It sounds like an AMC cable drama, The Unknown. But it’s the best way to look at any new branding assignment. Go in cold. Everybody wants someone with experience. But they really don’t. They should want someone who can come in and understand the business and brand, seeing them in a new light.
The unknown can be scary. In the last couple of years, I’ve worked on assignments in cyber security, global health and security consulting, Accountable Care and web accessibility (making websites and apps usable by those with disabilities). Going in, scary. Coming out, not so much. When you have no category experience it’s like walking into a dark cave. And that’s a good thing. If you have too much category experience you walk into that cave faster. Not paying as much attention. You can miss stuff.
Dump the cache planners. Go tabula rasa researchers. Come to each project anew and clear headed. You need to feel scared at the beginning of an assignment. It’s a good thing. A productive feeling. It helps you know when you are getting close.