“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how things look. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how things work.” – Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was no fan of branding and marketing and is revered as a design hero. But the reality is that he was a supremely successful brand manager, because he was a great designer. In fact, I believe that branding is all about design, and no area of branding highlights this more than sensory branding.
Sensory branding is a relatively new concept, best known through Martin Lindstrom and his book Brand Sense. Although the discipline is so young, even in the last year concepts of cross-modal design and multi-sensory marketing have gained great traction, as the work of Charles Spence and others has shown. Read more »
Picture cards are a common tool in qualitative enquiry, helping people to think about and verbalise stories about their life experiences. The cards help to anchor such stories in context and detail, acting as a stimulus for conversation. Visual reference points are much easier to process than verbal questions. Images can be more relevant or more abstract depending on the context and objectives. Read more »
“Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth.” – Margaret Atwood
Are some senses more important than others for brands? It is well understood that our visual perception is one of the key reasons for human dominance on Planet Earth, and many brands (and brand guidebooks) focus on the visual appearance of the brand, perhaps to the detriment of other senses. Does this matter and can other senses create the same or greater impact on how we perceive a brand?
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The world today is overcrowded with businesses and brands vying for out attention, so how can a business gain attention and be remembered? One way is to market through the senses. Brand value is strongly driven by the experience of using the brand – for example, the sensory experience of Unilever Dove is worth over $100 million of the brand’s value according to one research company. Why is sensory marketing such a valuable asset for businesses and brands? Read more »
Douglas Hofsatdter’s first book, Godel, Escher, Bach, had a profound influence on me while I was at university. First published in 1979, I don’t remember when I first read the book. but have since re-read more than once (and it’s not a short book!).
In the book, Hofstadter explores common themes in the lives and works of Kurt Godel (logician), M.C.Escher (artist) and Johann Sebastian Bach (musician), drawing out concepts fundamental to mathematics, symmetry, intelligence and philosophy of mind. Specifically, Hofstadter discusses how self-reference and formal rules allow systems to develop meanings which ‘emerge’ from the system however meaningless the individual elements of that system. That is, the book describes how thinking emerges from the mechanics of neurons firing, creating a unified sense of self, in the same way that a colony of ants self-organises to produce social behaviours which ‘emerge’ from the acts of individual ants. Read more »
I have just reread The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman, a recommended read for anyone interested in design. As Donald Norman points out, the book was originally titled The Psychology of Everyday Things (from POET to DOET) and the book is full of insights into the psychology behind user experiences, and the failings of many designs to accommodate the experience and learned practices of users (Norman was himself a cognitive psychologist). The book is a great argument for user-centred design. Read more »
Tip of the tongue
Our ability to recognise things that we have previously experienced is much better than our ability to recall the same things from memory. Recognition is much easier because recognition provides cues which helps us sort through our vast memory and find the most relevant information. We all find multiple choice questions easier than short answer questions, because the list of possible answers makes it easier and quicker to find the right one, as we can narrow down options very efficiently unlike short answer questions which leave a much greater range of possibilities for us to search. Read more »
“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 »
“Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self, in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one’s nakedness can always be felt, and, sometimes, discerned. This trust in one’s nakedness is all that gives one the power to change one’s robes. ” - James Arthur Baldwin
“Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” - John F. Kennedy
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“Champions know that success is inevitable; that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. They know that the best way to forecast the future is to create it.” – Michael J. Gelb
The way in which our mind processes visual information is a miniature version of the way in which it processes all kinds of information, with multiple layers of processing and continuous feedback loops being used to construct an internal mental reality which most effectively helps us to maximize rewards from the external world. That is, consciousness is merely a system for using feedback to help us create the future.
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