In 2004, I bought this Adobe suite of software. At the time, it was the full complement of software that the world’s best graphic designers would use to create their artwork.
(The current cloud-based version still fills that role.)
I paid something like $700 — and at the time, the regular full price was north of $1,000.
Today? That software is useless. It’s not worth a penny.
The computers it would run on have long since been retired.
And even though the core functionality of that suite of software hasn’t changed, no one would buy that old version.
At least we still hold value when we get older. Our core functionality isn’t that much different, though there are newer faster versions.
“Love covers a multitude of sins…”*
When you love a company, you’ll forgive their little mistakes.
I love IKEA:
- I love their relatively inexpensive stuff.
- I love how they suggest doing more things with less space.
- I love the photo of the old Fiat 500 with a living room being transported on its roof.
- I love the fresh, healthy and sometimes tasty food options in their cafeterias.
- I love the style of much of what they sell.
- I love the exotic-ness of the weird Swedish names for their stuff.
Because of my love for IKEA, I’m willing to put up with the things I don’t like:
- I hate how they spell their name in all caps.
- Some of their stuff is poor quality.
- Since their goods are so inexpensive, workers in other parts of the world are not making enough in their factories.
- The maze can be annoying, even though I know the shortcuts.
A very illusive goal for any company is to make it onto someone’s loved companies list. And it’s easy to get off that list. (Hello Chipotle and VW.)
Homework for my marketing friends out there: brainstorm with your team ways your company can get on your customers’ loved companies list.
* 1 Peter 4:8b.
We love variety. We love uniformity. This contrast in our wants and needs is intriguing.
The familiar can be comforting — knowing that something will always be there. And yet, we love change. Few people would choose to have the same meal three times a day. We love listening to different tunes. A change in seasons is often welcome.
And yet everyone has different needs for variety and uniformity. Some people are content with no change, ever. On the other side, our ADD culture pushes us toward constant stimulation, which requires never-ending change. I’m probably closer to the wanting-variety end of that spectrum.
My need for constancy is reflected by the fact that I’ve been married 26 years. Yet there is endless variety in my wife. (Women are so different than men that I will never figure her out!)
Finally, variety is a luxury. In America today, we have far greater choice than kings and queens did 400 years ago. We can get fresh fruit 365 days a year. When I lived in Africa, my friends in rural areas did not have that luxury. If mangoes weren’t ready to pick, you didn’t eat mangoes. If they were ripe, you ate a lot, for several weeks straight.
Before you start reading this one, you need to know that my big brother, Bill Merrill, wrote this as a guest post. The views expressed here are not necessarily my views. But it’s certainly a fun road to go down. If you’ve read this blog very long, you already know some of the things I’d change…
On the ego continuum of “Mother Teresa to Mr. Trump,” I rank myself somewhere in the middle, but I do have occasional fantasies involving things I would mandate if I were “King of the World” and everyone would have to follow my commands. The list has evolved over the years. For example, I’ve dropped one I wished for during my apartment dweller days, now that I’m a homeowner. It was “Anyone arriving home after 11PM and making enough noise to awaken anyone else in the apartment complex will be subjected to severe punishment.”
I’m about to give you a partial list of the current “K.o.t.W.” rules, but first these notes: (1) Obviously if I had the K.o.t.W. power, I would try to establish world peace, end poverty & hunger, etc. This list involves selfish stuff I would require after those altruistic things are taken care of. (2) All matters of practicality and popularity are hereby put aside. I’m sure if most of these rules were implemented, they would lead to great disasters, chaos, and/or a mass uprising, but so be it. (3) The “severe punishment” for breaking these rules would be much worse than thirty lashes with a wet noodle, but the exact nature is left to the reader’s imagination. Be certain that it would be very dire indeed! (4) These are my rules. You can make your own if you become K.o.t.W. / Q.o.t.W. Also, any resemblance to Bill Maher’s “New Rules” is strictly coincidental.
- No chewing gum. This is simply because it ends up on the bottom of my shoe and sometimes in other undesirable locations (ex., under desks & tables).
- No TV network or station (or online viewing source) will ever be allowed to repeat the same commercial within a single program or broadcast. A violation will result in the immediate loss of broadcasting rights.
- The manufacturers of leaf blowers must redesign them to be much more quiet. Sale and ownership of noisy leaf blowers will be forbidden beginning one year after I ascend to the throne. Violators will receive extremely harsh punishment.
- In a city where I live or am visiting, no tractor-trailer rigs will be permitted on the roads during morning and evening rush hours.
- No recording artists or music producers will be allowed to use the sound effect of a police siren in the recordings they make. This is because if I’m driving my car and music with a siren comes on, for a moment I think it is an actual siren, and I briefly freak out.
Image credit: Southeastern Star, Creative Commons licensed via Flickr.
When I finished college, I hung out with a group of designers in Dallas, Texas. One of the things we enjoyed was sharing meals together at some of the town’s many many dining establishments. And we would always critique each restaurant’s menu design.
Even though we were (and some of that group still are) involved in designing things like menus — or product packages — we were and are still susceptible to the lure of a well-designed piece.
It makes logical sense that knowing we’re paying for the ambiance of a particular restaurant with basically the same food as a cheaper but more spartan restaurant a few miles away might make us head for the cheaper place — but no. Or we’ll buy a thing with a fancy box instead of the same thing in plain box.
(The budget factor does play into our decisions, of course!)
Experience includes all of our senses. We pay for experience.
Photo: I love many of the designs Starbucks creates, including this mug. And they do a pretty good job with the customer experience, as well.