I never realized how powerful word of mouth marketing is until I saw how it affected me. After a month researching phones in preparation for getting my very first smartphone, I had firmly decided upon on a Samsung. I called my brother, Jeff, an expert in all things Android and mentioned my phone choice. His reply was, “No, you need to get an HTC Droid Incredible II”. A year later guess which phone is sitting next to my keyboard? An HTC Droid Incredible II. The fact is that word-of-mouth marketing is proven to be powerful. My story is one of millions like it. So the question that most companies want to know is how to make it work for them?
When Valerie Casey founded the Designers Accord in 2007 to create awareness of sustainability issues in graphic design, she hoped it would be a short term project. One that would start the conversation and put in place industry standards for sustainability that would become the norm. Five years later, though, even with all the movement’s success, too many sustainable graphic design books, events, and conversations are still focused around the introductory topic of what sustainable design is, and why it’s important, instead of innovating beyond what should be obvious by now.
This falls under the category of So-Cool-I-Had-To-Share. The Conflict Kitchen is an amazing example of the awesomeness that can explode out of the combination of food and design. Created by two Carnegie Mellon University professors as a way to “expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within [countries the USA is in conflict with],” the Conflict Kitchen serves up a six month rotation of ethnic food that pleases the senses alongside design the communicates a powerful message.
Remember back in July when the green world was abuzz with horror upon learning that Apple wanted to be removed from the EPEAT environmentally preferred products list? The backlash was so swift that Apple quickly reversed course and posted a letter stating that they would be going back on the EPEAT list but that “much of our [environmental] progress has come in areas not yet measured by EPEAT”. This highlights a big problem that touches every segment of the green products spectrum – mainly, what do you do when the measurements of your progress can’t keep up with your innovation?
The demographic known as the “Super Greens” are your best friends. They are the people who will always pay more for organic, recycled, eco, and sustainable products. They also make up only 16% of the American buying public; a number that has remained the same for the past 30 years and shows no signs of change. If you’re marketing your product to this small audience, you’re missing out on 84% of possible sales. So if you want to go big, it’s time to think about mainstreaming.
Just as cubicles took over our lives in the 80’s and 90’s, the open office plan is the interior design model for ‘innovative’ companies in the 2000’s. But do people really work better when they have no privacy? Or are we just on a rebound from our cubicle ex-boyfriend, now basking in the company of his complete antithesis? I’d argue that the next generation of office space has to strike a balance between these two worlds.
Is Sell, Baby, Sell becoming the new Drill, Baby, Drill? Are the most forward thinking companies trying to sell more by selling less? In an age where every company is ‘green’ and has the challenge of showing that they care, it seems that the ultimate show of compassion is helping consumers regulate their own consumption.
Good design should make things pretty. Great design should improve communication. After all, that’s what design was created for – a way to visually explain a brand, concept, meaning, or data. This is why people get giddy about data visualization and infographics. They make processing complicated ideas simple, interesting and enjoyable. The above video is an example of how the designers at Wired Magazine redesigned medical test results into a format that is helpful to both doctor and patients (click the link if you want to see the non-video version). I love this redesign because it is such a great example of design at it’s best, and an example of how I wish the world would use design more often.