An Event Apart: The Real Me

by July 10, 2012

At An Event Apart in Austin TX 2012, Aarron Walter shared why having a personality and story matters for companies in his presentation The Real Me. Here's my notes from his talk:

  • People may forget what you said to them, but they won't forget how you made them feel
  • It often boils down to telling a story.
  • The story (voice, brand) and behavior of an organization must be aligned. If they're not, it feels dishonest and inhuman.
  • Good design is honest: it does not make promises it can't keep.
  • If you can create a usable experience, you create transparency, which builds trust.
  • Childlike qualities can help us be honest in our designs, authentic, and personal.
  • The line between personal life and businesses is blurring more than every before. We share a lot of information across this boundary.
  • Before public Internet sharing, organizations were able to speak their story to others. But today everyone can participate in telling that story through the Web so any dishonesty can quickly come to light. Organizations need to live their brand not just communicate it out.
  • A brand's story can be enforced by a value system. Those values can be aspirational and inspire people to be part of something.
  • Let ethos drive the things that you make. When people can get anything they want, they look for something special. A story can make a unique connection.
  • Human presence: can you feel the people behind a product? Personality is an important part of communicating human presence.
  • In order to pass on our genes, humans need to make connections between each other, personality helps make those bonds.

Benefits to Personality

  • Stand out: be different from the crowd by having a unique personality.
  • Emotion and memory: our brains are hard wired to remember emotional experiences
  • Find your tribe: personality helps you bring like-minded people together. Human beings just want to belong. You can't build a tribe with a wishy washy personality
  • Passion: personalities get people excited.
  • Why don't more companies have great personalities. It's an issues of culture and people not tools or processes.
  • Finding out who your customers are is only half the question. You also have to understand who you are.
  • Design personas can help capture a product ethos. It describes your product as a person (real or fictional) and outlines supporting brand traits with clearly defined boundaries. Defining these traits helps you know what you should and shouldn't do.
  • An overview of the voice for a personality should include some examples of copy in use. Be aware not every situation calls for the same level of attitude.
  • A consistent voice can have a different tone based on the context at hand. Different contexts are often driven by the emotional state of customers.
  • Empathy is required for good copy writing. Good copy writing is good design.
  • Showing your personality opens you up to critique. That's part of the definition of being remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise always.
  • Putting yourself out there may not be comfortable but it is where you can find the real you.