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Design Blog - Outlier by design

Breaking ‘Boring!’

Established brands often talk about ‘the average’. Average amount spent on a smartphone, average number of times a person visits the cinema, average time it takes to read a book, their products are all designed about maintaining the status quo, ergo, what results is an average products for an average person.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with average products, but they’re not exciting, they never are, the products that raise our eyebrows, cause us to get excited, generate anticipation, lobby us to tweet, like or buy are the products and services that exist at the extremes of average. the roger’s curve (if you didnt know the name of ti you do now) is that often used bell curve which displays where a product is in it’s lifecycle. The crazily expensive bottled water, the one-off custom-made shoes, these products tend to be attractive or acquirable to a finite number of people, but yet remain talked about by an exponentially larger group. The audacious colour, the never before seen curve of a dress, the incredible design of a chair, So why do companies focus so much of their marketing budgets on average stuff? literally spending millions of euros trying to get your attention to buy their average product?

Market forces or marketing vices?




They spend so much because the product probably can’t excite you, so they advertise with the hope that if you do need to buy kitchen roll, you’ll buy theirs. Seth Godin points out in one of his many presentations (you should check him out on TED Talks, his words are far more enlightening than my text) is that the entire advertising is based on a now defunct ‘TV industrial complex’ , the notion that you buy ads for X, consumers buy for doubleX and you make some money, you create more stock, sell more products and being advertising at XX, and your product increases in sales, so you advertise again,the problem is that too often, everyone else is suing the same media, the same messaging and are largely talking to themselves. They’re not solving a problem, they’re interrupting you to try and get you to choose there brand.

What I find strange is that it makes so much more financial sense to find out the people who are naturally passionate about a product and advertise directly to them. This hypothesis isn’t unique, Mr. Seth Godin has been highlighting this fact for decades, but as a big fan of his I have to throw my hat in the ring and say, he’s right!

Those who will queue in line to try and get a limited edition H&M collection dress or those who’ll rush out to try the latest craft beer (and then the next week tweeting, liking and talking about it). If advertisers were smart they’d focus on making us deliriously happy rather than interrupting the shows we watch online or the ebooks we try to read. Seriously the ratio of advert watching to action steps must be 1 to a 100 or maybe even 1 to a 1000. Try to be remarkable at something. Try not to get sucked in to a ‘me too’ attitude towards your competitors, they have a fancy ‘jingle’ so we should to, there website has a 3 minute long video, so we should too… Major disruption occurs when someone radically changes the speed of innovation within that sector or industry. Where design helps this process is that it connects the technological perception of the next step (iPhone, google glass, hydrogen powered cars, mushroom wall insulation) and the vision of someone able to see the step beyond, or way off to the right where you didn’t see it. Design makes this a reality back taking what was science-fiction and turning in to a series of intuitive elements, like buttons, smooth transitions, increased engagement.

Surprise. Being remarkable doesn’t have to mean being endlessly creative, or having the next big idea. It does mean you have to change something, change something so much, that the Status Quo is broken, maybe forever. Wow normally my parcel takes 10 days to delivery, they do it in three! “Wow normally a coffee comes in a paper cup, this is real porcelain”, “wow! my local baker sent me a hand-written letter thanking me for the order last week, and a sample of his new cup-cakes flavours free of charge! “Those people crazy enough to think they can change they work, usually do” But we’re not average, no one is, sure we share similarities but often the evidence of that masks what we’re hugely excited about. The most important thing we focus on is extracting the best things from your brand and highlighting them to the fullest, we look at the people high in the chart, those outliers spaced far away from your clustered data. We never talk about the average. The average consumer, the average user. We want to talk to the people that buy your product everyday, that have it as their desktop wallpaper, that watch endless hours of online videos to understand more about your products or attend lengthy keynotes just to be able to say ‘we saw it first!’ ” You’ve got to want to do something unique and special. You don’t need a massive budget, you need the bravery to say No! No we won’t do another un-quantifiable press campaign, no we won’t do what typical automobile companies do, we’re going to be the bets at doing this.

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About Outlier

Set up in 2012 we initially started out as brand development company. Over the past 3-4 years we have developed into a full-service digital marketing and design studio. We specialise in responsive web design, WordPress CMS, HTML5 and SEO.

We're based in Dublin, Ireland. If you have any questions or need a quote for an upcoming project, contact us at

Outlier Ltd,
Victoria House,
Haddington Rd,
Dublin 4.