I walked into a friend’s home and found the fridge covered with refrigerator art from her seven year old. The traditional home often features such childhood artwork but this was extremely precious as the child has learning disabilities and drawing.
The artwork was beautiful. I stood there transfixed at the crude scribbles, trying to find distinguishable shapes and forms. Then I realized it didn’t matter. They were her attempts to connect visually to her world and translate it.
A few days later I watched a presentation by Aarron Walter, author and UX director at MailChimp. He explained how we need to design “small kindness” into our site designs, personal touches that connect with us personally through personality, story, and voice.
It’s not about the products. It’s about the effect of those products on the people and their lives.
This is what those pieces of art on the refrigerator made me realize. While they are scribbles to someone else, the effect of these on my life, because I understood the big picture and real story behind them, made them even more important and special.
Walter cited Seth Godin’s book Tribes as he described client demographics, how tribes are important to culture as they are inclusive but also exclusive, serving only those who want and need to be a part of the tribe, the community. The following comment stopped me in my tracks.
When you design for everyone, you design for no one.
He’s so right. You must take your site personally and design and create content for the part of the tribe you serve, not everyone. When you design for everyone, everyone loses, including you.
He showed examples of companies changing the concept of branding and marketing. General Electric, one of the top five corporations in the world, changed their messaging and marketing to let employees tell the story of the company to make this huge corporate represent the individual.
Many companies are completely rethinking the way they market their businesses to make them more personal – they have to. Think of the Geico Gecko, Progressive Insurance’s character Flo, and Target’s new ad campaign which pokes fun at the high fashion industry by making laundry soap sexy and chic. The blog and social web has forced them to change their messaging strategies, making them get personal, sometimes seriously personal.
Have you discovered Hipmunk Trip finder? Like other flight and hotel finders, Hipmunk displays search results in a timeline sorted by agony, the most inconvenient to the most convenient flights to meet your personal travel needs. We know travel today is painful, so why not be specific when highlighting how painful it really is to take your next flight? Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, make the elephant the center point of the conversation. The agony filter distinguishes Hipmunk from the competition.
A company that describes itself as “tiny,” Photojojo is looking to hire one amazing individual to help make photography more fun for everyone. The job description is simple, attractive, and so powerful and unusual, it has been featured in major media around the world as an example of how to let your company’s personality attract the right hire.
Aaron Walter explained that we need to put emotional content and storytelling into our own content and design. We need to make the design highly personal, to attract people who want to wear your clothes, buy your goods, sleep in your bed sheets, live and work like you live and work. He called it designing their persona, not just designing for the masses. Design for the person you want to do business with today.
Passion is contagious. We want to be part of it. Show it off.
Other companies and organizations cited for innovative marketing included the National LGBT Museum, using storytelling as the messaging vehicle for their project “Here I Am.”
“Here I am” is an invitation to all: See me, recognize me, and understand me as a person, regardless of how I define my gender and sexuality.
In return, I acknowledge you: Here you are.
We are different; each of us is unique. But, let us honor what connects us: the journey each of us has taken in search of self and community, love and respect, expression and fulfillment, equality and freedom, a sense of the past, and hopes for the future.
Together, we can learn from each other and rise above the biases and misconceptions that may keep us from truly seeing each other.
That’s beautiful, and very personal. It puts a human face on people once thought of as monsters in some cultures. It makes them real, just like us. After all, it’s all about “us,” the human species as a whole on this planet.
Design is about rendering intent. Everything is done with intention. Every pixel counts. Make it passionate. Make it matter. Make it real. Make it personal.
Your blog exercise today is to find that personal passion and shout it from the roof tops.
What really defines your blog, your business, your website? What are you doing to make your site personal, to make it truly speak to the audience you need, not the ones you wish for and don’t get.
How does what you blog about impact others? How do they take you personally?
It is time to change how we do things. The same old same old isn’t working any more. We need to stretch ourselves and take this personally. How are you doing that with your site? How are you designing and presenting “small kindnesses” to your audience?
Think of how you can work together with your reader and fan. To quote from that lovely incentive from the museum, how are you creating an environment on your site where you can learn from each other and rise above the biases and misconceptions that may keep us from truly seeing each other?
In other words, how are you making this personal?
If you blog about this blog exercise, don’t forget to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.
ALERT! I’m working on the six month collection of these blog exercises. Watch this space for news on how you can get a free copy of the first part of the collection.