Posts Tagged ‘design’

If Steve Jobs Made Apple Juice

January 26, 2015

Steve Jobs helped bring to life the Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad, but he didn’t make Apple juice.

iJuice isn’t out of the question—well, in theory at least. Designer Peddy Mergui released a series of packaging designs transforming packaging what-if’s into reality using famous brands’ design language. Among his designs was iMilk.


Got iMilk?

Whether you find Tiffany & Co. yogurt, Nike oranges, and Prada flour laughable or ingenious, they beg the question: Would consumers buy them?

Jobs is famous for defining design as how something works, not just how it looks or feels. I wonder what he would have thought about Mergui’s collection.

Not every brand extension works. Zippo perfume, Bic underwear, and Ben-Gay aspirin all come to mind. Of course, these extensions were inspired more by brand name than design.

Would you buy Apple juice?


The Designful Company

December 29, 2014

A few years ago I was introduced to a fantastic book called The Brand Gap. Since then I have been making my way through Marty Neumeier’s other fantastic books. A while back I read Zag and have been picking up a book here and there between classes. I just finished The Designful Company and am very excited to start The 46 Rules of Genius.

As usual The Designful Company did not disappoint. These books are fantastic because they’re written in a causal tone and designed to be read on a short flight. They also come in very handy when working with executives on a project. Our entire staff read The Brand Gap when working on our branding study a few years ago. They’re small books, but pack quite a punch.

So, without ruining the reading experience for you, I wanted to share a few things from The Designful Company that I found very valuable.

First, let’s start with what differentiates a “designful” company from the rest.



Next, it’s important to understand why this type of atmosphere is essential to business success. Neumeier talks about a “designful” company as one that can unleash their creative collaboration skills and tackle a company’s most “wicked” problems. What’s a wicked problem, you ask? “A wicked problem is a puzzle so persistent, pervasive, or slipper that it can seem insoluable.”

Neumeier discusses how imperative it is to redefine the word “design” and think of it not as a function of the marketing or graphics office, but rather viewing everyone who tries to change an existing situation to an improved one as a designer. Being a “designful” company means creating a culture with innovation at its foundation, rather than trying to make innovation something that a company does.

The same can be said for a brand. Too many time I’ve heard companies say “we’re going to take 20 minutes to talk about branding” instead of making it the core of their organization and integrating it into all of their daily activities.

When I talk to other marketers inside and outside of higher education, I find one concern always shows up – how to get buy in from people “outside” the marketing department. How can we break down silos in order to enhance collaboration and increase productivity?   That’s the battle of IMC, right? How do we integrate all of our efforts and make a customer experience so compelling that our customers tattoo our logo on their bicep? (That might be going a little bit far, but you have to aim high.)

I think that creating a designful company helps to break down those silos. Again, it doesn’t fall into the “something you do” category, but rather the “who you are” category.  In The Designful Company Neumeier talks about connecting those silos and exploring opportunities for “cross-fertilization and creative collaboration.” The most exciting idea was that positions such as Chief Brand Officer, Chief Design Officer, or Chief Innovation Officer could be titles that those of us in this program could one day hold.

He shared the importance of adding a seat at the table that helps facilitate this collaboration and way of thinking. I am not a fan of creating absurd titles just to differentiate a company, but that’s not what this is. Creating these types of positions are paramount to enhancing a company’s culture and yielding the greatest productivity and innovation. Neumeier said, “While revolution must be lead from the top, it rarely starts at the top.”

I could write a few thousands words on the importance of creating a designful company, but I’ll share a few last words from Marty Neumeier and encourage you to pick up a copy of the book. If you do, let me know what you think!

  • Companies don’t fail because they choose the wrong course-they fail because they can’t imagine a better one
  • In a company with an innovative culture, radical ideas are the norm, not the exception
  • When the left brain and right brain work together, a third brain emerges that can do what neither brain can do alon
  • Designful leaders reject the tyranny of “or” in favor of the genius of “and”
  • Design drives innovation; innovation powers brand; brand builds loyalty; and loyalty sustains profits. If you want long-term profits, start with design.

Integrate Marketing by Developing a Designer’s Eye

March 18, 2013

Design is based on a grid system. Even though, the framework is not visible to the naked eye,  designers need a foundation point before they can begin pushing pixels around a canvas. Once a designer understands the confines of their grid system, their trained eye beings to see relationships form between the ingredients of symmetry, proportion, and harmony. Aristotle referred to the harmonious state between ingredients as the Golden Mean.

Golden Mean

Centuries later, building upon the tenets of Aristotle, Tim Brown CEO of IDEO coined the phrase “design thinking,” which is the “discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”

Organizations still holding on to the belief that a design departments only function is to “makes things look pretty” should revise that notion and recognize that design is no longer just about the aesthetics. Instead, design is a holistic representation of brand value.

Don Draper, from Mad Men, even though he is a fictitious television character, defines what it means to be a  “Creative.” Armed with a unique skill set, Don is able to balance both strategic thinking and design thinking in order to satisfy both the needs of the agencies clients and the demanding needs of his Accounts Executives. In one episode, Don eloquently summarizes the plight of the Creative field by stating, “Creative – the least important, most important thing there is.”

Today, an individual like Don Draper with the depth of skills in a (vertical) single field (Advertising), but who is also able to collaborate (horizontally) with multiple fields (Marketing/PR/Internal Communications/Development/Sales) would possess a T-shaped skill set. Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap, further refers to such individuals who can strategize with the chief and inspire creativity from the troops as “Chief Brand Officers.” David Armano, Managing Director of Edelman Digital Chicago, shared the infographic below back in 2006 on the subject.


Design can only cover up so much, and marketer’s should not walk away from the creative process. Walking way forms a silo. Instead, teams should form a structured collaboration unit around the practice of “design thinking.” Since the heart of IMC is based around a brand’s customers, an understanding of the foundational principles of design (hierarchy, retouching, white space, typography, and color), is necessary for marketers to develop their design eye when implementing creative strategy.



Hierarchy is an organization process of meaning. Designers use retouching, white space, typography, and color to establish hierarchy within a layout. Without visual hierarchy, content would not be engaging or memorable. Think of hierarchy in terms of stair steps, where the most relevant content is placed at the top.


A computer is just a tool to realize an already vetted concept. Before a layout is even shared outside of the creative circle, a certain amount of retouching is necessary to enhance content beyond the roughing-out stage. With the help of the Adobe Creative Suite, Creatives have the tools necessary to mask, scale, and crop out unnecessary elements from their layouts. As the design process evolves, layer upon layers of revisions shape a working layout.


Negative space, otherwise known by Creatives as white space, is a design tool, which when appropriately used allows visuals the opportunity to breathe. Instead, of clunking up white space with unnecessary space fillers, like a dot whack filled with marketing text, think about if the customer would feel overstimulated with the lack of space. Less is almost always more.


Typography sets the spoken tone in a composition. A sans serif font (without serif feet), like Arial, reads much easier for body copy than a serif font (with serif feet), like Times New Roman. A layout should never have more than two or three fonts within a layout. Too many fonts create visual competition, resulting in a poor customer experience.

Font size is also a strong consideration designers make as they craft their layouts.  Depending on the demographic of the audience, the font size might need to be adjusted accordingly. If more visual space is needed, typographic tricks, such as leading (space between lines) and kerning (space between letters) could be leveraged.


Color is a powerful medium of influence. Each color within the color wheel evokes a subjective response from a viewer. Any chosen scheme within a layout should be tested against established color theories. Warm tones, like red, orange, or yellow evoke feelings of passion, happiness and energy. Cool tones, on the other hand, like blue evoke a sense of a calm.  Understanding color theory is a powerful design principle because a brand is forever defined by the chosen tones.

If Don Draper stepped into an advertising agency on Park Avenue today, he would find that  telling customers what they want is no longer an option. Don would have to adopt and leverage the principles of Integrated Marketing (IMC) in order to think holistically about the customer experience across all forms of media including digital.

Despite the fact that the marketing communication landscape is always changing, the principles of design no matter what the medium remain the same. By developing a designer’s eye, marketer’s can keep pace with the ever changing aesthetic needs of their customers.