Mind the Gap: Why Great Brands grow their Way to Success

Dec 09 2014 Published by Neil Gains under branding

On October 6th 2010, Gap introduced a new logo designed to make the brand more contemporary, reducing the prominence of the iconic blue box associated with the brand. On October 12th 2010 after less than one week the original logo design returned.

A larger sales (and PR) disaster befell Pepsi in 2009 when they rebranded Tropicana Pure Premium. In the words of a company statement, the new pack was “designed to reinforce the brand and product attributes, rejuvenate the category and help consumers rediscover the health benefits they get from drinking America’s iconic orange-juice brand”. Between 1 January and 22 February, when Pepsi brought back the original design, sales dropped around 20% costing the company tens of millions of dollars. Read more »

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Review of Marketing to the Ageing Consumer

Jul 11 2014 Published by Neil Gains under book review

While businesses and especially marketers and advertisers focus on ‘digital disruption’ and play with their new online toys, arguably they are still missing the biggest behavioural disruption of our age – the ageing of consumers. societies and spending power. Having just turned 50 myself, I continue to be amazed at the narrow focus of most marketing activities on those much younger than me. Perhaps it’s just that middle age advertising executives like to pretend that they are still teens?

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Principles of Design #56 – Wabi-Sabi

Mar 19 2014 Published by Neil Gains under design

Wabi-Sabi is a design principle that is also a (Japanese) world view, philosophy of life and aesthetic principle. Wabi-Sabi centres on the acceptance of transience and imperfection, and is based on beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent and incomplete”. It derives from one of the three marks of existence from Buddhism: impermanence. [The others are suffering and absence of self-nature.] Read more »

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Think Big, Write Small

Jul 07 2012 Published by Neil Gains under language

“Although there is no substitute for merit in writing, clarity comes closest to being one.” – Strunk & White

Long blog articles are going out of style, as we all learn to write short concise messages (for many in less than 140 characters). The danger of this change is that subtle meanings can be lost and messages impoverished by a focus on literal meanings and core content without the context. In Microstyle, Christopher Johnson provides some useful tips on how to think big and write small to make short but important messages stand out from the crowd and stick in the mind. Read more »

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Principles of Design #43 – Mapping

May 30 2012 Published by Neil Gains under design

Easy user experiences

Mapping is the term used to describe the relationship between controls and their movements or effects, and good mapping is an important part of making the user experience easy and enjoyable. For example, the Segway human transporter goes forward when the user leans forward and back when the user leans back. A great use of mapping. Read more »

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Principles of Design #41 – Self-Similarity

Mar 11 2012 Published by Neil Gains under design

Different scale, same pattern

Self-similarity is a common property in nature, usually seen as intrinsically aesthetic, by which a form is made up of parts similar to the whole (or to one another). Natural forms are highly likely to to exhibit self-similarity at many levels of scale, in contrast to human made forms which usually do not. An aerial view of a coastline reveals the same basic edge patterns whether you stand at the water’s edge or view from a helicopter above (or even higher), in the same way that the Mandlebrot fractal set above, with the same pattern at varying levels of detail. The whole is a mosaic of smaller wholes, on and on into infinity. Read more »

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The Semiotics of Design

Dec 05 2011 Published by Neil Gains under design

“A few years ago it was simpler. Designers just designed things: objects like lamps, chairs, computer mice, cars, buildings, signage, page and screen layouts. Of course, we knew that the things we designed affected people’s experience. But still, it was enough to design the thing.”  - Fulton Suri

Design and everyday life

Great design is able to serve our needs and, more importantly, give meaning to our lives. It adds value to products by manipulating both subconscious emotional cues and also tactile and material factors to create an emotional bond. Our bodies and most especially our hands, have amazing capabilities already built into them to enable us to interact with and manipulate the world to achieve our goals, and good design ‘amplifies’ those capabilities, empowering us to do more with the abilities we already have. Read more »

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Principles of Design #33 – Life Cycle

Oct 24 2011 Published by Neil Gains under design

The circle of life

All products progress through a sequence of four stages of life, from introduction (birth) through to growth, maturity and finally decline and death. Firstly the product is envisioned and developed; after launching (if lucky) popularity will grow, although ultimately sales will plateau and finally decline.  Each stage has specific implications and priorities for designers and marketers, as the demands will evolve and change over time. The classic work on product diffusion models is Diffusion of Innovations by Everett M. Rogers, which follows on from and builds on the original Bass model of product diffusion which continues to be the basis of most new product forecasting. Read more »

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Principles of Design #30 – Iconic Representation

Sep 13 2011 Published by Neil Gains under design

The sign of control

In design, pictorial images are often used to improve the recognition and recall of signs and controls. Such representations and images make actions, objects and concepts easier to find, recognise, learn and remember. They are used in signage, computer displays and control panels for various purposes including identification (for example, company logos), efficient alternative to text (remembering that we process pictures much more quickly than words, so for road signs these are much more efficient), or to draw attention to something without the need for information (error icons in a display). Designers use four different types of icon: similar, example, symbolic and arbitrary. Read more »

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Are You Tired of Making Decisions?

Aug 24 2011 Published by Neil Gains under brain science

The New York Times reports some interesting findings on the phenomenon of decision fatigue in a recent article which is well worth reading for those who are burdened by a continuous stream of data, meetings and decision making.  Not only is this bad for you and your brain, it means that you end up making really bad decisions which are not in your (or your business’s) best interests! Read more »

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