Much to my amazement, I sat through a branding discussion yesterday at a large b2b client without a single mention of Coke or Nike. Impressive. Long the gold standard, these two have now officially been eclipsed by Apple.
(Design dorks shaking your heads smugly—yes, they’re design driven, but there’s more to it.)
However, today’s discussion was monumental because it didn’t focus on a logo, or even a recognizable shape. In fact, no one could really pinpoint what exactly makes Apple so great. So here are my reasons:
Consistent (and great) design language - Product form and materials are similar across the line, as is the UI. Products look and feel premium.
Simplicity - Everything is simple, from the design to the experience. No wasted steps or materials.
It works - You pick up an Apple product and it just works. Period.
Customer service - The Genius Bar has revolutionized the arduous repair process. (This is way overlooked.)
Education - They teach classes at the stores for beginners to get up to speed.
Advertising - Iconic, familiar, simple.
Focus on user experience - Their primary motivation is to create an awesome user experience. From product design to advertising, it’s all focused on how you use the object and how their product will improve your life. And it works like you think it should, even if it’s your first time using it.Things they don’t do:
- Worry about social media campaigns
- Conduct focus groups
- Confuse people
- Create market subsegments (e.g. premium phone, mid phone, cheap phone)
- Waste money on flashy acquisitions
To me, Apple is great because they built a core competency and have focused on it obsessively. While other companies chase cars, they continue building great consumer products and experiences.
Did I miss anything?
It is no coincidence that geniuses like Einstein were skilled in multiple areas, or polymaths, as we like to refer to them. Geniuses are constantly seeking out novel activities, learning a new domain. It’s their personality…
Novelty also triggers dopamine (I have mentioned this before in other posts), which not only kicks motivation into high gear, but it stimulates neurogenesis—the creation of new neurons—and prepares your brain for learning. All you need to do is feed the hunger.
Excellent learning condition = Novel Activity—>triggers dopamine—>creates a higher motivational state—>which fuels engagement and primes neurons—>neurogenesis can take place + increase in synaptic plasticity (increase in new neural connections, or learning).” —Andrew Kuszewski, You can increase your intelligence: 5 ways to maximize your cognitive potential, Scientific American
Dear friends and colleagues,
I want my work for you to be awesome and make you look great. This means hitting deadlines and turning in top-notch work. While I believe in great communication, it ranks second to quality and timeliness. To do so, I’ve decided to make a couple changes to how I use email as follows (explanations below):
- Only checking emails at 11am and 4pm
- Reducing the length of my emails to no more than five sentences.
The reason is context switching. Your mind is nimble, yes, but it has a difficult time getting back on task after doing something else. I’ve read that it takes nearly five minutes to get back to the point you were at predistraction. Checking email 5x/hr means ~25 minutes of stupidity. 25 minutes!
As a result, I’m only checking emails at two times during the day: 11am and 4pm. Please call me if it’s truly urgent. If our email string goes past three per person (six total), I’ll likely call you. At that point, we obviously need to communicate in more efficient manner. Plus, I like hearing your voice.
Limiting Emails to Five Sentences (typically three)
We’re all busy. We all receive too many emails. We all hate email. It’s true.
Nothing’s worse than a huge block of text that takes the scenic route to the point. I don’t want to contribute to email bloat, so I’m reducing my emails to three sentences (for normal communications) or five in rare instances where a little context is necessary. If it requires more than that, I’ll call.
Again, my goal is to make your life easier. Reducing my text actually gives you more time to get things done, because you spend less time reading my emails. I’m not trying to sound magnanimous here, but I’d rather see you at home with your family or at happy hour than reading email.
This whole post could be summarized in these three senteneces:
In order to improve my quality of work and timeliness, I’m beginning a new policy where I only check email twice a day: 11am and 4pm. I need long periods of uninterupted concentration to be productive, and constantly checking email is a real time killer for me. I’m also limiting my emails to three concise sentences in an attempt to make your life easier.
I’m going to track how this goes as I’m doing it so stay tuned.