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Archive for the ‘product design’ Category

Today’s bit of Marketing, Customer Experience, Design & Product Development advice comes from the archives of Kathy Sierra‘s blog:

“Your job is to anticipate… To give them what they want and/or what they need just before they have to “ask” for it – to be surprising yet self-evident at the same time. If you are too far behind, or too far ahead of them, you create problems, but if you are right with them, leading them ever so slightly, the flow of events feels natural and exciting at the same time.”

Walter Murch

iPod wasn’t designed by users. It was designed for users. No… wait… it was designed to be loved by users.

If your job deals with customer experience design, (product, web, retail, customer service, touchpoint ideation, advertising, etc.) print either the sentence that came just before this paragraph or Walter Murch’s bit of wisdom, and pin it to your office wall. Either one can (and probably should) become your new mantra.

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Music to my ears from Brand Autopsy:

Advertising Age recommends NOT ADVERTISING

Yep, you read that header right — Advertising Age recommends NOT ADVERTISING. A recent editorial in Ad Age shared HMOs (hot marketing opinions) about JetBlue’s current advertising campaign. The gist is this …

“JetBlue is missing the point with its recent ad push. What it needs is to get back to what made it a media and consumer darling: customer service and good internal and external communication.”

“… convincing more people to fly doesn’t seem like a smart move for an airline that has trouble handling the passengers it already has. It won’t fool new passengers, and it will only upset current passengers. JetBlue achieved its success by being unlike the other airlines. Its good name spread — via word-of-mouth and smart marketing — because great customer service gave it a compelling story to tell.”

“Priority No. 1 should be getting back to a place where consumers want to share good stories. Take the money being wasted on that campaign and plow it into customer service.”

Let’s take this a step further. BEFORE any company spends gobs of money on an advertising campaign, it should first spend money on improving the performance of a product/service and on ratcheting up the customer experience. ‘Nuff said! Errrahh!

Maybe it’s time for me to stop blogging about this stuff. If even Advertising Age is starting to preach the very thing that this blog has been devoted to for the last 3+ years, I’m thinking maybe my job here is almost done? Maybe?

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A post dear to my heart from Go Big:

Reminds me of this one.

Every time I hear someone use the term “viral marketing,” I cringe. I know it seems like just a word, but I think it’s a concept that misses the mark and perpetuates some half-baked thinking.

I hated the word “viral” the very first time I heard it in the mid 1990s, probably because it made Marketing sound like we were spreading a disease other people had no choice but to spread, too. At the time, the whole “viral marketing” thing got people excited because it used the Internet to cheaply spread crap like Burger King videos or Hotmail invitations. Dance monkeys, dance.

Now that we’ve all been bombarded on the internet, the notion of something being viral is no more special than any other idea or phrase that catches on. That’s just part of Marketing’s job. For over a decade now, Advertising Agencies all over the country have some sort of “Viral Marketing” as part of their plan to try to get us to ask their version of the Subservient Chicken to do something obscene and then laugh about it. We all get a bajillion invitations to try products and there’s an asston of bite-sized digital entertainment gimmicks you can sneeze all over your friends. No question, you can get the word out quickly but spreading your message is a small part of the picture.

I remember sitting in a Jive meeting when someone mentioned viral marketing and then in the very next meeting engineers were talking about the importance of product adoption. The word “adoption” struck me. Why is spreading Marketing a disease but spreading product usage like bringing in a stray dog? Shouldn’t we be pushing for Adoptive Marketing? Marketing that people want, that leads to products people want? Viral Marketing is merely the quick transaction of ideas. But if no connection is made to the product, the Marketing can (at best) only make an ephemeral nick in brand perception. Adoptive Marketing can be just as “viral” but is so closely connected to the product that if the idea catches on, so does the product. In fact, the product is built to be remarkable and to be the primary Marketing engine. For people to spread Adoptive Marketing it means that within the product and the Marketing they:

– Discover recurring personal significance
– Control their own participation
– Believe it improves their situation

People adopt things they have an emotional connection to. They like it and/or it helps them. Adoptive Marketing is dependent on the product. Ask any Marketer who has the best Marketing and the first company they think of is Apple. But Apple’s ads only work because their product and retail experience backs up the Marketing. Apple practices Adoptive Marketing. The Marketing is the product. The product is the Marketing. You want to talk about the iPhone. You want to use the iPhone. You want to watch the Ads. It’s a social object. You care. You choose. It improves your situation. It’s feels unique, even if it’s not. When you’re successful with Adoptive Marketing you’ve earned the right to be an Organic Meme. Screw being viral.

The problem is most products suck. If your baby’s ugly, go market something you believe in. Or it’s time to sit down with the product and service group and have a heart-to-heart. Yes, I’m sure it’s not that easy but we can’t fix it for you. Perhaps you can think around your product to create a social-cause initiative that makes people love your ice cream, batteries or dryer sheets. No amount of dancing babies or viral videos will cover up the fact your product is boring.

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Made from golden lions and lightsabers.

black·ber·ry [blak-ber-ee, -buh-ree]

–noun, plural -ries.

1. the fruit, black or very dark purple when ripe, of certain species of the genus Rubus.
2. the plant itself.

[Origin: bef. 1000; ME blakeberie, OE blaceberie. See black, berry]

black·ber·ry·like, adjective

Choose your weapon wisely, Grasshopper.

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My last post (see below) showcased some pretty smart and exciting product designs, but upon looking over the images just a minute ago, what struck me was the complete lack of brand marks/logos on these products… which makes sense since they’re just concepts and haven’t actually been thrown into the market yet.

As soon as I realized this, my brain started filling-in the blanks, and I ended up with a short list of brands that these products and the way they are designed would be good fits for. It’s actually kind of a fun exercise if you want to take a few minutes to play along.

My list looks like this:

Eraser: Staples
Cutting board: Cuisinart or Architec
Interactive timepiece: Nike or Adidas
Party plate: Pfaltzgraff
Hourglass Timepiece: Casio
Cookie mug/cup: Rubbermaid
Locker organizer: Rubbermaid
Lego ice cube maker: Lego & Rubbermaid (co-branded)
Zen Disc player: Bose or Tivoli
Heels: (Mass market)

What does your list look like?

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I’m a big fan of Core77, and especially since I have discovered IdeaList, which is probably one of the neatest sites I’ve run into in a while. (First of all, I love the name. Second, the ideas and design concepts being posted there are just too good not to share.)

This is more of a collection of my favorite among the product concepts posted on IdeaList than a post, but hey, a little change never hurt anyone.

The first idea/design (shown above) is an eraser. (You know… for pencils?) Brilliant. Below, a cutting board that doubles as a scale.


Above: A new take on the way we interact with time and tasks. Below, a party-friendly design somebody should have thought of a long time ago.

Above: My kind of timepiece. Below, a mug worthy of a cookie. (Finally.)


Above: A magnetic locker organizer. Below, make your very own Lego ice cubes.

Above: The coolest CD/DVD player I think I’ve ever seen.

Some design notes:

Why is the spinning disc, the most dynamic element of a CD player, hidden from a listener’s view? The simple, but energetic function of a CD player can and should be visually acknowledged. This CD player elevates the spinning motion of the disc and its linear potential for movement to an iconic and understandable form. The player embodies “something we know but rarely notice,” and “something we understand but cannot define.”

The spinning CD, displayed as a table saw blade slicing through a rich piece of walnut, draws our attention to an element of elegant activity within a simple, tranquil object. Appropriately, the perforated walnut speakers are equal to the size of planks that might be cut by the spinning blade. As in a lumberyard, they find their resting place, leaning motionless against a vertical surface. Battery powered and wireless, the system is clean, unencumbered and unfettered. To further emphasize simplicity and integrity, the player’s controls have been reduced to three white buttons. Intuitively aligned with the CD itself, the center button acts to play and pause, the left button tracks backward and the right tracks forward.

Movement, scale and functionality expressed in a simple, knowing form.

Below, customizable heels.


If you find yourselves wondering… “why didn’t I think of that?” … well, you’re probably not the only one.

Go check out more brilliant designs like these at IdeaList. Remember: Design is everywhere. Create something today.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone. 🙂

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