buy one for a friend — or enemy

I just read Purple Cow, which took me all of half a day. It’s fast, easy, and a […]

I just read Purple Cow, which took me all of half a day. It’s fast, easy, and a bit over-exuberant, but most importantly to you dear reader, it says that old marketing is dead and the secret to success is unique products and the secret to unique products is design. It even has little slogans to photocopy in the back, including one that says “Design Rules.”

I feel a design renaissance coming on.

Anyhow, it’s one of those books you buy for your CEO, or head of marketing, or product manager. Go evangelize, the profession needs it. And deserves it.


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  1. 1
    dave p.

    I’m looking forward to reading Virginia Postrel’s new book “The Substance of Style.” The main point of the book is that aesthetic virtues in products = economic value.

    So I think you are right, there is a design renaissance coming on.

    Hope you enjoyed France. It’s been 17 years since I was there. I really want to go back.

  2. 2

    Found it The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness and it looks good to me.

    Although I feel design offers a lot more than aesthetic value– it offers innovation and intellegent product design from concept up, because of it gives desigenrs excellent problem solving tools. I consider design the creation of a tangible solution to an articulated problem; articulated by a business and market need or desire.

    Still, who do you think of when you think of companies who use design as a competitive advantage? Sony? Apple? IBM? Oxo?

  3. 4
    Ron Zeno

    “old marketing is dead”

    Thanks! Heard that during the internet boom as well. Didn’t believe it then, either.

    Poor marketing makes for an easy strawman. But Godin is telling us nothing new, he’s just ignoring the more important aspects of marketing and business.

    Personally, I think he’s just very good at telling people what they want to hear. He plays to their ignorance and gullibility well.

    Buy this book for moral support in spite of reality.

  4. 5
    dave p.

    “Still, who do you think of when you think of companies who use design as a competitive advantage? Sony? Apple? IBM? Oxo?”


    Well, actually, that’s a tough one. Sony has always been weak in design (serious interface problems, for one thing); for them I think it’s nothing but name recognition. Apple is more design for design’s sake, as they have their own market niche, but they certainly have inspired a lot of other companies’ designs. Oxo didn’t start out “using” design as a competitive advantage, but their excellent designs give them one. As for IBM, I know a few of their designers (I used to work for a model shop that made a lot of their prototypes), and they’ve come up with some really cool designs that haven’t lasted in the market because nobody bought them. The butterfly laptop, with the collapsible, full-size keyboard, the desktop computer (whose name I forget) that was sleek and black, had all the disk drives in the base of the monitor and a wireless connection to the CPU; and now they have a laptop that unfolds to look like a desktop computer. Way cool. But no comptetitive advantage.

    As for other companies that have done this, I really can’t say.

  5. 6
    Adam Greenfield

    Dave p., Apple “design for design’s sake”? I beg to differ. If nothing else, their design dominance *keeps* me an Apple devotee.

    Under the guidance of Jonathan Ive, Apple is consistently offering first-to-market design features (the “breathing” sleep indicator, the iMac’s self-balancing screen arm and the backlit keyboard, to name three) that initially read as frills but which come to seem mandatory aids to workflow and comfortable use. This is to say nothing of Apple’s brilliantly designed userflow for tasks like wireless networking, which is utterly transparent – I bring my laptop into a hotspot and I’m good to go.

    If all Apple offered was an overpriced but pretty box, I’m sure I would have deserted some time back – I mean, Sony makes overpriced but pretty boxes too, you know what I mean? The fact that I am on my sixth Apple laptop in eleven years, and will happily buy a seventh in another two, has to say something. Show me another computer manufacturer whose products regularly elicit coffeehouse sighs and sad smiles of jealousy!

    There are plenty of other examples, in all industries and at all levels: Arc’teryx, the outdoor-sports-gear maker, who advertises not at all and relies on innovative design and word of mouth to ship product. Volkswagen, which distinguishes its mechanically unspectacular cars almost entirely through clever design. Any manufacturer in a commodity industry, in fact, who asks and wins higher margins due to distinguished design – think Rosenthal china, for example, or Ittala glassware or Hackman cutlery, or the aforementioned Herman Miller.

    This should be a moot point.

  6. 8
    James W

    The whole time I was reading Purple Cow I kept thinking “when is he going to tell me something new?” It never happened. Same old rhetoric, cute new title.

  7. 9
    northwest real estate

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