Somewhere between 1973 (when the first cell phone was introduced) and the early 2000s, cell phones evolved from the size of a brick to a chicken nugget. (Nokia 7600, anyone?) For decades, mobile devices kept getting smaller and smaller. Which was—cute?—but made them impossible to use. Having this tiny phone became chic. A novelty. A trend. But at what cost?
The funny thing is that the shrinking size of cell phones began out of necessity: people needed something that was easier to carry around in their bag or pocket. But what started as a good idea to solve a specific problem became a trend that went too far. And the solution to one problem (size) turned into another problem (usability).
Companies looking to be innovative often base their moves on trends they observe or read about rather than smart ideas that help meet the objectives of their clients or business.
At Neo-Pangea, our purveyors of innovation don’t react to every trend. We fasten good ideas around human-centered principles and turn those ideas into interactive experiences that transcend gizmos and gimmicks. We’re not interested in capitalizing on the latest fads so your company looks cool for a few weeks.
So, how can you tell the difference between a good idea and a trend?
Good ideas don’t lose sight of the bottom line.
Know your end goal and invest in innovative ideas and solutions that help achieve that goal. Reading Bakery Systems (RBS) is the global leader in reliable, high-volume snack food production systems. Because these machines and installations can’t be transported, prospective clients can’t see them in action before making decisions. We created a custom virtual reality app that allows reps to transport leads into the RBS facilities through an Oculus headset—a game-changing innovation that ultimate helps RBS close more deals.
Good ideas aren’t concerned about keeping up with the Joneses.
Yes, you should keep a pulse on what your competitors are doing. But that doesn’t mean you need to follow their exact moves. To help set National Geographic Channel apart, we created what would be considered a high-risk takeover of its website to promote its new series American Blackout. Any user that visited the National Geographic Channel website that day was redirected to the American Blackout site, creating a disruptive and hacker-style experience.
Good ideas don’t neglect people.
You know your customers better than anyone. If your idea doesn’t solve a problem for or meet the needs of your end users, it’s probably not going to have the impact you hope for or expect. A local public museum needed to find a better way to enhance the experience and connect with its many different types of visitors. In the end, we created an interactive schedule of events designed to tap into the different interests of each museum goer.
Good ideas don’t go too far.
We’re not saying you should settle—iteration is key to good design—but don’t turn a cell phone into the size of a chicken nugget. Be practical. Be smart. For Nickelodeon, it was a simple search-and-find functionality that helped build excitement for its Legends of the Hidden Temple movie. We created an “instadventure” by linking 100 different Instagram profiles together. As users began to browse these profiles, they solved riddles, answered trivia, and found hidden objects along the way. The idea didn’t require bells and whistles, but it did create an experience as adventurous as the movie itself.
In the end, trends fade and good ideas have staying power—and good designers know which is which. If you’re ready to take the lead, you better be ready for some strategy first.