Models of Impact in Recife, Brazil

Recife (pronounced HEH-SEA-FEE) is the capital of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco. The old centre of Recife dates back to the 16th Century, and the city is home to many incredible neighborhoods including Boa Viagem (where I stayed during my trip) as well as Olinda. 

After nearly 24 hours of travel, I fought the urge to sleep in order to avoid jet lag. To distract myself, I wandered around the beach in Boa Viagem. The area looks a lot like Miami, with tall apartment buildings overlooking a vast ocean. Everywhere you look, there are vendors selling Cerveja (beer) and Aqua de Coco (coconut water) in beach snack shacks. In the streets, a steady stream of motorcycles whipped in and out of traffic as a pack of dogs wandered aimlessly down the sidewalk. I rolled up my jeans, and walked into the warm South Atlantic waters. That was before I learned of this particular beach’s shark infestation.

After dusting the sand off my feet, I walked back to the hotel to rest for a bit (still avoided sleeping), before heading out for dinner with my friend Jacques Barcia, and his wonderful family. A former crime reporter for a local newspaper, as well as the lead singer of a grind core band that has quite the cult following in the northeast of Brazil, Jacques now works as a futurist in Recife.

We shared a delicious meal, featuring a range of Brazilian dishes including feijoada (black bean, pork, and quail egg stew), bode (goat), bife (steak), and more. We, of course, also enjoyed plenty of Cerveja and even some Cachaça, a distilled spirit made from sugar cane juice. While sugar cane still remains a major product in Pernambuco, the Metropolitan Region of Recife is home to an incredibly fast-growing startup ecosystem occasionally referred to as “Silicon Reef”. As one wanders the streets, it is common to stumble upon street vendors, musicians, and dancers, but also co-working spaces, incubators, and hacker spaces.

At the center of this movement is Porto Digital, (which literally translates to “Digital Port”) a hybrid accelerator, investment magnet, community organizer, and growing social enterprise advocate. Of the many initiatives that Porto Digital facilitates is the Recife Summer School, a series of events and workshops that promote innovation in northeastern Brazil. I was honored to have been invited to lead a full-day Models of Impact workshop experience for 20+ entrepreneurs, designers, and architects from across the region.

But let’s back up for a second.

Models of Impact is a business-design methodology that we developed following an intensive study into the trends and traditions of various impact and revenue models that exist across the social enterprise movement. The toolkit consists of a glossary of over 150 business models that we’ve collected as well as an easy-to-use workshop curriculum that allows anyone to facilitate the process of designing impact-driven business models. The toolkit is open-source, and is currently leveraged by practitioners across 90 countries.

Prior to my visit, Porto Digital informed me of the rapidly growing social enterprise movement across Brazil. In addition, I learned of the steady growth in both the futures and hacker/maker communities across the country, but especially in Recife. The curriculum for our workshop was directly inspired by these observations, and was broken into two phases, divided by lunch.

During the first phase of the workshop, participants formed small groups of 3-5 in order to collaborate on developing a range of new business models.

The Models of Impact methodology is comprised of 4 key phases: Learn, Invent, Program, and Report. During the Learn phase, participants are introduced to a range of business models from our comprehensive glossary. After learning about the landscape of social enterprise, participants enter the Invent phase, a generative segment in which small teams leverage dice to roll random combinations of revenue models, impact models, and other factors/topics of interest. 

To determine our topics of interest, the room was tasked with generating a list of 20 emerging technologies, emerging issues, and/or future trends that are of interest to the group. The list (which included Drones, 3D-Printed Organs, Internet of Things, and Self-Driving Cars) served as the foundation for which the business models we would design together would be built upon. 

After inventing unique and forward-thinking business models across three rounds of ideation, each group was tasked with selecting just one of their three ideas to move forward into the Program phase. The Program phase provides participants of Models of Impact with a framework for pushing an idea further in order to develop a draft of a business plan for their new venture. After completing the business plan, each group presented their idea to the room as a whole for initial feedback, and we broke for lunch.

I spent my lunch with some of the participants who took me around the neighborhood. If you know me, you know that I have a slight obsession with graffiti. Everywhere I travel, I document the local graffiti aesthetic for a larger collection I am building. The first thing that stood out to me about the graffiti in Recife is the color, or lack there of. Of course there are exceptions, but almost every piece we stumbled across was rendered in black and white. I also learned the term Brazilians use to describe this work is Pixo, which is somewhat derived from the Portuguese word for “tar”, a material that best represents the aesthetic of the line-work.

In some cases, the Pixo would represent members of local Favelas (slums). In this example, we can see a signature from someone named Miguel, who resides in the Favela “v-8”.

In some cases, the Pixo would represent members of local Favelas (slums). In this example, we can see a signature from someone named Miguel, who resides in the Favela “v-8”.

After checking out the graffiti, we ate lunch at one of Jacques’ favorite spots, Beta Bistro. The restaurant is self-service, like a buffet in America, and patrons pay for their food at the end of the meal.

I had Feijoada again (this time sausage was incorporated into the stew), as well as sweet potato, bife, tomatoes, and rice. In this neighborhood, there are strict rules around architectural preservation and development. As a result, the walls are soaked with stories, and a rich history. Apparently, for many years, this Bistro was a popular venue for punk rock concerts. Jacques had played a gig or two here in his youth.

Locals play a game of dominos.

Locals play a game of dominos.

After eating, we wandered around the cobblestone sidewalks as I ate some delicious candy (Gomets), and enjoyed the decorative banners and streamers scattered throughout the neighborhood. Along the way, we could hear some music coming out of a large building. We followed the sound, and found ourselves inside the Paço do Frevo. Frevo is like a sped-up version of Polka, and the spontaneity of the discovery was so exciting.

As we started to head back toward the workshop, I purchased a couple of hand-embellished Sombrinha for my niece and nephew. Sombrinha are tiny umbrellas that are used for dancing to Frevo music during the Brazilian Carnaval.

Now back at Porto Digital, for the second phase of our workshop, we leveraged their incredible maker space, named Louco. The space serves as a laboratory for urban innovation and design, and it is packed with incredible tools and resources for makers including 3D printers, Arduinos, Laser Cutters, and more. At this point in the workshop, participants have already completed a business plan for their new venture. Now, the challenge is to use the maker space in order to develop a prototype to help make the idea even more tangible, and easy to communicate. Many of the participants leveraged a range of storytelling formats such as journey maps or storyboards, and some even laser cut prototypes, or built paper crafts by hand to represent their concept.

Many of the ideas revolved around health, with one idea proposing a mobile application that would allow users to order 3D-printed hearts as on-demand, collectible, toys in order to raise funds for heart transplants that would also be 3D-printed, and delivered by drone, on-demand (remember, we were aiming for forward-thinking ideas!). Another speculative prototype imagined a beautiful wearable device that could be used to alert authorities in times of medical emergency, while also being able to read vital signs and “predict” future heart attacks. We also saw a concept that proposed a sharing-economy-like model for connecting hospitals to one another in order to share excess organs with each other for patients in need. The concept was presented as a possible way to reduce the deadly trafficking of human organs that occurs in Brazil. 

The purpose of any prototype, especially in an accelerated format such as this workshop, is not to develop a perfect polished object or illustration, but instead to create something that sparks dialogue. Thanks to the incredible diversity of backgrounds and expertise in the room, as well as the wonderful space and resources available to our participants, this may have been one of the most successful Models of Impact workshops in our history thus far.

After the workshop, I caught up on emails for a bit before heading to an exhibition of Visual Poetry work by Paulo Bruscky, and finally heading to a new city, Olinda, for dinner and drinks. Olinda is near the city of Recife, and is built on steep hillsides. The cobblestone streets are lined with incredibly bright homes, all of which have windows open in case a passerby wants to spark a conversation. Apparently, as early founders of the city arrived at the port, they could see the hills of Olinda, and shouted “Olinda!”, which translated into something like “how beautiful!”. The name stuck.

After parking, we noticed two men in all white sitting down next to a series of very distinct instruments. Jacques informed me that these men were Capoeira, and that we would hopefully get lucky and see a performance later in the evening.

On our way to the restaurant, we dropped by a hybrid tattoo parlor and barber shop that sold Literatura de Cordel. These booklets have been used by storytellers for over 100 years in Brazil, and the name “cordel” is derived from a kind of thin string that these booklets would hang on for sale or trade among the storytellers. They tend to have crude content and humor, and of course I bought a couple. 

For dinner, we ate Pastel that was filled with cheese as well as Bife and Batatas Fritas (French Fries). As we ate, I couldn’t help but notice something quite distinct about the way people eat in Brazil. In every instance/meal that I’ve had during my visit, I’ve realized that only one dish is ordered and prepared at a time. On top of that, the dishes are commonly shared by everyone at the table. This pace of eating/ordering leads to more time at the dining table, and ultimately more time for conversation. It’s a stark contrast with the efficiency/“eat and get out” mentality of many American restaurants.

In the middle of the meal, we heard what I thought were gun shots. Luckily, it was just fireworks. 

A parade was on its way down the street of our restaurant, in anticipation of the massive Carnaval that is soon to come in the next week or so. The parade of people consisted of two men wearing large, colorful, suits, as well as a man that was holding a large puppet that must have been 10 feet tall. These large puppets are central to the Brazilian Carnaval for over 100 years. 

We finished our dinner, paid, and began to walk to the car, only to find that the two men we had seen earlier were in the middle of a performance! Watching the Capoeira, a Brazilian form of Martial Arts, was a moment I’ll remember forever. The Capoeira practice this martial art without ever hitting one another. As one Capoeira’s leg rises, the other Capoeira lowers their stance so as to avoid contact. All of this is accompanied by beautiful music. 

It was so cool to also be able to video-call my wife, Katie, so that she could see the performance in real-time as well. I travel alone often, so being able to share this experience with her meant the world to me. Now, the night came to a close, and it was time to go back to the hotel in Boa Viagem in order to sleep.

As I write this, I am sitting in the hotel lobby in Boa Viagem, waiting for my driver to take me to the airport. There is always more to say, but I’ll end here. I have another long journey ahead, but I will always look back at this experience fondly.

Celebrating Impact Holidays in February with Desktop Wallpaper

It's February! We'll be featuring the artwork from one of verynice's volunteers each month. The prompt was to pick a holiday(s) that inspire us to give back. This month we feature the work of Ivy C! Download our wallpaper and celebrate the spirit of giving back with us. 

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Volunteer spotlight
Ivy C

National Freedom Day 2/1, Rosa Parks Day 2/4, National Inventors Day 2/11, National Organ Donor Day 2/14, and National Random Acts of Kindness Day 2/17

Click here to download

Why I give back

I give back because I want to make the world smile. I remember a moment from when I was young, I brought a drawing to show my mom. It was a picture of the interior of a ship and I had drawn people working and going about. I was so into explaining the picture that I didn’t see her face until I heard her laugh. That moment of seeing a smile on her face made me so proud. Even to this day, making work for myself for money sometimes makes me feel like I am hoarding all of the happiness. The simple act of bringing a smile to a person’s face makes me happy and in that small way, I feel like I have made a difference in the world.

Links to portfolio:
cokoivy.com 
instagram.com/cokoowl

 

3 Ways To Create Innovation At Your Organization

Stuck in a rut? Looking for new ways of making revenue or scaling your impact? No matter how long you’ve been in business, it’s important to remain agile, inventive, and resourceful. Here are three recommendations for bringing your team together and helping drive scalable new ideas in order to create a sustainable future. 

  1. Think Big. Get Feedback
    Follow a lean strategy that creates fast cycles of building measuring and learning. Failing fast doesn’t mean failing in a way threatens your business. When thinking of new programs, products, services, or initiatives, it’s beneficial to have a thought partner that can provide you with feedback and coach you through cycles of invention, value proposition design, and ways to test the idea.
     
  2. Build Innovation Into Your Organization's Culture
    Consider building innovation and long term entrepreneurship training at your organization. For many organizations, the new year spells a great opportunity to invest in establishing a culture of invention and creativity. Research shows that the number one factor when it comes to retaining quality employees, particularly millennials, is facilitating their professional growth. Creating opportunities to drive lasting change through customized trainings is a great way to help staff work better and faster through challenges they encounter whether it be coming up with new programs or approaching problems.
     
  3. Bring Everyone Together for an Innovation Sprint
    Take a thought break. You can call it strategic planning, facilitated innovation workshop et. We're talking about a real scrum that pushes you and your team to do and think things outside the norm. Taking a half or full day may seem like a lot of time away from the desk, but in reality, by bring people together, you end up leveraging the diverse perspectives within your organization in order to amplify possibilities. The most complex problems, wicked problems as they are commonly referred to, require this type of inclusion. By bringing people together with the help of facilitator, you can get through the communication and knowledge barriers that often get in the way of innovation. 

Final Thought
In the spirit of Good to Great by Jim Collins, we feel that excellence is a choice. Organizations that can be agile, inventive, and resourceful do better. But it doesn't happen automatically. It takes getting the right people together to think big, change behaviors, and drive innovation. verynice has worked with hundreds of organizations to find new ways of making impact while making revenue and we can help you too! Learn about our business model design services by clicking the link below. 

Creating an Engaging Journalism Website

As the power of creating content transferred to the individual, the Internet has exploded with information. The type and way that people prefer to consume media is also changing. According to a study by Pew Research Center, trends point to more news being consumed through digital channels (particularly social media) on mobile devices.

This has created a demand for quick, digestible content. Companies like Buzzfeed, HuffPost, and theSkimm took advantage of the changing landscape to rise up, and established companies joined the online world to fill these new demands.

With all of this information at our fingertips, comes a lot of noise and misinformation that people like you and me need to sift through on a daily basis. We saw this throughout the most recent US election, with fake news stories circulating like wildfire on social media. The need for reliable news sources is at an all time high.

That’s why we love supporting organizations like WitnessLA, who are committed to verifiable facts and ethical reporting. Investigative reporting has real impact in our communities. It exposes wrongdoing, sparks reform, changes minds, and changes lives.

To better engage with existing and new readers, we worked with WitnessLA to give their website a new look and feel. Our goal was to create an easy to navigate, engaging website so readers can stay on the page longer to stay informed. Since articles with images get 94% more views than those without, the largest improvement was showcasing breaking news more visually. Check out the transformation below!

We’re really proud of WitnessLA for taking this important step forward in staying relevant within the digital world. Interested in never missing a beat? You can sign up for the California Justice Report, their weekly roundup of news and views from California and beyond.

Old Website

New Website

Some exciting updates include a more engaging layout, imagery, color, sections with curated content, integrated social feed, and clear calls to action to drive people to their newsletter. 

Celebrating Martin Luther King Day with Desktop Wallpaper

Happy new year! We'll be featuring the artwork from one of verynice's volunteers each month. The prompt was to pick a holiday(s) that inspire us to give back. This month we feature the work of Kate Manos! Download our wallpaper and celebrate the spirit of giving back with us. 

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Volunteer spotlight
Kate Manos

Martin Luther King, Jr Day: Monday, January 16, 2017.
"Hope, respect and unity are as important today as they were when Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us to stay strong all those years ago." 

Why I give back.

In a world where my profession is to help sell products and services, it's natural for graphic designers to want to find a way to use their "powers for good." I remember a distinct moment in college when I was completely turned off by the idea of creating designs just to make people spend their money or time. I set out to either make art out of design, or maybe lend a hand for more "worthy" causes. I started volunteering to make posters for a club on campus that brought movies to the students, obsessing over artists that crossed the line between art and design with movements like Dadaism and Flux. I helped out with verynice by making a quite garish website for a cat shelter (don't look it up), and tried to pick internships that were for smaller endeavors like 2-person design studios and art magazines.  

Working at and with verynice for almost a decade, some of my favorite projects I had a hand in are based around experiences (not necessarily products or services), on top of working for a company whose business foundation is based on giving back and pro-bono. Designing a logo and website for the Pasadena Museum of California Art (pmcaonline.org) and helping with select projects for the Downtown Women's Center in Skid Row  have been two-fold in satisfaction for using my design powers for good.

You can find more of Kate's work at www.katemanos.com + www.antisocial.la

Click here to download high resolution wallpaper.

How to Conduct Ethnography Like Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki

Apply design thinking to your discovery process by getting out of the building and spending time with the people whose problem you are hoping to solve or are hoping to accurately and empathetically depict. All too often we are speculating as to the needs, hopes, and characteristics of people we spend little or no time with. While this can be valuable information to help kick off the start of a great project, allocating all of your resources toward a solution that's based on these preliminary data can eventually be wasteful, catastrophic, offensive, or coincidental at best.

Try getting out of the building. Literally – get up from your office chair, walk toward the door, and exit the building. One of the core values of design thinking is the human centered approach that seeks to develop a sense of empathy with stakeholders. This means building a rapport with them, becoming a professional guest, and creating a meaningful dialogue that not only establishes trust between researcher and stakeholder, but also reveals the cultural, economic, and social realities hidden below the surface. 


Hayao Miyazaki Visits a Hospital
to Learn about Living with Hansen's Disease

“While making [the film] Princess Mononoke, I thought I had to depict people who are ill with what’s clearly called an incurable disease, but who are living as best they can...I felt clearly that I had to represent these people who suffered from a disease thought of at the time as [karmic inheretance] and yet strove to live their lives fully.” Miyazaki recently said at a symposium. 

While making the film, Miyazaki visited a Tama Zenshoen, a sanatorium for Hansen’s Disease (also known as Leprosy) in Tokyo where he met with former patients that had been cured, drawing upon his experiences for the film. He got out of the building and went to see for himself. 


Try this! The Ethnographic Interview

Ethnography is the practice of gathering data through observations, conversations, participation in rituals, and varied forms of documentation. The goal is to explore the realities of a stakeholder group by becoming a temporary professional guest.

Find the Right People and Place
Look for people you are designing for, particularly stakeholders at the extreme end of the spectrum. If you are designing an online course, for example, you will want to interview people who love e-learning, as well as those who have never taken a course online in their life. I also recommend looking for a setting that feels natural. Being questioned in a police station is a very different experience than having an officer offer to shoot some hoops with you at the park where you normally play.  

Prepare
Make sure your tools are easy to carry around and not overly obtrusive to the interview. One of the most remarkable things I’ve seen as an ethnographer is the use of emerging technology such as 360/virtual reality video in order to avoid pointing cameras directly at people. This puts them at ease. At the very least, ensure you have a notebook and pen handy to write notes.

Introduce Yourself
Go beyond the obvious and share a bit about yourself. If you are interviewing a mother and reveal that you are also a mother, the shared experience can help establish common ground between yourself and the interviewee. One of the most refreshing things about taking an ethnographic approach is that you get to bring more of yourself to the field. One of my best moments in learning about the lives of others was uncovering a common love for Rai music with two Algerian men at a small, after-hours bar, in Paris, France. I shared about myself. They opened up. Empathy was the result.

Document Interesting Moments
Look for moments where people are doing things differently from what they say they do. These seemingly contradicting moments can prompt further inquiry and help you discover other pieces of the puzzle. For example: a company that says they embrace diversity but do not implement diversity beyond the PR department.

Keep an Open Mind  
Check your opinions at the door. It’s ok for us to bring ourselves to the interview. This is what differentiates anthropology from ethnography. But I encourage you to come in with an open mind and the ability to create psychological safety. You want the truth, right? Put yourself in their shoes, or better yet, walk in them. I once met Steve Lopez from the Los Angeles Times and he told me about how he went as far as spending late nights with Nathaniel, the protagonist in his piece about a violinist living on Skid Row. Be safe, but get ready to explore beyond your comfort zone.

Silence is ok
Let there be silence. If the person you are speaking with is silent, it means they are thinking. Do not complete their thoughts. Be patient. Let nuggets of insight come out naturally.

––

Looking for a partner to help uncover the needs of your constituents? 

Models of Impact Live! Futures Edition

Models of Impact Live! kicked off with a futures theme a few weeks ago. Thank you to everyone that watched via live stream and participated with us on facebook! We had a great time going over our fun methodology for designing business models through the convergence of revenue, impact, and factors of interest. 

In this debut episode, we came up with three different business inventions based on the outcome of each role of the die! One roll, two rolls, and three rolls for each subsequent invention round. In order to make use of our colorful 12 sided die, we preselected 12 revenue models, impact models, as well as 12 factors of interest. When practicing at home, you can choose your own models from the glossary as well as number of factors as long as you use die with enough sides to give each model a chance at being considered! 

For this episode we chose a futures theme in celebration of the release of our new book, Toward a Preemptive Social Enterprise – a book that explores a history and methodology for building futures oriented business ideas. After every invention workshop, our team puts together a Models of Impact Canvas in order to encapsulate the idea as well as a series of different scenarios, an outline of opportunities, risk, as well as a way to test. Here's what we came up with! 

Idea #1 (1-1-1)
Factor of Interest: Virtual Reality
Impact Model: Fair Trade
Revenue: Freemium

Idea #2 (2-2-2)
Factors of Interest: Virtual Reality, Drones
Impact Model: Fair Trade, 1 for 1
Revenue Model: Coupons, Event Tickets

Idea #3 (3-3-3)
Factors of Interest: Mars, Drones, Robots  
Impact Model: Conscious Sourcing, Percentage Inventory, Social Awareness
Revenue Model: Project flat fee, Sponsorship, E-commerce

After exploring each idea, we go into the details about what opportunities there within each model, what the risks are, and ways to test the idea for rapid validation. Perhaps there is local organization of street performers we can partner with to execute idea #3. The risk may be that self-organized groups often lack the leadership to work with, and thus could pose a problem. One way to test would be to hold a meeting and discuss with the group. Easy! 

Stay tuned for our next Models of Impact Live! where we take your ideas and create business models that help the world in meaningful ways and create revenue for sustainability and growth. 

Are you interested in business model design workshop for your organization or venture? Our team of strategists are eager to help facilitate an engaging workshop for you and your team! Learn more about Models of Impact here or click below to contact us! 

Brand's Role in the Purchase Process: Living Stage (1/4)

The idea that needs trigger purchase behavior has been around since the advent of marketing studies. But today brands play a larger role in our lives – whether they become part of our daily entertainment, our educator, or as a vehicle for social change that appeals to our greatest aspirations. These are just a few examples that encapsulate the relationship we currently have with brands. We can further break down the role of  brand into what Wharton Professor, Barbara Khan, outlines as the four stages of the customer journey - Living, Planning, Shopping, and Experience. In this article we will examine the first stage, the living stage. 

The Living Stage (Part 1 of 4)

People go about their daily lives and when a need is triggered, they either look to available solutions, or begin researching into possible options. I’m at home and feel hungry, I can either go to the fridge or look to other options: delivery, dining out etc. What if I’m a new city? I may look up options on a rating app, or ask a friend who lives nearby. Sometimes, however, the trigger comes not from need, but by the marketplace: a new 360 camera is released and it’s features far surpass what’s currently available. The trigger may also come from a brand as they announce the launch of a completely new product in the market, or expand the options within their product category. What’s certain, is that your brand must fall into the consideration set when these needs are triggered. To fall into that set, you have to have visibility and a message that cuts through the clutter. Our team can help. 

Types of triggers:

  • Change of life status (marriage, baby, moving to new city)
  • Market (product announcement, sale)
  • Influencers (fashion, industry, celebrities, friends)
  • Need (your car breaks down, hungry, etc)
  • A brand introduces new possibilities within a product category (ipads, new flavor ice cream, virtual reality)

Things to consider:

  • Being at the right place at the right time
  • Leveraging positive emotional queues
  • Differentiated marketing stimuli
  • Being bold without being wreckless
  • How to test marketing messages  
  • Micro-moments when potential customers turn to their mobile device for solutions.

Questions to ask your team:

  • What are the triggers associated with our product? 
  • What are the intention-filled micro-moments throughout the day that could facilitate behavior toward purchase?
  • Is our creative triggering demand? How can we test it in real market conditions?
  • Is there data missing from our analysis? 

Are you leaving money on the table? Missing opportunities to connect with potential customers or donors? Let's talk. 

Design Principles: Form Follows Function

One of the most fundamental design principles everyone should know, is that beauty in a well designed product is the outcome of achieving success criteria. For some this can mean users adopting a product such as an app, for others this can mean success in users not using a product or ceasing  to behave in a way that may be harmful. Form follows function. Sounds familiar?  

Through the lens of marketing, product management, and strategic decision-making, this means a series of trade offs in the allocation of resources. Consider a team designing a new watch that tells surfers when there’s an oncoming swell. They have a finite set of resources. Their goal is to validate their assumption that the watch is dependable, accurate, and durable in extreme conditions - most of all, that surfers will use it. How do they decide what to spend on?

The correct answer is, whatever achieves the success criteria. While aesthetics and ornamentation play a key role in persuasion and fashion, it should be considered in light of the product’s primary success criteria – giving surfers a waterproof watch that accurately displays data. Now consider a team designing a watch meant to be worn by a model in a fashion magazine shoot. The success criteria changes considerably. A lone diamond at the top of the bezel and a minimalist design will work to turn heads in a culturally relevant way. 

 

Now here’s the mic drop: Meet your success criteria, and your product will have achieved optimal form. The question should not be, what is more important – rather, what factors are most important in order to meet our success criteria? Design is always intentional, never arbitrary. 

Here are a few examples of success criteria:

  • Legibility

  • Comprehensibility

  • Aversion

  • Artistic integrity

  • Durability

  • Speed and accuracy

  • Differentiation

  • Extreme affordability

How are you honing in on your product’s success criteria? Perhaps you want to identify preemptive success criteria? Looking for design thinkers? We've got you. 

Be a Design Conscious Copy Cat

Funny title to this blog post but the sentiment is there. If you are writing body copy for something that will eventually be published, it's to your benefit to understand how the message can be best communicated once it's in the hands of your graphic designer. Think of a written page as a meal, it should look delicious and inciting even before you taste it. Getting to this point, the marriage of words and design to communicate a message, is what we call typography

Pages from Toward a Preemptive Social Enterprise | Designer: Kate Manos

Pages from Toward a Preemptive Social Enterprise | Designer: Kate Manos

Great published material happens when writers and designers are in sync. That means adhering to an agile, yet realistic timeline of deliverables, and plenty of communication up front to avoid costly revisions and overhead expenses in later phases. The best thing to do is to have a solid brief that outlines all success criteria in addition to having a healthy regard for the reading experience. 

Here are a few questions to consider when writing for something that will be handed off to a designer:

  1. What is the profile of the primary audience? Who are they? What makes them tick? 
  2. What approach should you take to communicate to this audience?
  3. Why will this audience be interested?
  4. Who will have to approve final copy? Will they also approve design?

Pro Tip For Copywriters:
Let your ideas flow. Accept that most of them will be half baked at first and when you come to a stopping point, take a look at your core message, audience profile, and business objectives to see if they meet the criteria. What is the overall benefit you are trying to focus on? Make sure that your written words actually work toward your goals. And remember that (I love saying this) you cannot be creative and critical at the same time. Separate those two phases and respect the mindset within each of them. Allow yourself to flare with ideas before thinking critically about what you have. That's how creativity works!