disciplined perspective

“It’s all about Marketing, isn’t it?” asked the Starbucks barista.

She was referring to everything, every thing we say and do.

I started it.

I marveled at and commented on the pen she handed to me to sign my credit card receipt. It was a Sharpie Retractable Ultra Fine Permanent Marker. It’s negligibly different in function or quality from a Paper Mate or Uni-ball ultra fine point pen , but they’ve designed it to look like a standard Sharpie permanent marker that just happens to have an ultra fine tip. The shape of the pen was cashing in on the brand promises of quality and familiarity that I’ve come to associate with that industrial gray pen shape whose bulk and taper evokes images of a passenger plane’s fuselage. I’m instantly happy that I have a dependable brand like Sharpie in my hand, even though I’m currently in love with Uni-ball’s Gel Impact pens.

When she commented that it was great marketing, my first impulse was to agree.

I guess I’m a marketer, I thought; I realized that I had blindly assumed that the pen’s design was based on marketing intelligence and decisions. But it occurred to me that a developer, a maker would have said that it was great product development.

I reasoned, to myself this time, that every discipline looks at the world through arrogant lenses that make everything all about that discipline. A PR professional might take credit for pushing the Sharpie brand name and messages so well that I have built my brand perceptions and loyalties.

In reality, it’s actually true that each discipline plays a pivotal role in the creation and maintenance of a product and its brand attributes, and it’s important to remember.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say your discipline should be humble. Oh, no, wait. That is what I’m trying to say. It’s not all about you. Jeez, I guess that also means it’s not all about me.

Hmm. I may have to reconsider this argument.

What was the last thing you took away from a conversation with a barista?

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