What are Uber doing?

Feb 09 2016

What are Uber doing with their recent redesign of their identity? Whatever you may think of the original logo, it was distinctive and clear (if a little cold according to some design critics), However, the new logo is about as distinctive as a white blob in a coloured square (which it is). When the logo changed, I struggled to find it on my phone. I struggled even more to work out the meaning behind the change, but Uber have nicely provided a nice corporate logo to explain. Read more »

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Principles of Design #69 – Weakest Link

Jan 30 2016

The weakest link can be a strength in the design of a system, as this refers to the deliberate use of a weak element that will fail in order to protect other elements in a system from being damaged. So while it is still valid that “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, this does not mean that the weakest link is the least valuable in a system. It is not a liability, but rather in place to protect other important elements in the system. For example, fuses are designed to fail so that a power surge doesn’t damage an electrical circuit. Crumple zones are deliberately made weak so that they easily crumple when a car collides with another object, reducing the impact energy  transferred to passengers who sit in a more strongly reinforced shell at the centre of the car. The fuse and crumple zone are designed to be sacrificed to protect more important elements (people in the case of cars). Read more »

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Why Copying is Good for Creativity and Innovation

Jan 27 2016

In Copy, Copy, Copy, Mark Earls argue that creativity in marketing (or anywhere else) is essentially about following the success of the theory of evolution outlined by Charles Darwin. Although the title of the book focuses on the copying part, the truth is that his central argument is that the essence of progress is “loose” copying, following the are of an idea but introducing variations into it. As Darwin demonstrates, if you do this enough times then eventually what emerges is superior to what came before.

The beauty of the book, which I highly recommend, is that in arguing the case for copying as a creative strategy, Mark Earls also manages to integrate a lot of behavioural thinking into the strategies and approaches he outlines and gets away from the arguments about which marketing strategies work best. He argues that the first question to ask is “What kind of thing is this?” and from that then find an appropriate strategy to address the specific challenge. Read more »

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Principles of Design #68 – Uniform Connectedness

Jan 06 2016

Uniform connectedness is the principle that elements that are connected by uniform visual properties, the most common being colour, are seen as more related than other elements that do not share a visual property. This is a recent addition to the Gestalt principles of psychology, based on the perception of elements with uniform visual properties as a single group or chunk of information. A single matrix composed of dots is seen as columns where common regions, lines or colours connect the dots vertically, whereas it is send as rows when the common regions, lines or colours connect them horizontally. Read more »

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Principles of Design #67 – Propositional Density

Dec 23 2015

Propositional density refers to the relationship between the meaning conveyed by a design and the individual elements that comprise the design itself, with high propositional density coming from the richness and complexity of the meanings of a design relative to the simplicity of the elements that make it up. That is, high propositional density is the semioticians dream of richly layered meanings that derive from a simply designed feature, object or visual. Read more »

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Design Methods #34 – Photo Studies

Dec 09 2015

In photo studies, participants are asked to document ideas, events and aspects of their lives with photos, allowing researchers and designers to collect visual insights into their behaviours, motivations and beliefs. Such studies are very personal and provide inspiration for design and co-creation based on the worlds of the users of products or services.

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6 Reasons to Create a Winning Sound Environment

Nov 27 2015

“Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does – humans are a musical species.” – Oliver Sacks

We all know the power of music to move both our bodies and our emotions. So how can you use music to create more immersive brand experiences giving you the commercial edge over your rivals?

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Principles of Design #66 – Similarity

Nov 23 2015

It is a key principle of design that elements that are similar are perceived by users to be more closely related than elements that are dissimilar. This principle comes from Gestalt psychology, and while often seeming obvious is important to the way that users interact with objects, helping them simplify and structure the world. A simple matrix with alternative rows of dots and squares, this becomes a set of rows only with the similar elements grouped into holistic lines. In the same way, even complex displays is interpreted as having different areas and groupings depending on the colour, shape or size of different elements and to what degree they appear similar. Read more »

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The Social Psychology of Music

Oct 19 2015

As the authors of The Social Psychology of Music point out, although music has many functions in human life, they are all essentially social. We use music to communicate, even when from very different backgrounds and speaking different languages. Music has the ability to trigger very powerful emotions., forming the basis of shared experiences. Music always conveys meaning, but that meaning is always situated in a social and cultural context. Meaning can never be free of context. Read more »

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The Importance of Curiosity

Oct 14 2015

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

“Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form.” Vladimir Nabokov

I seem to have been reading a lot of books recently on the topic of questions (perhaps inspired by a good friend), and so I was curious to read Curious by Ian Leslie, all about the importance of curiosity in human life and its place in learning, business and innovation.  Coming off the back of reading A More Beautiful Question (read more here), Ian Leslie arguably suffers from a lack of more practical argument and application to the reality of business, but still offers up some nuggets of insight into the importance of curiosity in the success of humans. After all, curiosity is linked to the most fundamental animal behaviour (called ‘seeking by Jaak Panksepp) and the need to explore the world.

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