Does Design Matter? And other social media DOHs

October 25, 2012

Does Design Matter? And other social media DOHs

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

Fellow blogger Ralph Dopping asks if design matters when you are buying a toaster. Read it here:

Does Design Matter when you are buying a Toaster?

The higher cost of a well designed product, Ralph suggests, deserves a second chance – even if the price tag stabs you in eye. Because there’s a chance that the functionality of the design may represent benefits (for you) which may or may not be immediately obvious and useful to you.

All of which reminds me of a frequent and recurring conversation that comes up when someone new visits with me in my home office.

The conversation usually begins like this:

Them: I like this chair. It’s [interesting, cool, and makes a statement]. Where did you get it?

Me: It’s made by Poltrona Frau. The company that does the leather upholstery for Ferrari – among other things. It’s called a Hydra armchair.

Them: FERRARI?! It must be expensive. How much was it? $1,000?

Me: $5,000. Each.

At which point, the person recognizes that their curiosity about the price was inappropriate.

Or, if they lack tact, they say that they would never spend that kind of money on a chair, that they could never imagine having the kind of money that would allow them to make such a purchase decision as I have made, OR they ask me if it’s the best fucking chair in the world.

My favorite armchairs for sitting, however, are not the Poltrona Fraus. They are also “design” products – leather upholstered, cubic in form, but they cost about $500 each. They were made by a currently bankrupt, no name company in a bad neighborhood of Bucharest. Those well designed arm chairs are in the living room and they have resisted  heavy wear and tear for ten years. And, I suppose, they shall go another ten years. Or longer – if I rehabilitate them.

I once put a Poltrona Frau Hydra armchair in the living room – it did not take kindly to wear and tear. It was yellow and the color of the leather faded on the arms in two years. In three years, the leather began to wear noticeable in places. And, then, that poor thing suffered from the affections of my then toddler son.

Johnny loved the Poltrona Frau – a testament to the proposition that good design, like art, can appeal to all ages regardless of prejudice.

The Poltrona Fraus in my home office, however, serve different purposes. These armchairs inspire and provoke the imagination, they are fire starters to passionate conversations, and they make an authoritative statement. About design, mostly. But, perhaps, the Poltrona Fraus also tell a compelling and interesting story about me, what I know, what I have done, and what I can do.

Perhaps. Function and value should never be overstated.

The question, however, does design matter?, is an important question – especially to those of us interested in a successful online strategy – online presence, online advertising and marketing, websites, blogging, ecommerce, etcetera.

Good design matters. It goes beyond the first impression. It goes beyond the look and feel. It is an end to end matter. Good design, however, is not perfection.

Regardless of your design insight (or lack thereof), your own resources will determine how and when you can apply design solutions to the various present or impending challenges at hand.

Too often, the lack of resources which we (you or I) bring to the design of whatever we are doing – will, unfortunately, overstate the following:

  1. who we are not
  2. what we have not done, and
  3. what we can not do

That sucks…

What’s your junk saying about you, your business, your product, or your services?

Stan Faryna
25 October 2012
Bucharest, Romania

Other quick meditations of online strategy, social media, design and everything else:

Professional brand (yours) and other social media DOHs

Sustainable Failure

The Future of Blogging is Hot Magenta



Cammie Dunaway and The E*TRADE baby

February 5, 2008

Five cent tour for Patsaks:

Youtube clip (link) of the E*TRADE baby and my take on the value of online strategy helps advertisers digest the high cost of a Super Bowl ad placement

Cammie Dunaway, former Yahoo! CMO and now head of marketing for Nintendo Americas, takes online strategy fifty yards down the field for a touchdown.

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Cammie Dunaway and marketing

Cammie Dunaway, former Yahoo! CMO and Nintendo strategist, believes marketers must rethink what they have been doing. Her advice: understand the consumer as an individual, integrate marketing strategy, and use more online media. User engagement and customer behavior are important in getting it right. Pushing information to a general audience is outdated.

The proliferation of media, Dunaway believes, has helped marketers remove the guessing from previous marketing strategizing. Most of all, she explains, it provides “the ability to really get to the right consumer at the right time with the right message in ways that you couldn’t in the past.”
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2007 Report on the Romanian online advertising industry

June 23, 2007

Bad Boys

Before things get better, things are going to get worse. The Romanian online advertising industry has four challenges to overcome before it will overcome the lackluster revenue performance and mistrust- two problems that have made foreign investors and advertisers hesitant to make big moves. Unfortunately, we will not see much headway until a challenger comes to Bucharest with 20 million and takes the bad boys by surprise. That may be just enough to flush out the rats.

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Internet Advertising Bureau Must Address Problems in Online Advertising

March 5, 2007

Keeping it honest

Millions are spent sending out messages, but almost nothing is spent on reviewing the results. It happens as often in traditional media as in new media – if not more so in the latter. It’s a problem in online advertising that allows kids to make great money, charlatans to succeed and confidence games to abound.

Below, a little Johnny Cash to set the tone of this blog post

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Although most online advertising agencies do hope this problem will continue for many more years to come, I do not believe this ongoing failure to be in the best interest of the industry. Credibility, not blind faith and enthusiasm, will drive what I believe to be the most exciting communication channel ever to key to communication and marketing strategy.

Advertisers are not completely to blame for the lack of campaign measurement. Of course, they don’t want to spend money that they don’t have to spend. On the other hand, it’s easier for young upstarts in online advertising to talk about millions of impressions or clicks. Impressions and clicks, however, don’t really describe the impact of a campaign.

More importantly, it’s almost impossible for young upstarts or advertising heavyweights to provide deep business analysis of the sales and marketshare performance as it is related to their online campaigns.
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Adidas mobile messaging campaign is a winner

February 20, 2007

Like online strategy, mobile marketing is a complex mix of technologies, business skills and interactive sensibilities. Obviously, the mobile phone is the most important communication solution out there. As the Adidas All-Star Mobile Experience shows, mobile interactive is a wave that will carry far into the future.

Below is a news clip about the Adidas All-Star Mobile Experience.

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Elevator Speech on Online Strategy

December 22, 2006

Five cents buys you nothing in Bablion. Consider yourself lucky that you found me…

An online strategy is how you make use of the internet to accomplish business objectives. However, be very careful in Bucharest when choosing the right business partner for a winning online strategy. Unfortunately, people who really know stuff can be hard to find in Bablion. Some say the Romanian online advertising industry is driven by two-bit, wanna-be entrepreneurs that just talk the talk.

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The next big thing online will be video

November 24, 2006

Five cents buys you nothing in Bablion:

Video will become the most immersive media and marketing channel because customers will be able to choose it, download it, share it, and experience it in their own context and on the go. Within two years, people will be able to see video everywhere: on an office computer, home computer, web-enabled tv, iPod or mobile phone. They will also be able to share it with family, friends and colleagues.

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Youtube is big

Youtube is a big idea. It will take years for marketers to get their minds around it, but video will begin to dominate communications and integrated online marketing strategies within the next five years. Not the Hollywood quality high gloss, but the camcorder stuff, the rough cuts and lower quality pictures where real people appear to be getting eye to eye with people.

If the content is great and the light is good- that’s all you need to make things happen. As the prolific number of online marketing channels increase, voices get lost in the crowd. That’s why people appreciate the directness of video media. They make connections faster and they are more likely to come back for more. And It doesn’t require tv station or film production effort to make this happen.

In a world where brand messages are everywhere, you will have to put yourself or your content out there in the world.

Below is a popular video song about how video pop culture is created by people on the internet.

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Time is the one thing we don’t have, online.

February 24, 2006

Five cents buys you this in Bablion:

A worthwhile online investment will be more than the annual cost of your telephone book ad. It will be more than the cost of a great website. It will be more than the cost of a great website, quarterly online advertising campaigns, and the technical support to keep it holding together.

If you truly intend to move products and services through online engagement, you will also have to include the cost on ongoing content development by professional online content developers (in house or outsourced).

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Moving Product or Services by Online Engagement

Online engagement must be created with intention and sustained with persistent effort over the long term; it rarely happens effortlessly, quickly and overnight. If customer experience is right, the research is solid, and the offer is interesting, it is possible to move product or services faster by online engagement than by more traditional off line outlets and distributors.

We have all seen how people and companies came online in the late 90’s with a big idea and failed for lack of follow up and online follow through. Corporate websites for big companies are the best example of this kind of failure of engagement, but blogs, microsites and script kiddie ventures tend to have the same problem.

Though most know that relevant online information and customer-experience interactions effect both urgent purchase decisions and educated decisions that operate over time, it seems difficult for many to understand that online engagement doesn’t usually happen once or by a single effort- even if heroic or grandiose.
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Shhh! Consumer behavior is changing

December 24, 2004

Five cents buys you this in Bablion:

Regardless of the lack of imagination of traditional media sellers, the marketplace has gone through three major shifts- shifts which most Romanian businesses don’t understand. Huges shifts in consumer behavior are occuring, resulting from online search, shared customer experiences and rising expectations. These three online forces will evolve and drive this shift harder and faster. Unfortunately, few (if anyone) will try to harness these changes in the short run- especially not traditional media providers.
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