Thursday, June 3, 2010

Design for the Why

Recently I watched a TED video about how great leaders inspire actions. One of the things he said really struck me about advertising. We shouldn't design for the “what” but for the “why.”

I also watched “Art & Copy” which is a movie about advertising and inspiration. As I watched it I noticed that some of the best advertising campaigns and tag lines hit the “Why?” on the mark. A couple of the ads they talk about are the 1984 Apple ad, Nike’s “Just Do It.” and “Got Milk?”

The Apple ad is a classic. Not once does it show the product in the ad but it does show the logo and introduces us to the resonating idea behind the Macintosh, a change, freedom from one system the ability for anyone to use a computer. The rest of the Apple ads hit the why also; i.e., "Think Different" and the "Get a Mac." The why of what they do is behind all their ads.

Nike’s “Just Do It.” got to the core of what they, as a company, are about. Getting people out and exercising, preferably wearing Nike shoes. There ads focused on people doing not on what they wore. At the very end of the ads they showed the shoe. In “Art & Copy” they discuss how the “Just Do It.” phrase effected people and how it gave people the courage to make a change. It motivated them to get up and do “it.”

The third slogan “Got Milk?” goes to that fear you have each morning with a bowl of cereal or in the evening with a rich slice of chocolate cake. The original ad of the guy getting the prize phone call and not being able to answer because he is out of milk hits the mark. They do mention the product but they get to the “why” of the “what.”

Too often as designers we focus on the “what” when we should be focus more on the “why.”

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