The power of understatement

I’ve read articles about the classic FedEx logo before, but this interview with the design team about the power of negative whitespace is worth a look.

The key to success was subtlety. When you’ve got a genuine bit of magic in your hands, don’t push it at people. Let it happen.

FedEx’s PR firm immediately wanted to supersize it. They wanted to make it obvious, fill it in with another color. They wanted to feature the arrow in other brand communications. They didn’t get it. It wasn’t about the arrow. An arrow isn’t even interesting to look at. It’s only because of the subtlety that it’s intriguing.

Virile and Viral – our blades are f’ing great

This splendid video for the Dollar Shave Club has lathered itself all over the chin of the internet and it’s offering a serious disruption to a high-margin sector. Note:

  •  A nostalgic nod back to no-nonsense times (shaving as virility)
  •  Humility: he’s rubbish at anything involving throwing or catching (this brand is reachable by you)
  •  Clear repeated branding and the dead simple proposition (why wouldn’t you?)
  •  “The party is on” – hints at peer approval and that it’s an OK gang to join
  •  Acres of humour and likeability (use this and have more fun!)

Why Instagram works

There are many photo editing apps and many offer some kind of sharing.

Yet Instagram (see my previous post) is way ahead of the pack in popularity and buzz. This fantastic article goes into why. My favourite aspect is about how it deliberately limits its functionality. you can only load one image at a time. Imagine how natural it would seem to add many at once. But that would detract from the product’s simplicity and delight.

Design is finished not when there’s nothing left to add, but when there’s nothing left to take away.

Dickens on demand

Next day the posters appeared in due course, and the public were informed, in all the colours of the rainbow, and in letters afflicted with every possible variation of spinal deformity, how that Mr Johnson would have the honour of making his last appearance that evening, and how that an early application for places was requested, in consequence of the extraordinary overflow attendant on his performances,—it being a remarkable fact in theatrical history, but one long since established beyond dispute, that it is a hopeless endeavour to attract people to a theatre unless they can be first brought to believe that they will never get into it.

Nicholas Nickleby, p.378

Most-read posts of 2010

The most popular posts on talkablelikeable in 2010, in exciting reverse order

10. The social web just got go-faster stripes
The introduction of easily-added ‘Like’ buttons to the web

9. A glimpse into the future of the web
Google and Arcade Fire’s fantastic demonstration of html5

8. Internet marketing – 1995 style
Superhighways and not so super haircuts

7. Rutger Hauer – The Man with the Guinness
Memories of that Guinness tv campaign

6. The birth of social TV
Real-time watercooler moments. Interesting, but hasn’t hurt Twitter at all

5. Mo’vellous
Terrific ad campaign for Movember

4. Should you buy an iPad? My experience so far…
Early thoughts on Apple’s new device. Reading it back seven months on, I pretty much still feel that way

3. If Carlsberg did action replays
Brilliant ad/spoof (and I still don’t know which)

2. If you type “Google” into Google, you break the internet
Originally posted in 2009, but still popular and still funny

1. Everything you ever needed to know about branding in 67 seconds
Almost annoyingly brilliant summation of branding from Steve Jobs.

The Guardian TV ads 1980s/1990s

I’ve just uploaded these two collections of The Guardian‘s TV ads that cover the 80s and 90s. The first set pre-dated my time as Brand Manager, but I was responsible for the second reel.

The ‘points of view’ (skinhead) ad from the mid 1980s remains the most famous ad from any newspaper and often appears in those lists of top 100 ads. However, viewed as a collection, I think they show the evolution of the brand, becoming notably more sophisticated, entertaining and inventive.

It was a critical task to modernise the paper, shake off the beardy, worthy image and fight the price-cutting Times and the newly-launched Independent. Good marketing, editorial vision, investigative journalism and investment in the product itself combined to strengthen a much-loved media brand and give it a strong platform to compete in the digital era.