The Perils Of Brand Fatigue

Effective branding is all about relationships. I was reminded of this fact recently as we started getting ready to move. Visiting one of our favorite stores, we spent some money on things we’d be needing for the new place. We chose this particular retailer for the styles they feature and for their not-so-crazy prices. Overall we were pretty happy with how everything works in our new rooms.

Then it began. Not weekly, not daily, but close-to-hourly messages from that same store. On Facebook, via email, and popping up on pretty much any site we might happen to visit. Many of these intrusive ads were for the very item we’d just bought.

Slowly but surely, my affection for this particular retailer began to sour. I might consider coming back if you would just leave me alone for a few minutes. To add insult to injury, one of the bigger purchases we made showed up on my feed two weeks later on sale. Now I know. If I’d waited a couple of weeks, I would have saved hundreds of dollars. This is not the kind of message that garners affection and loyalty.

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Easy? No. Simple? Yes.

We live in an information-saturated world where the need, the yearning, for simplicity is greater than ever. In communication, in marketing, in just making it through the day, we want to cut through the clutter and get down to what matters. Simplicity isn’t necessarily simple to achieve, but it’s always worth the effort.

As a business focused on “clarity by design,” we’ve always operated an Apple-based shop. Between desktop computers, laptops, our iPhones, and an iPad we’re just about as Mac-centric as we can be. And for us, that makes sense, because, from the user’s point of view, the products that Steve Jobs envisioned and produced are all about stripped-down, streamlined simplicity.

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity,” Jobs said. “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

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Find The Time To Get Creative

Since it’s right there in our company name, you might think we do a lot of creative stuff around here. And you’d be right. But, as proud as we are of the beautiful work we deliver, we are still running a business. It’s not all raucous whiteboard sessions and brilliant design epiphanies.

For any company – no matter what product you make or what service you provide – day-to-day duties, decisions, and deadlines can tie up a good portion of available time and attention. Finding the time to cook up and unleash innovative ideas – the kinds of breakthroughs that can make or break a business – has never been more challenging or more essential.

In this edited version of a recent interview from the Harvard Business Review, author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about her latest book, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” offering good advice about finding the time to tap into the creativity that she believes lives inside all of us.

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Clarity By Design Award #3

After years as a hardware holdout, I’ve finally ditched my extensive CD collection and surrendered to Spotify. Between that big leap and my recent purchase of a smart TV, I’ve officially joined the streaming generation. So far, so good. I mean, what’s not to love? Instant access to pretty much the whole world of recorded music? On my phone? I could get used to this.

While copyright owners have no reason to celebrate, for the user, this streaming thing has become a seamlessly clean-and-simple experience. And thanks to my new Sonos speaker, it also sounds great.

You’ve probably seen Sonos’ ubiquitous ads, as simple and uncluttered as the streaming experience itself. Sonos follows the lead of Apple, whose disruptively spacious-and-clean messaging and packaging set a standard for other cutting-edge brands to follow. From their palindromic name to the industrial elegance of their products, Sonos is all about clarity, and the company’s app follows suit, making finding and playing music a breeze.

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See You Later Alligator

Before I headed to off to art school in Manhattan, I was just another preppy kid in the suburbs. These days, I still lean toward the basic black of my college years, but in my younger days Levis cords with the classic Lacoste tennis polo was my everyday uniform.

Yes, I abandoned my preppy past, but it all came back to me a few years back with the opening of a Lacoste store at the local mall. In fact, the 85-year-old brand is stronger than ever, and retains its vaunted place in the upscale casual clothing world. Like Nike, Polo by Ralph Lauren, or even Chanel, Lacoste wearers proudly sport the company logo on their clothing and accessories. When you see the little green alligator (okay, it’s actually a crocodile) you immediately connect with the brand and lifestyle it represents.

It’s refreshing to see more and more companies leveraging their brands to take a progressive stand on some important and controversial issues. A strong, well-established logo like Lacoste’s is a powerful thing, and the company recently made the decision to bring that power to bear for a very worthy cause. Lacoste made the enlightened decision to partner with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the development of a limited edition series of their polo, replacing the familiar crocodile with ten animals on the endangered species list. For each animal, Lacoste has produced only as many shirts as there are survivors – 30 Vaquita (or Gulf of California porpoise) shirts, 67 Javan Rhino shirts, 450 Anegada Ground Iguana shirts, and so on.

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