Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Brand Strategy and Design – One Collective Voice at FUSE 2015

Posted by Plish on March 23, 2015

Yes, one of my favorite conferences is coming up and I hope to see you there!

FUSE 2015

From April 13-15  in Chicago, Illinois, the Loews Hotel will be home to a provocative and inspiring mix of leaders in Design, Brand Strategy, Marketing, Innovation, Trends, and Strategy.  For 3 days you will have an opportunity to learn, network and enjoy stimulating talks, workshops and more.

I always leave FUSE with a mindful of ideas and things to share.  To aid my recall, I capture my experiences of FUSE in concept maps.  You can go to Slideshare and check out my maps of DAY 1 and DAY 2 from last year.

Looking forward to seeing you there and hearing your experiences!!

Posted in Brands, creativity, Design, design thinking, innovation, Service Design, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Makes Successful Products, Services and Brands?

Posted by Plish on April 27, 2012

“If I eat a pink cake, the taste of it is pink; the light sugary perfume, the oiliness of the butter cream are the pink.  Thus I eat the pink as I see the sugary.”

–(Jean-Paul Sartre, “The Hole,” in Existentialism and Human Emotions (New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1993), 89)

What do successful brands and innovative products/services have in common?

Hint: The solution comes via Sartre’s thoughts.

Answer: Consistency.

Think of it…

What would you do if you bit into an elegantly frosted, pink cake and it tasted of garlic?

How consistent is the message that comes from the experience of your company, service or product?

Do the textures, shapes, smells, sounds, flavors, and colors harmonize in creating the emotional experience that you want?

If your product is pink, does it taste pink?

Posted in Brands, Design, Emotions, Experience, innovation, Service Design, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Driving Emotional Connections – A Case Study of Home Shopping Channels

Posted by Plish on February 11, 2011

In times when people are deluged with stimuli, it’s essential to design products and services so that positive, lasting, energizing experiences result. These emotionally engaging products and services, when analyzed, share commonalities.

Richard Chase and Sriram Dasu, in their article: Want to perfect your company’s service? Use Behavioral Science;(Richard B. Chase and Sriram Dasu;Harvard Business Review, Jun 2001; 78-84) point to 5 rules that can improve the positive experience of services or minimize the impact of negative experiences when they occur (I color coded three rules so they can be found later in the article).

  1. Finish Strong
  2. Get Bad Experiences Out of The Way Early
  3. Segment Pleasure, Combine Pain
  4. Build Commitment Through Choice
  5. Use/Respect Ritual

Harvey Hartman of the Hartman Group, in one of my favorite, loaded, little books,Reflections on a Cultural Brand: Connecting with Lifestyles, highlights 5 principles and how they lead to emotional engagement.  Design the control  of these principles and you increase the emotional engagement:

  1. Community>>Interaction>>Belonging
  2. Knowledge>>Empowerment>>Confidence
  3. Authenticity>>Trust>>Security
  4. Relevance>>Personal Connection>>Comfort
  5. Surprise>>Delight!>>Pleasure

When used in tandem, both of these sources provide guidance in designing experiences- Hartman with regards to the content of offerings and Chase/Dasu with regards to how things unfold over time.

Let’s examine how these various principles are applied in the case of home shopping television stations such as HSN or QVC.

These companies are excellent examples of providing emotionally engaging services.  (If you have access to these stations, it might be worth stopping by and watching them for a while – some of what I will say will make much more sense after you have.)

When tuning in to one of these stations people see a gregarious host, possibly an equally bubbly product expert, beautiful models, close-ups of various products and a prominent insert on the screen that points out the retail cost, the customer cost, shipping, how many have sold and/or are available, and how much longer any special deals will be present.  And this continues, pretty much, 24×7.  There is a wonderful structure to the flow of the shows.  Whether it’s food, jewelry, frying pans, or electronics, when you tune in to a shopping channel you quickly fall into the flow of the program – people fall into the ritual.  The programs are also segmented by product offerings and time.  Because of this combination of ritual and segmentation, people can tune in at the time of their choosing, and buy what they want, when they want, with a choice of payment plans and shipping options.  These stations strongly leverage three of Chase/Dasu’s 5 guiding principles.

Let’s look now at how the experience of Shopping channels maps to Hartman’s principles.


It’s clear that aspects of shopping networks map well to the principles noted by Hartman.  Multiple opportunities for building positive experiences are leveraged whenever possible.  The more that experiences can be mapped to these principles, the more powerful the pull of the product or service.   Couple this with the Chase/Dasu principles and it becomes obvious that the success of home shopping channels is anything but accidental. 

There is a nexus of  experiential meaning present for those that visit these networks, and this means that it is highly likely that these people will also be evangelists.  The result is a self-sustaining, emotionally fulfilling shopping experience, all in the comfort of the home.

How do your products and services stack up against this tandem of Hartman and Chase/Dasu principles?

Posted in Authenticity, Behavioral Science, Case Studies, creativity, Customer Focus, Design, Emotions, Experience, innovation, Market Assessment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Finding the Voice of the Customer

Posted by Plish on January 8, 2011

Humans are attuned to hearing other people’s voices.  Or rather, we have a tendency to hear and zero in on those things that pique our interest.  A unique, high-pitched voice squeaking about an experience with a company’s product catches our attention only if it’s in a language we can understand and only if it’s a product we care about.  If we speak English and the voice is German (well, we think it’s German because obviously, if we can’t speak it,  we’re guessing which language it is, right?) we tune the person out and relegate it to background noise.  If it’s not a product we care about, again, the conversation becomes background noise and we turn our attention to something else.  

This is only natural. We all have limited bandwidth of time and energy.  If  voices don’t somehow resonate with us, we turn our attention to those that are interesting or useful to what we are trying to accomplish.

But, businesses cannot afford to be deaf to any unique voices…

To make sure your company is effective at hearing the Voice Of the Customer (VOC), answer these simple questions with brutal honesty:

What language is your customer speaking?

Is the company fluent in this language?

Language here means more than just the same spoken words using the same alphabet and grammatical rules.  (Actually, really meaningful VOC can be obtained even when there is a disparity between the languages spoken.) Language here means the deeper  foundational dispositions of the customer.  It’s more than words.  It’s about actions, motivations and emotions.   It’s about getting past the customer’s vocal cords and getting into their hearts and heads. 

Customers can only be understood when there is empathy with them. 

Unfortunately, many VOC projects start all too easily with the premise that there is a common language between the company and the customer – it’s English (or French, German, Ukrainian, etc.), the language that the focus groups and questionnaires are done in.  Projects starting in this manner often end up with the VOC output sounding vaguely familiar.  Unfortunately, few will ask if the reason something sounds familiar is because it is an echo of the study sponsor’s voice.

Meaningful innovations seldom come from these types of VOC studies.  They instead come from those studies that truly understand the deeper language of the customer.  Products coming from these types of VOC studies, ultimately  leave customers speechless with delight.

That silence is the most powerful, vocal endorsement of all.

Posted in culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, Emotions, innovation, Innovation Tools, Market Assessment, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Is ‘Reverse Innovation’ Really Innovation?

Posted by Plish on September 30, 2009

Comparison of Innovation Strategies - Click for Full View

Comparison of Innovation Strategies - Click for Full View


Recently, GE’s CEO coined the term “reverse innovation” in this article.  (Or read the shorter summary version from BusinessWeek)

In a nutshell, Reverse Innovation is  a process by which Product ‘X’ gets developed in and for places like China or India.  It meets very specific needs at a lower price.  However, after launch there is a realization in the U.S. that Product ‘X’ meets needs for a sizable demographic within the U.S., at the lower price.  In a strange twist, a company creates products that compete against its own products.  Instead of expensive, feature rich products being developed in the U.S. and then being modified for sales overseas, products get developed overseas and come back to the U.S. at a lower price point.

That said, is reverse innovation truly innovation?

Vote here before reading my take:


My take:

Ultimately innovation, which involves bringing good designs to market at acceptable price points, comes from knowing the customer.  This should be done on a local level, and that part of reverse innovation is on the mark.  However, it shouldn’t take someone creating a device in a different country to open one’s eyes to a market for that same product in the U.S..

I’m not sure what I’d call it, but if you want to know what reverse innovation sounds like, I created this:

Posted in Case Studies, Customer Focus, Design, Disruptive Innovation, innovation, Market Assessment | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

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