Feb 27, 2013
'Why' is one of life’s most vital questions, Will takes a stab at explaining its importance.

What Happened to January - Part 2

January – and February for that matter – is over. Will concludes in Part Two the importance of WHY, and shares three innovative brands from CES who know their WHY.

It’s fitting that at the end of February I would be concluding my story of this January. I ended Part One with a simple reminder to find your WHY – for your business and your brand. WHY is such an important concept that I’ve made it my personal mission to use WHY in every strategy and design conversation, both with my team and my clients. WHY keeps everyone focused on the big idea. I’ve found that when the conversation stays focused on the WHY, that the strategy and design concepts are also very focused with solutions that are immediately apparent and appropriate. Yes, it really does not take showing up with a dozen or more design concepts to choose from when you fully understand and embrace your WHY.

If we’ve done our homework properly, we find that no more than 3-4 design concepts are required to solve The Burning Question (that phrase again!). And just deciding among the 3-4 can be a (good) challenge itself. No longer are we arguing about the size of the logo. Instead we are debating how each concept captures the essence of your WHY and communicates that to your consumer. Now those are fun (and meaningful) conversations! 

WHY is such a powerful tool and yet most clients fail to embrace it’s magic. As a lifetime observer of design, it is easy to spot those brands that have failed to fully understand and embrace their WHY. They’re the followers. The me-to brands. The cheaper alternative. The spec. driven. The irrelevant. Some of these brands are always in constant rebranding, redesigning mode just to keep in the conversation. Others just seem to fade away – no longer part of the conversation or in business for that matter. 

CES. I used to go almost every year during the late 90’s and early 00‘s, when technology really was breakthrough and accessible to consumers. In more recent years when it was technology for technology sake vs. empowering the consumer, I started to go less and less – every other year or longer. This year we decided it was time to go again to CES as we had just completed the branding and design for a new breakthrough product for our clients Ryan and Pete Santangelo. Yes they are brothers. From Detroit. Their product is the worlds first (and best) sleeping and breathing monitor system for babies. It really is an amazing product that empowers consumers. I’m proud that we helped them with their WHY and as a result of our collaboration, they are off and running with great success. We’ll post the full Case Study in our Portfolio section soon. In the meantime you can learn more about the product and see our work at SafeToSleep.

So, it was me, Jean-Marc, Anna and Elainne for two days in Las Vegas. Our first day was at the main exhibition place at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Even splitting up, we only saw about 25% of the show. There were some interesting brands and even new product ideas. Yet, overall I was not that impressed. The big news was 4K television. Ho-hum. It reminds me when printers were touting 1200dpi. No matter that the human eye cannot see the difference after 600dpi. I was having a hard time finding the WHY at CES. Time for a break. 

After day one, we met up with Ryan and Peter and two additional members of their team, Levi and Jay, in Nobhill Tavern by Michael Minna (highly recommended) at the MGM Grand. They had just arrived and were ready to get into the Las Vegas spirit! As Ryan and I chatted about my disappointment of the first day, he mentioned to me that the place to really check out was the exhibit pavilion called “Eureka Park” located at the Venetian. I’ve always wanted to check out the Venetian and Eureka Park sounded promising. 

On day two, Anna went back to the Las Vegas Convention Center to follow up on leads, while Jean-Marc, Elainne, and I headed to the Venetian and Eureka Park. We were not disappointed. We found some amazing breakthrough innovations and more importantly businesses (many of whom were startups) that really understood their WHY. Their branding and design could use help, but I digress. The three that really stood out to me, were simple products that had profound positive impact to humanity. (Wow, did I just write that?) 

VIVOplay is a child size wrist-watch communicator and location monitor. Dick Tracy we’ve finally arrived. If you have small children (pre-teen and younger) you’ll love this product. It empowers both the child and parent. They’re slated to launch in June and I can’t wait. GeckoCap treats taking your asthma medicine like a game and makes you healthier in the long run. Again another product that empowers the user. It gained a lot of press at CES and was on several top 10 lists. Unfortunately they seem to be struggling for investors. Their indiegogo crowdfunding page only managed to get $5,000 in pledges from a goal of $90,000. With 9 million people suffering from asthma just in the US, this does not make sense. I believe they understand their true WHY, and it is their branding, design and communications that is letting them down. This last one is my most favorite of all. Luci. Fast Company just posted an article on this product, so I’ll leave it to them to fill in the details. The short – it’s an inflatable solar powered light. So basic in it’s shape and appearance and yet it’s impact on humanity will be enormous. Think fire 2.0. They knows their WHY : to provide safe access to bright light to everyone. I’ve order my Get a Luci, Give a Luci on the MPOWERD website. Will you? 

So as we bring January – and February for that matter – to a close, I’m sending out the call to innovators who know their WHY. If you believe you (or someone you know) have a groundbreaking, innovative product in need of branding and design to help you get successfully launched or expand your business, we want to hear from you. We’re looking to collaborate with only 5-10 innovative consumer product brands this year. The criteria for consideration is tough – do we believe in your WHY? Do you think you have what it takes to join us in designing brands with heart? If so, send me an email. In the subject line write : I know my WHY!

– Will Burke



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