Spin vs Puffery Capsule Design 3

Spin, Puffery and Other Lies We Believe

We make the truth interesting.

Spin is the public relations equivalent to puffery in advertising. You know it when your PR firm passes along the sage advice of “tell the truth but manage the message.” Know the origin of the advisor before listening to the advice. Some in our field of marketing use the word “storytelling” loosely to describe their efforts to help brands. The idea here is simple, people struggle to remember facts and figures, but they remember stories. That’s true, but it isn’t the entire story.

People remember how you made them feel: through the use of stories, artifacts and the people surrounding your brand. Embellishing a story with fiction is spin and while it can add to the emotional appeal, it is also telling the lie someone want to hear. While it may create some “publicity buzz” sooner or later (often now it’s sooner), people figure it out and trust is deteriorated.

So, what do we do? We make the truth interesting, memorable and engaging. We do this by inserting the design process into everything. What does that mean? Design your moments with a deliberate and thoughtful method.

Here are some principles to consider when designing moments:

Respect your audience: start by calling them by a proper name, human beings - not consumers or for god’s sake users (gross). We are human beings and we live in a physical world while interacting with a digital one. If you start here you’ll see more of what they need and have a better chance of seeing the unmet human needs. See them as consumers and you’ll fixate on how, when, where and how much they consume.

Access all the senses: sight and sound are already bombarded by every medium invented to sell something to a skeptical human being. Touch, smell and taste are the slightly less abused senses and have the potential to connect with someone when designing a memorable moment. It is hard to see this when you’ve been in the business of crafting the perfect tweet or tagline.

Take research farther than eyes and ears: when was the last time you walked into the lobby of a hotel and smelled chlorine or a strong pine cleaning solution? What does that smell mean to a guest? The chlorine means chemicals, burning eyes and perhaps loud kids. The pine cleaning chemical smell means you’re using 1950s chemicals to clean, do you think guests want to remember childhood cleaning days or wonder if you’re hiding something worse behind the pine? Experiences are full sensory, so the research to understand them needs to be as well.

This is just a handful “off-the-cuff” principles to consider when you’re designing moments. If you’re still spinning tales in the “brand storytellers” world and it doesn’t seem to be working, we can show you why. If you need more, feel free to comment here, buy our book or contact someone to learn more.

Stop spinning tales and start making the truth interesting.


Aaron Keller
Founder and Author
Capsule Design

Posted On

Categories Branding, Design Thinking

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