One of my favorite panels at SXSW 2012 was getting to hear from the lead designers of six of Google’s core products: Gmail, Google+, Google Search, Google Maps, Google Docs, and Youtube. It was cool to hear some of their unique challenges but my main takeaway was a reminder that we all face similar challenges regardless of how large or small our clients or brands may be.
The main part of their story started in the Spring of 2011 when one of the designers – unfortunately I forget which one - received an instant message from Larry Page that simply stated, “If you could redesign Google, what would you do.” He referred to this as the moment that “the dog caught the car”. As designers, it was the dream they had been waiting for but after a brief state of shock they needed a plan to seize the opportunity.
You hear it referenced a lot, but the old adage of “Good. Fast. Cheap. You get two out of three”, is still my Golden Rule of Value. You can’t stand for anything if you try to stand for everything.
I sat in a great session at SXSW 2011 where Intuit talked about how they define the user experience in their software by starting broad and working narrow. They use a very simple question to define user experience decisions, it’s so simple I am ashamed that it took me this long to see it.
Ask yourself this:
Good work is subjective, smart work is successful. Great ideas and beautiful design work are often judged on the backend of the project by clients and creative teams. Where smart work is judged by ROI after the results are in.
Smart work takes time. Time to think through the problem before we ever get to a solution. Sometimes it even takes more creativity to find the problem than it does to come up with solutions. So make sure that you give yourself enough time on the front end of a project to identify the real problem and then concept a smart solution.
Good work looks nice but often solves the wrong problem. Smart work defines the problem, and then delivers a great solution that drives results.
I was fortunate to get a chance to participate in Brains on Fire’s 2010 Fire Sessions today and, as usual, they put on an extraordinary event. I started my career with them almost 15 years ago and over the last 10 years have remained great friends with them all and enjoyed watching them spread their passion and find their voice.
Branding is about differentiation. About standing out and being easily identifiable in a herd.
But brands are not things that companies and marketers create. Brands are built in the minds of consumers. And the art of “branding” is what allows you to plant that seed in the consumer’s mind.
Many think you have to have a sexy product or millions of dollars to build a brand. The reality is all products or services, B2B or B2C, can build strong brands in the minds of their customers.
How? By focusing on these four key attributes that all successful brands share.