Experts Share

Criticism is one thing, but the ability to articulate what could be done better is something else

December 5, 2019

I spoke with a digital marketer yesterday and he had expressed concerns working with designer on websites. He'd seen the results go haywire in the past from an SEO perspective because most designers use tools like Squarespace and Wix without considering how their pretty site will play into the overall digital strategy.

When I pushed for specific problems, the only answer I got was, "you need an SEO partner," which is pretty convenient considering that's what he does.

Here's the thing: if there is truly a better way to do something, it is your job to articulate those details to someone in need of your help, especially if they are willing to learn.

If you're a chiropractor and you don't share your method for making others feel better or coach them, how will they trust you?

What about a SaaS startup that doesn't educate users on how to use their platform?

A designer that doesn't articulate why a design is flawed and coach better design practices?

There is no trust built up keeping your knowledge behind closed doors. If you are an expert, prove it. Better yet, teach it.

More you say?

Cain

Are you focused on what your brand could be doing better or how others are beating you?

12.17.2019

In Genesis, the first sin recorded outside of the Garden of Eden is the murder of Abel by his brother Cain. Whether you believe the story to be historically accurate or not, there is a provocative truth to it. Cain had become extremely bitter and resentful of his brother, as Abel's offering to God was accepted and Cain's was rejected (due to his lack of reverence and thoughtfulness in the offering). These emotions boil to unrest as Cain wields a rock to bash in his brother's skull. He rids the world of his competition so that his own subpar efforts have nothing to aspire to.

What does this have to do with branding and being rebellious?

While competitive analysis and an understanding of the market is a good thing, comparing the shortcomings of your brand to others is a recipe for bitterness and resentment. If Cain had instead looked inward and been in competition with himself, he would have slain hi sown inadequacies instead of his brother.

Rebellious brands inherently take on a different mission from the rest of the world, and without a doubt there will be times when it seems like the competition will be doing it better.

Let them. Make friends with them and leave behind the scarcity mindset.

Focus on improving your brand, having a greater understanding of your faults, and figuring out how to be better than you were yesterday.

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All Design is About Mitigating Risk

Sometimes the greatest gain is not a gain at all.

1.10.2020

Yesterday, I wrote about how good logos do not make more money. The essential premise was that a good logo is not meant to earn people more money, but counters the cost of having a bad logo. Such as having to reprint collateral when a good logo finally emerges, losing equity in an image that changed, negative impressions, or having to repurpose/reconstruct the logo for various applications (social icons, favicons, app icons, small scale, etc.).

It got me thinking though, isn't all design about mitigating risk or cutting cost? Some would argue that design can earn more money, like going through a rebrand to appeal to a more affluent market, designing an ad meant to drive revenue, or building a streamlined website to increase conversion. But, I'm not convinced this means design's core function is to earn more money.

When you're rebranding to appear to a more affluent market, what you're really doing is mitigating the risk of appearing cheap or scammy.

When designing an ad to increase revenue, what you're really doing is mitigating the risk of being off brand or having a Peleton faux pas.

When you're building a streamlined website, what you're really doing is mitigating the risk of user confusion and discomfort.

Focusing on how you can make more money is great, but that doesn't seem to be design's core capacity. Design is meant to mitigate risk.

The risk of appearing unprofessional.

The risk of having a rigid, difficult identity system.

The risk of looking dysfunctional.

The risk of making a user's experience negative.

Whatever it may be, good design is about mitigating risk.

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