A Thousand Tiny Cuts

The small things that stop you from looking legit.

May 18, 2020

A buddy of mine and I have started looking for apartments to rent. Scammers have been rampant, so we're extra cautious.

One realtor had sent my friend an application, his license number, and lease agreements. My buddy sent them to me asking, "is this legit?"

I could see where he was suspicious. The design of the application was shotty and it made his ears perk up. It was a lot of small things like misaligned typography, no consistency in colors, no logo for the company, no footer. Not only from a design perspective, but things like not have a dedicated domain for this company and instead using a Gmail address made this entire experience feel scammy.

Despite the fact that he did indeed have a license number, his brand and legitimacy were being put to death by a thousand tiny cuts. Small wounds that bled his company of its worth and value.

Point being, the small interactions are where you get a chance to prove yourself as something legit and unique. Never underestimate them.

More you say?

Dashlane Messaging | Software Branding

The things said by Dashlane that reinforce their positioning.

1.18.2020

See part I of this case study

In line with the position of being the premium brand for internet security, Dashlane crafted elegant messaging that vaults their product beyond being a password manager.

How? They made it about the emotional value derived from using their product. In short, they make it about the feeling of security and being cool rather than making their password creator the hero. This is evidenced in the way they discuss the benefit of their product from their home page:

Dashlane does more than create, save, and autofill your passwords. See how Dashlane can give you a safer, simpler life online.

Dashlane is a tool, that the real heroes (their users) can use to fight against security threats on line. More importantly, they can do so without have to get vicious. Adopting messaging like this is great for many reasons and there is one in particular that is fascinating:

Dashlane's messaging allows them to exceed password management.

In conjunction with a name like Dashlane, they have shown that their brand is capable of handling new product dedicated to the safety of others on the internet. There's an important part in there that I don't want to skip over because it matters: the name.

Imagine these examples from companies within this market with a new offering:

LastPass launches a new VPN service to guard your internet usage from unwanted eyes.

Dashlane launches new VPN service to guard your internet usage from unwanted eyes.

LastPass has made it difficult for themselves to be recognized as anything other than a password manager because every time you say their name you are yanked into remembering that they are a password manager.

Conversely, Dashlane is tied to an emotional value. So long as the offering doesn't conflict with that emotional value, Dashlane's customers will eat it up. Yet another stepping stone to a safer, simpler life online.

The point? The messages in the things you promise, the way you talk about your products and services, even the name you give users to identify you are rooted in an emotion, not the product. The product is a vehicle by which that emotion is experienced. Focus your messaging on reinforcing the emotion. Build the brand on something greater so that you can continue to innovate and be trusted with new products.

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Story beats Features

We are emotional beings, there is nothing we can do to resist a powerful story

11.20.2019

A few weeks ago, I saw the new, "live action" Lion King in theaters with a friend of mine. While I wasn't necessarily disappointed, it felt like something was missing that was inherent within the original. I couldn't put my finger on it, even though the new movie had far better animation, a higher budget, and an opportunity to improve on something that was already there. It just wasn't the same.

Disney + launched recently and after watching the original, I got it. The new version's characters were so realistic that they couldn't convey emotion (hard to make a lion cry or show happiness), but cartoons make it possible.

Watch any scene from the original, be it Mufasa rescuing Simba in the gorge, Scar and the Hyenas' ghoulish anthem Be Prepared, and the return of Simba as king, and it's impossible not to become emotionally invested. That is what was missing from the new rendition.

The point that I'm getting at is this: you can have the fanciest tools, the best animation, or a better mousetrap so to speak, but if you miss out on getting emotional buy-in, it falls short.

Story beats features.

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