I recently got the issue of Bloomberg Businessweek routed to me and was quite intrigued by many of the segments included in their Second Annual How To Issue, an issue that the publisher describes as “…a cocktail party…[that’s]…all about the mix of guests.”  Although not all of the segments were relevant to the different roles I play within my firm, there were many that were, including:

  • How To…

Probably based on things that are at the forefront of my mind right now, there were two segments that really resonated with me.  The first one was How To…Design a Logo.  The author, Sagi Haviv, works for a firm that designed many iconic logos, including those for NBC (peacock), Chase (octagon), and National Geographic (rectangle).  The main question he says has to be asked when looking to design a logo is “What problem is our client trying to solve?”  Many companies think the need a new logo, when really what they need is to refresh or change their marketing, messaging or packaging related to their existing logo.  Logos should change when they are too complex or are no longer relevant.  Your logo needs to be appropriate, relevant, simple and memorable and the challenge here is how do you make a logo memorable and still keep it simple.  Another related issue to logos that the author didn’t go into involves tag lines.  Once you have a logo, you need to ask whether it needs a tag line.  If so, I think the guidelines that Haviv sets out for logos also apply – tag lines also need to be appropriate, relevant, simple and memorable.  If you are thinking about rebranding (or branding) your library, keep these things in mind as you think about and develop a logo and tag line.

The second segment that struck me was How To…Do A How To and this segment, written by Martha Stewart, is what inspired this blog post title.  Martha’s advice boils down to simplifying your instructions, keep it to as few steps as possible and add embellishments later.  If instructions get too complex, people will get disengaged and discouraged and possibly even give up.  And, finally, Martha hates PowerPoint decks and suggests doing something more innovative.  Many of us have access to software and resources to create more interactive tutorials or video content, but they do take more time and effort to create.  However, if the payoff is people actually paying attention to them and learning how to do something that will help them be more effective at their jobs, isn’t it worth it to abandon the PowerPoint or, for that matter, Word document with screen shots?  Whether it is making a souffle or cite checking a brief, simple clear instructions presented in a new, creative way may very well turn people into better cooks and researchers, respectively.