Original ideas are becoming rarer – But design needs originality

I read a great post from my friend Brian Cray earlier today about how sloppy designers are becoming in their thinking when it comes to design. It’s a great read and you can see it here.

It got me thinking.

Last month I wrote a piece about Branding in a recession, which you can read here

Later that very same day, someone took the whole article and cut and pasted it into his own blog, which again, you can see here.

His thinking was soooo unoriginal, that he didn’t even bother changing the title. Yes he credited me for it, but does Google really know which is the original and which is the duplicated content that it will mark you down for in SEO terms?

The same happened to my mate Andy Henselman in one of his excellent Slideshare presentations. Here’s his original

and here’s the uncredited copy by some Albanian shyster.

I’m also a big fan of the work from the extraordinarily rude guys at COPY©UNTS. They have made it their business to uncover lazy ‘creative’ work where it has literally just been lifted from other peoples original thinking.

And to top it all, I was sent an SEO proposal from one of my clients today and it read slightly awkwardly. I didn’t believe it was original, so I cut and pasted a few strings from it, only to find it was ALL stolen from an educational site on the web about SEO strategy. Oops. I naturally told the client, so they won’t be getting any work, anytime soon.

For designers, SEO experts and anyone in a vaguely creative industry, you have to have original ideas. It’s the only barrier to entry we have in our imperfect worldwide market, where everyone has access to perfect information.

My business partner Mich Slack wrote a piece about this in response to the Glasgow Commonwealth games identity, which you can read here. But at least in that case, the designer had made some effort to change the overall look and feel.

It’s hard enough to retain credibility in this industry when your peers will undercut you for the price of a beer, but the sooner these people are kindly asked to leave it, or forced out by more discerning clients, the better.

Long live original thought, long live original design and long live clients who can tell the difference.

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What the F**K is Social Media: One Year Later – The lessons

This is one of the most exciting and informative presentations about Social media I have ever seen. There are so many lessons to come from it that it seems obvious to pick to what I think are the main few for us to learn from in case you don’t have time to go through it yourself.

1. If your product is crap, no amount of social media will make it less crap.

2. Listening is the most important thing you can do. Social media is about building dialogue and not diatribe. As innocent said here, when you are talking, you are not learning. Most research departments do not send out the emails, it’s the sales departments and they rarely ever speak.

3. Sending emails from ‘do not reply’ addresses is just plain rude and bad for business. What you are saying is that ‘We are speaking and not interested in what you are saying, so shut up’ – unless you want to place an order – in which case ring this 0800 number or click through to our friendly smiling website.

4. 85% of social media users have said that they expect companies to have a social media presence and then use it to actually interact.

5. Having a strategy to engage is the way forward. Look at all the social media options, decide what is right for you and then dive in.

6. Stop thinking social media campaigns and start thinking social media conversations.

7. And the three final rules in summary.

Listen
Engage
Measure

If you don’t measure its effect, how do you know if its working?

And thanks to Andy Hanselman for showing me this presentation via Twitter.

How to create devoted customers

A very good friend and colleague of ours (currently honeymooning in New York and still blogging) has written a brilliant little presentation that he has published on Slideshare about how to create devoted customers.

I love the logic.

Delighted just isn’t good enough, because when (or if) they come back for me, they already have high expectations and to really win them over you need to deliver even more next time, or they will just be satisfied.

It’s the challenge facing any company, any brand and in effect any employee. How do you keep raising your game, so you don’t get overtaken by the next big thing.

A really simple line of wisdom that I have quoted before from Tony parsons in his book Man and Wife, where he is speaking to his Mum to understand how his Dad and her had managed to stay married for so long, where she says “you have to keep falling in love over and over again”.

If you don’t take this seriously as a brand owner, pretty soon, your customers will fall out of love with you and the devotion will be gone.