Archive for November, 2008
800 posts into this little journey, you are still my ‘ingredient X’.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for giving this blog purpose.
Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone.
#32: Dead-end meetings in drab, poorly ventilated conference rooms.
#33: Inexcusably bad coffee.
#34: Petty office politics.
#35: The futility of hope.
#36: The blockade of all social media apps.
#38: Windows XP.
#39: The day Dilbert stopped being funny.
#40: Monday morning whippings/team meetings.
#41: Unapologetic backstabbing.
#42: TPS reports.
#43: 15+ bullets per slide.
#44: Fluorescent lights.
#45: The imposition of artificial limits.
#45: All talk, no walk.
Life on the outside is GOOD!!!
Posted in brand consciousness, brand culture, brand insights, brand planning, brand relevance, brand valuation, cool factor, customer communities, customer experience, customer relationship, customer service, Design Goodness, design matters, design thinking, smart business, tagged design, design thinking, great design, olivier blanchard, target, the brandbuilder on November 24, 2008 | 4 Comments »
Design is about many things. Above all, it’s about clarity, and intentions and about putting yourself in the position of the end users (or the customers, students, audience, etc.). When designs are not well thought out, even though it may all look good from our point of view, users get frustrated, confused, or even angry. Anyone who has used a poorly designed user interface on a mobile phone, for example, or gotten lost while following the signs on the freeway in a new city understands these feelings. And anyone who is squinting to see a figure or read a quote on a PowerPoint slide is experiencing a bad design of sorts. I always say the lessons are all around. I love examples of poor design, even for the simplest of things, because they are occasions to learn.
When you first sit in the driver’s seat of a car, push the ON button on a computer for the first time, check into a new hotel, look for information on a website, make your way to the cash register, connect a new media player to a laptop, snap a new lens onto an SLR camera, or lace up a fresh new pair of running shoes, it doesn’t take long to figure out how much time the designers actually spent using the type of product they designed.
When I get behind the wheel of a BMW, I know immediately that the team that designed it loves to drive. And I don’t mean just drive to work and to the store. I mean drive. As in… for fun. For thrills. Thirty seconds into using a Mac for the first time, the Apple design team’s passion for great user interfaces is also pretty obvious. Clip into a Look pedal, slip on a pair of Rudy Project Rydons, Squeeze yourself into a pair of Hincapie Sportswear bib tights or pull the cap off a Mont Blanc pen, and you will immediately feel the same thing.
Great design delights. Great design triggers smiles and compliments. Great design invites repeat business. Great design generates great word-of-mouth recommendations, endorsements and reviews. Great design is ALWAYS a win for everyone.
And bad design sucks.
For the third time in a week now, I found myself in a checkout line at my local Target store, and experienced the destructive power of bad design. Target painstakingly designs its stores and advertising to be inviting, upbeat and cool. I love shopping there because I know I’ll find something cool and inexpensive to buy for my house. So from ads to store design to product selection, Target is 100% conscious of the importance of great design, right? But then you get to the checkout, and it all comes crashing down. Here’s how: For some reason, a good deal of items at my local Target seem to come without bar codes. (As impossible as it may seem in this day and age.) And without a bar code, the cashier is completely helpless a checkout. If the item can’t be scanned, the purchasing process grinds to a complete halt. To get it started again, you need a price check: The cashier has to put on her blinking light and call a supervisor. The supervisor then has to stare at the product for five minutes to confirm that there indeed is no bar code anywhere on it. The supervisor then has to call someone on her little radio. That someone has to go to the back of the store to find the item, copy the bar code numbers from the shelf tag, and radio it back in – or write it down and walk it back to the front of the store. Meanwhile, the six families standing in line behind you are ready to beat you over the head with their $19.99 welcome mats and seasonal plastic tumbler sets. If you were in a hurry, forget it. What seemed like a simple, convenient little “oh hey, I’ll just buy it while I’m here” purchase turns into a “damn, I could have just gone to Wal-Mart instead” swell of regret.
A month before Christmas, your impromptu purchase of a $19.99 Michelin windshield wiper has caused a ten minute gridlock at register number nine on a busy Saturday afternoon. Because someone forgot to apply a bar code to a product, and also because the cashier and her system aren’t set up to identify the product without the precious bar code. In that one simple omission, every bit of great design that Target has spent millions of dollars to integrate into its brand evaporates. Not only for me, but for the six families standing impatiently behind me.
The lesson: Design thinking isn’t limited to products. Systems also require great design. And everything is a system. Your entire company is a system. Your customer service department is a system. Your warranty department is a system. Your checkout area – whether physical or electronic – is a system. Great systems are based on great design, and great design is based on observation: Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Understanding what they like or dislike. Finding ways of delighting them, or at the very least, fulfilling their specific needs.
If you’re a CEO or other C-level executive, how often do you look at your own company’s processes from a customer’s point of view? How often do you call your own 1-800 number with a problem or question? How often do you go into a store to buy your own products “incognito” or try to return them through normal channels when they fail?
How much time does your company actually spend walking in the shoes of your customers?
Great design doesn’t start with a cool creative type sketching ideas in a posh studio. It starts with real world insight, out there where your customers and users live.
Want to be a great executive? Want to understand great design? Start by joining your customers.
Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone! :)
Posted in account planning, adaptation, brand consciousness, brand elevation, brand insights, brand planning, brand strategy, building value, business thinkers, differentiation, identity development, insight, management, marketing leadership, tagged brandbuilder, marketing, mullikin, new marketing on November 21, 2008 | 2 Comments »
Great post on the Hill Mullikin blog about the need for new thinking in the marketing world. What’s interesting about it? Simple: This isn’t coming from a “new marketing” or Marketing 2.0 source like Seth Godin, Tom Asacker or Francois Gossieaux, but from someone who has been working in the agency trenches for years, using primarily traditional marketing tools to make their clients successful and happy. Yet here they are, talking about looking for a better way:
Is it time for us marketers to look in the mirror? I believe some of the problem lies in the cookie-cutter approaches that most real estate developments have taken. And we are all guilty. Unlike most corporate brands with armies of marketing generals and brand police, real estate has always been armed with sales savvy entrepreneurs and “I need it yesterday” deadlines. And when the pressure is on, we all default to what we know best – what ever worked last time.
The critical thinking that needs to go into a successful brand is always left in a haze of gotta-have-it-now timelines. In the end, we have magazines full of beautiful mountain views, couples holding hands on the beach, seniors with their feet kicked up on bicycles (which I don’t think has ever happened without a camera around), and golf holes basking in the morning light.
We have forgotten some of the branding fundamentals that really connect with people and tug on the heartstrings. Branding is about differentiation. About standing out and being easily identifiable in a herd.
Brands are not things that developers or marketers create. Brands are built in the minds of consumers. And the art of “branding” is what allows you to plant that seed in the users mind.
So where do we start? Back at the basics. All successful brand share four common characteristics:
1. The brand presents a tangible point of difference. Attributes have been identified that sets the brand apart from the competition. Does the world really need just another signature golf community?
2. The brand is relevant to its audience. The audience has been identified, and that audience feels a need in their heart that can be satisfied. Is your community what the market wants, or is it a monument to your ideals?
3. The brand is consistent. The audience, when greeted by the receptionist, when reading a magazine or surfing online, sees and hears the same core message. Verbal and visual cues align across all mediums.
4. The messages are frequent. When you understand what makes you different, who you need to target and what you need to say—then say it. Again, and again, and again.
So, does marketing really need to change? Or did marketing ever change? I think that it is really time to go back to basics and identify how we effectively communicate our unique selling propositions, who we are talking to, what they desire and last but not least, ask them to do something.
Do I call this progress? You bet.
Okay, maybe not next week since it’s Thanksgiving, but the week after, find out if you can go a week on only $24 for food. That’s the challenge the folks at Sodexo Careers have just come up with.
The “Food Stamp Challenge” is a program that aims to educate us on what it is like to eat on the average food stamp benefit – which is little more than a $1 per meal per person.
With a little research I learned more about the nation’s food stamp benefit which about $3.45 per day (depending on income and situation). That’s about $24 per person per week (source) . After paying for housing, energy and health care expenses, many low-income households have little or no money remaining to spend on food without food stamp benefits and often those benefits don’t last the month forcing them to turn to food pantries and soup kitchens. Sadly, more than 35.5 million people in the United States are at risk of hunger. The Sodexo Foundation supports supports hunger-related initiatives on local, state, and national levels to help children and families in the United States who are battling problems such as poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and food insecurity.
While living on a food stamp budget for just a week can’t compare to the real life struggles of low-income families week after week and month after month, it can provide those who take the Challenge a new perspective. Shondra said that while she was keenly aware of the problem of hunger in the U.S. and the limitations of current Food Stamp benefits, she took the Challenge to make the issues more personal. “Nothing is more powerful in raising personal awareness and understanding than to experience for yourself (if only for one week) what others experience every day.”
Bonus #1: You aren’t on your own. Download the Toolkit.
Bonus #2: This could easily grow into a buzz-worthy movement if properly funneled through social media. Do I hear “case study?”
Bonus #3: After a week of eating out with visiting family and Thanksgiving next week, the timing couldn’t be better anyway.) $24 for a week? I’m game. (Cafe au lait doesn’t count though, right?)
Okay, who else is in?photo by Christopher Wray-McCann