Saturday, December 19, 2009

Same Bears But Different Responses

My two girls own virtually identical stuffed bears. My older daughter named her little stuffed bear, Sleeping Beauty. (No relation to Disney's Sleeping Beauty, and not terribly creative.) My younger daughter — with some help from her older sister — named her bear, Dawcy. (This is unique and much more creative.) My oldest daughter adores her stuffed bear. But what I find unusual is that my younger daughter adores her sister's stuffed bear too. In fact, I constantly have to negotiate playtime with Sleeping Beauty between the two.

I asked my youngest about why she desired Sleeping Beauty more than her own Dawcy. She always tells me that Dawcy is sleeping. (I decided that I need to investigate on my own, since I can't get a straight answer.) After observing their play I discovered something that may explain why certain products and companies always seem to be more desired than other products and companies.

My oldest daughter has spun an elaborate tale about her Sleeping Beauty bear. It is well thought out history and story. She has also added voice-inflections and mannerisms to Sleeping Beauty that Dawcy just doesn't possess. (Not that I believe they really have personalities, mind you.) So, when she pulls Sleeping Beauty out, my youngest wants to play with it as well. There is a sense of excitement and expectation surrounding this stuffed bear — a promise of adventure. Dawcy is a stuffed bear that sometimes plays with Sleeping Beauty, but just isn't as complete a character. So, she isn't quite as exciting, especially without Sleeping Beauty to complement it.

Just like many organizations and products, these stuffed bears alone are not differentiated. But with the addition of story, attributed meaning, and the promise of something wonderful to the user, any product or organization can become something special in the mind of the consumer. And of one of the most immediate ways of achieving this is through effective design — from the design of the packaging, collateral, and business stationery, to the logo and brand identity design. Tell your story visually and audibly and your product or company will become something more than just another product or company.

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