In a world full of bad news, sometimes a little light-hearted humor helps. Like when you see a bunch of men’s faces sprouting wooly heads of hair and beards. You have to stop for a moment and chuckle. Maybe you will wonder if you need a fist full of wool.
Quirky design can be an effective marketing strategy by surprising your eyes. It makes you do a double-take. With shriveled attention spans by eye-weary consumers, that’s about as much as you can hope for.
Zombies are quirky, but not especially playful. Quirky works best when its subject matter is playful. Like curving wooden cabinets that would be a perfect fit in a Dr. Seuss book. Or little egg-like characters who share tips on proper etiquette for bus riders. Or a bicycle seat that doubles as a security lock to prevent theft of the bike – or seat.
Even though some car dealers still run TV ads with announcers who sound like bellowing circus barkers, many people prefer a subtler form of persuasion, a tiny dose of humor. You still need to sell a product, but you do it with a sense of style – turning wool yarn into men’s beards. (If you wrap a man’s face in a woolen mask, it’s not subtle – and not especially funny.)
Quirkiness doesn’t work on an island. It needs to mesh with product design. Thieves steal bikes and bike seats, so why not thwart thieves by turning the bike seat into an invincible bike lock. Oon designed a cute multi-shaped, fully functional power cord that you feel comfortable having in full sight.
A quirky design helps an otherwise bland product stand out. You can walk for miles inside an IKEA store and see rows of boxy cabinets. But you don’t always see curvy cabinets, tables designed for eating and ping-pong or a purse with arms, legs and a wry smile.
What may seem quirky at first can become beloved. The clean lines of the original Apple iPhone, which just turned 10 years old, reflected the simplicity and adaptability of its touch screen and sent frumpy cell phones on the road to obsolescence.
Granted, quirkiness can represent a marketplace risk. Don’t let your wildest imagination be your guide. But giving your imagination some room to roam can be healthy and result in a fresh, livelier perspective on how to package, market or design your product, service or idea.
If you need help finding your own quirkiness, read MAD Magazine or go see a Minions movie. If Alfred E. Neman and those lovable, mischievous yellow blobs of energy can’t excite your imagination, you might be better off sticking with stale ideas and leaving quirky surprises to others.