addition its about clarity of every element.
The war historian James Holland writes brilliantly about World War 2, he is able to explain both the broad sweeps and the individuals behind it, history is after all the story of people and there is so much to learn from it. He tells one short little anecdote on his Twitter feed where he compares a German jacket to a British jacket and for British you can read Allied, as its about the thinking behind them. The German jacket is a beautiful piece of military tailoring, long in length, double stitched, lined, made to last, the Allied jacket in comparison is short, the tailoring is crude in comparison, there is no lining, which is the better jacket to help you in your goal in winning a war? most of us would think the German jacket, built for purpose right and here’s where we’re wrong. The German jacket requires a third more material and much more man hours to make, you can almost make two Allied jackets for one German jacket, they cost less and regretablly a side issue of war is that the jackets don’t need to last a lifetime.
The Allies looked at almost every element in this manner, it wasn’t about saving money, this was a non issue, it was about resources, focus and meeting demands right now. The Germans made jackets as they always had, this was previously best in class thinking (don’t get me started on the boxed in attitudes that go with best in class thinking), the Allies constantly innovated, they adapted and they did so in almost everything, they didn’t need to make the best tanks, they made the most, they had the best trucks, they innovated the small four wheel drive vehicle, they built an incredible supply chain, they used intelligence and employed outsider thinking, towards the end of the war the Allies could build a complete ship from nothing to ready to sail in less than 30 days! the Germans only concession to their Jacket even to the end, they removed one pocket, to save time.
This is of course a broad sweep and not to downplay German innovation but it was costly, time consuming and almost always faulty, they kept looking at the big ticket items, the grand statements, when focus on the detail can make all the difference.
A few years ago, pre-scandal there was a great documentry on the Sky Racing team, what struck me was the lengths they went to, to win. Want to win a cycle race, sure just go out and practice and cycle as hard as you can, maybe throw in an inspiring team speech and some great cyclists, thats the kind of thing you’d see in a movie! but what really helped them win (lets ignore the scandal for the point of this article) was the detail.
The Sky team brought their own chef with them, he was tasked with creating a complete nutrional programme for every part of the day, even for when the guys were actually cycling. There were the bikes themselves, eke out every single piece of innovation, test it, support it. The clothes look at every detail even down to bringing their own mattresses with them, their riders would sleep on their own beds every night no matter where they were, put all of these and more together and you have a complete formula called incremental gains.
Incremental gains is exactly what we apply to our work as a branding agency, examine every detail no matter how small, every touchpoint, every opportunity, do so with fresh eyes and build out from a focussed plan.
Hand Painting our bespoke Whiskey typeface to the Dublin Whiskey Distillery Doors, every element says authenticity.
I argued with a poor client at great length just recently as to why they should have a certain font, I explained in great detail why this seemingly small element was vital, it was part of a considered whole, God love them they got it, albeit they maybe scarred for life. We don’t agree with a that’ll do philiosphy, incremental gains means that if a particular detail pushes you ahead of the competition, if that detail added to a myriad of other small decisions means you cut through the noise then its worth fighting for.
When it comes to great branding, God is indeed in the detail.