I said some stuff on Twitter that I am somewhat fond of. I think it captures some of my current thinking about how positive and negative forces are at work behind any identity.
The 5 tweets, expanded upon slightly for clairity:
Brands feel like a way to scale the planet’s personalities. We map them to something that is done by a group of coordinated people.
The goal is to cluster people together by how they like to spend their time, and then focus on making some kind of beneficial output.
7 billion people doesn’t seem *that* hard to consider if it’s more like 300 different personalities; many of which you don’t even hang with.
Corporations aren’t people, but the people behind them usually think enough alike that we know why the company behaved as it did.
“Brand” is then the positive side of an identity and “corporation” is the negative side, where positive means the identity is human-oriented and negative means it is mostly mechanical, eg not human-oriented
I gained the benefit of concision via Twitter’s size limit.
In short, they suggest that a little positivity can enhance creative experiences and, similarly, a little negativity can enhance analytical experiences. I’ve been looking for signs of this being true in daily life and I think it can be observed with some frequency. Creatives, which spend their time thinking about how to make something better prefer relaxed environments where their minds can flow. Consider a mathematical shop or maybe a financial shop, their work is more black and white. Some negativity in their environment opens up their analytical minds and focuses it on hunting math errors to keep the equations clean.
As I think on this concept, it becomes clear that you can enhance the accuracy of a message by focusing on whether or not your audience should be thinking creatively or analytically when you send your message. I have also started associating positive with whether or not a design is human oriented or not, as the tweets above suggest.
If a product needs to connect with it’s user at an emotional level, the product needs to send a strong, personal message. It understands its user. It understands why life was frustrating before it existed. It’s here to help make life easier, more beautiful, and more fulfilling. Apple clearly messages us from this perspective.
If the product doesn’t require an emotional connection, I only want the facts about it. I don’t care why it exists other than how it’s going to be better than whatever I’m currently doing. Basically, it’s a pain killer.
And, of course, this is a false dichotomy. Brands have both a positive and negative way to message what they do and should use both accordingly. Apple convinces us why they’re the best people to make a computer, but once we’ve got the computer in our hands we find that it’s also a much better computer than what the other folks are selling. They’re explicit about the first and implicit about the second, which I believe to be a powerful combination.