Well, I didn’t get that one…

But the experience was brilliant…

Disclaimer: I’m ready to go tender chasing. I’m hungry. I need to do it. I’m up for the hunt. This is the story of a tender I went after but didn’t get.
From reading this, perhaps you’ll be interested in how I work and have some work you want me to quote against. Perhaps you don’t have anything just now and you’re just looking to read something with a cup of coffee. Either way, let’s talk.

There comes a time in every company’s life when it needs to sit back and look at what it is, where it fits and how it best goes forward. Maybe this is prompted by a change in circumstances, maybe because the company has been in existence for years and needs to refresh itself.

And sometimes, it all starts with a name.

There are companies out there with a good brand but a name which just doesn’t quite fit any more or doesn’t quite live up to the brand promise that’s been established over the course of time.

For the purposes of this tender, the company (I’ve removed every reference to their name from the tender document) simply needed a new name. They were happy with the brand and, following a change in circumstances, needed to call themselves something different.

Never one to turn down a challenge, I went for it. It’s a shame that they were so geographically far away – I much prefer this sort of thing face-to-face. But time and location weren’t on our sides…

What resulted was my favourite piece of brand analysis that I’ve had the chance to get my teeth into for ages (oh the joy of single-client contract work…). The SWOT supplied by their head of marketing lead to the development a narrative about the company, what they were feeling, who/what they wanted to be and where they saw their future. A lot of the narrative was developed by reading not what the respondents had said, but what they didn’t say or what the combination of their statements was saying (the best thing to do with SWOTs, in my opinion, is get them completed individually then rip them apart, glue relevant pieces back together and see what sort of story’s being told. It’s often more of a feeling than anything strictly empirical but one which will start throwing up trends…).

So the SWOT and aspiration analysis lead to brand understanding and insight, which then lead to name generation. And you know what, having run through about 100 name combinations, I was really happy with the two I developed. They felt ‘right’ (whatever right might be, but whatever it is, they were. To me at least.).

But they weren’t used. After hours, days in fact, of analysis and insight generation, searching web domain registrars and Companies House for names unlike any others, the company went with something else. In spite of the head of marketing saying that I got the company pretty much right first time, even though we’d only had limited interaction and had never met. I was even counted among the top name choices.

So how miffed am I that I didn’t get the gig?

Actually, not in the slightest. It’s not that I don’t care that I didn’t get the gig. I wanted to get it. I really wanted to get it. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have bothered going after it.

But the ‘winning’ name was developed in-house by an employee with a daily connection to the company – it was his workspace, his workplace and you can’t beat that level of connection. It was the sort of name that an outsider wouldn’t have come up with, no matter how much work they’d put into it. Sometimes, this is the best solution.

In fact, I’m really pleased that the company went down the road that they did. It didn’t cost them any money for a start (I’m not expensive, let me just say that now…) and it was the right approach for their business; to take an idea from the inside rather than an outside idea and internalise it. If it was another business, perhaps they would have benefited from an outside idea being integrated into their systems, but for these guys, it really needed to come from the inside to be right for their brand and brand personality.

Plus, as Ed Lee says:

Savour the victories… Learn from the losses, especially the big ones…

And this particular loss, while not massive, taught me one heck of a lot.

So the whole experiment was a glorious failure. So glorious, in fact, that it was a total success. OK so I may not have got the gig and been able to put the achievement on my CV sheet. But I learned from it, I grew from it, it taught me more about me than I would have given it credit for.

I’m now ready to hit the ‘tender trail’. I’m hungry, I want it. I want to do great work that people remember, that helps a company grow and expand, work that makes a difference.

And, more than any of the above, I’ve been reminded just how much I need it. Not in the financial sense (although getting paid is very much welcomed!), but how much I need it. Need the thrill of the chase, the creative work, the tingling up the spine as I finalise the report and release it into the great wide world. I need it. I thrive on it. And if I have a few failures along the way, so much the better. In fact, I’d be worried if I didn’t. Success, while difficult to achieve, is easy to live with. Failure, while easy to achieve, is a much harder bed-fellow and by far the better teacher…

To read the supplied information and what I did with it, follow these links:
The TenderAnd if you like it, drop me an email.
If you didn’t like it, get in touch anyway to tell me why, I need to know. No, believe me, I really need to know…


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