I acknowledge that my son's intrigue with hinges may seem a little random. But his fresh, untainted eyes remind me how we often overlook some of the most significant technologies and developments precisely because they're so simple, work so flawlessly and have ingrained themselves so deeply into our lives.
What makes the hinge so interesting, important and inspirational? A hinge is just a hinge, right? After some thought, I came up with several aspects driving my son's intrigue. Deceivingly subtle, the hinge represents:
- Power: the ability to move heavy, otherwise stationary objects.
- Elegance: simple, yet unusually effective.
- Perfection: It does one thing, but does it right.
- Reliability: perfection every time.
- Beauty: Hinges are pragmatic, but have proven they can be beautiful, like jewelry.
- Environmental control: When coupled with a door, a hinge enables you to turn off the outside world, seek shelter or allow visitors.
- Expression: Not only are hinges visual objects of expression for their owners -- deliberately or by accident -- they are active expression instruments. A hinge empowers you to be welcoming to others, shut people out, or boldly express anger through a door-slam.
As marketers, it's important to stay curious and cognizant of the small yet integral cogs in our life -- and understand why they're so successful. The subtle yet ubiquitous things can offer us some of the greatest lessons and inspiration for the things we make and the services we deliver. The little things often showcase the fundamental value drivers that so many products and marketers fail at.
How to apply this thinking? Pick one subtle but ubiquitous object in your life each week. Examine all the roles it plays, the value it delivers, and why it's secured a place in your life. That's a lesson and eye-opener by itself. Next, take those attributes and compare them to your own product or service. Every attribute may not be directly comparable, but your concept of meaning, value and relevance will certainly be challenged and inspired.