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What Coco Chanel can Teach us About Branding

Leaning Tower of Clothing

I opened my closet the other day and wondered why I am so obsessed with clothes. I'm building something, but what is it? 

"In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different." - Coco Chanel

I realized fashion has the same principles as branding. For me, my closet is a visual display of who I am, the first impression people have of me, the ultimate form of silent expression, my own unique display.

The Last Thing Someone Will Notice About You is What You Say

This poses the question: "Is everyone judging us?"

The average person will take note of your clothing, appearance, then body language, how you speak, and finally, what you say. 

Let's apply this to a brand. Someone searches for you online and sees the description, this is their first impression. They then check out the site . . .

At any point in time this process can be interrupted by something off-brand. From the visuals, to the office entryway, to the call waiting music, it's ideal that everything convey the same cohesive message to build trust. Having a strong brand can back up your copy, but not the other way around.

"Pure, intense emotion. It's not about design. It's about feelings." - Alber Elbaz

Betsy Mary
It's November 12th -- It's World Usability Day!

Ever yelled at your phone? Ever pulled a door handle when it's meant to be pushed? Ever got your head stuck in a railing? (that only happened one time.) The list is endless and that's why usability is more important  than you think.  

Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object. Usability is removing roadblocks --The ability to do something easily. Usability is good design.

It's shocking that design has been around for so long and usability is a relatively new field (around the 1980s). Luckily it's making up for lost time, growing like wildfire among designers and businesses alike. 

I have three core rules around keeping user-friendly design in mind.

It's never the user's fault

Designers must aim to understand and accommodate. Every designer should have a solid understanding of usability. Often at work I feel more like a researcher and problem-solver than a visual designer.

Usability takes priority over aesthetic appeal

Ideally, there is both! But if forced to forgo, studies have shown, and most would agree, that something easy to use always trumps something beautiful to look at (just think of the last time you yelled at an inanimate object).

Design for the user, not for yourself

This is where research comes in, which could be a book in itself. Remember your audience, how would they interact with this product? 

So next time you can't enter a building without feeling like a fool, or want to throw the remote across the room, remember, it's not your fault. It's the designer's responsibility to make it easy to use. And at the rate usability and technology is growing the future looks bright.


If you hate doors as much as I do check out these 'Norman Doors' coined after Don Norman, the father of human-centered design.

Betsy Mary