Brand Attributes, Customer Profiles, & Business Goals
The role of live facilitation. Back to the squirrel and to the ADD, comes from the fact that one thing that I learned was that if you don't get consensus early on, it's just a lot of work. I get some nods here from user experience designers doing all the documentation, revising it, coming back. Do you think I can sit still and do the documentation for days at an end? Hell no. So when I ran my agency, what I wanted to do was I wanted to get all that done fast, more so at Razorfish, we charge half a million dollars for month retainer. (laughs) So if it takes six weeks or eight weeks to do this, it's costing a million dollars just to define the product. If you're a startup, that's ridiculous. So I switched completely from doing the work for big clients. I said, no agencies, no big clients. Don't like it, ain't cool. A, because TNO, they didn't actually understand the process. And I'm talking about working for some of the biggest agencies in the world and I'm not calling them out. I would,...
but it's bad for them. This is a long time ago, too. So they probably changed, probably not. The idea of having to educate them was too much work. So I said, why don't I work with startups? I'm working directly with the CEO. What do you think a CEO of a company is gonna tell me about doing the strategy and UX stuff portion of it. They're gonna be you're out of your mind to charge me that much money. So we needed to figure out how to take something that took four to six weeks or more (laughs) and make it in 10 hours and do it in 10 hours. We didn't even charge them for it. Strategy, you get it included what we're charging them for. It's what they wanted, the design of their product, the identity, the brand, the things that I could sell them on that we did well because they could believe it. They saw our portfolio, they were, pretty good. Would they believe that we're a great strategists or questionable unless you give it to them for free and they don't care. We built in the cost into the time, but here's the reason why it's (laughs) facilitating entrepreneurs, executives, anybody. It's kinda like this, everybody's very different. You got the monkey with the symbols down here, you got the CEO over here. It's extremely different, and this is you. And you gotta be able to get everybody on the same page. Moreso TNO or anybody who is in a office, and in an environment that's a larger corporation. That's run with 20th century management principles, which is fairly hierarchical. This is from a survey, I'm not making this up. We surveyed a group of people that we were actually doing some training for. What are the three hardest... What are the hardest things? What came out of it was getting our Ironman, managing our partners and vendors. I experienced this when I was doing this, briefing and managing teams, meaning like the team itself knowing what they need to do. It's all people, it's all people issues. None of this is anything to do with the software. None of this has anything to do with anything but people. Better yet, here's a quote from an... not an episode. Everything for me is TV or video. Print, old-school Eric for you, in a print magazine, it said, "This whole 'collaboration, we'll work together as a team'... I find it f***ing difficult..." That was a creative director of a New York agency in 2010. Yeah, he used to be the top, he used to be Don Draper. He was like, he walks in and he's like, here's my genius idea and now it has nothing to do with him. It has everything to do with technology, has to do with users, what? He's confused at that point. So business today requires; business, creative, tech and marketing people to work together. Each with a different interest in the project. And here's the funny thing, the business guy looks like a ruin a little bit, except I don't know why he has a button shirt, ROI, how much is this costing? Why am I getting this back? Et cetera. The revenue aspect, the profit aspect, the designer's like, it looks very nice. I like the colors this is cool. Yeah, I feel it, is awesome. (laughs) The developer is like I got two kids, I got to go home. It's it work or it doesn't work. Sequel, Mongo, I don't care what database you're using, but he does because he doesn't wanna be doing the wrong thing. Think about it, they're binary. And I'm not making a reference to coat. It works or it doesn't, they're not talking about the emotional nuances of whether they should use orange or not. They're talking about, does this work? And is it right? Righteousness, you know how righteous developers and technical people are? (laughs) No offense to those of you who are watching, who might be... some of my best friends are developers. (laughs) No that might be a lie, marketing folks. So whether it's USP or channels or whatever esoteric marketing terms, all they care about is getting the word out, and it's spreading. So at the end of the day, you have an organization where each stakeholder is thinking something different about the solution. Totally different and they don't have a framework in which to communicate that, have you guys read the Bible, the tower of Babel story? Probably not. Okay. (laughs) Nobody could get any work done because nobody could understand what the heck they were saying. And that's really what happens usually in this case scenario. So when you have this, the shortest distance between start and delivery, it's usually a straight line, but here you have all of these disparate stakeholders. Oh my God, this means all of this... Okay, I'll show you another diagram before it, what we try to create with the process that I'm gonna share with you is a narrower variance corridor. Notice that I said narrower, it's not like completely narrow. I mean, there's no way to make it like super perfect, it's simply to create a containment space. 'Cause everything above this is wasted time and money. And why I said earlier that startups majority of the time, the initial 80% is wasted, is because they did a lot of that to get to the product. So you wanna go from this, from thinking completely different things to this. And a way to do that is by defining the core of what the idea is in words. So this doesn't sound like user experience, but it is. And here's how, so user experience is really about getting the goals of the business and the user's needs aligned. I'm adding an extra dimension, which is who you are. And that's really about authenticity. A lot of people focus on just that. And you could do that, but I call that a very technical term that should be added to the dictionary. I call that dry humping, (laughs) which is where you're sit might be an appropriate, but is this PG 13? Or is this... this is...
We're okay with that.
All right, good. (laughs) Which is, you're really like making the motions, but you're not necessarily really getting a lot of attraction simply because it isn't authentic or it isn't aligned with who you are or with the brand. So the brand is a layer that we're adding to this process, and that is a continuous layer. And there's a lot of definitions of brand. In this case scenario, I'm using the definition of what your customers perceive you as. It really translates into everything you do, every interaction, every word you say, every color you choose, the product you create, the users you even have are dictated by who you are. So that's an interesting thing, and I'm not gonna go into details about brand specifically, but I can say, and one of the best definitions I've ever seen was written for the materials that we used at Razorfish, which, you know a brand is everything. It's all of the different... the manifestation of who you are and all the different touch points. It's a very eloquent, paragraph. What that does is that it produces a framework for you in which to deliver things like design, design directions, and production, especially if you're working inside an organization that has a rapid cycle of production. A lot of people forego that alignment because this takes a lot of time, documentation and doing a brief... look, we got a deadline tomorrow. We got a deadline the next day, we got a deadline in a week. We got a deadline in four days, who's gonna take time to do all the strategery stuff. It just takes too long. So this is where this facilitation idea and the work sessions come in, doing it really fast. Mr. Customer, do you have an hour and a half today? Today we're doing it in two hours. How long do you really have? Now, that could be uncomfortable, but that's what I'm here to share with you guys and better yet this part of the thing... Great, take notes. Just watch me do it. That's gonna be the most important part. So the brand aspect, the way we're going to do it is by defining and breaking it down into attributes. What you'll notice in every single process that we use or exercise specifically that we use, is that we're breaking things down into smaller chunks. So who said chunks? Somebody said chunks, Mary said chunks. So the idea is to break it down into small chunks, the whole productivity kind of thing. You have a big task, break it down into little chunks. If you want consensus, how many of you have tried to do this with a client from the get go? Let's do together mission statement or brand statement. How long will that take? Days, months, years, because nobody's gonna get into consensus that is very difficult to do. Now, could you ask them to brainstorm single words that represent each of these? And you can break that down into timed exercise. Yes, you can. And I'm gonna sh... this it's already pre done for this client, but you guys can imagine how it's done and we'll share more on how you can do it. Once you have a lot of things like this, the brand attributes begin to determine things like color, fonts, imagery, et cetera. You're able to then come up with ideas around the brand attributes that really resonate. So here's an example. If the brand attribute was attentive and flexible. You asked. We listened. Open 365 days. All of that was written for a client. Who's a storage company in the design of their identity by an art director, who is not a copywriter, but he did the brand attributes. And he talked to the business stakeholder and we defined that one of their business objectives was to expand their product, to be open more, to be more attentive. All of those things synthesized ended up making the experience. This is physical space, this is not the website, even though the website, you'll see it in a second. All of the things that we did in the brand attributes ended up life less cluttered space to think, dreaming and wonder. All of these things, super cool concepts that might sound like we're genius, or like the design process is genius at the agency, at Blind, where we did this, all of that was done simply by the exercises, immediately you started getting ideas and the team was really excited. So that's the brand. Now the user's equally important. Here are the users for this client. It's called Trojan Storage, is a storage facility, not the sexiest business in the world, right? (laughs) What if every project you had could have the level of fidelity and the level of sexy, sexy is up to you. Like how well you can really convince the client. You know how designers are sometimes like, Oh, the client sucks. (laughs) They don't wanna do cool stuff, or they're... we need to educate them. I'll tell you right now, that's your fault. If you ever say your client sucks, your fault, number one, you chose them. (laughs) Don't they... or they chose... No, no, you said yes. So at that point, it's all on you. Second, I'm pretty sure and I haven't failed at this yet. I can convince any client to do anything as long as is not about me, as long as is about?
The users, so we found out that, a large majority of their clientele are women. And that there's a lot of transitions happening. Jennifer, is recently divorced, Peggy, her husband just died recently and her son is helping her like downsize from one size to the other. Peggy Wong, the downsizer, Jennifer Cortez, the in transition, Jeff, he's a contractor, his business is growing. He needs to store equipment because he doesn't have space at home. The most important part of the profiles is, what do they need newer available storage unit sizes, dimensions, locations, and layout, drive up access, mobile access on his phone. He's on the road all the time. All of these things, who did we find out about from? Did we talk to Jeff? No, the CEO of the company was in the room. He knows his business, he's an MBA. He's like, I know my customers. I know what... I'm looking at the data, all of that determined the size of the unit, reserve this size, we're showing drive up access. Notice that everything in the user experience is mapping back to the user. Like the decision to show that photograph of the units opening up as simple as it seems, comes from that one user, narrowing it down and prioritizing it. All right, so goals. This is where the business comes in. There's only three categories that you can actually affect in a business. Super simple, this is where it gets super quantitative. Revenue, how you make money or it could be profit. But in this case for startups is revenue. Awareness, how many people know that marketing falls under this? The business model falls under this, how much you charge sometimes falls under this. And awareness is about how many people know about you. Efficiency is really the systemization of your processes, whether that be signing people up, whether that be how you manage the design process, whether that be whatever process, whether it's a user or whether it's internal team, keep in mind internal teams are also users. One of the ways to solve the issues of your internal users TNO, is for you as a manager to actually profile, you up and down profile your people and profile them, this might be in private with one or other two people in your team where you're actually understanding what their needs are as a manager, the mistake that could be made is that you try to over-educate, not overeducate them technically educate them. So here's what user experience is about and jargon and words and terms. That's the biggest mistake, never do that because they got their shit to run. You need to just show them and do it. Either show them invite them into a session and it can be kind of ambushy, but to say, Hey, we're coming... better yet, prototype a session on the side with lower level managers or with your team, videotape it and spread it inside your company. So people say like, "Wow, look at how quick we got consensus and alignment." That is actually a better technique. So it's... what is it? Subversive, it works really well. I'm really good at that in corporate environments. Awareness, how do you create buzz? So this is the exercise that we're gonna do today. Very simple, the description of what you're gonna do. So this is all the mechanics. So create a LinkedIn page, create a website, Facebook ads. The more granular you are with this, the better. Is this features? Could be, doesn't have to be. This is a trick. A lot of what we're doing in these exercises is called. I call it ambiguation. You are not arguing about whether we need to create a LinkedIn page or not. How desirable is it to you as an individual? On a score of one to 10. Oh, it's a nine. How desirable is it to you on a score of one to 10? It's a seven, if we blend it and make it an eight, you guys happy? Okay, good, all right. So that's the desirability of the executives in the room. Doability is somebody brought this up, which is capabilities. Do we have the time, the money and the political willpower to do it? Do we have the time, the money and the political willpower to do it, Mr. Manager, Mrs. Manager? Well, our budget no, that, no... no that's a five and yeah, that's a four. Yeah, that's a six. Okay, we'll make it a five that ends up being a five. Notice we haven't added them up yet. And that's how you're doing the exercise in terms of priorities for the business short, medium or long term, when you have all that, and then you... at the end, you do the... what I call the hat trick, is you add it up. The priorities that surface, nobody actually argued about them. The numbers actually did the work for you. Never have I had that exercise not produce. They're like, "Yeah, that looks about right. That looks about, like priorities." It has never been wrong, ever. This was actually designed the exercise type. One of our MBAs learned it in school, but I found out some research that it's based on something called the Carver method, which is used for special forces to determine whether they hit a target or not. It's a targeting system where they have all these kind of measures. Is it a valuable... a target of value strategically? Is it possible to do it? Do we have access? Do we wanna do it? Like all those things, because six members of a unit need to all agree before they do something. You don't want one guy not wanting to, because then you're gonna have a problem in leadership. Here's what it does if you're a designer, especially if you're transitioning from print to web and you're starting to do work for clients, this is awesome. New deliverables and design services come up from it and engagement that was that small suddenly there... They told you, you didn't propose to them. Hey, you need to do all these things. New deliverables, new deliverables, operational insight. This is something that might need to be done. Here's a deliverable that Blind didn't get hired to do, which is design all their damn locations all over the US and look at how beautiful they are. I mean, they got hired to do the logo and a website refresh. A year and a half into it they do everything. And guess what the CEO says? You guys are like magic. Like, you guys know what we want before we even want it. None of it is a magic, they told us in a room. I mean, I facilitated the session. It was basically a roadmap that was created by them in a two hour session.
Jose is the co-founder of The Skool, an education company that teaches designers, agencies and corporations the design of business in the 21st Century. He studied graphic design at Art Center College of Design and was trained in digital “on the streets” of the .COM boom in the 90's. In 2001 he founded The Groop the digital agency he ran for 11 years. There he got to work with diverse clients such as Al Gore, Jamie Oliver, Thomas Keller, Alice Waters and corporate client like Disney, Nike and Myspace.