When design meets word of mouth

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Great design isn’t just about making things pretty — it can transform ordinary things into something useful, meaningful, and interesting. It can also inspire word of mouth.

Here’s how some companies are using design to get people talking about their stuff:

1. Encouraging comfort
2. Creating mystery
3. Standing out

1. Encouraging comfort

Photo from Buzzfeed/Macy J. Foronda.

Photo thanks to Buzzfeed/Macy J. Foronda.

CT scanners are scary-looking machines no matter how old you are. But to help kids feel more comfortable with the equipment, the New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital (say that three times fast) painted theirs like a pirate ship. To a kid, the visit is actually fun. To a parent, it means a lot that a hospital would find a creative solution to a potentially frightening experience.

2. Creating mystery

Photo from Adweek.

Photo thanks to Adweek.

In 2012, Wired put a hidden message on the spines of their magazines so that when the issues were all stacked together, black blocks would spell out a quote from their founding editor. It was a simple change to their regular magazine design, but when their subscribers noticed the pattern, it became a topic of conversation. This small design tweak hit on a big word of mouth motivator: People love talking about secret stuff.

3. Standing out

Photo from The Cut.

Photo thanks to The Cut.

Buzzworthy design doesn’t always mean changing the look of your product — sometimes it’s more about how you present it. For example, at this year’s Fashion Week in Paris, designer Rick Owen sent step team performers, instead of traditional models, down the runway in his power-themed clothing line. That one change in presentation created an unforgettable experience for the people at the show and sent a remarkable message to everyone else.

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