Kentucky Fried Syndrome
Consider any original product - almost always it is hemmed in by a wide range of clones or wannabees.
Some of these are genuinely variations on a theme showing their own originality yet pursuing a similar path. Some of them - not all and not even the majority.
Other products are merely poor quality copies disguised to varying degrees as what they claim to be - much like a pair of DKNV jeans I once spotted in a shop in Cyprus. From a distance even Donna Karan (from) New York might have been fooled...but only very briefly.
In short - there are a wide range of people out there all too ready to hack up a dead chicken and burn it with hot oil, drop it in a red and white cardboard box and then sell it to you in place of KFC.
Sadly, there are enough people in the world either hungry enough or suckers enough to make this questionable substitution profitable because they just cannot figure out the difference between a dead bird in a box and the genuine article.
They are suffering from Kentucky Fried Syndrome
In design terms, I find this issue far from unusual and amazingly irritating.
Clients brandish leaflets and posters at me in glossy A4, beautifully presented products in their full glory.
They really look the part...until you stop and ask the killer question
"And what is it about this shiny piece of paper that is supposed to motivate me to actually take any interest in you or your product?"
The sexy girl with the encouraging smile mugging the camera, the insanely happy family in the new car en route somewhere wonderful, the plethora of other "feelgood" but essentially empty images culled for free from desktop wallpaper sites all over the internet - is this your food for thought for Joe Public? Or is it purposeless eye candy without a thought to the return on your investment in design and print services?
Publicity materials are a communications tool - and possession of the tool does not ensure the ability to use it productively, unless you would also argue that my ownership of a set of spanners makes me a car mechanic.
Likewise my grunting and clanking from under the bonnet does not ensure your car is any nearer to being fixed. I am not a mechanic, I just sound like one!
Unimaginative text and non-focussed image content stays unimaginative and non-focussed even if printed on sheets of beaten gold and delivered by angels.
So rather than going to all that trouble and expense - never mind the sheer theology of the issues - try to look at the content rather than the medium, and judge the effectiveness of the product accordingly.
Its not as easy as it sounds every time, we are all susceptible to hype on occasion. But for whatever it may be worth, here is what I try to do.
We all get over-enthusiastic and once in a while and we even get to hate ourselves in the morning on occasion. So decide nothing whatsoever "on the spot", sleep on it and then look at the project with fresh eyes in the morning and without the sales pitch still ringing in your ears.
The publicity material should stand on its own merits - just like in the real world.
2.Seek opinions - not your own opinion.
Avoid loaded questions like "Does this look good?" or "How do you like this?" People will give you the answer they think you want, this is human nature.
Ask neutral questions. For example, "Tell me what you think about this" or just smile and say "Your comments?"
3.Think MDR - most desired response.
What is the response you are trying to achieve? How is the website/flyer/poster/brochure achieving this with your customers?
What am I talking about? My point exactly.
What are candles to you - emergency lighting? Mood enhancers for a romantic evening? Something that goes on a birthday cake? Do they remind you of Christmas or of churches? Maybe Christmas IN churches?
Granted I know what I am selling, but what are you actually buying if and when we do business?
So how should I go about advertising my candles for you to buy?
Food for Thought
Thanks for taking the time to read this article - after all it was included on a nice glossy website, correctly spelt and the author knows everything about everything so it has to be word from the Gods, yes?
Your comments? :-)