I recently deleted several apps from my phone, ones that I had previously used on a daily basis (Gmail, LinkedIn, Slack, etc). Apart from not being bothered by the constant slew of information or feeling the need to satiate a hunger for attention, something else happened after deleting these apps:
I could critique and analyze them more effectively.
Akin to seeing the forest through the trees, opening an app after not using for a bit gave me a new perspective. I could examine each step in their onboarding, I could observe their interactions with a keen eye, I could look at their layout and better empathize with someone who hadn't seen it before.
Using these apps or obsessively critiquing them daily wouldn't allow me to do that.
In the interest of getting good ideas and understanding what makes these products great, delete them... for a bit.
One of my favorite stories about Apple (one that is actually applicable to building out a brand) is how Steve Jobs came up with the idea for Apple store layouts.
Think about a traditional computer store, or any store for that matter, what do you see? Boxes, boxes, and boxes. Boxes on shelves, boxes on the floor, boxes everywhere. In short, the place is packed with product and no matter how neatly arranged and organized, it treats products like cattle for slaughter.
True to his rebellious nature, this concept didn't sit well with Jobs so he sought out inspiration. But he didn't look at other stores, he looked at museums. Museums that house priceless works of art and marvels of nature like dinosaur fossils. These items are treated with so much respect and given ample space to let viewers bask in their presence. You feel awestruck staring at them.
Now think about an Apple store. There is one variant of every product they have placed on single metal stand for a shopper to interact with. There is minimal product storage happening in the consumer facing end of the store. Apple treats their products like the works of art seen in museums and it makes them special.
When applying this to brand identity, it opens up the door for magic. Where can you find a name that starts a story? Where can you find a symbol to represent your company? In whom can you find a personality to best characterize your brand? Where can you find patterns and imagery to reflect who you are? Lastly, how can you mix it all together to become something novel?
This applies to everything. From experience design, brand naming, visual identity, collateral, packaging, whatever. Seeking and stealing creates magic.
You probably know where this is going, I'm taking a break from my newsletter until 2021. I'd call it hibernation, but there's a better term that describes what will actually happen: brumation.
It's the reptilian substitute for the warm-blooded's winter slumber. But, unlike hibernation, brumation does not consist of sleep. Instead, the brumating creature sits patiently waiting for things to heat up. They slow-down, certainly, but sleeping? Certainly not.
Why the distinction? Well, I'm still around just not as active. So please, feel free to reach out if you need some design direction, are gearing up for something big in 2021, or are simply looking to connect with another human.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and an awesome start to the New Year 🤘😎