Contact Maverick Mom F.A.Q. About Maverick Mom Home Media Room Tribe

Why Design Shows Us Where We Belong [Day 16 - 28 Days to BFL]

This is Day 16 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Yesterday, Jamie Notter led a great discussion on collaborating to build fierce loyalty. Today, my wildly creative friend, Reese Spykerman,  helps us understand how design plays a major role in building a fiercely loyal community. Such a great perspective! 

Why Design Shows Us Where We Belong

By: Reese Spykerman| @Reese

A Chinese mooncake festival comes every Autumn.

The festival’s meaning varies throughout Chinese culture, but it celebrates the moon, rituals, rewards. Though I am not Chinese, its meaning for me is beauty, for with every mooncake festival comes mooncake boxes.

My husband eats the egg-filled cakes each year, while I relish in ornately crafted packaging. I am loyal to the mooncake box, for its delights, its uniquely Asian characteristics, and they house my paper clips in something more ornate than I’d ever find at the office supplies store. They are quirky, they mix modern and traditional, and they are me.

Mooncake boxes make me fall on my knees. So does Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Never mind Martha’s jail time, her ridicule of Rachael Ray for not having a garden. The beauty inherent in that magazine inspires me to renew my subscription annually.

We find meaning in design. It shows us where we belong. Visual beauty and aesthetics, subjective as they may be, ignite us in interesting ways.

My friend Gini, a mind-body advocate, raves about her Ikea stool.

“It’s designed perfectly for my height so my bare feet rest comfortably on the floor, taking pressure off my joints and allowing me to sit for long periods with ease.” Just in case Ikea should ever discontinue the stool, Gini bought and stored eight of them.

In 2010, Gap changed its iconic logo, to the passionate distress of thousands of customers. So fierce was their loyalty to the original logo that Gap reversed its design decision a week later.

Pattern and bag designer Orla Kiely introduced Stem in the midst of a fashion period permeated by solid black. The spring-colored Stem pattern catapulted her business, and introduced a landmark print to the world of hangbags, fashion and furniture.

Starbucks fans gravitate not just toward its coffee, but to its cozy interiors, warm hues and soft couches. Imagine a design change in Starbucks to stark white, with plastic hard-backed chairs and florescent lighting. Customers would revolt.

These symbols, markers, environments and visuals all give us subconscious cues about our values and often create a sense of community, too. When we see a Harley Davidson motorcycle, we immediately associate that bike with a certain group and type of community.

Design inspires loyalty. A re-used website template without any personalization inspires no sense of belonging to that person or business. Contrast that with Sarah’s illustration of her and the YT. Because of that cue, we know — from our first pit stop here — what her values are and whether they fit into our own value system.

Homogeny is death for any growing business or person in this marketplace. Neutrality, both in voice and in design, is near guaranteed failure. Design will be the great growth mechanism of the next 25 years.

Our people need immediate gut checks to decide whether to stay or go, to understand whether they belong. This means as much as you can use design to inspire loyalty, the more differentiated your design, the more you will also alienate people.

Here’s where the fear lies, and what drives entrepreneurs into the land of templates and safety. Alienation. The threat of not being liked, of turning someone away.

But for every 10 people your design, your business values or your positioning turns away, it will draw at least one exceptionally loyal fan. Think about Harley. How much it’s probably NOT for you. The same thing that makes it not for you inspires fierce loyalty among its fans and customers.

Beauty’s subjective. Design’s subjective. I can give you a million different rules to follow with design, but if there’s one adage I’d give you to propel your business forward and attract the kind of people who will walk with you into the fire, it’s this: design with your heart and values on your sleeve.

Do not compromise those, in your visuals, in your words, in how you choose to respond to the world. Use design to show people what it is you stand for, and stop trying to please everyone. Use personal integrity as your guide. Be courageous enough to be radically different (unless, of course, you’re boring as hell). But don’t be different to be different. Be different because you’re showing us your meaning and what’s important to you.

Fierce loyalty is given to the risk takers of the world. Those who stand up for something rather than speak of nothing.

To become beloved, become meaningful. And color that meaning into everything you do.

********************************

YOUR TURN: What company, product, or person inspires your loyalty because of design, and why?

********************************

reese spykermanReese Spykerman is a designer for business pioneers who seek knowledge on mastering the art & science of customer experience, brand image, and delight. Her company offers a variety of design services from website reviews, headers, brand consultation and comprehensive visual design systems. Her anthem for 2012 is Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out”. Reese spent a year crafting the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

Mooncake box image from qqjawe on Flickr

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyalty, please sign up here.

Digg This Save to del.icio.us Share on Facebook Tweet This Stumble This
  • Anonymous

    Reese- I love how articulately and passionately you make the point about design. It took me a long time to come around to your point of view. And then it took me longer to invest in design. And I’ve never been happier. Just recently I received an email from someone who wrote that rarely does she spend so much time on a site new to her, and it all had to do with the beauty of the design.

    There are so many subtle and nearly-unconscious clues in our environment that either make me comfortable or uncomfortable.

    As for me, I think about my spiritual lineage of Sufi Islam, and the incredibly beautiful calligraphy and care and attention that goes into many of the sacred places. I think about the even the design of the day- the different practices at different times, and how it is designed to hold me, and keep me nourished no matter what’s going on. My heart is fiercely loyal to this design because of how much I feel I belong. And it keeps me immersed in love and able to be productive and engaged in many other ways.

    As far as businesses, I think of our local grocery store, New Seasons, and how the design compares to, for instance, Whole Foods. Whole Foods is, in some ways, prettier and more “done up” but I can feel the intentionality behind Whole Foods design. Instead, New Seasons feels intention, but more sincere. Less fancy, more grounded. Caring and beautiful, but a little more flannel and Portland, Oregon. :) It feels like home, which is strange to say about a grocery store, but it’s true.

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       Hi Mark,
      What a thoughtful response!
      For years I’ve admired Islamic calligraphy & scripting for its form, composition, and articulation of the Divine into beauty. Sometimes when something moves us so profoundly, we cannot explain with reason why: but our hearts tell us with a flutter and surge.

      Your description of the grocery store that feels like home reminds me of my own hometown grocery store. Something about its understated environment makes me feel like I’m not a stranger, but a friend. And so it goes with family owned restaurants versus chains…with boutique stores over department stores. Often where we feel we belong is the place that honors our quirks and humanity instead of just our wallets.

      • http://twitter.com/lina003 Sherrie Rohde

        “Often where we feel we belong is the place that honors our quirks and humanity instead of just our wallets.” — I love this!!!

  • http://www.lisarobbinyoung.com Lisa Robbin Young

    “Homogeny is death for any growing business”
    For me, when I think about design, I’m somewhere between terror stricken and titillated, because I know that the design of the thing is so crucial, and yet, wrapping my brain around what exactly does it for me is hard to say.

    I’ve never been a very aesthetic person – which is probably apparent in more ways than I’d care to count – and yet, I have a sense of what feels “wrong” for me. While I don’t have a particular brand or design that keeps me loyal, there are certain brands that turn me off almost instantly. I don’t care so much about the colors of the interior of Starbucks, and I noticed when McDonald’s started changing their interiors away from the bright yellow and orange they had used for decades… and then Taco Bell… and even our grocery stores… It was as if retail was trying to “upscale” itself through a change in tone and color. To me, it didn’t add to or detract from my loyalty to any of them, it was just my marketing brain, taking notice. 

    Then again, maybe I just haven’t found a brand that resonates that deeply with me yet.

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       Hi Lisa,
      It’s interesting what you’ve observed about brands making changes. I think you probably know & perceive more about design than you give yourself credit for ;)

  • http://mattreport.com Matt Medeiros

    I love this article on a different level than I suspect most will…

    The 4 paragraphs you talk about using design templates really resonates with me. I try and push our custom design to all incoming clients. I have a super talented team that is devoted, passionate and well educated. 9 out of 10 potential leads are folks starting up, looking for a quick fix, and not concerned with quality design that sets them apart. 

    In other words, they are not thinking long term branding right now, thus not budgeted for any kind of true custom work. 

    I’m finding it extremely difficult in this “template” world to build fierce loyalty or fierce “buy-in” to the ways of good quality work. So much so, that we’re going down the road of building our own design templates based off our experience working with others. 

    Your line, “This means as much as you can use design to inspire loyalty, the more differentiated your design, the more you will also alienate people.”

    Is the evil truth in my industry and probably a ton of others. Everyone wants their own subjectively designed website, brand, or logo. 

    I guess this could be taken as a rant (and I do apologize for that :) ) but I truly am trying to build fierce loyalty around our quality work while competitors continue to undercut, out source, and replicate. 

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       Hi Matt,
      I didn’t detect a rant, but not sure exactly what your perspective is here: you believe custom design should be valued more, is already valued, or that templates are evil? (or something else I haven’t quite grasped here)

      • http://mattreport.com Matt Medeiros

        I guess it boils down to, what’s the best method to get people to buy in to the cost of building something custom? Unique design takes time in research, planning, and design/development. What more besides a sales pitch and portfolio does it take to get someone to become fiercely loyal to buying into the process?

  • http://twitter.com/lina003 Sherrie Rohde

    I absolutely love that you approached loyalty from the design standpoint. I’m a designer as well so I totally relate to where you’re coming from on this. I’m extremely brand loyal to good design which I think is probably the largest (of several other) reasons why I’m such a strong advocate of all things Apple. Even those who don’t understand design principles know when they see good design and become very comfortable with it and drawn to it. Thanks for the post!

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       Hi Sherrie,
      Apple’s such a good example. It’s used a lot, so I avoided talking about it here, but they may be the best example out there of a very design-driven company that continues to change & influence the marketplace almost solely through design. Thanks for bringing them up!

      • http://twitter.com/lina003 Sherrie Rohde

        For sure! :)

  • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

    Hi everyone,
    Bedtime for me here…I’ll be up in about 9 or 10 hours to read all your responses. Keep ‘em coming!

  • http://www.facebook.com/shannon.bednowicz Shannon Bednowicz

     I love so much about what you wrote. I never really noticed why I was so much more attracted to some things than others. I particularly love the line about alienating the many to attract the golden few, as well as don’t be different to be different, be different because that’s who you are. Growing up, and still, for that matter, I tend to run away from the popular, lemmingesque things I see in the world. My baby sister was the opposite growing up. She had to have the IZOD bag or the GUESS jeans because that’s what everyone else has.
    It will be cool this week for me to take notice of the places and things I’m attracted to, indifferent to or repelled by.
    Thanks for this great insight!

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       “It will be cool this week for me to take notice of the places and things I’m attracted to, indifferent to or repelled by.”
      I’m glad this ignited your own curiosity, Shannon. That kind of observation is how designers learn more about the world, and anyone can use this to grow their understanding of design & environment.

  • http://thestoryoftelling.com/ Bernadette Jiwa

    These are all the reasons I came to you for my website design. Now I guess I’m like Gini with her Ikea stools—hooked!
    Lovely post.

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       Thank you, B ;) Guess we’re stuck with each other! heehee

  • http://twitter.com/DooneyPug Lori Finnigan

    Reese
     
    I’m not sure what part of your post I like best!  But if I had to choose, it would be towards the end:  do not compromise our values and be meaningful.  I guess that’s really a statement for life in general, right?
     
    Subconscious cues are certainly part of recognition and product like/dislike, and I find it interesting that we spend a lot of conscious time creating and designing something that will be noticed subconsciously more often than not.  But then I find a lot of things interesting that are probably just odd. 
     
    In answer to your question, I love Maxx New York handbags. (I’m sure you’re not aware of my intense love of purses, and by intense love I mean I need a closet just for bags.)
     
    Anyway, I love these bags because they are functional, have beautiful interior linings, quality leather and I like the X X in the logo.  I can spot one a mile away just because of the logo and the look of the bag itself.
     
    Thanks for a great post Reese. I can hear your voice in this post and always appreciate your enthusiasm and passion for design.
     
    Xoxo

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

      “do not compromise our values and be meaningful.  I guess that’s really a statement for life in general, right?”

      That’s absolutely the point, Lori. The weaving of life & design is why I do what I do. One reflects the other.

      I’m a Coach purse gal, and while I don’t need a whole closet yet, I’m getting there. Love how you articulated why the MAXX bags have meaning and delight for you!

  • http://twitter.com/GoforNo Andrea Waltz

    Reese, I don’t think I ever took design seriously enough until I read this. Luckily, my business partner and husband has much more so – but I always think of it as a “nice to have” not a “must have.” Now I see it as a “must have.” Great post – thanks!

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

      Hi Andrea,
      That’s great you have a new way to look at design! I think we’re coming into that time of design being ‘must have’ and I don’t just say that because it serves my profession/bottom line. Consumers are demanding designed objects & experiences at multiple levels, and in ways that speak to their own values.

      One example I think of off the top of my head is LG. I swear I’m more likely to buy the LG washer because it’s red. All the washers look the same. I see red, and I think “I will have joy doing my laundry.” One could say they really pulled one over on me. Or one could say they enriched my life/experience.

      • sherrickmark

        Well, red is rather eye catching, its one of the most visible colors, and most popular for a reason.

        Check the cereal aisle…

      • http://twitter.com/lina003 Sherrie Rohde

        It’s interesting that you bring up LG for laundry … I do love their line design for that; their phones are another story though. Weird how they’re not consistently appealing across product lines.

  • Carla K.

    I like this post…

    It’s not the product that you sell, but how you package it that will attract and keep the customers you want.
    It’s not the website newsletter or blog that you have but it’s the words you craft that keep the potentila clients coming and staying as customers for life because they wait on baited breath for the next thing you have to say.
    It’s not the “presentation ” you do but it is the experience that they keep coming back for.
    It’s all about how you design your business that makes it interesting and worth taking a second look.
    It’s about flair and panache…  That certain something that is intangible yet is staring them in the face.

    Thank you for this… It helped me look at “my business” in a whole new light.

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       You’re welcome, Carla!

      YOu’ve nailed it–it’s all these rich layers, sewn together, with some gold threads here and there, and an usual shape over there, all within a structure that makes sense, too. Beautiful interpretation by you of what I was getting at.

  • http://stirringtheblackegg.com/ M. Keli Vidrine

    It seems like it’s becoming a recurring theme in this series that loyalty and alienation are, in some ways, two sides of the same coin. As Mark Silver was saying the other day, we can’t have a strong sense of belonging without having some sort of wall around our community, and a clear distinction between those who are in the community and those who are not. That may alienate some folks, but the alternative is to not have a clear message and focus, to be bland and useless.

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       Yes, yes, yes. Draw lines in the sand. And for the people who chose to be on your line in the sand, give them all you’ve got–crafted just for them.

  • http://www.lydiapuhak.com Lydia Puhak

    Wow, Reese — this post and the way you are responding to comments here are pointing to something important: What sort of connection can be evoked through the environment one creates for their visitors, which includes readers of a blog post like this. …and what role does the design of the environment have on the quality (including fierce loyalty) of that connection?
    I went on a journey as I read your post, first relating to your musings on moon cakes and their pretty, yet functional packages… took me right to my first trip abroad which happened to have been to Singapore during the mooncake festival just two years ago. The whole metaphor of me plunking myself down into Singapore, where it’s hard NOT to be bombarded with brands, vast consumerism at the luxury level and the highly-contrived nature of that place, juxtaposed with the festival itself being one that historically stems from a celebration of harvest, autumn and the moon and the reality that hardly anything is grown on the land there to be harvested. This goes right to my soul as I value nature and its rhythms, not to mention the celebratory aspects of autumn and the abundance it brings. There’s something spiritual about the depth of connection that the mooncakes had on me then and are having on me now as I’m meeting you. Something of the ilk of the calligraphy Mark Silver mentioned earlier. Something simply profound. something, too, about keeping it profoundly, elegantly simple, perhaps. or maybe that’s what my audience and I prefer.
    Good stuff.

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       Hi Lydia,

      I, too, have been to SIngapore, and experienced a level of commercialism that strikes me as downright cold. The focus on branded names, shiny objects. Things over experiences. One year, I saw the Mooncake festival there, and the selling of the boxes there — with the crowds and hype — was in stark contrast to my experiences in Malaysia.

      You’ve described something important here…how you look to see whether a design reflects your core values. And how design can either honor a holistic experience, OR simply become a way to make a buck. Smart, thoughtful people like yourself can tell the difference.

      So glad you shared here. Thank you :)

  • http://twitter.com/BruceBarone BruceBarone

    I am designing a few items for my first showroom this April at High Point. Everything—from the space itself (part fine art photography gallery, part photography studio) to new business cards, signage and marketing materials. Your words have greatly inspired me. Thank You so much!!!

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       hi Bruce,
      To me, that level of planning shows such customer/client appreciation that the people who visit your show cannot help but feel intimately connected to what you do.

  • Clara Boza

    Reese, couldn’t agree with you more. Design is vital to our experience of a product or service.  And as you suggest, its effect on us is often unconscious. It simply resonates with who we are, with our own preferences, aesthetic, and even values. What those of us who value good design are often not very good at, ‘though, is making the connection between design and the bottom line above and beyond the “feel-good” aspect.

    Earlier this week, I saw a great example of how good design made a direct difference to the bottom line: two brochures, a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ for a kids’ summer camp. The ‘before,’ which the camp had used for years, looked like something that had been put together by the kids themselves (and I don’t mean that in a good way. Had that been the intention, it could have been an interesting approach, but that’s another story). The graphics were amateurish, the photos were made it hard to decide where I was supposed to focus my attention, and the type was jarring.

    The redesigned ‘after’ brochure, on the other hand, immediately focused me on the terrific experience that the kids attending the camp were having, and on the variety of those experiences, including ones that helped build relationship and leadership skills.  The change was radical–for parents considering a summer camp for their kids, the message of the enjoyable experience their kids would have came across loud and clear, It was also clear to me that were smart, thoughtful, and caring adults behind the scenes who worked hard to create this experience.

    Bottom line: a short time after the release of the new brochure, the camp, whose fees were below market, and had been for many years because of push-back from potential clients, was able to raise its fees, with little resistance, to bring it more in line with its competitors. The camp–which is in fact run by smart, thoughtful, caring people who understand the value of providing a fun environment in which kids can learn and grow–wasn’t doing a very good job  with its first brochure of getting this message across. The new materials convey the real story.

    It’s pretty nifty to see how good design allows an organization’s values to come to life.

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       Thanks for this very specific, grassroots example, Clara!

      What stands out for me is you said the camp is “run by smart, thoughtful, caring people who understand the value of providing a fun environment in which kids can learn and grow” but their prior design was not reflecting this experience, and these values.

      By putting more consideration and thought into their design, they were able to shape perception to better reflect their core philosophy. And that’s the power of good design: it can do the heavy lifting for us (and, as evidenced by your ‘before’ example, it can also paint us in a light that’s inaccurate of our beauty & offerings).

  • Anonymous

    Its definitely interesting to watch rebranding or reimaging as it goes on. There really is no true way to know if you will have a GAP failure or a success like Coke Classic.

    You can research all you want, but something that is truly iconic is a hard sell on a change that’s more than a color or font change. Redesigning a store is also a stretch sometimes, like the Starbucks example above.

    This a case of stick with whatever works, not throw shit at a wall and see what might stick.

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       LOL…I agree at not throwing shit at the wall ;)

      You brought up something here that’s good to keep in mind: big brands with iconic designs need to contend with the disintegration of cult loyalty if they start to mess with something that works.

      It’s a tricky balance. Change is sometimes necessary. But some brands make the mistake of equating change with increased market share. Or change to keep up with competitors. We must put thought behind the decisions we make, design and otherwise, and how they impact the people who’ve chosen to align themselves with us.

  • http://www.douglassandquist.com Doug S

    I often wonder what comes first, values or design.. I think it’s much harder to have great design with out values or a set of standards.  I’ve discovered in my own business, as I’ve worked on determining the core values for my business, I now have more clarity in the other stuff including any design elements… Templates are good start to help develop values if they aren’t clearly defined. What’s really hard a business is aligning yourself with customers that also have your values. This is where great design comes to play. I often think about Southwest Airlines…. not a lot of flash, but you always know what to expect..it’s consistent all the way through… 

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       I loved this, Doug and agree….it’s so hard to articulate a visual w hen there isn’t a value & meaning behind it to begin with.

      I also adhere to advising people to use a template  (or plain design) until they understand the meaning & values behind their business. Thank you so much for bringing this important contribution!

    • http://twitter.com/lina003 Sherrie Rohde

      Ah but in true design brainstorming, designers take values into account. It’s all about target audience as well as the message the company/organization is trying to convey. :)

      • http://www.douglassandquist.com Doug S

        that is true but you’re assuming that the business you’re working with knows it’s values at that time…

  • http://www.workingwithpower.com Michele Lisenbury Christensen

    What comes up here for me is the nourishment I as a business owner get from good design on my website, my pdf docs, and – for live events – worbooks, posters, and other printed collateral (haven’t had much use for business cards of late, but I know an amazing Sufi business guide who sends an utterly luscious Valentine’s Day (BIG-love, Divine love!)  card, as another example of *actual paper* design that makes people feel deeply and movingly at-home).  I say “good design is self-care” – having brilliant collaborators do for the visuals and information-flow what I do when I sit down with someone (I’m a relationship and intimacy coach) gives the business a dimension it couldn’t have without them.  That not only benefits my clients and would-be clients (by telling them whether I’m for them, or decidedly NOT, as you say!) but me and my team as well: it shows us who we are, in a clear visual way.  It’s like your friend’s Ikea stool or the Venetian chandeliers above my desk: good design creates a sensory atmosphere that guides and feeds everyone who “lives” in that business.  Put more simply, it makes me happy.

    Others I absolutely love:  the gritty-mod design of Neptune Coffee here in Seattle.  The lush depth of Papaya Designs’ illustrations on journals, tote bags, stationery and tags.  The sleek chrome of my Omega juicer.  Lianne Raymond’s new site: http://www.lianneraymond.com.  And more.

  • http://twitter.com/ColleenHModEye Colleen Hannegan

    Thanks Reese. It’s not about what they bought when they walked out of your store, or how much they spent, but how they FEEL. The FEELING is what keeps them fiercely loyal. Beauty makes you FEEL really good! It’s why my front walkway is kept swept and clean, the big, colorful geraniums greet my clients at the front door, the windows are always clean and neat so they start feeling welcomed when they drive up to the front entrance..BEFORE they get out of their car. After visiting Milan, Italy a few years back, I returned and redecorated my entire eyewear salon. Cozy, warm, elegant, inviting, waiting for them to enter and enjoy choosing beautiful eyewear. Just like the elegant and inviting shops all along the streets of gorgeous Milan.
    I’ve tried to keep that feeling in my website as well. Clients always comment “this is the most beautiful eyeglass shop”, “it feels so good just to be in here”. 
    After reading your lovely expression of why design shows us where we belong….I’ll return to my web page and make SURE it follows more closely to the true essence of my business.
    Lovely!

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

       You’re welcome, Colleen.
      Thank you for sharing the story about your eyeglass store. I really love real-world examples like that. People will return to your store not just because it services their eyes, but it services their minds & hearts. They feel welcomed, treated, spoiled. Their experience with your shop becomes akin to visiting an art gallery–as you said, a feeling and an experience instead of just a shopping trip.

      Glad you felt inspired to return to your website and ask “how does this reflect the essence of my business?” I’d recommend going over each element on your site, and running it past that barometer. I’m impressed that you’re this invested in design, environment, and experience!

    • http://twitter.com/lina003 Sherrie Rohde

      It is definitely the feeling that keeps me coming back and quite a bit of it, for me, is based off the atmosphere that the design creates, in addition to the people. I can’t separate the two in my mind.

  • http://www.livinghalffull.com/ Peter Mis

    Hello Reese! Awesome insights (as usual!) Design is one of those things that is so overlooked in terms of building loyalty. Too often it’s just an after thought. To me, design represents a critical component in the process. Great design is an extension of the core passion of a business/blog/venture. When done correctly, design can be a warm embrace welcoming you back home. Loyalty is driven by an emotional connection, and design creates a visual interpretation which serves to reinforce what it is you stand for, thus strengthening the emotional connection.

     “Design with your heart and values on your sleeve.” Without heart and values, there is nothing to become emotionally connected to, which means there’s nothing to be loyal to, either.

    So glad you’re part of this series! Thank you Reese! 

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

      Thank YOU, Peter, for your kind words. It’s always a pleasure to see your name & face around :)

      Your statement about the emotional connection design creates is astute. It’s a touchstone. A way back to the business or person. Create enough touchstones, and you’ve got a stronger bond. Thank you for sharing this insight!

  • Sharon E. Greene

    Hi, Reese,
    Thanks for a very timely (for me) and inspiring post about the effect of good design – and the introspection and time that should go into it in order to convey the personality behind and the value of what we do. Because I’m just starting out, I used a template approach to my business cards and stationery, although I certainly agree with Matt about the value of investing in quality work that’s designed for the long-term. As for design that speaks to me, Apple is certainly at the top of the list, along with the magazine Real Simple, and Clinique. I’ve always had a Mac, subscribed to Real Simple as soon as it came out, and although I don’t use Clinique products, I appreciate the clean, streamlined design of their ads and how they convey the brand and our expectations of it. I really enjoyed your post and the opportunity you’ve given us to look, with fresh eyes, at how we present ourselves and our products to potential clients.
    Sharon

  • rmsorg

    Wow Reese, where do I begin… We have been going thru this specific topic of design on our website and until I could articulate what was turning me “off” I really didn’t connect design with all those wonderful points you describe in your last paragraph.  I love this sentense; These symbols, markers, environments and visuals all give us
    subconscious cues about our values and often create a sense of
    community, too.”  We do make emotional connections with brands that we can relate to, whose subconscious cues match ours. 
    I’m looking forward to “designing with my heart and values on my sleeve!” Let’s walk on that fire..

  • annettenack

    A little late to the party, but hey I showed up!
    Thank you so much for your post Reese, it hit me on so many levels.  In particular, when you wrote “Homogeny is death for any growing business or person in this marketplace. Neutrality, both in voice and in design, is near guaranteed failure. Design will be the great growth mechanism of the next 25 years.”  Hell yeah!

    I think as we start off we can very easily fall into the trap of “modeling” what other people are doing & in that process become a little too cookie cutter-ish.  I’ve struggled with that myself as I strive to carve a piece of the world out for myself.  But as you wrote, it’s the risk-takers who make their mark on the world & darn it, I’m going to be one of them!  I’ll be chewing on how & what to wear on my sleeve, but it will be done with integrity & a little bit of stretching on my part.

    As far as who inspires me, there are a few that jump out but if I begin that look with design, I really love reading Chris Guillebeau’s “Art of Non-Conformity” & yes, I do actually realize that you were intimately involved in that design process!  

    What is it that inspires me?  Simply put, it doesn’t look or feel like anything else out there.  As much as I may appreciate the information in other people’s newsletters, websites, etc, it’s easy for me to put them aside to read another time.  But with AONC, not only is it easily readable on my blackberry, but it looks pretty too.  I’m always drawn to things that look nice that have a message & mission that I can really get behind.  Of course there are other reasons, but it’s the whole package & the way his communication with his own tribe is carried out.

    • http://twitter.com/reese reese spykerman

      Thank you, Annette. So glad you’re going to:
      -stick with your integrity and
      -stretch!

      Now, go fly :)