Lesson Four: Design Counts (not Price)

…..cont’d from

Lesson One: Why Social Media Experts are Idiots

Lesson Two: Do Not Listen To Customers

Lesson Three: The Biggest Challenges Beget the Best Work

Lesson Four: Design Counts (not Price) People do care about Design. Mr. Kawasaki believes that it is about the “skin” of the product and not the algorithm. He learned this at Apple. Put simply, looks matter. Apple product owners have a sense of emotional pride from being an Apple product owner. They believe in the value of beautiful products.

This sense of emotional pride also reminds me of the luxury market. Think Mercedes Benz, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, etc….People buy luxury products because it provides a sense of status and equips them with emotional pride. Some would argue that a Toyota runs just as well as a Mercedes, or even better. Some would argue that a $100 handbag functions just as well as a $5000 handbag. So why do people make such purchases when the function is clearly met with a less expensive alternative? Emotional pride. People buy what they want, not what they need. Such high-end purchasers also believe that a luxury product delivers a superior quality compared to a non-luxury product. Price is not important to luxury consumers because they will pay for the Best, or the perception of the Best.

So off to a semi-tangent here…..Consider this photo below of a designer handbag I took from the December 2011 issue of Vogue. On a purely design level, some may consider it attractive, beautiful, cool, awesome, etc…..Others may consider it…..well, ugly. Why would I want a handbag with holes? Why would I want a handbag with these vulgar logos emblazoned all over it? But that’s not the point. These Brands such as Apple (for technology) and Louis V. (for luxury) have become the arbiters of good taste and the authorities for cool in their respective niches. So the irony is that consumers may initially be drawn to a universally accepted “beautiful product”, but the Brands evolve into tastemakers which tell the consumer what they need to buy. They also develop the power to declare what is desirable.

So back to Lesson Four. Design trumps Price. Looks matter. Beautiful products beget emotional pride. Emotion wins. Don’t forget what it means to be authentically human.


San Francisco 2012 New Year Style

San Francisco 2012 New Year Style

My San Francisco Week in Review

Thanksgiving week was delightful and an eclectic bag of experiences from learning a new skill to spending time with important people in my life. I started learning how to code (so I can build something big someday), I went to the San Francisco Opera’s production of Turandot, I had German food in the Mission, I discovered this fantastic San Francisco stairway (think “street connector”) in my neighborhood for working out and I created my first set on this fabulous site called Polyvore which merges fashion, creativity and technology.  Brilliant to discover a smart fashion site making an impact in Silicon Valley. Polyvore also happens to be based in Mountain View, San Francisco’s backyard. The highlight of the week however was Thanksgiving Day ~ great food and discussion with an intimate group of old and new friends.

And the weekend was topped off when I enjoyed a nice Italian meal with a friend who I’ve known for 16 years but get to see maybe four times a year despite living in the same city! (you know who you are!) San Francisco is the best place to spend time with people who you are thankful to be in your life.

San Francisco Style ~ Forever Young

San Francisco Style ~ Forever Young

Walk Like a Lady: The San Francisco Version

I’m reading an autobiography D.V. ~ Diana Vreeland, perhaps one of the 20th century’s greatest tastemakers.  In Chapter 13, she makes a declaration to ” Eliminate all handbags….what do I want with a bloody old handbag that one leaves in taxis and so on? It should all go into pockets. Real pockets, like a man has, for goodness sake.” But Diana had remarked more insightfully, “… the silhouette is improved and so on, and also one’s walk — there’s nothing that limits a woman’s walk like a pocketbook.”

I think this is quite true. I wonder how much my history of heavy bag carrying has effected my carriage without myself noticing. I can trace this back to heavy backpack days during middle school and University. And fast forward to the present, carrying a pair of heels in my mid-size handbag to change into after I make the 15 minute+ walk in my ballet flats to wherever in the City center for an evening out with the gals. (Sometimes I have steep hills to contend with, just think 45 degree incline.) The “heels-in-handbag” is a common practice by style-consious ladies here. Those tiny ladies-who-lunch handbags just don’t work unless you have the disposal of a Driver (aka dedicated boyfriend/spouse) or if YOU just LOVE to drive-and-park-in-San Francisco. If I’m walking and don’t need to change footwear the cross-body style is probably the best since it complements the lifestyle here, especially if you’re walking home with two bags of groceries from Cala Foods.  It does make sense though. The less you’re weighed down the more freedom and opportunity to walk effortlessly.

I think Sade summarized it well in her tune Jezebel:

But when she knew how to walk she knew
How to bring the house down
Can’t blame her for her beauty
She wins with her hands down 

So ladies, be very conscious of your handbag choices if you want to be noticed.

#df11, Angela Ahrendts & the Game Changing Question

I was fortunate to attend the Dreamforce 2011  (#df11) conference last week right here in San Francisco. It was exciting to hear the keynotes by Marc Benioff, Eric Schmidt and Angela Ahrendts. I’m not a technologist but technology and social media are so RELEVANT I thought it wouldn’t hurt to hear what the industry’s leading visionaries were thinking.  Ms. Ahrendts is the CEO of Burberry, that fabulous and iconic English luxury brand. She is also American from the Midwest. So just imagine a woman born and raised in Indiana who landed at a global fashion powerhouse and was invited to speak at perhaps the world’s biggest technology conference of the year. So what’s the connection between a high fashion luxury brand and social enterprise? Ms. Ahrendts and (no doubt) Mr. Benioff are betting real big on the value of social media to connect with customers.  It’s beyond embracing and integrating Facebook and Twitter into your business model, it’s more like a Declaration that this is the new Reality. Adapt or Die.

As a big fan of luxury brands, fashion and social media I was intrigued that Ms. Ahrendts was very passionate about this idea of the customer’s “journey” in the context of the social enterprise. I decided to dig deeper. I found the transcript from a commencement speech  she made at her alma mater last year and she shared her thoughts about the big “game changing question.” Do you know what your Core Purpose in life is? What is your fundamental reason for existence? Can you clearly articulate this? At the end of the day it’s about character and core values. Perhaps her Midwestern roots speaks to that.

Burberry’s Core Purpose is: “to Protect, Explore and Inspire.” Walt Disney’s is “to make people happy.” What is your Core Purpose?

Here is the link to her address: