Good Design Requires Guts
When it comes to design, less really does equal more. If you have a great product, you don’t need to plaster it with bells and whistles.
Here’s a great parody of the typical design process that aptly demonstrates this. Titled “Microsoft designs the iPod package,” the video compares Apple’s brilliant (and ultra-simple) packaging with a typical package with hilarious (and accurate) results:
Although the movie targets Microsoft, it could represent any company — big or small — that doesn’t know what it’s selling, doesn’t completely believe in its value or doesn’t believe that people will understand its value, whether it’s a message, a tangible product or a service (or anything else that a company might offer).
The key behind Apple’s marketing success is Steve Jobs’ incredible confidence that his products are “insanely great,” and his confidence in the market to understand that. He manages to put his product there and essentially say: “This is it. It’s awesome. Take it or leave it.”
Most companies don’t seem to have the corporate confidence to do that. Instead, they hide their core product behind special offers, features, graphics, etc., that mask their fundamental uncertainty about what they are selling.
This is especially relevant to visual design. Loud Dog’s design style is very clean, for example: although our visual designs are beautiful and unique on their own, they are intended to visually channel our clients. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this doesn’t leave a lot of room for uncertainty about who you are and what you’re selling.
On a related note, Seth Godin writes about Staples’ “Easy Button” on his blog:
I think I’d alter it to be the “certain” button. Lots of people are willing to work hard. Not as many are willing to take intellectual or project risk. As a result, they make boring stuff that’s quite likely to fail.
I’d amend this to say that people not only hesitate because they aren’t sure, but they also add those unecessary fiddles and tweaks because they aren’t sure.
Hey! This wasn't written by a bale of turtles! It was written by Josh Orum, who does awesome work at Loud Dog, a digital branding firm in San Francisco that helps businesses express themselves authentically via identities, websites, and marketing collateral.
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