Ed Balls

If you were advising Ed Balls on how to handle the gloriously silly, utterly pointless and very British Ed Balls meme, what would you tell him?

If he were to tweet “Ed Balls” today, entirely deadpan, people would love him.

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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.

Google put on the best tech demo ever

Rather than mimicking Apple’s “gorgeous” style of demoing products (as Facebook and Microsoft do), Google yesterday played to their geek strengths and raised the bar sky high.

Google Glass could be thought of as as a.n.other of their barking tech adventures, but by bringing to life the magic of sharing what you’re seeing in this incredible, audacious way, they’ve opened a new frontier.

How long before Sportsmen and women are wearing descendents of Google Glass whilst playing their games? I can see Sky Sports gagging for this.

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!)

Noted

Nice touch: personalised notebooks at today’s Think Google event.

No big “come and get yours” sign, but subtle self discovery. I was the first person to arrive and it took me a few seconds to twig why so many names were on the bookshelf.

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John Walters

Just read an enjoyable article about John Peel’s producer and general wit John Walters. He spent many years bringing interesting, new arts to the masses, best summed up in his wonderful stated aim,

To give the public what they didn’t know they wanted

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.

Amazon amazing

When I got two copies of this CD through the post, I groaned. Not because I had been a doofus in ordering twice, but because returning items is usually so painful.

So it was with delight that I got this message from Amazon when starting the Returns process. That’s customer service good enough for me to tell everyone in ear-shot in the office.

Simultweeting

Encouraging parallel conversations during live events has been gathering pace recently. The Guardian have long had much success with their interactive minute-by-minute coverage of sport, and more recently live rolling news.

Even sweet old Radio 4 is getting in on the act; last night I heard them encouraging people to use the hashtag #r4riot and join in with one of their live shows.

But my favourite example recently is Riz Ahmed, an actor in Four Lions, tweeting live (simultweeting?) along with a screening of the film on TV. What a great way to spread the word and encouraging re-watching. It’s a bit like the audio commentaries you get as extras on DVD, but much more vital.

 

A picture is worth 140 characters

I’ve said before that one of my favourite tricks in developing new products is simply to break one rule – take a successful formula and change just one thing.

Instagr.am does just that – it’s the Twitter model of easy microblogging, but based around photos rather than text and it seems to be catching fire by enabling people to broadcast their creativity to friends and strangers in a fast and customisable way.

There’s a need for this. Whereas Facebook’s blithely happy environment pulls towards the mainstream, emerging services such as Instagr.am skew towards the thoughtful and creative. And there’s a place for that.