The Business of Creativity

Houchin Consulting PLLC

May Scene Magazine Article based on Kissing Toads Ebook

Posted on | May 9, 2007 | No Comments

Kissing Toads
© 2007 Kevin E. Houchin, Esq.

It happened to me again the other day. I was at a presentation and this wonderful little start-up company was a featured presenter. They had cool technology and a great business plan. The team is obviously a brilliant group of engineers. They have sound financial advisors.

They were however, visual toads–princes of innovation wrapped in a very ugly package. I’ve kissed many toads. Unlike the fairy-tale princes, it’s not hard to spot the prince-in-disguise when it comes to technology firms. I love and respect engineers and scientist. I often make fun of engineers the way most people make fun of lawyers – with respect and at least a nugget of truth.

Engineers are SMART people. Their brains just didn’t notice some things, as with the presenter I talked about above. For example:

•    Their slides sucked; they were completely unreadable,
•    The screen shot of their Web site sucked–again, completely unreadable,
•    Horrible use of space and color, and most importantly
•    They made no emotional connection with the audience.

Honestly, it was embarrassing–at least to me.

The interesting thing about this group, as opposed to most technology groups I’ve worked with, is that they had a good company name, and had obviously thought of a good metaphor to bring their different brands and projects together. They had simply delivered it poorly. Engineers usually do not make good artists – with a few notable exceptions like Buckminster Fuller.

Love that name… “Buckminster.”

They needed help, but they didn’t know it because they had not entered the consumer market space yet. They had only been selling to people just like themselves–folks who focused only on engineering, and didn’t care about the packaging. There’s nothing wrong with that, until you want to move into the consumer market. The consumer market is a place where non-engineers go about their lives and even buy technology.

I’ve designed dozens of logos and branding systems and supervised the design and implementation of dozens more. I work with smart people, and most entrepreneurs are very smart people.

My Approach to “selling” anything starts with an EMOTIONAL THEME. The foundation of any communication strategy is the emotional state of the person to whom you’re trying to make your case.

•    How do they feel?
•    How SHOULD they feel?
•    How do you WANT them to feel?

To create the emotional theme, you have to understand what motivates your buyers.

•    Are they buying because they have to, or because they want to?
•    Are they buying from you because you have the best product?
•    Are they buying from you because you have the lowest price?
•    Are they buying from you because you give the best value?
•    Are they buying from you because your sales executive had them on a chartered sailboat in Vancouver Bay last month?
•    Are they buying from you because your product will make them feel sexy, powerful, masculine, feminine, free, secure, or innovative?

Everyone can give value and put out a good product. Everyone can hire great salespeople. Not everyone can evoke the emotions of power, freedom, security, style, or intelligence. That’s your challenge.

Identify the emotions you want to project onto your product, and then deliver those emotional experiences. Odds are if you communicate the right feelings in your communications, those feelings will manifest in your customer experiences.


This column is based on an ebook of the same title by Kevin E. Houchin, Principal of Houchin & Associates, PLLC–a copyright, trademark, arts & entertainment, business development, and branding firm located in Fort Collins, Colorado. To contact Kevin, visit, call 970-493-1070, or email


Leave a Reply

  • Tags

  • Archives