You’re a design junkie and you don’t even know it

You’re a design junkie and you don’t even know it!

Design is like gravity after 40 - you can’t avoid it. It is part of everything around us. When we are consuming, we are looking at stuff. And when you look at stuff, you’re influenced by design.

Why is this something I would be pondering? Because I think people understand the value of, for instance, a well-designed coffee-maker vs a crappy not-so-clever one, but they rarely give any thought to the visual design. Consciously or subconsciously, design influences us all day, every day. Product packaging, displays, labels, logos, banners, colours, themes and trends play a huge role in decision making when people are rating products or services.

Good design makes things pretty and enhances our lives. Bad design makes us unintentionally buy the blue (skim) milk instead of creamy deliciousness we’re used to.

Good design makes you understand something about the product even before you’ve used it or picked it up from the shelf. Bad design makes you walk past a product or give no notice to an advertisement about a great new service.

Good design communicates. Bad design confuses.

Good design is intelligent and knows its target market. Bad design makes assumptions, but mostly, bad design just doesn’t care.

Of course, it’s quite possible that an inferior product could also be helped up the profit ladder by clever or beautiful design. But imagine the value good graphic design can add when it is coupled with a product or service that is already great - accentuating and communicating to you in an effective way will attract even more attention of consumers.

You don’t need to work in advertising or study art to have an opinion on design, or to be influenced by it. Everything around us involves design. Even the font you are reading this piece of text in is a design element used to encourage you to “consume” the “product” right to the end.

And that is why I am often astounded that people will spend years to build a service/product/company, but have the fugliest freakin logo or corporate colours you’ve seen since photos of your parents’ fondue party in their brown and orange themed kitchen, somewhere in the late ’70s or the early ’80s, resurfaced. Ok, those were kind of cool, but still. Suffice to say that the brown/orange theme has never resurfaced as a look. And also, it should not. But back to my point: in a perfect world, what a logo or product looks like shouldn’t matter - it should be purely about quality, consistency, etc. But last time I checked, we weren’t living in a perfect world and we’re not heading there shortly.

So, companies with ugly logos and really vieslike fonts from the late ’90s, listen up. Whether you’re a tannie with a koeksister shop or a plumber with the right bum, what your logo and your ads and your products and your stickers look like matters. End of story.

Design matters. Ok?


The cookie jar is not for cookies

The cookie jar is not for cookies

And the linen closet is very seldom used for linen. Unless you married very rich or have illusions of trust-fund-grandeur, most linen closets contain very little linen. And the smaller the house, the less likely you are to find any space dedicated to just one house-hold item. Oh the luxury.

So move over percale, I need packing space for all my packets. Packets you ask? Yes, in all shapes and sizes, in a designated box. On the shelf next to the seven bottles of shampoo that was on sale, the sewing kit, our monthly stockpile of 2-minute noodles, lots of toilet paper, beach towels, and a teensy bit of linen. These precious little packets of promotional products and samples have been collected over time, and all of them shall be sampled and taken out at precisely the right moment. And before you tell me I’m a hoarder  - I use every single one of them. It’s all about timing. I love saving money, but I love free stuff even more and I always find a way to use just about any sample giving to me. I am yet to discover an alternative use for disposable baby nappies, but will be re-gifting them in the near future.

What’s interesting is not my very frugal and effective management of available resources, it’s the fact that even though my need and consumption of these packets or sachets is borne from a penny-pinching/hoarding perspective, I have more often than not formed a very clear picture of the product and brand in my mind.  It’s probably because of the strong memory link that is created when you form an associative memory - the result of saving something for some time or seeing it regularly, and then using it for a very specific or special purpose.

Like the sachet of sunscreen I scratched out of the bottom of the box on an unusually sunny winter’s day when we went on a hike. The small bottle of shampoo that was enough for the whole family during a very special camping trip. I still use the tiny bottle and fill it with the same shampoo (it’s sooo cute) and now it’s a regular on the packing list when we’re traveling extra light.

I also remember the sample of concealer that was a life-saver on my first day at a new job, after dropping my regular concealer on the bathroom’s tile floor and watching it shatter into pieces (yes, I could have scooped the precious lotion off the floor, and I could also have given myself a very severe and rather bloody microdermabrasion).

Truth be told, I would never have given the product a go if it was not for that precious free sachet, and I’m sounding like a promo ad now, but it really did make me buy the product. This product, which I won’t mention (unless they send me a container full of sachets...), is part of a brand that is slightly out of reach for this single mom of two. But, the difference is quality was remarkable and I was sold -  I now purchase it along with my regular “this day might be a waste of make-up” concealer and only use the fancy one for special occasions. And it is special.

I don’t know what other people do with all the samples and promo products they receive - I’ve never actually thought of asking anyone. But I know I’ve yet to find a little something that I won’t save and use at the exact right time, and if people can emotionally bond with shoes or handbags, then don’t judge me for my obsession with small packets of whatever.

Now if someone could please fall pregnant so I can find a use for those nappies, that would be lovely.

-Blogger: MissT

Chatbots used to interact with customers on Facebook

Yes please to chatbots, no thank you to kale…

Unless you’re hiding in the bush off the grid, hoarding baked beans and water purifiers and waiting for the apocalypse, chances are that digital marketing has influenced at least some part of your life in the past 24 hours.

As a busy mom raising two boys, this means that I regularly see digital content about raising kids, staying sane, good nutrition, exercise and how-to Mary Kondo my living space.  So, I wouldn't be surprised if I also soon start seeing info in my feed on island getaways, yoga retreats, specials on 2-minute noodles and gin tastings.

Herein lies the beauty of digital marketing - it has a unique ability to adapt to a very specific target audience, much more than other traditional marketing channels. Which means it might save you time, introduce you to ways of improving your life or give you information that is applicable to your specific needs.

The most obvious digital marketing that we interact with is through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. But it goes far beyond that; almost any interaction online will expose us to some form of digital marketing - prominently placed digital displays or  mobile phones are other ways of receiving info that applies to us  - so even if we might be cleansing ourselves of social media after a recent overdose, we’d still receive targeted info in other ways.

It can be a win-win situation for companies and consumers alike - the company have access to a mass market at an affordable price, with the option of personalised campaigns. This means we’re getting the info based on our specific type of lifestyle. If it’s working well, it also means we should be getting less of the stuff we don’t really need or are even trying to avoid at all cost (steer clear kale recipes and make-up tutorials).

The flip side of targeted messages is of course that there is a lot of it, all the time. If you spend a significant amount of time online (like me) it is easy to feel bombarded by so many messages. Which is why I loved my recent interaction with none other than a robot. Yup, a special type of robot called a chatbot. And it is exactly what it says - a non-human entity you can chat to and get answers to your questions.

There is no doubt, a chatbot out there, who can also give you an answer to life and why cellulite is impossible to get rid of, but my needs were far more urgent than that.

Shortly before going away for a weekend I realised my son’s allergy medicine was almost finished. Rushing through deadlines, packing, organising pet-sitters and padkos, I somehow had to get to a pharmacy as well, after office hours.

Although most good shopping centres have well-organised websites, it can be tedious to find the info you need immediately. But not this time - thanks to the lovely chatbot on Centurion Mall’s landing page. It opens automatically when you visit their website - you simply type your request and away you go!

It’s extremely easy to interact with, for millennials and technophobes alike. It guides you through a logical structure to get to the info you need.

Best of all? This chatbot replies to your messages immediately and unambiguously, which is why I suspect it’s of the female variety.

On a more serious and final note: this digital interaction saved me time and made my life easier. Other shopping malls and businesses, in general, could gain by taking note.