Branding the interface

15 May

Posting by Bruce Nussbaum in Business Week, covering a 2006 design conference:With the explosion of platforms, people increasingly experience their products only through interfaces. Brands are expressed and experienced through interfaces. Every consumer touchpoint is therefore critical–every platform interface is crucial.

Most of the keynote speakers at the recent CES were from Google, Yahoo and other “interface” companies, not just product makers. Good point.

More on interface and choice:

Marissa Mayer followed to say that Google designed for the expert, not the novice, because people became experts within a month of using Google. That surprised me. But she warned that the balance between complexity and simplicity/clarity was difficult. Too many features, too much complexity and people begin to choke on choice and use Google less, not more… Beyond a certain point, more complexity resulted in less use, not more. There’s a spiral of doom where more features lead to more choice to people feeling overwhelmed, frustrated–and outa there. Too much choice can paralyze.

WHY THIS MATTERS TO THE BOTTOM LINE:

ROI of innovation-minded companies that focus on the consumer experience, such as Starwood, compared to the S&P avergages over 3 to 5 years, do it. The numbers tell the whole story of why design thinking and strategy are so key to top line growth and profits these days. Very powerful stuff. Jeneanne is a consultant to P&G and she talked about how the company has two moments of truth or MOTs. There’s an “F-MOT,” first moment of truth when people come up to a product on the shelf and make a decision to buy or not to buy. There’s an “S-MOT,” second moment of truth when they actually use it. Will they buy it again? Rae says that companies should choose consumer empathy over optimization of short-term profits. It pays off in the long run. Starwood focussed on the “exhale moment,” when people close the door of their hotel room and looked around. It created the big bed concept to delight people in that exhale moment. And did it work? Look at the stock price.
Other Rae-isms. Entrust your customers to co-create their own experience. Use collaborative filtering to show what other people are doing and choosing. Netflix is a great model.

… Andrew Zolli … says that we are awash in a sea of similarity (great term). We as consumers face 40,000 products a day but we can only pay attention to 160 in a store. Products per se don’t matter much, it’s the experience of them that counts. And what is the NEXT BIG THING after experience? Culture. Brands are culture and we are mixing and remixing them all the time now.

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