Browsing articles in "Blog"

POM Wonderful Takes On the FTC and the FDA

Oct 10, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Blog, Posts  //  Comments Off on POM Wonderful Takes On the FTC and the FDA

Is POM Wonderful brilliantly marketing—or are they hyping unsubstantiated scientific claims? They’ve landed themselves in hot water over pseudoscientific pomegranate juice health claims. Either way, their newest commercial is absolutely brilliant, taking biblical imagery of Eve and the snake in the Garden of Eden and twisting it into a case for the pomegranate’s role in Eve’s temptation of Adam.

The original set of videos can be found at Eve in the Garden of Eden

Thoughts on Branding

Oct 5, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Blog, Posts  //  Comments Off on Thoughts on Branding

Lately I have been posting a lot about a high-touch concept called design thinking. In this post I want to revisit some basics of branding.

Branding is the process of managing the perception that others have of you personally or of your product, service or organization. There are many ways to do that. Marketing, advertising and public relations are three ways. How you dress, the words you use, the personality you exude and the people with whom you associate are others. The strategy behind these tools is called brand strategy. To brand yourself is to design the toolkit that enables you to manage the perception that others have of you, to deliver on their expectations of you and to fulfill the implicit or explicit promise that you make to them when you interact with them. A successful brand answers the questions, “Who are you?” and “Why do you matter?”

Why Customer Experience Matters, Even in a Job Search

Oct 4, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Blog, Posts  //  Comments Off on Why Customer Experience Matters, Even in a Job Search

“We have reviewed your resume and would like to make an appointment…”: This subject line looks pretty promising. But then it often goes downhill.

Ah, the bane of lousy customer experience in the world of recruiters. Phil Buckley, of 1918 Internet Services, has an excellent blog post questioning the traditional career transition & job search model, which is impersonal and spammy. He proposes a solution that puts the experience of the job search candidate front & center.

Goes to show that designing a pleasant customer experience should extend outside of the workplace and even include job seekers.

Read the original post here: How NOT to Recruit a Job Candidate

Twitter’s “Golden Ratio”

Oct 1, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Blog, Posts  //  Comments Off on Twitter’s “Golden Ratio”

What do Twitter’s new homepage design and the lowly nautilus have in common? They are both examples of the Golden Ratio.

This is really cool. If you click the link from the Alltop page to, you can read an explanation of what the Golden Ratio is and why it is considered an aesthetic ideal in art, architecture and even nature (like a nautilus).

Twitter homepage "Golden Ratio"

The Stunningly Designful Photography of Carl Kleiner

Sep 30, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Blog, Posts  //  Comments Off on The Stunningly Designful Photography of Carl Kleiner

Carl Kleiner is one of the most brilliant, design-driven photographers I’ve come across in quite some time. IKEA recently published a gorgeous baking book called “Homebaked is Best” that uses his photos (see the first entry on his homepage). His work for this book is stunningly designful. While you’re at it, check out his other photos.

Carl Kleiner photo

Nine Dots to Design Thinking

Sep 28, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Articles, Blog  //  Comments Off on Nine Dots to Design Thinking

I attend a weekly class on mindfulness, a form of meditation that emphasizes awareness of the present moment and “being” rather than “doing”. A large component of the class consists of interactive games and exercises meant to illustrate concepts of the mindfulness methodology.

Last week the instructor, Cathy Reinstein, introduced us to a simple mind-game that involves nine dots arranged on a grid-like layout. The goal is to connect all nine dots using only four connected lines, and in the process to demonstrate how our habituation to prior ways of being too often obscures us from approaching problems with a fresh perspective.

Take 10 minutes to try solving it before reading the rest of this article.

Nine Dots game

It occurred to me that this game and its solution powerfully illustrate the concept of design thinking. How so?

Most people see nine dots and label it as a grid, which then informs the process in which they go about solving it. Some even try to “think outside the box” and get creative.

But it is just nine dots. The hackneyed notion of “thinking outside of the box” still implies that it *is* a box.

A more aware approach is to visualize the nine dots as a completely new experience, detached from the box analogy. The solution to the game then becomes much more obvious.

The point of being mindful is not to preconceive outcomes but rather to simply experience what is. Too often we are hyperfocused on “details” and “solutions” and neglect to take in “experience”. Consequently, we miss a large part of what is going on around us in our daily lives.

So how does mindfulness in meditation relate to design thinking in business?

In order to drive a brand, business or product forward, you must begin with an awareness of where you are and where you need to be, coupled with a commitment to jump into the unknown. You must be unafraid to fail or falter. In the process, you must design outstanding customer experiences, like those of Apple, Target or IKEA, that require your company to be open to new and uncharted ways of approaching obstacles.

In business, like in the nine dots game, our lack of awareness often keeps us mired in our problems rather than floating above the problems in a way that they can be solved. We need to be willing to expand beyond our habitual ways of being to create our worldview from scratch. We need to be design thinkers.

Look at your brand, business or product as an entirely new experience. Approach your obstacles with childlike wonder. Be with what *is*. Be mindful. Innovative ideas will flow from this space.

Is the glass half full or half empty? Who cares?

Sep 27, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Blog, Posts  //  Comments Off on Is the glass half full or half empty? Who cares?

The designful thinker’s way of solving problems:

“One day, someone showed me a glass of water that was half full. And he said, ‘Is it half full or half empty?’ So I drank the water. No more problem.”

– Alejandro Jodorowsky, Chilean filmmaker

Splash glass by David Hazy

Nigerian President Announces Candidacy on Facebook

Sep 15, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Blog, Posts  //  Comments Off on Nigerian President Announces Candidacy on Facebook

Nigeria’s current president, Goodluck Jonathan, announced through a message on his Facebook profile that he would run in the upcoming presidential election. I am fascinated by this announcement for two reasons:

First, Nigeria’s average wage is less than $1 per day, and very few Nigerians have access to the Internet. So how many potential voters will he reach?

Second, I feel that, although this is obviously a PR stunt meant to divert attention from his opponent, it is nonetheless brilliant to make this announcement using social media. Mr. Jonathan has over 211,000 Facebook followers, he posts almost daily and each of his posts receives massive engagement of over 4,000 comments and “likes”.

Goodluck Jonathan's FB profile

So, in a country with such scant Internet access, this is a bold move. It remains to be seen how many votes all this social media attention garners Mr. Jonathan come election day.

Well, to him I say: “Goodluck, Jonathan!”

A link to my original news source for this item can be found here: Nigeria’s leader declares election bid on Facebook

A Decade of Innovation in Product Packaging

Sep 14, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Blog, Posts  //  Comments Off on A Decade of Innovation in Product Packaging

Heinz KetchupBrand packaging plays a very crucial role in influencing consumer preference for products, which, of course, drives sales. In an article entitled “Decade of Design”, examines the 10 product packages that made the biggest consumer impact over the past decade.

For instance:

Heinz Ketchup reengineered the ketchup bottle with an upside-down, squeezable ketchup bottle with great ergonomics and less chance of runny ketchup

Dutch Boy reinvented the paint can with resealable plastic paint containers that are easy to open and eliminate the need to have a garage full of dried-out and encrusted, half-used paint cans

Target reimagined the plastic prescription drug bottle with clear, easy-to-read labels and translucency that allows for visual cues to order refills.

Excellent design simplifies complex or tedious tasks and makes life easier for human beings. Excellent product packaging design not only influences consumer preference, but also positively impacts consumers’ lives in tangible ways by solving problems tied to their very usage. Through innovations that make consumers’ lives “easier, safer, tastier and more indulgent” – not to mention less cluttered, wasteful and anxiety-ridden – these products and their packages matter to their customers.

Please see the original article, “Decade of Design”.

“Think sweet”: Shana tova!

Sep 8, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Blog, Posts  //  Comments Off on “Think sweet”: Shana tova!

As a Rosh Hashanah e-card sent to family & friends this week, I created a spoof of the very famous Volkswagen “Thin small” ad by Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) from 1962. Widely considered to be the most influential ad campaign of the 20th century, “Think small” forever changed the advertising industry:

“DDB created this “Think Small” print ad in 1962 with simplicity in mind, contradicting the traditional association of automobiles with luxury. By filling the page mainly with white space, there was an emphasis on the undersized Beetle and the fine print that appeared at the bottom, which introduced consumers to the advantages of having a small car.” (Fortune Magazine: Game-changing ads)

I hope you enjoy my spoof!


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