The best thing since sliced bread

Ashim D’Silva

The attributes of a product on which it is marketed, are often not the best, but the most tangible and easiest to put into words. You don’t sell a car with a smoother engine and transmission, you sell an updated look, new colours and a half dozen added buttons.

You don’t sell a camera with greater colour depth and accuracy, you sell higher megapixels and some new setting for shooting cats looking up. You don’t even sell clothes on superior stiching quality, but because some celebrity wore them, in an ad, they were paid for.

And that’s advertising, and there’s nothing really wrong with it; people need a number to make one thing greater than the other so they know they’re getting their money’s worth. The problem is when product iterations then depend on this nonsense to improve their product. You can’t just make something better, you have to add features, make it bigger, faster, smaller, shinier… or you won’t actually be able to sell your hard work.

‘Best thing since sliced bread’ wrongly assumes sliced bread is good. Sliced bread is not good, it’s efficient and easy. And most imortantly, efficient and easy aren’t the qualities of bread I value. Slicing bread doesn’t make it taste better, it doesn’t stay fresh for longer, it doesn’t improve the texture or warmth; in fact, most of those things get worse. (I have not seen a single cell phone ad that boasts of better call quality.)

A vast majority of the features that are added for the brochure, are actually ignored by most users–think bloatware in any OS you’ve gotten. Don’t let those be a focus point for your next iteration. Always go back to why people are using your product and make sure everything you do, is an improvement to that goal.

Add value. Not features.

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