Tag Archives: design

The MAYA Principle: The Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable

“Making the strange familiar and making the familiar strange, again”

– David Foster Wallace (about realistic novels)

Reading the book “Hit Makers” reminded me about Raymond Loewy´s MAYA –principle. Raymond Loewy was one of the most iconic industrial designers of the last century. Among his works are Lucky Strike package (logo on both sides to maximize the visibility), Coke vending machines, Air Force One livery and Skylab space station (with window to look back to Earth) to name a few. MAYA-principle means:

“The Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable”

To sell something familiar, make it surprising. To sell something surprising, make it familiar. This is one of the most important things to understand about human beings. The battle between familiarity and discovery shapes our whole lives. We want to feel safe, but at the same time we enjoy the thrill of challenge. The conflicting forces of safety and excitement explains why we resonate and like things that are familiar enough but also have something new in them. Loewy´s theory (which worked in practice) was also later proved in academic research.

Humans don´t want the same old thing all over again, but they also don´t want totally new thing. They want the same thing with slight twist. That is why Spotify´s weekly playlist works so well, it exposes you to new music but at the same time plays songs you are already familiar with. “Let It Be”, “Don´t Stop Believin”, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and “No Woman, No Cry” are built on the same chord progression. However, it would be ludicrous to say that these songs sound the same. There is lot of innovation in these songs, but it is innovation with boundaries. Innovation is not about thinking outside the box, it is about rethinking the box.

The secret to create things that resonate with popular audience is to embrace the conflict in the humans. It is not choice between neophilia (curiosity about new things) and neophobia (fear of anything too new), it is about finding the balance. This dualism is crucial in our industry as we quite often fall into the trap of going after whatever is new and shiny. Or we are too lazy and just do something that has been done before without adding any of the magic. Both are equally bad approaches to talk to the masses (which is the main goal for advertising). You have to find the balance between typicality and novelty.

The secret to popularity is to add slight hint of danger but still maintain the feeling of safety in your audience.

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The Art of Making Effective Facebook Ads

Although I am strong believer of catching attention by any (relevant) means necessary, this ad seriously baffled me:

Are you getting design services from guy, who has a watermelon in his head?
Or is the watermelon head representing guy who needs design help?
I think he definitely needs some kind of professional help, but I would not be worrying about the design. Unless you get some psychiatric advice in addition to the design services, which apparently cost less than a cup of coffee.

On the other hand I saw the ad and started to think about it, which is way more than I can say about the majority of FB ads.
The challenge with Facebook ads is that you seem to notice only the really weird ads, which you would never click on.
When you have small space to work on, it is difficult to get noticed but still be relevant.
Difficult but not impossible.

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Planners Make Ugly Slides

I won´t deny it, in most things I am a straight ridah.

However there is one common characteristic, I share with all the wack planners around the world. I do really ugly slides. That is why I have condensed my presentations nowadays mostly to one-sentence blank slides (so-called power-slides).
This cheat sheet from Julian Cole comes definitely in handy for me (download here with a tweet):

If you want to see some of my ugly presentations, click here.

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