Rally the Neophiles | Software Branding

It doesn't make sense to build for anyone else.

January 15, 2021

How much marketshare do you want? All of it?

Wow. That's an ambitious goal.

You want it now? Dang. Sounds like you're a real go-getter.

You can't have it.

At least not now. You're not ready. But there is a clear starting point that every successful software out there has shown us: build for neophiles. The innovators and early-adopters. It simply doesn't make sense to build for anyone else. Here's why:

Whenever we create something truly novel, we engage in pattern interrupt (thanks Seth Godin). Pattern interrupt places a user in a state of decision making, since they have encountered something outside their normal pattern of behavior. Slack, before it was adopted by every single organization worth talking about, was a pattern interrupt. Most teams communicated via email, text, etc. Not very effective. Even so, the thought of switching from the normal, (albeit shitty) pattern requires energy that people don't want to spend... unless trying out new things is their normal.

The only folks who fit that pattern are neophiles. They are people who want to find something new, who want to be in-the-know, and who are joyous when they find something novel they can test. Furthermore, they are the first stepping stone in gaining mass marketshare. If you want the masses to engage with your product, you have to first rally the Neophiles.

More you say?

Known by Its Counterpart

Sometimes the only way to see the right way is by understanding the opposite.

4.22.2020

I normally work from home and, for the most part, it's pretty easy for me to get into a groove. But there are some days, especially during the COVID-19 quarantining, that make it difficult.

Specifically because the elements of my routine are barred. New floors are being installed in my house so there are quite a few construction workers here playing music, hammering in pieces of flooring, and moving around. My desk is in pieces and all of the furniture is scattered. Even the garage where I normally do workouts in the morning is unavailable.

In short, I'm in a massive deviation from my routine and it is taking a toll on my effectiveness. But, there is a silver lining in that it has never been more obvious the kind of routine I need to function at my peak.

What does this have to do with branding? Well, you can understand what you want for your brand by understanding what you don't want. By cross-examining your competitors, other brands, or even something as granular as aesthetic, sometimes the fastest way to understand what you want to become is to discover the opposite.

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A Thousand Tiny Cuts

The small things that stop you from looking legit.

5.18.2020

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.

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