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Leaving A Trail

filed in Brand Strategy

The contractors who mow the lawn in the public spaces where my parents live whizz around on ride on lawnmowers. They don’t get off to move obstacles, trim edges or collect the grass. The job is done in no time. But for the next few days, cut grass blows around the suburb and is trailed into residents’ homes. The whole area looks a mess.

No matter what we do, we each have the opportunity to leave a trail. Whether we bake bread or write code, replace hips or mow lawns. We don’t do our best work by simply getting the job done. We do our best work when we can look back and say—this place, these people or that situation, is better for our being here.

Who, what or where is better for your being here?

Image by Garry Knight

The Big Bang Is Overrated

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

When we imagine our ideal product launch we picture attention, applause and armies of customers beating a path to our door. Successful companies hardly ever launch with a big bang. Most hits begin with the slow and steady iteration of a product or service that’s improved by getting it in front of, and in the hands of customers and users.

We make things better by having the patience to tinker at the edges.

Image by Garry Knight

What Outcome Are You Designing For?

filed in Brand Strategy

If we want to eat healthy food we know we need to get into the habit of buying more vegetables. We also know resisting the temptation to put the sugary snacks we love into the shopping cart is how to avoid eating them. Once the fudge is in the kitchen cupboard, it’s too late. We will eat it. How we configure our environments, both physical and digital, impacts our results.

We get the outcome we design for. Every decision we make has a direct effect on not only the habits we establish, but on the kind of communities, companies and cultures we build. We also get who we design for. The products we sell, the signals we send and the stories we tell are clues to our right customers.

We shape our results by being intentional and working backwards from our desired outcomes.
How are you designing for the outcome you want?

Image by Garry Knight

Good Feedback

filed in Brand Strategy

The south Dublin café owner is proud of the business he’s growing, and rightly so. In just twelve months he’s built a thriving small business that’s become a meeting place for locals. The kind of place people recommend to their friends. A café people want to return to and talk about.

If you spend any time there, you’ll notice that he asks every customer for feedback.

‘What did you think of the coffee? How was the breakfast? Did you enjoy that?’

He gets the same response every time. Everything is always ‘brilliant’ or ‘lovely’ according to the customers at this cafe. It seems that there’s no room for improvement. Of course, that can’t possibly be true. There are many tiny tweaks the owner could make to improve the customer experience.

Why we ask for feedback changes how we ask for it.
And how we ask for feedback changes the feedback we get.

Many people, even paying customers, are too polite or too busy to criticise and give generous feedback. It’s not in our nature to want to look someone in the eye and tell them they got it wrong, especially when we sense they are doing their best to get it right. Not all good feedback is good feedback. We improve by seeking out generous bad feedback. We do that by being honest about why we want feedback in the first place. And then by asking the right questions, of the right people, at the right time. Questions that sometimes get responses we don’t want to hear.

Image by Garry Knight

Hearts Before Minds

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

People are creatures of habit. You only have to look at the rituals in your day-to-day to see how patterns permeate life. Think about the things you do on rinse and repeat. The brands you always buy. The supermarket aisles you choose to walk down. The ones you avoid.

We have come to believe the success of our companies or causes is dependent on marketing that convinces people to change their story. The chances of changing someone’s mind is more unlikely than we realise. What we must do instead of trying to alter a prospective customer’s version of the truth, is build on the story they already tell themselves about who they are and what they believe.

Change is hardly ever the result of people making u-turns en masse. Change happens when one person at a time takes a small step towards an alternative.

Image by Garry Knight

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