Four to one


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The goal is to be good at more than one thing. Everyone should be versatile.

But sometimes it is better to narrow yourself to expand. Instead of doing everything, you focus on doing one thing well. And the rest gets better as a result.

Take social networking for example. It’s a misperception that one has to be on all networks, sharing all the time. So you take shortcuts. After publishing a new blog post, you automatically share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Google+.

Frictionless broadcasting may work for those who already have an acquired audience. But for the startup or entrepreneur — they will need to work harder to get attention. And the best way to do that is to pick one network and double-down.

Focusing on Twitter, for instance, may allow you to write concise tweets, insert captivating media, and include vanity links. Focusing on Instagram may allow you to include the niche hashtags related to the post that gives the image an extra boost.

Single-tasking on one marketing channel takes a strategy. Publishing is deliberate and methodical, the community engagement well-intentioned.

Less is more. The pattern of interactions will bleed into other outlets. Unlike the feather, you’ll be the wind directing all the controls.

‘The peak of peak attention…’


“The peak of peak attention can be assigned an exact date: Sunday, September 9, 1956, when Elvis Presley made his first appearance on television, on CBS’s Ed Sullivan Show. Its 82.6 percent share of viewers has never been equaled or bettered.”

— Tim Wu, The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads

Illustrations for Amazon Prime Day


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Whether’s the art in Apple’s app store or Amazon’s prime day gifs, I continually to be amazed by some of illustrations coming out of the world’s biggest brands.

The ones above appear on Amazon’s giphy channel to help promote Amazon Prime Day, staring next Monday.

If you’re not a Prime member, you can sign up here to get a 30-Day free trial.

Rather unique


Photo by Wells Baum (Mexico City)

Building the tallest building is a matter of ego. Machismo drives a lot of design and innovation, as it does leadership.

But there’s always going to be a taller building, just as there’s still going to be the next innovative car or gadget.

Things can only stand out for so long before something else surpasses them, or they become normalized, like a commodity that everyone else can own (see the ownership of mirrors).

There are also more people in the world that own smartphones than toothbrushes.

When size and novelty fall aside, people only remember what’s unique. That’s why, no matter what size a book or painting or any design for that matter is, it’s about the content and its context.

It’s the story that matters more than (temporarily) standing out.

‘Don’t read the words. It’s bad enough that people use Powerpoint as a sort of teleprompter.’


Animation Presentation GIF by David Urbinati-source.gif

If you use Powerpoint, a few principles and tips to keep in mind when using type on a slide:

Don’t read the words. It’s bad enough that people use Powerpoint as a sort of teleprompter. Much worse that you don’t trust the audience enough to read what you wrote. If you want them to read the precise words, stand quietly until they do. If you want to paraphrase the words, that can work.

Big font, few words. And use pictures. Your narrative is the message.

Words on slides by Seth Godin

Words still matter 



There was a moment when marketers thought words didn’t matter, that the future was speaking through images.

But then everybody’s images started looking the same. The Instagram feed looked like a giant pile of sameness where anyone could be a photographer and upload a beautiful picture.

Snapchat then ushered in the video game and all of a sudden, copycats followed. Facebook’s algorithm started to favor video. Instagram introduced Stories and Live. People could share their thoughts without a keyboard.


But if there’s anything Twitter shows us, words matter more than ever. The US president and the ‘rocket man’ tease nuclear war. While images and video are propaganda, it is words that beget action; they are volatile, easily copy-pasted and bent into echo chambers to paint fraudulent stories of intent.

If we want to awe someone, we choose static and moving images. But if we ‘re going to poke someone, we select text.

Words are game changers. Not only do they provide context to an empty visual, but they also control the inner-narrative that ultimately influences external decisions. Choose them with care.

The peripheral things


The periphery shapes reality. We consume everything through our phones and apps likes Instagram. These tools shape the message and our interpretation of the world.

Things are rarely novel. What changes is the method in which items are delivered to human attention. People latch on to trends and make them feel new, no matter how old they are.

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The original fidget spinner dating back to 2000BC (via)

We confuse newness with progress. History rests on a gif loop of attention. The fear is that we lose all memory of how reality existed the first time.

‘This is not an apple’


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Ceci n’est pas une pomme by Réne Magritte (1964)

You can go ahead and try to eat this apple. But the representation of the apple is pure fiction; you can’t eat it. It is a mere rendering of something you could consume. Like a map, it displays territory that exists only in mind.

Nonetheless, the picture provokes all the emotions that go in eating a real apple: the unpeeled texture, the juiciness, and sugary smell.

The first taste is always with your eyes. The imagination recasts the image into a vicarious eating experience that triggers your hunger.

Pictures inherently lie just as the lines fabricate the authenticity of lines of territory on a map. What it is is the robust interpretation of the present in the fairytale of the movie-making mind. The dimension is here and now, neurologically tangible, but you still can’t touch it.

The marketing is only as good as what you tell yourself.

 

Making for the micro


via giphy

People always made art. Now, we just make it and share it in abundance.

But all the noise makes it impossible for aspiring creators to stand out.

On the flip side, the bell curve is widening from the masses to the niches. We can build an audience around sub-genres at scale for the first time ever; the Internet helps us stay connected.

Once we shift our strategy from marketing to everyone to the marketing to the micro, we set ourselves up to make deeper work that lasts.

Your weirdness is not only acceptable, it’s mainstream.

“To get across an idea.”


Charles and Ray Eames foretold a society of dizzying pace even before the inundation of mobile screens, interactive billboards, and social media feeds that are so normal today.

As The Met’s video editor Sarah Cowan writes in the Paris Review:

“Their most ambitious multimedia work pushed the capacity of the medium and its platform, as when they designed Think for IBM’s Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair: a spectacular, twenty-two-screen live lecture about problem solving, and America’s first taste of information overload.

But even the Eamses couldn’t have predicted the ubiquitousness of smart technology. Nor could they have imagined a company like Amazon acquiring a grocery store to spread its talons to connect new physical and digital industries.

Below is a fascinating look at the 1964 World’s Fair. It’s as if people and brands coexist to write the future.

All the internet’s a stage


via giphy

We can all assume that a social media persona is different than that in real life. Writes Jonathan Crossfield in Chief Content Officer Magazine: “Strategy or no strategy, all social media is artifice and spin.”

No one is going to post in public what they Google in private. We’d rather tweet about golfing than revealing a Saturday afternoon doing the dishes.

We curate our avatars, acting like celebrities and influencers to build up our personal brands.

If Instagram and Twitter present an edited version of real life, reality reveals half the digital truth.

We create the appearance of authenticity online.

We invent polished experiences so we can share them. We manipulate the public microphone to project the best self, even if that five-second clip is ephemeral and disappears.

All the internet’s a stage. As online entertainers, it is no surprise that we often fail to live up to the shinier version of ourselves offline. We set the bar too high like the movies, leaving nonfiction in doubt.

“Nothing is real until it’s on television”


Image by Wells Baum

“It’s such an American thing that nothing is real until it’s on television.”

Tom Nichols

As Charlie Brown says after looking into the dark sky: “Let’s go inside and watch television. I’m beginning to feel insignificant.”