"It's like a six, if you flip it over it looks like a nine. But a six is very different from a nine."
In Rory Sutherland's TED Talk "Life Lessons from an Ad Man," I learned of the Diamond Shreddies case study. Ogilvy & Mather created intangible added value, without changing the product in the slightest. It makes me laugh every time I watch the video.
There are three Starbucks at the Shepherd & West Gray intersection (four if you count the one in Kroger just down the block). This fact has irked me ever since I discovered it recently. It initially seems senseless to saturate that corner, but I had to make sense of it.
Starbucks sees an opportunity to feed the market. They call this strategy “Main & Main” where they find a high-traffic locale and open up shops. Each location is slightly different, tailoring the experience to different needs. *
Knowing that the majority of coffee sales are generated before noon, each location indirectly works together to reduce bottle necking and allows customers to get their caffeine-fix in a more streamlined way.
Between all the different ways to order, pay, receive and consume coffee, Starbucks does not fear cannibalization, and instead banks on the unplanned, yet convenient, cup to drive overall sales.
What it all comes down to is persuading its customers that they have no choice but to grab a coffee. It is right there. No excuses. Whether it is at Location One, Two, Three or Four, through consistent and persistent marketing, Starbucks does not care where -- it focuses on the "stronger together" mentality. That is pretty powerful positioning (literally and figuratively).
* Two of these stores are licensed, not franchises. The licensed cafes are incorporated into already existing storefronts via strategic partnerships, with Barnes & Nobles and Kroger. Starbucks licenses the rights to serve its coffee and trains other companies’ employees to sell its products. (Brilliant, right?) The main differences appear to be which gift cards are redeemable and that employees may get called off to work “others duties as assigned.”
I recently started watching the TV show Portlandia. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein capture how restaurants attempt to enhance the customer experience by offering high customization but instead unnecessarily complicate it. In this case, there are so many steps that the reason the customer came in the first place (to get a Pastrami sandwich) never actually happens. The navigation, order process, delivery, customer service, signage, all severely impact the dining experience. The restaurant took something easy and made it hard, which becomes even more difficult when you are hungry. It reminds me that efficiency and effectiveness are key components to any experience. This restaurant designer clearly did not take her customer experience into consideration!
Throwback to last year's unveiling of the Rice Athletics brand refresh. Can't believe it's been a year!
"What's this?" A fun game my family and I played growing up. My grandfather would make a shape with his table-napkin and place it on his head — suddenly it transformed into a hat. Then he would place it in front of his mouth and it became a megaphone. Whether it was a salt-shaker, a pencil or any other odd object on hand, we would all shout out options until we ran out. Sometimes the game would go on for ages until dinner came to the table or it was time for bed.
I am reminded of that game often in my professional life. My grandpa primed me to take something ordinary and come up with creative solutions to make it seem more realistic. We only believed it was a hat when it was carefully constructed and shaped, not just draped over. We were not blindly stretching our imaginations. What I learned at an early age is what designers do on a daily basis -- we take basic information and transform it into more meaningful results.
I have always admired Christoph Niemann and his Ordinary Objects. He inspires me to carry this game forward into everyday life.
I once heard the Chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association speak. She said a lot of insightful and inspiring comments but one sentence really stood out. Stacey Allastar said, "Never deal with liars, cheats and jerks." It seems like a no-brainer but it is important enough for her to articulate, even at her executive level.
At the core, all are manipulators who value their interests above others'. They exhibit a desire to get ahead, gain advantage, avoid the undesirable. These master manipulators seem to have a fast-pass to success and power – at the unfortunate expense of others. They know how to play the game. They know what to say to your face and behind your back. Maybe I am a purist and naive, but I would rather act with integrity than constantly watch my back.
However, duplicity, politicking or Machiavallianism do not need to underwrite success and power. They can just be achieved via influence and leadership, bringing people together rather than pinning them against one another or breaking them down.
As I type, I am reminded of advice ESPN commentator Tommy Smyth also told me: "Surround yourself with good people and never tell a lie, you will never have to remember anything." It takes less effort to tell the truth, and your facts are already confirmed. When you and those around you act with high morals and integrity, you are protected against vulnerability. You work together to achieve common goals, for the common good. You support one another. You listen to others' needs, perspectives and feelings. You are authentic. So the best way to deal with liars, cheats and jerks is to just not. If you cannot change the environment around you then change the environment you are in.