Tangential Stories | Software Branding

A lack of focus in your product is like a movie with too many plots... they both suck

March 10, 2021

Products are supposed to solve problems. Specific problems. Much like how a movie is supposed to guide you through the story of how a hero solves a problem, like Luke Skywalker defeating the Empire, Alan, Stu, and Phil finding Doug, or Princess Mia finding confidence in herself (hell yea I watched the Princess Diaries).

These are the main plots to these movies, anything that doesn't push the hero towards solving this problem is a distraction. Think about it, every subplot takes us closer to this goal.

Luke has to meet Han Solo to leave Tatooine, they get pulled into the Death Star, they rescue Leia to recover the Death Star's weakness, and they attack it to DEFEATĀ THEĀ EMPIRE.

If there had been a subplot where they stopped on Hoth to grab snow cones and rally a group of Tauntauns you'd think the movie was stupid.

Keep the user pointed to solving a specific problem with your product and don't create other products that pull them away from that core problem.

More you say?

Design Billing

Why I don't bill by the hour.

2.28.2020

An email from Jonathan Stark came through my inbox today and brought up a good analogy. One worth sharing with all of you on this lovely Friday.

The gist of it is as follows:

When you buy a sandwich, the person making the sandwich doesn't say, "this might cost $5, we won't know until we're done making it."

What's the difference between that and saying a logo and a website might cost $20,000, but we won't know until we're done?

Geez, that sounds like a pain in the ass and disconcerting for the client on the other side of the transaction. This is the trap that hourly billing gets people in, both clients and service providers, a journey through the fog of unknowns that is costly and annoying.

The alternative? Diagnose for a set price (roughly 10% of the anticipated budget) and come up with three, tiered options at set prices. This might not be the best solution, but it's better than keeping a running clock and an hourly rate that never seems to stay under budget. At least a set price is predictable for both the client and the designer.

Why don't I bill hourly? Because I don't like leaving clients in a state of uncertainty.

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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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