It’s the hard to beat the eery feeling of studying Wolfram’s Rule 30.Continue reading “Wolfram’s Rule 30 and the Conus Textile”
“The brand is a story. But it’s a story about you, not about the brand.” —Seth Godin
“Humans use brands to project who we want to be in the world, how we want people to perceive us, and how we want to communicate what we feel about ourselves and our place in society.” —Debbie Millman
From FastCo story May 2020
Brand as Differentiator
“Clients’ business problems are often bigger than what advertising can fix. What I think the optimistic part of this is, the longer it goes on, the more people’s minds are going to be wiped of brand preference in many instances. That specific brand of toothpaste is going to matter to me less than just toothpaste. I think when people start to step outside again, brands will be re-proving themselves, re-introducing themselves, restating why they should be a preference. So I’m hoping, but I do think, that our clients will need us more than ever.” —Colleen DeCourcy
Example of how product drives brand value, “Clients’ business problems are often bigger than what advertising can fix.”
Brand as A Business
“Brands have tried to use the humble hype, where they basically say, ‘We feel sorry for you and therefore buy this product.’ There’s been a disconnect between a need for whatever that product is and the actual consumer sentiment. So there are a lot of brands that’ve gotten slapped on the hand for that. Then there are brands that’ve done a good job of sticking up their hand to say, ‘We understand you, we’re with you, and we’re not trying to sell you anything right now, we just want to engage.’ I think that’s the work that’s resonated the most for me. Brands with good intentions. They’re selling something at a discount that you need. They’re speaking to you in a way that seems empathetic to what you’re going through.” —Steve Stoute
“Every week has felt like a month, in terms of our reactions, clients’ reactions, consumer reactions. Our job is to help our clients figure out where they fit in all this. You’ve seen every brand come out with something about how they understand it’s difficult times, which is fine and appropriate, but eventually that runs out. What are you doing now?” —David Droga
“Instead, a brand’s profitability is driven by both market share and the nature of the category, or product market, in which the brand competes. A brand’s relative market share (RMS) has a different impact on profitability depending on whether the overall category is dominated by premium brands or by value brands to begin with. That is, if a category is composed largely of premium brands, then most of the brands in the category are—or should be—quite profitable. If, on the other hand, the category is composed mostly of value and private-label brands, then returns will be lower across the board. When we compared the actual profitability of the 40 premium brands we studied with their predicted profitability, using as variables RMS and the “premium” degree of a category, we found a strong correlation.”
“Developing the most profitable strategy for a premium brand, therefore, means reexamining market share targets in light of the brand’s category. In other words, managers must think about their brand strategy along two dimensions at the same time. First, is the category “premium” or “value”? (Is it dominated by premium brands or by value brands?) Second, is the brand’s relative market share low or high?”
“When a brand creates a myth, most often through advertisements, consumers come to perceive the myth as embodied in the product. So they buy the product to consume the myth and to forge a relationship with the author: the brand. Anthropologists call this “ritual action.” When Nike’s core customers laced up their Air Jordans in the early 1990s, they tapped into Nike’s myth of individual achievement through perseverance. As Apple’s customers typed away on their keyboards in the late 1990s, they communed with the company’s myth of rebellious, creative, libertarian values at work in a new economy.”
On building a (cultural) icon:
- Target National Contradictions.
- Create Myths That Lead Culture.
- Speak with a Rebel’s Voice.
- Draw on Political Authority to Rebuild the Myth.
- Draw on Cultural Knowledge.
The declining efficiency of traditional advertisements and new capabilities driven by technology and data have convinced many companies that their best shot at winning customers—and keeping them—is to improve the customer experience.Continue reading “WSJ: How Tech Makes an Experience Out of Everything”
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Four Things That I’m Thinking About CX
- The difference between CX and design is useful to ponder because it helps to separate outcome from process.
- There are experiences that can be wholly crafted by a lone professional designer like with a one-off poster or chair.
- But for projects that are more complex than a lamp, a product will get made with and by many non-designers on their way to market.
- When professional designers are less involved, it’s easy to create “bad design.” But it can still be considered good CX.
Three Things I’ve Noticed In The Last 30 Days
- I am on day 14 of my move from the SaaS product cloud of Automattic into the “digital business transformation” consultancy world of Publicis Sapient.
- In the past 5 years of Design in Tech Reports I looked at the design-y shifts in startups, big tech, venture capital, and the consultancy space.
- So now here I am in the last remaining universe in which I haven’t yet worked. Am I finally home? Something tells me … yes.
Two things I love ❤
- TRUWOMEN Plant Fueled Protein Bars are delicious and meaningful to eat when you think about how most protein bars get to market.
- Hazard 4 Civilian POD glasses cases have a carabiner-style clip and can comfortably fit oversized spectacles without crushing them.
One Special Link
- I have started a new WordPress blog over at https://PS.blog to cover all things Publicis Sapient. Please check it out.
One Final Point
- I’m fielding a variety of thoughts on the acronym “CX” — they’ve been streaming towards me from all parts. Recently John Cain at IIT has been giving me a fantastic seminar on the term. I look forward to sharing all the information I find in the CX.Report when March 2020 comes around.
No modern designer speaks to the power of language in design with a deeper understanding than John Maeda. And we would be smart to pay attention to his words.
His career pedigree is stunning: tenured research professor at the MIT Media Laboratory, 16th President of the Rhode Island School of Design, former VP of Design at Kleiner Perkins, former Global Head of Computational Design and Inclusion at Automattic, he received the White House’s National Design Award, and his work can be found in the permanent collection of MOMA. Did I mention he’s written four books? And last week, Publicis Sapient brought him on as Chief Experience Officer. And these are merely highlights.
In his annual “Design in Tech” report from 2017, Maeda declared that code is not the only unicorn skill, quoting R/GA Head of Verbal Design Jennifer Vano: “Words can shape reality.” They do, and not just through our designed experiences, but also how we approach our design work.
I had the great opportunity to ask John Maeda a few questions about his perspectives on all this after he recently spoke at Microsoft about design in tech for 2019.
Starting with the basic point, what role do you think writing can play in the product and customer experience?
Writing plays an important role when information is read with the eyes or heard with the ears. It can also be touched to be read, so it is intelligible through three of the five senses. Does it also impact the other two senses — smell and taste? Definitely not in a physical sense but in a metaphorical sense, I would have to say yes. Experiencing bad writing will leave a customer with a bad taste in their mind. And will leave them thinking that a product is bad and doesn’t deserve a second chance. So, in general, I believe that writing impacts all five human senses in a similar multi-sensorial matter that any non-written aspects of a product or experience can succeed or fail at achieving.
Naturally, we’re super fascinated by the integration of writing and design, but also by the working collaboration. What could designers learn from writers and vice versa?
I’m biased in believing that all good designers can write or recognize good writing, which is evidenced by how every iconic moment of design history is only fully experienced with the words of the designer or carefully contextualized with someone else’s words. I’m equally biased in thinking all writers can design or recognize good design. This becomes more obvious when computational experiences are more like partner dancing instead of just pressing a button and leaving. The dancing we do with the cloud requires sense-making that is best delivered as stories that become the movie in which the user lives — and, as every filmmaker knows, every good story requires good writing.
In a similar vein, what qualities do good design and good writing share?
Good design and good writing share qualities of respect for the consumer’s time and money. Also, delivering value is meaningful to designers and writers when they are in service to others. In this way, they are practitioners not artists. They draw upon the more esoteric work of an artist or poet, but carefully draw a line in not pretending to be them.
How do you see the relationship between writing and design evolving over the next years?
I’m hoping we’ll see that our recent attention to design and writing in the technology industry is linked to the fact that prior experiences didn’t need emotional value as much as functional value — because the early users were mainly tech-focused aimed at getting a specific job done. Today, computing is for everyone, and that means the expectations for having a great experience are never going back to the command-line interface. Which, when you think about it, demonstrates how writing has always been at the foundation of our interactions with the computer. Writing is intrinsic to how computing has been designed and programmed. Maybe for that reason I’ve never seen the two as separate.
And I definitely have to thank my “Design in Tech Report” collaborator Fatimah Kabba for pushing hard to highlight the importance of writing in the design of products and experiences — it really struck a chord. Frankly, I’ve been surprised to know that many designers don’t regard writing as highly as I do, but my guess is that will change for the better over the next few years. After all, what is an experience without a logical beginning, middle, end? It’s an unsatisfying one.
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From the April #DesignInTech Briefing
Four Things That I’m Thinking About Design In Tech
* With the 2019 Design in Tech Report now out and available in short-form and long-form on YouTube, I’ve started collecting material for 2020 from all the interesting (and interested) feedback that I’ve received online.
* My biggest “a-ha” has been a strong reminder that creativity is like Gordon MacKenzie would say, something that takes time. Or as Wieden+Kennedy dogma puts it, “It’s the idea buried ten feet under the ground.”
* Tony Ruth’s exquisite four-frame illustrated take on inequality, equality, equity, and justice emerged in the final minutes before the report went live. It literally came from nowhere, and not a moment too late.
* I’m in love with long-form blogging again after remembering how it’s so easy for a 2nd- or 3rd-party’s clickbait-y article title, or even a tweet, to be interpreted just as if it were a complete summary of all your thoughts.
Three Things I’ve Noticed In The Last 30 Days
* Accenture’s acquisition of Droga5 made me look deeper into what pundits say about consultancy versus agency. Conclusion: AI and data science look to be pit against humans and creativity — it doesn’t have to be that way.
* The Google People (HR) team released their new study on “distributed work” acknowledging that a third of their meetings involve folks in more than two time zones. Expect more tools for increasing timezone inclusivity on teams.
* Nieman Lab reported that Facebook’s News Feed algorithm change last year to increase user engagement has succeeded by as much as 50%. Divisive topics are more easily pushed up by peer networks in priority over publishers’ content. Yay?
Two Unsolicited Non-Tech Products That I ❤
* B.LeekS luggage suitcase wheels make my roll-about bag glide better than when I first got it. Pro-tip: The first size spec pertains to the actual diameter of the wheel.
* Twelve South has discontinued their Surfacepad for Macbook leather wristpads, but you can fight with me on eBay for them. Use an X-Acto blade to cut and fit for your laptop.
One Special Link
* I’m a bit behind on this month’s briefing because I needed to re-draft my upcoming book. Pushing out the 2019 Design in Tech Report changed a lot of my thinking, so the book needed some refactoring. https://howtospeakmachine.com
One Final Point
* AI is a topic that is moving from “oh no!” to “what is it?” — which means we have the opportunity to move from crisis to curiosity if the invisible forces of computation are eventually understood instead of summarily feared.
👆This is the English translation of the French title of the article in Le Monde by Véronique Lorelle.
« Le design doit rendre l’intelligence artificielle moins inquiétante »
A la Cité du design de Saint-Etienne, une exposition est consacrée à l’œuvre de John Maeda, le pionnier du graphisme digital.Continue reading “Design must make artificial intelligence less worrying”
I’ve learned a lot about how the press can turn a short telephone conversation into something
When I read the clickbait-y headline I almost fell out of my chair 😱. But I immediately recognized and understood that Fast Company is a business — and their job is to generate interest in a topic to improve their business position.
Context: Most interviews that get written about you don’t have sign off from the interviewee (me) so you never what or how an article is going to come out. In the early
When I began studying design 30 years ago, I started as a technologist. It’s a very complex world—computer code, chip design—and I realized how important it was to make things simple, because it concerned everything in your daily life. If those things you bump into in your house or carry around with you were complex, they were going to make your life terrible. I wrote simple computer programs that would produce complex outcomes. I simplified complex technological experiences. Many designers love to live in a KonMari-style house where everything is super-duper organized; their clothes are folded standing up, and there’s joy or whatever. But I tend to like complexity and diversity around me. Creative people are inherently spatial learners. They understand through objects in their environments. It’s what feeds their spatial memory, their creativity.