A week in the life of a communicator.

March 4, 2011 | Author:

I imagine that musicians hear many things during the course of a day that I can’t. And painters see things that I don’t. As a designer and business communicator, I’m constantly struck by examples of thoughtless business communication.

A few observations.

Monday: We have too many icons.
Does every car manufacturer really need their own special set of icons? Do they really want me driving my car at highway speeds while trying to figure out the difference between that squiggly circular arrow and those three wavy lines? I just want to defrost my window. How about a button that says “DEFROST”? I’m a designer and have designed my fair share of logos and icons. There are often good reasons to utilize icons, but the truth is, icons just as often get in the way of clear communication.

Tuesday: Shampoo packaging designers should be stripped of their degrees.
I wear glasses. I can’t read 48 pt. type without them. How am I supposed to tell the difference between shampoo and conditioner in a poorly lit, steamy shower when the only difference between the two bottles is written in 7 pt. sliver type.

Wednesday: Assembly instructions need words (preferably in English).
I don’t know what’s worse. The 100 page manual that includes every language known to man, or the universal instructions with illustrations and… NO WORDS. I have turned the page in every conceivable direction and I still can’t figure out what that picture is trying to tell me. And why do I have all these extra parts?

Thursday: I don’t know how powerful my microwave oven is.
If frozen foods are going to specify different cooking instructions based on the wattage of the microwave oven, it would be nice if the wattage on the microwave oven was indicated. Somewhere. Anywhere!

Friday: My car can’t fly.
Why do they give the recommended air pressure for tires and then specify that the tires should be cold? I do not have an air compressor in my driveway and I can’t figure out how to get my car to the gas station without my tires getting warm.

Saturday: No, I won’t hold.
I answered my phone yesterday and a computerized voice greeted me with “Please hold for the next available operator”. Wait!!! Let me get this straight. You had your computer call me, not identify who is calling or what it’s about, then ask me to hold and wait for someone to come on so they can try to sell me something that I don’t want. Really? This is how you want to start our business relationship?

PC vs. Mac Iconography

PC vs. Mac Iconography

Sunday: Did I mention that
we have too many icons?
Microsoft seems to think I need an icon for every single action I want to take in their applications. One of the great things about the Mac OS is that it uses simple word commands in its basic navigation — words like File, New, Open, Close, and Save. I understand what those words mean. Using tiny icons to represent simple English words just impedes communication.

Creating a strong brand for your company requires clear, thoughtful communication. It starts with the first interaction you have with your prospect, and continues long after the sale is completed. If you want to create a strong, and lasting brand for your company and/or product, it’s important to get this right.