Page 1


Š Brand Manual, 2017 All rights reserved.


“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.� Henry Ford


Why did you do that?

The secret of communication lies not in you knowing what you are saying, but rather in the other person understanding what you are thinking. Your responsibility is not to express a thought, but in making sure the other person gets it. And as we all know, saying stuff is easy. Making sure that the other person understands what we meant with what we said is a completely different ballgame.


If you don't have the time to do it properly, what makes you think you have the time to do it twice?


“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.�

It is by far easier to tell people what they should do, rather than explain why they should do it. And it takes a lot less time. But (there’s always a “but” there), usually that means when whoever comes back with whatever they were supposed to do, they have to do it again because it’s not how it was supposed to be done. And in the end, you end up spending much more time than you planned, just to get it done. The only difference being, that you didn’t spend the time in the beginning – you could just start right away. Finally you curse yourself mumbling “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” 13

Pettyfogging: to quibble about petty points. Quibble: a slight objection or criticism. Petty: of little importance.

It seems that most people don’t want to waste time on pettyfogging details, like instructions, maps and safety guidelines. We read instructions when things don’t work, consult maps when we’re already lost and buy insurance after the earthquake. We want to have the feeling that we’re being useful and that often means, that we start doing stuff before we actually know what we’re doing and why it is important to be done in a certain manner.

Any product that needs a manual to work is broken Elon Musk


Explaining “why” instead of “what” and “how” isn’t natural human behaviour


Ah, whatever, let’s just build and see what happens!

Imagine if architects worked like that?


Facts and opinions or personal experience vs what “they” say.


Professional soccer goalies all have their “strategies� for defending against penalty kicks.

According to a study by Michael Bar-Eli and colleagues, those who stay in the center of the goal, rather than leaping to the right or left, perform the best. They have a 33,3 % chance of stopping the ball. Nonetheless, goalies stay in the center only 6,3 % of the time. Why? Because it looks and feels better to have missed the ball by diving, even if it turns out to have been in the wrong direction, than to have stood still and watched the ball sail by.



We are poor at abstracts

Desired involvement

Actual involvement



There is an ofted cited goal for a client / service provider relationship: be involved intensively in the planning phase and get out of the way in the execution phase. However, in most cases, involvement is precisely the opposite. In the beginning everyone presumes that the other understands the problem and future solution in the same way. Only once the solution starts taking shape and looks not at all as imagined, do we react and start pointing right and left while hyperventilating.


((Illustration/photo: proud child in the middle of the room with everything stuffed under the bed))

Presumption This happens in the home, when parents tell kids to clean up the room, without acknowledging that parents and children have completely different ideas about what “clean” means. This happens between spouses, when one phones the other to pick up “something good” on the way home and fails to realise what that may mean. This happens at work, where team members without similar backgrounds don’t have the same idea about what it means to paint the room in “soothing tones”. Black? White? Peach?


“If you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough.”

Albert Einstein


We react to tangibles The most common reason for miscommunication, running in the wrong direction, doing the right thing wrong or the wrong thing right is when we don’t ourselves understand what is most important. Then everything becomes important. When everything is important, nothing is important. Incomprehensible software, hard­ ware with too many functions, restaurant menus with thirty

different identical dishes or written reports of 50 pages distributed to 50 people who all find 50 different things to focus on based on 50 different viewpoints. That’s over 6 million ways for something to go wrong! Understanding and communicating why requires focus. Focus requires time. Time spent reducing the amount of information and bringing clarity by stressing single functions, not multiple alternative choices. Indepth understanding of cause and effect. When’s the last time you had to sit through a mind-numbing presentation that talked about everything, and nothing? Death by PowerPoint, anyone? 33

Why did you do that?

Do you know why you have customers? Is it because of your superior quality, excellent features or favorable price and friendly service? All of the above? Isn’t that what your competitors are saying too? Have you ever mapped your customers’ journeys from need to satisfaction, not just focusing on the moment of transaction? You might find out, that you lost customers because the public transport system decided to change the name of the bus stop in front of your business to something completely new, and also remove the reference to your (iconic) business in the route planner. Suddenly, your customers can’t find you anymore and since it isn’t life or death for them, you die. A true story. 35

Why customers come to you

Customers are drawn to your business because of their needs, not because of what you sell. Their needs are why they come. They, for example, like café au lait, which is why they buy milk (the what) from you. But no-one sees a product and just says, “Hey, I need that” without having a reason.


It’s a matter of perspective

To understand why you have customers requires you to see the world from their point-of-view.


“Send three & fourpence, we’re going to a dance”


An apocryphal tale from World War I describes a message being sent along the command chain. It starts urgently and reasonably as “send reinforcements, we’re going to advance”. Passed from person to person, each one adding or subtracting a layer, ends up subsequently as “send three and fourpence, we’re going to a dance.” In real life, communication failures do actually top the list of reasons for IT projects failure, according to poll results from the Computing Technology Industry Association, as reported in Information Week. Extrapolating this to other walks of life isn’t very difficult.

To avoid total misunderstanding, the solution is as easy as it is difficult: make sure everybody involved understands why things have to be done. And make sure everyone understands the same why. Which also probably means, that you too have to know why, in detail. After that the what and how are a piece of cake.

A modern take on the above can be seen here: vimeo.com/18998570


Why should anyone care?

Why indeed? Because we recycle everything and make everything for recycling. We’d rather fix your old jacket instead of selling you a new one because this planet needs to be differentiated in some way. Sustainability. Because there is no Planet B.

The above is a much more interesting and memorable argument than saying that they have high-quality materials and tech stuff embedded in the garment which makes it breathable and light and strong and beautiful all at the same time. Everybody says that. 45

There’s a famous guy called Simon Sinek who drew this diagram.

Why? How? What? And he gave a really good presentation at TED, which you can see here: tinyurl.com/ns3u7uy


Do you know why you have employees?




Today’s generation overwhelmingly wants to choose meaningful work over working for money. Meaning comes from working somewhere on something that has a strong and clear purpose. That it's going somewhere, contributing to something, making some part of the world a better place. This purpose is also clearly definable as the why you’re in business in the first place. Having a clearly defined purpose allows everyone in the organisation to make strategically correct decisions because everyone is literally on the same page. Ask your staff why they work there. Ask yourself. Ask your customers why they choose you. Do the rings overlap? 49

What is service design and why you need it

Simply put, it is a people centered iterative development method. Instead of looking at what your business can make or sell, service design looks at what customers actually value and want. Based on real qualitative insight, services are created or improved while continuously tested on actual customers, to ensure that what is delivered is actually usable and valued. More often than not, what people value about products and services is how they work, not that they work at all. Making things work in the first place, may be difficult for you. But it is a hygiene factor for them, because you have 27 competitors. Doing something different, changing the “rules of

engagmenent� is what engages your customers. But to engage them properly, you really need to understand what it is that is important for them. Because it might turn out that your competitive advantage is only due to the fact that your store is close to a train station.

Service design is about walking a mile in your customer's shoes, to understand that no matter how good the shoes, it won’t improve the pavement. 53

Service design is about walking a mile in your customer's shoes, to understand

that no matter how good the shoes, it won’t improve the pavement


Customer surveys

A customer survey sent to a customer after she bought something is not walking a mile in her shoes. It’s more like looking at a picture of similar shoes somewhere else. Customer surveys are notoriously short sighted and focus on the moment of transaction, while principally ignoring the customer’s journey from need to satisfaction. Therefore, the customer has no choice but to answer questions about what you think is important, instead of focusing on what the customer actually feels is important.



Empathy (definition)

People often confuse the words empathy and sympathy. Empathy means “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”, whereas sympathy means “feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.”

The empathy challenge

It’s scary. To put yourself in your customer’s living room and talk to them about their lives. What needs and wants they have and how your brand has such a small part to play in it. “Yes, I love Coke, but if there isn’t any Coke then I buy Pepsi.” So much for brand loyalty. Understanding the customer's need and perspective, to have

true empathy for it, allows you to design your product or service to meet real customer needs, not imagined wants. The customers’ point-of-view on your brand and business can be a startling revelation, which places you in stark contrast with reality. Sort of like the Total Perspective Vortex was designed to do in the Douglas Adams seminal work, “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.




Now that you made it to the end, why should you have read this book?

“Why,” is indeed the question. “Why not,” asks someone more interested in opinions than facts. But in these fact resistant times, when countries vote themselves out of a good deal out of spite, when demagogues are running serious office, it is important to know the facts. And the facts are these: The difference between good products and bad products is their usability. Usability is achieved in two ways: • teach people how to use it; • make things work the way people expect them to work.


Admittedly, there are areas where teaching is important and crucial. You wouldn’t want your brain surgeon to be learning on the go and before we let our kids drive our cars, we take great care to teach them how a) the car works and b) traffic works. Things, after all, don’t have to be easy. Some things should require effort and if it is important, then teaching and taking the time to learn, works. However, if using a touchscreen kiosk has a steep learning curve and there is an alternative humanoperated option, then the screen is not going to be used. When doors are designed with pull handles on both sides, but swing only one way, then people will be dissapointed.

Asking why things don’t work the way people expect them to work, is the first step to improving a service or product. But to understand that there is something to ask why about, you need to step outside of your point-of-view. It is amazing what people can get used to, and because you’re used to it you stop noticing that whatever it is you use, actually doesn’t work very well. In Swedish its called “hemmablind”, which translates to “home blind”.




Home blindness is a real thing. When traffic signs are changed in residential neighbourhoods the sign saying that something has changed must be much larger than the changed sign. Because people who drive the same road every day actually don’t see the signs anymore. They just know them. That they’ve changed needs to be announced forcefully. Home blindness manifests aslo in our ablitly to raed wrdos wheer olny the frist and lsat leettr are in the coerrct palce. You know what you know. You have to be shown what you don’t know. Everytime something actually doesn’t make sense, stop accepting it and start asking why. 71

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.�

Winston Churchill

Brand Manual is a service design and branding consultancy based in Stockholm, Sweden and Tallinn, Estonia. We help improve products and services one touchpoint at a time. We make them talk about you. www.thebrandmanual.com

We’re collecting face-palm moments. If you run into a situation where what should work obviously doesn’t and the question “why the … is this so dumb” runs through your head, then share it with us and the world. On Twitter just tag us @brandmanual and post the picture, URL, story with the hashtag #why? #servicedesign. Together, we can make the world a better place!

This book asks why. Understanding begins with why. Without knowing why, all we can do is things right. If we know why, we can do the right thing. There’s a difference there.

Previously, on the subjects of Service Design, Future, Innovation and Branding: www.issuu.com/thebrandmanual

Profile for brand manual

Why? by Brand Manual  

This book asks why. Understanding begins with why. Without knowing why, all we can do is make things right. If we know why, we can do the ri...

Why? by Brand Manual  

This book asks why. Understanding begins with why. Without knowing why, all we can do is make things right. If we know why, we can do the ri...