Posts tagged “Fast Company”

Beyond visual communication

A couple of great examples of alternative ways of communicating information…

Australian financial-advisory firm BT using art installations to explain stock investing (full story at Fast Company )

And going back in time a bit, Ben Cohen (of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream) representing the apportioning of the Federal Discretionary Budget with stacks of Oreo cookies.

The unholy child of anthropology and marketing? Or a great idea…or both?

Michael Cannell posted yesterday at Fast Company on design firm Blu-Dot’s fascinating new campaign, in which they are going to give away chairs by leaving them on the streets of New York, and then use GPS embedded in the chairs to track them down. According to Michael Hart of Mono, the ad firm that developed the idea with Blu-Dot:

If all goes according to plan, the video crew will use the GPS to find the chairs a few months from now. They’ll knock on doors and interview the owners–homeless people, Apartment Therapy readers, whoever they turn out to be–about why they took the chairs and how they use them. “Where does great design end up in New York? What sort of a person invites these chairs into their homes?”

Wow – there are so many layers to this. The brilliant experimental marketing layer, the Big Brother-ish invasion of privacy layer, the genius “guaranteed-to-get-talked-and-written-about” PR layer, the “no-marketing-message-included” layer reminiscent of “no-brand” brand Muji, the Chris Anderson “free” layer, and finally, the anthropological, archeological, design research find-out-where-the-chairs-go layer, which in and of itself would be a great conceptual art project or social experiment.

This project–what do you even call it? Is it a project, a campaign, an experiment?–really takes the openness and creative potential of contemporary marketing and runs with it.

Don’t brand me, bro

IMing recently on Yahoo Chat, I noticed the other-party-status-report telling me the person I was chatting with was “hammering out a wicked comeback.”

Usually, this small gray line of text just says the other person “is typing.”


I wasn’t sure how what I had written would merit “a wicked comeback.” I mentioned it to my conversation partner and found out that one of our IM clients had inserted this snarky turn of phrase into our interaction all by itself.

Doesn’t it make you wonder how often your virtual communication is being framed in a way of which you are unaware–and which may or may not have any real connection to

  • what you are communicating
  • your personality
  • the context of the interaction

Don’t get me wrong–I like that companies are shooting for a more authentic and playful voice. But in this case, the locus of the voice was inappropriate.

Bill Breen wrote in Fast Company:

“Our sense of what’s “real” in this post-postmodern world takes on all kinds of strangely distorted shapes and guises, as if it’s reflected back at us from a swirl of fun-house mirrors.”

When a distinctive voice gets thrown into the mix in a way that makes it seem like part of someone’s personal communication, it’s really that person that’s getting branded, not the company. I don’t want the personality of my software superimposed on my communication.

When tools start speaking for the user, rather than the user speaking through the tools, it just makes communication more difficult.

Related posts:
Meet the New Authenticity
Mundane is the New Fun

Crack This!

Fast Company looks at marketing/research/culture proto-guru Clotaire Rapaille and observes “the conversation reinforces what I’d come to suspect: Rapaille is 25% substance and 75% shtick.”

It’s a good piece especially because it challenges the validity/myth/efficacy of a powerful and popular media figure er um I mean consultant. For those of us who aren’t clients, all we see is that 75%, and frankly, that shtick has made my skin crawl for a long time. I really like that simple analysis because it reminds me that one can be an intolerable asshole and still have something valid to say. In fact, for some people, your message carries more weight if you are intolerable when you deliver it. That’s not to my taste, but I guess it works for him.

Rapaille subscribes to the triune brain theory, which describes three distinct brains: the cortex, limbic, and reptilian. Beneath the cortex, the seat of logic and reason, is the limbic, which houses emotions. Camouflaged underneath those is Rapaille’s baby–the reptilian–the layer wired by our biological primal needs like sex, reproduction, and survival.

And gee, only yesterday the Simpsons (in an old-timey episode) had a character describing his reaction as going from “sanguine to bilious.” Humours, triune brain, whatever!

Intelligent Design

Fast Company gives props to our blog at Core77, although they describe us as “A random group of industrial designers and design fans” (random? us?) but refer to the content as “The quick-hit, often photo-laden entries offer a comprehensive view of what’s hot and hip.” which frankly disappoints me because I think if you spend more than 30 seconds on the site, you’ll see it’s about something a little deeper.

Though I did find a lot of the content of the special issue on design to be rather glib, at least in tone, if not in fact (as this example is).

Fast Talk: The Brand Called Me

This Fast Company piece is presented as a consideration of individuals who have their own brands, but I didn’t quite get that out of it. It’s mostly individual stories of people who are the faces on businesses. Martha Stewart is the classic person-as-persona-as-brand but the examples here are all over the place and the article doesn’t work as an investigation of that. It is an interesting set of quickie stories from prominent/famous business leaders, however.

Todd Oldham

It makes no difference to me whether my name’s on something or not.
I just like to design stuff. My style is an amalgam of inspirations that come from spending part of my childhood in Tehran, where I strolled the colorful bazaars, mixed with a cowboy culture from Texas, where I was born. Somehow, my designs come out in a way that has become a signature. But I never forget that the appropriateness of the end product is as important as the design.

(via Agenda)


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