Just because you can…

At MMG, we’re often heard saying “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”  This applies to many things but it seems to come up most when we’re talking about design.

  • Just because you can use 12 fonts on one piece doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can auto tweet every 5 minutes doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can make your logo spin and catch fire on your website doesn’t mean you should
  • And so on….

Which is why this direct mail piece I received caught my attention.  It’s a perfect example of this axiom.  Check out the short video demo.



How about you?  Are there places in your marketing plan that perhaps you’ve crossed the line a little?  Are you guilty of doing more just because you can?

I see this a lot when a business owner tries to DIY their marketing.  They just aren’t quite sure where the line should be drawn.  Remember in most things — simple and clean will beat complicated any day.

Enhanced by Zemanta

14 comments on “Just because you can…

  1. Andrew —

    I know…. we often play the “how do you think they pitched THAT idea to the client” at MMG. Often — it’s hard to even imagine.

    Instead of doing a really classy, elegant piece — they look like they don’t understand their audience or design.


  2. Right on, Drew! I’ve used the “just because you can…” phrase many times during video production. (“I don’t need to see EVERYTHING your software can do in EACH commercial.”) It can also be applied to live performances. Check out this blog post about Christina Aguilera’s take on the National Anthem: http://bit.ly/qK5ZB5

    1. Scott,

      I know that people worry “this might be the only time I get to talk to them” but the logic is flawed. If you’re interesting and say something relevant — they’ll come back for more. But if you’re boring, pack too much in etc. — you are a self fulling prophecy. Of course they won’t come back!


  3. Vinnie Vinson says:

    Maybe there’s a method in their madness. True, Drew, you sought to point out what a mess the piece was. But, you mentioned Hyatt several times. You posted the video on YouTube. Lots of people will see and hear the Hyatt name. They still win a bit. I wouldn’t want them to handle design for me, but it looks like they have a very nice hotel.

    1. Vinnie,

      I may have mentioned their name but I didn’t tell you anything you would actually care about if you were going to book the hotel. I agree from a brand perspective, they get some name recognition but what the brand is tied to (bad design, overspending etc.) probably wasn’t their goal.


  4. Jim Amick says:

    So true Drew! This especially applies to web design. With so many options, features, and apps available, I find that many businesses have too many bells and whistles and the message is hard to follow. Definitely requires some restraint…

    Thanks for the great example!

    1. Jim,

      Restraint….there’s an underutilized characteristic when it comes to advertising/marketing. As they say, sometimes less is more!


  5. Hi Drew,

    Yikes! That’s just a mess. (Not to mention how much more it cost to produce and mail because of all those awful, ineffective folds.)

    1. Daria,

      Yup — it came in a pretty thick envelope when it was all folded down and I agree, the expense of the piece had to be ridiculous.


  6. Kneale Mann says:

    Yet another great post, Drew. As graphic designer friend of my often says when she sees this type of thing – wow, someone got PhotoShop for Christmas.

    It’s understandable that they wanted to create a premiere piece and perhaps some customers appreciated that effort but I’m sure most (all?) can do quick math and decipher that the money spend on an extravagant direct mail piece will be passed on to the customer.

    Obviously in this case and so many others, a nine panel art piece that really has one central message and could be told with a two-side four-color solution is overkill but companies are clamoring for attention and often do it because they can and there is hope that will create differentiation.

    I guess that’s why I receive a fully bound magazine edition from the manufacturer of my care every month that includes travel stories and recipes.

  7. Julie Gorham says:

    That piece reminds me of what I would have attempted when I was just starting out in design about 18 years ago.
    At some point, I realized that form has to follow function in marketing. Anything that requires that much effort to grasp a marketing message, just isn’t worth anyone’s time.
    Watching the video, I’m imagining myself, standing in the kitchen, holding a pile of mail and attempting to gracefully unfold this piece.
    It just wouldn’t happen… into the trash it would go.

  8. Tracy says:

    Our company’s concept can be complicated to explain in a sentence or two, but after trying many concepts we found a way to effectively explain it graphically. It has turned into a very effective message that can easily fit on a 4″x6″ card that we send out to customers that they can refer to or that they can pass on to others. It has generated significant growth. Simple is better for us.

  9. Great point, well made, Drew. And of course my most un-favorite word “Should”. Should we do anything?

    Check out my blog on “Should I, Should You” that I posted last week at
    http://thecoffeehousecoach.com/2011/should/ if you have a chance.


  10. John U says:

    That`s a great video …. Thanks for sharing Drew.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *