It’s Just a Brand, Man

No, not another blog about branding! I know, I know.

But I often hear branding spoken about from a graphic designer’s perspective and while designer’s may take a lot of credit for creating an identity (logo, color scheme, etc.), I think that too often identity creation is mistakenly credited as synonymous with branding.

Let’s start with recognizing the metaphorical reference: branding is an agricultural term, a method for an owner to lay claim to his livestock. A logo, without an animal to brand, is about as useless as a blog without a reader.

In marketing, branding is the cumulative of two fundamental facets: value creation/delivery and consumer evangelists. With any successful brand, the special sauce is the consumer evangelist: those proud and passionate people who pronounce their brand love, wrangling in quality leads at exponential rates.

Somehow, I think we have a chicken v. egg situation.

What link in the chain is responsible for creating these passionate evangelists who will go to such extreme lengths to identify with a brand?

For instance, why would someone in their right mind do this:

Michael Leibovich

Or this:

Michael Leibovich

Or this:

To dissect this is a little bit, I’ve broken up the elements to examine more deeply.

Step 1: Create a great product

  1. Build upon User-Experience Research
  2. Test
  3. Refine
  4. Repeat

Step 2: Create an identity for product

  1. Create logo, color palate
  2. Create an online ecosystem: website, social media pages, mobile apps, SEO optimization

Step 3: Build a support unit for your community

  1. Create message forums
  2. Delight your users in unexpected ways
  3. Listen
  4. Respond to them – in real time – and let them know you are listening

Step 4: Encourage Loyalty

  1. Start a rewards program
  2. Start a referral program
  3. Sponsor a movement
  4. Step out of the way

Step 5: Create new products your customers want

  1. Listen
  2. Act
  3. Build
  4. Listen
  5. Improve

I myself have recently become an evangelist for the brand Warby Parker. I’ve written a few blogs about them, simply because I was so thrilled with my experience. Within a week, I received a personal email from the company thanking me for my post. They convinced me that they were listening, and fanned the flames of my support. Several friends have since discovered the brand and successfully purchased stylish, affordable eye wear.

I realize that this is a bird’s eye view of the process, but I am a big believer of naming things (breaking systems apart and recognizing each element), because I believe this makes us better at recognizing and creating meaningful connection experiences.

I’d love to hear any comments or personal anecdotes people are interested in sharing, especially if it expands on what I’ve written above.

Sorry Ma, I didn’t pass the bar exam…

There is a divide in marketing between those that seek permission and those that don’t. Attention is a commodity, and in that economy, getting someone to look twice, or spend an extra minute of their time thinking about your brand or your offer is worth something incredibly valuable. But accuracy is key. If you don’t appeal to me, and if I am not interested in your product, my attention is a waste of your energy and resources.

The thing about peaking someone’s curiosity is this: you get their hopes up. And depending on how you live up to that anticipation, you can bring upon yourself instant disappointment. It’s a risk.

So on Friday, when I received a conspicuous piece of mail from the Indiana State Bar Association, I chuckled, wondering what kind of offer it might contain. Knowing no tangible reason why I might be receiving mail from ISBA, it was most plausible that this was either a) a fun and unusual offer or b) another solicitation from cable or credit card companies.

Turns out it was b) another solicitation from a credit card company. Even stranger, the offer included phrases like, “The one card that rewards you as an Indiana State Bar Association member” and “This is the only card exclusively for ISBA members.” If that was the truth, why would I, a non-member of ISBA, be receiving this offer.

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.*

Marketing Direct MailSure, you may have gotten me to open your letter. That’s actually pretty good considering 44% of direct mail is never opened.

But that feeling of disappointment? It stings. And chances are, I’ll remember not to trust you next time. My attention is precious, but my trust is imperative. People don’t buy things from people or organizations they don’t trust. Some food for thought if your marketing strategies are relying on ‘sneaky’ and ‘clever’ to get me to pay attention.

*Quoted from Seth Godin’s blog post

Live For Now

I was driving back from Sacramento yesterday and I saw a precarious billboard off of I-80. It was Pepsi’s new marketing campaign, Live For Now.

What a perfectly apt, yet awful piece of advice for our Millennial generation. And yet, I couldn’t piece together my criticism of the campaign until opening an email this morning from Seth Godin:

There’s a huge chasm in most markets: People who want to be isolated from the consequences of their actions, and those that are focused (sometimes too much) on those consequences.

For years, Paula Dean sold cooking shows to an audience that refused to care about what would happen if they regularly ate what she cooked.

Rep. Anthony Weiner wasn’t open to buying warnings about what would happen to his photos and tweets.

At the same time, there’s the audience of new moms that are overeager to baby-proof their home (just in case), the conscientious recycler who doesn’t want to know about the actual costs of picking up that bin out front, and the passionate teacher who sacrifices every day so his students can thrive a decade from now.

If you are selling tomorrow, be very careful not to pitch people who are only interested in buying things that are about today. It’s virtually impossible to sell financial planning or safety or the long-term impacts of the environment to a consumer or a voter who is relentlessly focused on what might be fun right now.

Before a marketer or organization can sell something that works in the future, she must sell the market on the very notion that the future matters. The cultural schism is deep, and it’s not clear that simple marketing techniques are going to do much to change it.

But the truth is, Pepsi has to capitalize on this slogan, Live For Now. Because the food and beverage industry is all about in-the-moment purchases. Pepsi must embrace a “present” paradigm because thinking about the future, the consequences of soda intake over a long period of time, is a surefire way to send your sales down the drain.

For Millennials, we are struggling with an economy that hasn’t proven to us that the future does matter, and this campaign rings true to the very life experiences that post-grads are experiencing.

To invert Seth’s advice, if you are selling today, be very careful not to pitch people who are only interested in investing in the future.

In a way, this campaign rubs me the wrong way because I disagree with it philosophically. And Pepsi isn’t necessarily my brand of choice. But I remembered it. I’m writing about it. That must count for something, right?

5,4,3,2,1…The Zero Moment of Truth

The mental model has changed. Consumers are digging for feedback earlier in the buying process and user-generated influence is making a more powerful impact than ever. Google has published an entire e-book entitled Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, offering heavy statistics to prove that the number of resources consumers consult before making purchasing decisions requires marketers to proactively engage with audiences across multiple touch points and over time.

Prior to the advent of online search, advertisers operated under this 3-step mental model of marketing:

a. the stimulus (i.e. advertisement, commercials, etc.) introduced the product

b. the next touch point was in the store, where the consumer was faced with choosing that product (First Moment of Truth or FMOT)

c. followed by forming impressions about their experience with the product (Second Moment of Truth or SMOT)

With the advent of online search, the ability, and thirst, for more information prior to visiting a store has increased to such a significant degree that Google has dubbed this extra step as the Zero Moment of Truth, or ZMOT.

Here are some stats:

ZMOT – Zero Moment of Truth

  • The length of the shopper’s purchase journey varies greatly by category. But even within a spontaneous category like restaurants, we see thoughtful behavior of several hours to several days leading up to decision.
  • The number of sources used by any shopper for any average shopping occasion has almost doubled, from 5.2 to 10.4 sources used.
  • 84% of all shoppers use ZMOT sources in the path to purchase.
  • Searching online is at the same level or eclipsing friends and family as a source used in the purchase process, which is a first.
  • While overall usage of online social and mobile sources are lower than other sources, they are on the rise. Among the group who use online social and mobile sources, they rank the mobile information as highly influential in shaping their ultimate purchase decisions.


The implications of ZMOT are monstrous. The need for user-generated feedback (i.e. product reviews, social suggestions) is more powerful, and the lack of such content or integration of reviews can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line. A few months ago, I wrote a post about the Web Loop, highlighting the importance of engaging with consumers at every point along their path to purchase.

By engaging in the discourse and research early on, companies can leverage their visibility by both knowing and embracing the fact that their prospects are looking for the perfect solution. Companies like Bazaarvoice are helping to fuel earned media integration into the campaigns of their clients.

Get ZMOT Ready in 8 Steps

The ZMOT team’s master of measurement, Avinash Kaushik, broke the process down in a quick worksheet that can be downloaded here for free.

Step 1: Start with your bottom line

As you start thinking about ZMOT, remember that there can be only one bottom-line goal for your business. (And it can’t be “more of everything.”) For most businesses, that goal is profit. For a non-profit, it might be the number of clients served. For a college, it might be higher enrollment or better applicants. To do really well at ZMOT, you must keep a clear line of sight to that one bottom-line goal.

Step 2: Get ready to measure

It’s a lot harder to be successful at ZMOT if you don’t measure how you’re doing. For one thing, numbers are really the only way to see how changes affect your results. And to prove your point to your boss or to your team, you need to be able to say something like this: “Our focus on ZMOT has given us $2.1 million of value. It has given us specific ways to delight our customers and improve the way we market to them.” So a good way to start is by connecting your site to an analytics tool (if you haven’t already done so). It’s not hard, and you’ll have a record of every visit to your site.

Step 3: Begin with the basics

Ready to measure? Here are some key starting questions to ask yourself:

  1. How do people find our website now?
    (HINT: Use a referring URL report to see where visitors come from.)
  2. What is the need that drives people to our site?
    (HINT: Pay attention to your search keywords report.)
  3. What do people read, look at, or interact with most on our site?
    (HINT: Look for top content in your content reports. To earn an extra hug, plot a head and tail curve.)
  4. Which navigation tools do visitors use on our site? What links do they click?
    (HINT: Use the site overlay report and look for your top 10 most-viewed pages.)

Step 4: Keep your ZMOT promises

You did it: you found a potential customer. You showed up at the perfect ZMOT (it wasn’t easy) and you got them to click. Nice! Now ask yourself: When this visitor came to your site, did they find what they expected? Or did your ZMOT moment write a check your website can’t cash?

Avinash has some real wisdom to offer on this topic. His advice:

a) Look at your top landing pages report. It shows the popularity of every page on your website, starting (naturally) with the most popular. As Avinash says, one of the key things to understand is that there is no one home page for your website. Lots of companies obsess about their main landing page, but in fact people enter your site all over the place based on what they’ve searched for. So think of every page as a home page.

b) Now look at your bounce rate. This measures the number of people who see one page of your site and then leave. They don’t go deeper, they don’t take action — not even one click! They just leave. They probably didn’t find what they were looking for, and they probably weren’t happy customers. You want a bounce rate under 30%, as a good rule of thumb. That means only three out of ten people who come to
that page left your site immediately. So look for popular pages with bounce rates over 30%. That’s where you can do the most good. If you already use Google Analytics, try downloading this special custom report that can simplify the task of finding and analyzing those pages. Just log into your account, paste the link into your browser. Click “Save” to save the report in your Google Analytics account. Analyze and be awesome.

c) When you find these high-bounce-rate pages, your next step is to identify the gap between why each was created — its purpose, content, and calls to action — and why people are visiting it. Fix that and you’ll deliver on the promise your campaigns are making. To close the gap, you can change the page itself, or you can change the way you’re promoting it at ZMOT. For instance, if you sell golf shoes and your ad text reads “golf gear,” maybe you need to make the text read “golf shoes.” Or maybe you need to include other golf equipment besides shoes on the page.

Step 5: Follow the 10/90 rule

If you have $100 to invest in making smart decisions at ZMOT, you should invest $10 in tools and vendor services, and the other $90 on big brains: people who can analyze the data, learn from it, and pass the insights on to you.

The truth is, the best web measurement tools are available for free. Most any tool you can imagine for the five key components of web 2.0 analytics you can get free. So big spending isn’t needed there.

The thing that’s missing in most companies is the smart people who can pay attention to the data and make sense from it. That’s what will truly revolutionize your existence. Data can only raise questions; you need people to answer them.

Step 6: Get ahead of the game

Search terms are an iceberg: You have to move beyond the top 10 or 20 keywords to see what’s happening in the massive body of related keywords beyond. And don’t forget to think about videos, social media, and all the other places where conversations are happening.

Google Insights for Search, by the way, is a tool that has essentially all of Google’s organic search data from the entire world available — for free. It makes it extremely easy to type in any term and gauge interest in that term in the last week or last year, only in New York or in all of Germany, or with several other parameters. Other companies have tools that do the same thing.

Go to a search query tool now and search for the most prominent terms related to your business. What are some rising search terms in your category?

Step 7: Keep an eye on micro conversions

We’ll assume that you took Step 1 to heart and you’re focused on the one bottom-line goal of your business. That’s good.

In technical terms, that’s the macro conversion. Say you own a local pet supply store with an online commerce site. It’s pretty easy to imagine the macro conversion for that site: getting people to buy stuff for their pets.

When you’re ready to take the next step, start paying attention to micro conversions: the other jobs your site is also doing. Like encouraging users to sign up to receive email marketing promotions. Or to create an account and write reviews for products sold on the website. Or submit an entry for the Doggie Dream Giveaway, download pet care sheets, watch pet videos, print coupons, call the number listed on the website. You get the idea.

Every micro conversion adds business value. It may drive future sales, create a stronger connection with the pet store brand, or deliver higher customer satisfaction.

How much value does each have? To find out, try using a proxy.

For example, you could send an email blast to everyone who signed up with you via your ZMOT campaigns. Wait 30 days. Do a match-back analysis of how many of those email subscribers bought something on the website and how much total revenue they delivered. Say 1000 emails sent, 200 orders received, for a total revenue of $10,000. The economic value of every email address delivered by the ZMOT campaign?

$10,000 / 1000, or ten dollars per address.

With a little effort you can compute the value of every micro conversion. Videos watched, reviews written,
wishlists created, phone calls made, referrals, and so forth.

Step 8: Start failing faster

Your customers will tell you what they want at ZMOT. They’ll vote with their clicks. You just have to put your new ideas out there, then measure and learn.

So try not to think of ZMOT as a standard “business intelligence” process, with massive data sources and decision-making as agile as a one-ton turtle. That’s for when you make big decisions infrequently.

YOUR goal at ZMOT is to make small decisions constantly. Act fast on those decisions, measure the results, and do it all over again. That’s why we call it failing faster: the faster you fail, the faster you learn and the faster you get to success.

By the way, this is also a great way to appeal to your team’s competitive nature. Who can get the best results fastest? Who is the test-and-act champ?

Next time you make a change on the site, hold a predict-the-conversion-rate-change contest at $1 a guess. Give a prize to the person who figures out the most useful (or useless) metric on your dashboard. Or to the marketer who figures out the most creative use of VOC. Or . . . well, you get the picture.

The important thing is to get people failing, learning, and then succeeding faster.

Have you tried any of these approaches or have any stories to share about failing faster? This particular step of advice resonated with me.

iPhone 5 – Learn marketing from todays most popular landing page

This blog comes courtesy of  I, too, was in awe of the new iPhone 5 landing page and loved absorbing this article so I thought I would share it. 


I love dissecting how the best companies in the world entice customers online. You can always learn something from the big guys because they have the budgets, research, and customer volume you dream about.

You know Apple and Amazon don’t slouch when they design these pages.  When you don’t have the time or money to research the best layouts/copy/presentation… draw your inspiration from them.

What you are going to see here is a great information layering approach that’s designed to suck you in and sell you at every turn.

The Home Page

We’ll start before you get to the iPhone’s landing page.  Apple knows that they need to:

  1. Warm people up to the idea of a new phone.
  2. Seed traffic from another popular source.

They do these things with their launch announcement video and making the ENTIRE Apple home page a simple iPhone 5 call to action.  Check it out here:

What you see demonstrated here is:

  1. A big, simple call to action. Every item on this page is a click target that takes you to the iPhone home page. At the top layer Apple’s goal with this content is to get you engaged with it. They want you to click-through the layers and become more drawn in with each passing minute until you give in and buy one.  You’ll see this pattern repeated throughout.
  2. People/faces. It’s not just a phone. There are people who stand behind it that you can see demonstrating the product. The faces on the home page (and throughout) are absolutely intentional.
  3. Short and long form videos.  Whether you want to watch the entire event or just a quick teaser video… they’ve got you covered.
  4. Showcase the upgrade. Since this phone is nearly identical to the 4 when it comes to design details they want to make sure you get the impression that it’s taller.  Having the phone at this angle subtly gets that across.

The iPhone 5 Home Page

This page is made for the 90% of people who just need the brochure. It’s three times longer than the Apple home page, but almost exactly three times shorter than any of the detail pages.  Not to short to skimp on details, but not too long to bore most people.

Here is what you can learn:

  1. Repetition works. You need to hit home the basic selling points over and over. This page expands on the selling points, images, and videos from the home page and adds on another layer of detail. For example: The top-level menus are selling points that are repeated in the videos, this page, and then on each of their more detailed pages.
  2. Buy actions stand out at the top and bottom. There is a unique color used on the buy button on top and the layout of the buying options on the bottom help them stand out.  All roads lead to your credit card.
  3. Leading with the differences again. The first thing highlighted is, again, the reasons you’ll like this phone over your existing one. Your phone is now crap compared to the “All new design!”
  4. Image details accentuate the text. I love how the wireless bar is angled at you in the “Ultrafast Wireless” section. It screams “LOOK 5 BARS OF LTE” to your subconscious.
  5. Emotion paired with tech stuff. It’s not a chart paired with “Powerful A6 Chip” to show you how powerful it is. This tech detail is paired with a shot of people capturing a happy memory (cruising on bikes – hint – speed) with iMovie… which is, I’m sure, faster because of the A6 chip. So your either a techie reading the details or the average person saying “I can make movies on my phone!”… and they’ll all be of happy times!
  6. More giant calls to action. Just about everything on this page is clickable to get you to the next layer of the onion. You don’t hunt for links… you just click and learn more.

A feature details page

The rule of three’s is in full effect here. The detail pages all average 3X the scroll height of the primary landing page. There is a lot of scrolling to be done on these pages that have added more details.

They act as a “catch all” for everyone that wants to find that one feature they need.

This page caries forward the best practices from the main landing page and adds…

  1. The guarantee. The bottom of this page lets you know that you’ll be covered.  They offer protection on your investment.
  2. More happy faces. I just have to call them out. People sell. I can tell you from our own experiments that people sell more than cute dogs.
  3. Cross promotion. This product works well with our other products. Don’t own them? You should check them out too.
  4. Added details to repetition. The same selling points are here, but now they’ve added details. For example: Instead of one paragraph about the A6 chip you get three here.
  5. Brand alignment. Note the passbook image that’s designed to Align Apple’s brand with other popular brands you might have heard of.  These partners were not chosen randomly and serve to make you realize that Apple plays nice with other people you may have heard of.
  6. Visual page breaks. These let you know where you could stop reading each section. It’s important for long form content. I love the use of the icons and horizontal lines that are used to make you pause while drawing you into reading the next section. This is really like 5-6 full pages of content here.
  7. Education is critical to advertising. Apple uses these ads to education you. The icon for the map section is the same icon used on the phone. That may seem obvious… but it helps teach you to look for that map icon when you buy your phone.  The panorama image shows off the app. From that image I know what it is AND how I’ll use it.  I’ll be more comfortable when I get my phone and therefore happier with it.
  8. The face of the phone builds trust. Mr. Ive is the man who stands behind this product. He’s real and you can watch a video of home. It’s building trust. This wasn’t some design by committee thing.
  9. Simple numbers paired with visuals and text. If you have to use numbers to sell then you need to pair them with a simple explanation and a visual to demonstrate the point.
  10. Make public data yours.  The chart in the “Ultrafast” wireless section is great. They didn’t have to generate these numbers. They didn’t invent the technologies. Putting this chart on this page, however, makes you think that the iPhone is light years ahead of everyone else.
  11. Respond to common fears.  I’m still worried that I really won’t like a bigger screen. But, here they are, telling me that it’s OK the screens taller. I’ll still be able to hold it in one hand and type just fine.

To Recap

What you’ve seen here demonstrates the following best practices.

  1. Information layering. Start with the least amount of information possible required to sell someone and then add additional layers that make the case to customers that require more selling.
  2. HUGE call to actions.  Each page is designed to suck you in further and they make sure you can’t miss clicking on a link for more information.
  3. Happy faces sell. The closer you can integrate the happy faces into your product be better. Faces can also be used to build trust.
  4. Align your text, data, and visuals to be all saying the same thing. Don’t use random images to prove a point. They should build on the text.
  5. Repetition is key. What seems obvious to you needs to be beaten into people with less context.
  6. Educate. The best ads do this in a way that makes you comfortable AFTER your purchase.

Does Your Segmentation Have a GPS?

I recently read an article on market segmentation that inspired me by Patrick McDaniel. Patrick is a Partner in Rosetta’s Consulting Practice, where market segmentation is one of their strongest differentiators.

Marketing companies like Rosetta devote significant time toward understanding how and where segmentation can be used and translated into personally relevant brand experiences. In summary, the article’s thesis is that mass personalization is highly possible, but research must translate into actionable components. Having an “insight” engine to power marketing is critical. Here are a few highlights from the article.

The idea of mass personalization is that a brand can combine technology and insight to create a hyper-relevant experience for every customer.

When I read this, I immediately thought of the article about Target using customer profiles and analytics to figure out a teen girl was pregnant before her father did. Amazon and other e-commerce sites also do a tremendous amount of tracking things like browsing history, exemplified by the classic “Customers who bought this item also bought…” feature, or the recommendations section on Netflix. The more likely companies are to “get it right,” the more we, as consumers, are willing to trust that they know and understand us. Therefore, the more we are willing to buy, or revisit, or absorb, etc.

Marketers need a framework to subdivide their audience into like-minded clusters and then serve them a relevant and impactful experience. In other words, they need segmentation.

I did a little digging into the recommendation filters that have become somewhat ubiquitous among larger e-commerce sites, and it has been suggested that these results are the basis of what is known as collaborative filtering (CF).

According to Red Bee Media, in the newer, narrower sense, collaborative filtering is a method of making automatic predictions (filtering) about the interests of a user by collecting preferences or taste information from many users (collaborating). The underlying assumption of the collaborative filtering approach is that if person A has the same opinion as person B on an issue, A is more likely to have B’s opinion on a different issue x than to have the opinion on x of a person chosen randomly.

“Collaborative filtering algorithms often require (1) users’ active participation, (2) an easy way to represent users’ interests to the system, and (3) algorithms that are able to match people with similar interests.

Typically, the workflow of a collaborative filtering system is:

  1. A user expresses his or her preferences by rating items (eg. books, movies or CDs) of the system. These ratings can be viewed as an approximate representation of the user’s interest in the corresponding domain.
  2. The system matches this user’s ratings against other users’ and finds the people with most “similar” tastes.
  3. With similar users, the system recommends items that the similar users have rated highly but not yet being rated by this user (presumably the absence of rating is often considered as the unfamiliarity of an item)” (via

Three critical (and deceptively simple) ways to improve how segmentations are executed in order to realize the value of mass personalization:

Attitude Drives Behaviors

There is a historic dichotomy between attitudinal and behavioral styles of segmentation.

Attitudinal segmentation = attitudes that drive an individual (the “why”) (e.g. aggressive v. conservative)

Behavioral segmentation = historic differences in behavior (the “what”) (e.g. high tier v. low tier)

Tip: Unless your segmentation can show clear differences in critical customer behaviors and then explain why those behaviors are different, it is time to go back to the drawing board.

What are the key attitudes or beliefs that drive this customer to do this thing?

This “objective” behavior is the key data point that any segmentation needs to predict—in other words, if you don’t see differences in your “objective” behavior, the segmentation isn’t working.

Trade in Map for a GPS

For a segmentation to credibly serve at the heart of mass personalization, it needs to be more like a GPS. A map organizes information, but a GPS gives clear direction.

An effective segmentation that drives mass personalization must have the scope and depth to inform and influence not only brand strategy (the mapping) but also tactical planning, creative execution and even decisions related to what technology needs to be deployed (the direction).

Segmentation can (and should) be expected to go beyond just “mapping” the market and instead should provide a robust enough framework to be the centerpiece of a brand’s commercialization activity.

The key step to making this research depth a reality is to set the expectation at the initiation of the segmentation project that one of the major outputs must be a clear and actionable set of directives about how each segment should be served from a messaging, media, channel, and technology perspective.

Stay Focused on the Goal

While the scope of most segmentations does allow for broad applicability across an organization, the most effective segmentations are executed with a clear vision of how and where the segmentation can be used in the organization.

It is also important to have an understanding as to how and where this segmentation engine could be used across the customer engagement continuum from awareness to loyalty.

Link to article:

Good Design Is All CRAP

I was recently recommended Robin Williams’ book, “The Non-Designers Design Book,” by a UX designer, with the caveat that it would make any designer slightly cringe, but was an excellent road map for explaining what principles help establish good design from bad.

In just under 150 pages, Williams’ goal is to help those without extensive design backgrounds understand and name some design fundamentals. Since reading her book, I feel more empowered to see these principles in action, as well as to see the lack thereof.

I’ll outline these four principles, and then look for them in action with some screen shots. This blog post is definitely a crash course, so I highly recommend picking up her book on Amazon.


Contrast: If the elements on the page are not the same, make them very different. Contrast is often the most important visual attraction on the page—it’s what makes a reader look at the page in the first place.

Repetition: Repeat visual elements throughout the piece. In website design, this is most often exemplified with the same global nav bar on each page, which allows for visitors to recognize that each page belongs to the same website.

Alignment: Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page. This creates a clean, sophisticated look.

Proximity: Items relating to each other should be grouped close together. When items are in close proximity they become one visual unit, rather than several separate units. This helps organize information, reduces clutter, and gives the reader a clear structure.

Joel Siddall posted his design of the Intercede website on and it serves as an excellent test case for showcasing these principles at work. I’ve attached a screen shot of the site, and then an additional one with my notes.

Roger’s Curve of Adoption

Innovators 2.5%
Brave people, pulling the change. innovators are very important communication mechanisms.

Early Adopters 13.5%
Respectable people, opinion leaders, try out new ideas, but in a careful way.

Early Majority 34%
Thoughtful people, careful but accept change more quickly than average people do.

Late Majority 34%
Skeptic people, will use new ideas or products only when the majority is using it.

Laggards 16%
Traditional people, love to stick to the “old ways” and are critical about new ideas. Will only accept it if the new idea has become mainstream or tradition.


Roger’s adoption curve of innovation helps us to remember that it is useless to try to quickly and massively convince the mass of a new and controversial idea. It is better to start first with convincing the innovators and the early adopters. Also, the categories and percentages can be used as a first draft to estimate target groups for communication purposes.

If anybody has data on how this translates across markets, etc., I’d love the feedback!

Courtesy of

Look Good, Feel Good. Why Warby Parker is My Hero.

A while ago, I wrote a post about Warby Parker, a startup that is revolutionizing the eyeglass industry. Warby Parker first came on my radar through a friend, and indeed, the word-of-mouth momentum of this company is simply phenomenal.

Warby Parker offers boutique frames at a fraction of the retail cost. For a price tag of $95, you get it all: frames and anti-reflective lenses, free shipping, and a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

WP allows you to choose up to five frames to be delivered to your home for a five-day trial at no cost. Once you return the samples, you are eligible to choose an additional five more. I know this because I went through the process 3 times before finally choosing the pair for me. While this process took a lot longer than walking a show-room floor, the wait-to-cost-saved ratio was well worth it for me. In fact, my third trial was just narrowing down my frame of choice and choosing between available colors.

What I wanted to point out in this blog posting is the narrative that Warby Parker has woven throughout their customer’s experience.

“A New Concept in Eyewear”

Considering the rapid disruptive force that e-commerce has had on traditional retail, it is about time that a company like WP has come to challenge the oligopoly of the optical industry. According to their website, the name Warby Parker came from a hybrid of Jack Kerouac characters, Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper. And, as Kerouac inspired a generation “to see the world through a different lens,” so does WP.

“Eyewear with a Purpose”

WP has taken a nod from companies like Toms shoes, who donate a pair of shoes to a child in need with every purchase made. WP has partnered with non-profit VisionSpring to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need.

“Get Excited”

WP’s tagline is emphasized throughout every step of the process. Their passion for their product is evident everywhere you look. This passion makes me excited as a customer because it is believable! Sure, sometimes I can be a little cynical with people or products that seem overly enthusiastic, but with WP I believe every bit of it.

“Look Good, Feel Good”

This last tagline is my own. From browsing, to ordering, to receiving my trial, to entering my prescription, and waiting for my new pair of eyeglasses to arrive, Warby Parker has thought through every bit of my experience and to that, I am so grateful.

Check ’em out at