Remembering Marissa Mayer’s 41 Shades of Blue

The following is from the current Ideal Email from Hammock Inc. Read the entire idea post here: You Can’t Control How Others See 50 Shades of Blue.

Years ago, while Marissa Mayer was still at Google, an article appeared in the New York Times about the way she tested 41 shades of blue to decide which to use in a navigation bar. Many people still use that as a benchmark for the lengths a marketer should go to make sure something works.

But there’s a “rest of the story” to the 41 shades test, as shared by Douglas Bowman, Google’s first visual designer. When he left Google to become creative director at Twitter, about the same time as the Mayer feature story appeared, he observed, “I recently debated over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can’t operate in an environment like that. I’ve grown tired of debating such minuscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle.”

Now that I think about it, I’ve blogged about another example of Ms. Meyer’s approach to design.

Continue reading:You Can’t Control How Others See 50 Shades of Blue

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New Clues for the Post-Cluetrain Era

“Markets are conversations.”

If you are an internet-marketing trivia master, you may recognize that quotation as Doc Searls’ prophetic observation that appeared 15 years ago as part of the Cluetrain Manifesto. Cluetrain began as a list of 95 theses posted on the website Cluetrain.com that captured the sentiments of Searls and three other tech-industry marketing veterans.

The Cluetrain Manifesto quickly evolved into a best-selling book that provided many early online marketers with a foundation for understanding and predicting how buying and selling would change when buyers have access to the same, or greater, data and insights previously controlled by sellers.

What would be different if a Cluetrain Manifesto-like list of observations, explanations and beliefs were created today? How would 15 years of reality override these prophecies?

We can now find out…

(Continue reading on the Hammock Blog.)

Focus on Content Marketing Mission, Not Methods

I’m honored when people call Hammock Inc. one of the agencies that pioneered content marketing. (This month marks our 23rd anniversary.) However, I’ve always felt the term “content marketing” can be confusing when it’s applied to everything from blogging and social media to animated kitten GIFs. Unfortunately, when a term is used to label anything, it can start to mean very little.

(Continue Reading on Hammock.com…)

How Apple Masters “The Prestige”

The current Hammock Idea Email is about what you can learn about Apple’s new product launch magic by ignoring the products Apple unveils on Tuesday and focusing, rather, on how they handle the “third act” of any trick, “The Prestige”:

Next Tuesday, Apple will hold one of its famous new product unveilings. If you want to learn why Apple is the master of such unveilings, here’s our advice: Ignore the products they launch. Concentrate instead on watching Apple’s mastery of “The Prestige.”

Continue reading (…)

Sidenote related to obscure blogging thing: After drafting the Idea Email (the emails are collaborative and written by several people, but this one started with my draft), I Google’d to see if there was anyone I should credit with using the film, “The Prestige,” in describing Apple’s unveiling practices. When I saw that my longtime blogging friend M.G. Siegler used the film in September, 2012, I added that credit to the draft (although he concluded “the turn” is what Apple masters, not the prestige). Later in fact-checking, we discovered that on RexBlog, I had used the film The Prestige in an Apple-related post even earlier (in June, 2009) than M.G.’s (or ParisLemon’s) post. After reading and writing thousands of posts, it all cooks down to cajun gumbo that, if lucky, is both familiar but that still has a little surprise kick to it (a metaphor I’m sure hundreds of bloggers have used).

The Pundit’s Worst Fear: When Facts Don’t Support the Narrative

All week, anyone who follows the news has been carpet-bombed with punditry informing them that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat was because he supported immigration reform. Yet now, polls on both the right and left are revealing that immigration reform was far down on the list of issues that influenced the election’s outcome. Reporting on a poll conducted by Americans for a Conservative Direction, Politico says, “Only 22 percent of Virginia residents who voted for Cantor’s opponent, Dave Brat, cited immigration as the primary reason for their vote. About 77 percent cited other factors, such as the Republican leader’s focus on national politics instead of local issues.” (Tip O’Niell was, is, and will always be correct.)

I doubt, however, that such polls will change the narrative related to why Cantor lost. That the hubris and national aspirations of Cantor were the likely causes of his defeat, don’t fit nicely into a bigger narrative that works for pundits and analysts. Those are too nuanced and local…and personal, and don’t fit nicely into a national debate over one issue.

Continue reading The Pundit’s Worst Fear: When Facts Don’t Support the Narrative