Friday, September 4, 2015

The ultimate hotel UX fail.

Traveling is stressful and unpredictable, disruptive to our home life and circadian rhythms at the best of times.  Helping to minimize these effects is a key part of any hotel's value in its service of its guests. Sleep in particular is the primary purpose of any stay so anything that disrupts it is very bad for business.

Designing a hotel door hanger separately from the handle it goes on has just this kind of unintended consequence. Nothing wrong with having 'Do Not Disturb' printed on the reverse side of 'Clean' - as long as there is no ambiguity in which message is the guest's intention.  It's why a holistic approach to UX is so crucial to serving up choices and interactions that achieve the desired outcome. 

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Snickers hits the sweet spot, serendipitously.


Playful product messaging is a relatively new marketing development. In these evermore casual times, brands have learned that not taking themselves too seriously and having some fun can resonate better in today's culture. Brands that are playful demonstrate that they have the confidence to do so. 

Coca Cola has recently departed from years of stringent protectionism for its classic packaging design and begun to use it as a canvas for sentiment that could be expressed by someone sharing happiness.


Other brands have followed. The relaunch of Old Spice has included a similar technique.  Its deodorant stick humor gives a wink to how long the brand has been around, yet gives is an edgy, modern sensibility. 


Snickers playful approach is a relatively new direction for the brand, complementing the tv campaign 'Who are you when you're hungry?' that dramatized how different a person's character is when blood sugar is low.


Most likely the brand didn't intentionally seek to exploit the massive Netflix hit House of Cards.  Nonetheless 'Spacey' conjures up the Presidential character of that series, whose mood is so perpetually angry it is relate-able as an altered-state mood of someone incredibly hungry.  It raises the question of an interesting twist in playful packaging: referencing characters in entertainment culture.  Who's next perhaps? Bates the psycho character in Misery? Trump the Real Estate mogul-turned-angry-populist-political-campaigner? Or Oscar the trashcan grouch from Sesame street?

Tapping into cultural themes or memes gives brands a very valuable wavelength to resonate with people, whether deliberate or not.