The biggest positive from COVID-19

A silver-lining to make things less troublesome.

March 24, 2020

I've been racking my head around this since the initial quarantine mandates were put into place. It sucks that we are in a situation like this, but there is one key things that has seemed prevalent throughout all the chaos:

Remote Work is now commonplace and it actually helps in a lot of ways.

Obviously, I'm biased, since I work from home normally, but it seems that COVID-19 was the push we needed to expand our abilities in working from home or outside the office.

What makes this important is showing the flexibility of the workforce when forced to adapt. Maybe there is something more there, a microcosm of a greater potential to overcome adversity, but I digress. Anyway, back to remote work. It's a good thing and for many reasons. These would be the top three:

More time doing things instead of commuting
Double-edged sword on this one, as more people working from home means the people that have to go in will endure less traffic. On average, this would save people two hours per day, 10 hours per week, and 520 hours per year (give or take). Wow! Can you imagine putting that time toward personal health, cooking, or spending time with family? You'd be a different person if you really took advantage of all that time.

Less chit-chat, more deep work
Being an extrovert, like me, has its advantages, but the downside is that I will always prefer to talk with people rather than being left alone to do important work. When I worked for a startup after college, I would lock myself in a private room to focus for a couple hours because I knew I would take any opportunity to talk with coworkers. And while interaction is not a bad thing and should be used when doing brainstorming or collaborating on projects, a majority of our work can be (and should be) done independently. Why? So you can focus, dive deep into the problem, and get the thing done. Which segues into the next point.

Intentional social interaction
Though working from home has its benefits, we all need genuine social interaction. This is a shot in the dark, but if everyone is able to focus on the actual work they need to get done while working at home, then they can dive deeper during social interaction, especially with coworkers. Follow me for a sec, would you rather have 10, five minute conversations spread out over eight hours, or one, hour-long conversation without interruption? If you're like me, I prefer the latter. Deep conversations, like deep work, cannot be interrupted. My guess is that working remotely will create an environment where longer conversations take the place of spaced-out small ones as meeting up in person will be more intentional and focused.

What does this have to do with design and branding? I'm not entirely sure at the moment, but there is definitely a connection to the depth attained when working by yourself on a project without interruption. Maybe this shows that work, like design, is all about intention. If you intentionally make time to work, have conversations, or have fun instead of juggling them all at once, we'll be better off.

More you say?

Write for humans

SEO strategists are going to hate me for writing this.

12.20.2019

The obsession people have with SEO is mind boggling. It's as if SEO is a silver bullet to make up for having an undefined audience and not knowing what they want. I've seen a lot of marketers and the work that they produce. Most of the time, I'm disappointed because it's obvious what game they are playing. They write keyword stuffed blogs with no soul and refuse to write copy that engages people on an emotional level in the hopes of pointing Google searchers to a page.

It's not that I believe all content should be that way, but in order to actually connect with someone so they convert on your page, you can't write for a search engine. Search engines operate entirely on rationale, humans invest emotionally.

As such, both creative messaging and effective SEO need to be in harmony. You can write for search engines until you're blue in the face, but a search engine is not going to have the emotional nuance as the human who will be making a buying decision. You have to trigger them beyond having all the right keywords on your site.

If I had to put my finger on specific things that focusing solely on writing for search engines fails to consider, it'd be these two things:

  1. Keywords and other elements search engines take into account are replicable. If you can do it, so can your competitors and it will not help customers make a decision because you will sound exactly the same.
  2. Writing and creating content for search engines rarely makes for anything engaging, exciting, or different. However, it's these qualities that encourage people to share what they find regardless of whether Google likes it or not.

In short, make awesome content for humans. If possible, make it search engine friendly.

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Seek and Steal

Stop trying to be original and try to make something good.

1.24.2020

"I want to be original," says the young startup founder. Well, I've got news for ya pal, you never will be and you will kill yourself trying to go down that road.

Everything is a derivative of something else. There is no new idea under the sun. Now, you can see this as negative or you can realize the opportunity you have to explore and put your spin on something already successful. The best creative work I come across is stolen. Meaning, the people that made it did not come up with the idea on their own, but they put it into a new context.

I'll give you an example, my friend Luis rebranded an agency a while ago. This agency's office overlooks a harbor in San Diego. So, he took the brand down a nautical path and turned them into a rebellious rouse of scallywags. They changed their name from Digital Style to VSSL, shifted all of their lingo to mirror a gang of pirates, and even named the rooms in their space after the places on a ship (the brig, the gulley, even the poop deck).

Here's the thing, Luis found every single element that went into that brand, he didn't conjure it out of thin air. The logo, the name, the language, the visuals, even the culture of the company is rooted in life at sea.

Find something inspirational and different, then steal it.

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