Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.


Buy Nothing Day - The Day After

Okay, so I completely missed Buy Nothing Day. I am still posting this because there are some products we can all live without.

In honor of Buy Nothing Day, I started a list of things that will make you feel good about not spending your hard-earned money. In this consumer-driven world, it's good to know that there are some things just too awful to justify buying.

Feel free to add some of your ideas.

List of Things the World Could Happily Live Without

  • Billy Bob Thornton's cd
  • Chia Pet
  • Spray On Hair
  • Pantyhose
  • Barbie
  • Parachute pants
  • Another book about any of the following subjects: marketing, diets, Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and Charles Manson
  • Soda
  • Guns
  • People magazine
  • Thighmaster
  • Money trees (I've yet to grow a nickel!)
  • Pet rocks
  • Suvs and/or Hummers
  • Hootie and The Blowfish tickets or cds
  • The Clapper
  • The films of M. Night Shyamalan
  • Haute couture
  • Moon pies
  • Designer doggie wear

I am sure I will think of more as I venture off to the mall...



They Have Spoken

Okay all you mothers and fathers out there. These are the "it" toys for this year's holiday spending spree.

As for me, I will be kicking back with the rest of the childless, sipping egg nog by a tree completely devoid of these top ten items.


Yahooligans! Names the Hottest Toys This Holiday Season
More Than 185,000 Kids Vote for Their Top Toys in Third Annual Poll; Honda's Minimoto Maxii Miniature Electric Motorcycle Voted No. 1


Free Stuff!!

Ok, I think Seth Godin is a terrific marketer -- not a marketing god, as some people would have you believe -- but he is very good at what he does.

He's made his manifesto, The Bootstrappers Bible availible for free at It offers entrepreneurial advice on starting a business with little or no money.

I haven't read it yet, so I can't offer any opinions. But I have read enough of Seth's stuff to know there's something worthwhile in those 103 pages.

Apparently its a limited time offer -- go get it!




When I was 8 years old, my aunt decided to teach me how to sew. This was of course after a day of pleading with her to teach me how to make something. She was one of those "afghan making" aunts. Anyway, I am not sure of her exact methodology in teaching me to thread a needle and try something creative, all I recall is my lack of patience. I distinctly remember being able to mend a sock, but hopelessly incapable of making those fancy cozies or delicately stitched table runners.

After several attempts to emulate her work, I gave up and decided against sewing, even though my aunt tried to lure me back in with promises that I would get better eventually. But I didn't want eventually - I wanted to be as good as my aunt, then and there. I overlooked the importance of practice and my family neglected to take this perfect opportunity to instill the concept of discipline.

Unfortunately many of us have been taught that "to focus our attention and practice" is to waste time. With so much information literally at our fingertips, we have become quite lazy when it comes to tasks that require practice and commitment. Think about how many things you do with a noncommittal approach. I can think of several off the top of my head. So much of our day-to-day is spent on effortless and sometimes meaningless chores.

I don't mean to imply "practice makes perfect," as perfection is impossible to achieve. Rather I look at practice as a mindful commitment to improve ourselves through a chosen skill. It's a way of developing our Self through a sort of joyful discipline. It doesn't have to be painful. Your choice of what to "practice" can be completely outside of your profession. It can be cooking, karate, teaching, photography, investing, writing, building homes, anything so long as it is something you fully commit to doing.

The beautiful thing about the end result of committing to practice is that it spills into other areas of your life - building upon the patience, dedication, and attention to detail you will acquire.

Successful people are not totally absorbed in one mindless task or another. Most effective leaders or visionaries are very focused on become more effective people, more capable. They have chosen to practice and put what they have learned and what they continue to learn into action.

If you aren't exactly sure where to start - simply practice being more aware of your surroundings. You can learn a lot of relevant things if you just ignore the "brain static" for a few moments.

Listen closely...



Ring*Ring*Ring* = Jingle from Hell

I'm warning you, don't click this link. Don't do it!!

You will be plagued with the tune for the rest of your natural life.

Thanks to Fishbucket for doing her part to annoy...

Taste-less Luxury

Lavish parties, tours aim to build auto brand loyalty
GM lures Hummer owners with a concert, Jeep tries with off-road courses and Lexus gives guests a 'taste.'

By Ed Garsten / The Detroit News

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The clouds were as thick and foreboding as the kind of impassable muck the tricked-out Hummer vehicles on display in front of the Anaheim Convention Center Arena were built to traverse.

But even a rare, late October Southern California downpour couldn't douse the turnout of invited Hummer owners and their guests for free sushi, burgers, beer and a private concert and autograph session with hip-hop hit makers Black Eyed Peas -- all on General Motors Corp.'s tab.

Automobile clubs are really all the rage as the brand loyalty fires are stoked with illusion of exclusivity.

As a confirmed pedestrian, I don't get the whole automobile pride thing. Does anyone out there belong to an auto club? Care to defend your membership?



Isn't the Opportunity to Choose Terrific?

I love Firefox. That is all...



Reaganomics of Life Balance

Some of my colleagues live their lives with what I refer to as Reaganomics of Balance. They tell me, after working 10 weekends in a row, barely seeing their friends and family, surviving on 4-6 hours of sleep per night, that they are wise in that all this work will pay off eventually. In essence, they believe that the more they sacrifice now, the more likely they are to have free time later because they will be more financially stable (due to their current workaholism).


I have a big problem with this thinking. First off, I am a believer in living in the moment. That doesn't make me an excellent planner, but I am not one to stand around and wait on my objectives. If I feel like I want more time with my family, I will take it. If that's a poor work ethic, so be it. No one will look back on my life and say, "That Aleah, did she ever work like a dog!" I can live with that.

Secondly, there's always the chance that you will work yourself into a frazzled mess and still lose your shirt. Business can be a fickle lover that way. Now you have lost so many years and are no closer to goals that could have been achieved with a bit of balance.

Now, to state the obvious, there are times in life when work responsibilities mean losing sleep or time with loved ones. Creating balance doesn't mean shucking off responsible or becoming rigid. Balance doesn't mean blind consistency. There's a give and take, an art form to maintaining harmony in one's life.

The problem with the workaholic lifestyle is that not everyone can be Donald Trump or Richard Branson. We live in this illusion that if we read enough of the business gurus' books and adopt a "no pain, no gain" attitude, it will pay off and we can finally be kind to ourselves because we have earned it. The Bacchean life will now be afforded us as a "trickle down" reward of stoicism.

I find the most content, successful (which is oddly subjective to begin with) people I have met are those who have found the balance between good work and good play. They have not succumbed to the fantasy of materialistic happiness, nor have they ignored their responsibilities as a parent, partner, and citizen. They have not lived in extremes where Machiavellian approaches have landed them in a paradox of longing: wealth versus contentment. Rather, they don't wait to live their life in a wholly present manner; they live their life with joy and, more importantly, presence.

Living fully and soulfully - it's not as hard as it seems. It just takes being aware of how we funnel our efforts and reframing our objectives.



It's High School All Over Again

Great post over on Halley's Comment (New Kids On The Block) yesterday about exclusivity and how it affects us both as children and as adults.

This is something I have been thinking a lot about with respect to the "blogosphere," as well as other forms of social networking: There's a definite clique that forms, prohibiting the input and disallowing for the naivete of newcomers.

I have witnessed blogger attacks that are, frankly, unnecessary. Immediately, I am reminded of the little guy that gets sand kicked in his face, or the whole "star quarterback" mentality.

And while it occurs in the personal realm, too, I have found the need to create a tighter circle amongst professional bloggers even more ferocious. Some "gurus" are treated like Moses coming down from the mountain. Newcomers comments are treated with disdain - "the audacity of trying to infringe on our group!"

It's really silly and limiting. I wish adults would think about the packs they form and allow for some wiggle room. Maybe you or I don't have all the answers. Give someone else a chance to speak, and you'd be surprised how much you'll learn, if not about the topic at hand, than most certainly about yourself.


Potty Humor

World Toilet Summit 2004

I would like to know who got the honor of designing their logo. Just goes to show that there's a conference for everything.


Are Yellow pages Dead?

I think so. Here are my brief thoughts:

1) Reduce YP costs -- there WILL be diminishing returns
2) Target your market
3) Go after your defined market at all possible points of contact
4) Be aware that local style directories are siphoning off YP -- directories like RedTO, and local versions of Google (still in beta) and Yahoo

Marketing locally is part of an ongoing trend. People research their purchases online, but finding something close by is still tough.

However, the YP is being surpassed in this regard because the ads offer no flavour. The internet is convenient, informative, and can offer insight into company culture. Excellent service is a defining factor more than ever. The number of generic listings in the average YP category is numbing. I personally never think to use it anymore -- I'm likely part of a growing majority.


Putting the Kibash on Foxy PR Campaign

Man is the hunter; woman is his game
There is a connection between violence against women and violence against animals. Our culture sees women as meat.
By Carol J. Adams

A strip joint in Minneapolis used to offer a “Deer hunter’s special” during the fall, with the invitation to “Come check out our buck-naked girls.” A couple of years ago, “Hunting for Bambi” generated a lot of media attention with its supposed $10,000 hunting spree said to allow men to chase two naked women (except for sneakers) and try to shoot them with paintballs.

It was a hoax, but this wasn’t: Referring to the dead boar he was straddling for a photograph for the Philadelphia Inquirer a few years ago, a hunter explained to the reporter, “I’ll grab it just like I grab my women.” Then there was the fur store that invited women to “Come in and get skinned beautifully.”

Tacky? Yes. Over the line? Absolutely. Completely consistent with "the product?" Now we're getting into those pesky grey areas...



Blue Moon O'er Kentucky Branding

Help Pick Kentucky's New State Brand

Governor Ernie Fletcher announced that the people of Kentucky have voted to eliminate "Kentucky: Limitless" from consideration to be Kentucky's new state brand.

Now that "Limitless" has been eliminated, the voting begins all over. The three finalists left to vote on, are "Unbridled Spirit," "Where Legends Are Born," and "Make History."

Apparently none of my suggestions made the cut.

1. Kentucky - Five Last Names and Counting
2. Kentucky - We Got That Fancy Horse Race
3. Kentucky - More Hills Than You Can Shake a Stick At
4. Kentucky - Got Teeth?
5. Kentucky - The Jug Band State

Ah well.

Disclaimer: If you are from Kentucky, please do not send me hate mail. I joke because I am from a state where barn dances are the norm. Hell, I might be your cousin.


'Beautiful World' Indeed

As a follow up to my previous post about the power of ad tunes, here's the latest -

Toyota Gives Away Song Created For Ad

Small Businesses Still Confused About Online Ads

Kelsey Group: Small Businesses Not Yet Advertising Online

Greg Sterling, The Kelsey Group program director, said the main challenge facing the industry is convincing small and mid-sized businesses to respond to growing local search usage. He said that business-owner confusion is one of the main reasons for under-spending in the online local market. For that reason, Sterling believes the new package deals offered by Yellow Pages providers Dex Media and BellSouth--which already have a large database of local advertisers through their print Yellow Pages deals--hold promise because they offer a simplified way of marketing the Internet to small businesses.

It's mind boggling to me that so many business rely upon habit to guide marketing and advertising decisions.



No Longer Simple Jingles, Ad Tunes are HOT

Sound design, or the use of music to elicit an association with a product, place, or organization, is BIG and is creating a new avenue for the waning recording industry. [Seems like new bands wanting to be scooped will start soliciting corporations and skip the record labels all together.]

Sound design is so effective, in fact, that products can become indistinguishable from the associated music - creating a buzz or sense of community among its followers. And those of us solely focused on visual identity had better start paying attention.

Ad tunes creating more interest than products

''I see that record companies are no longer able to promote their music like they used to,'' said Sue Cirillo, executive producer of To The Beat Productions. ''Advertisers are seeing more of a chance to capitalize on artists and co-promote artists. I think the recording industry is in big trouble, and the advertising people have seen a chance to capitalize on that.''

It's a different kind of perfect pitch - where product and promotion become indistinct. The blending often is not accidental. Sagging record sales have made it harder for the recording industry to break in new artists. That has driven producers to find new promotional markets in television commercials.

For those of you new to the concept of sound design and the impact of audible identity, read this primer:

Why Is That Thing Beeping? A Sound Design Primer
by Max Lord

Historically, sound has been used in everything from animal communication to computer-human interfaces to warn us that something bad is about to happen: a loud sound warns you that you're about to be squashed by a garbage truck, for example. This may seem obvious, but it's central to the discussion of audio feedback in any interface. Though they're not life-threatening warnings, the sounds a product makes are there to contribute to its usability, enjoyment, and brand identity - in some cases in more compelling ways than its form or functionality.


Dear American Friends...Vote Kerry!

Canada is depending on you!

"We need an energy bill that encourages consumption." George W. Bush
"Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods." George W. Bush
"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it". George W.Bush
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," George Bush told an audience of military brass and Pentagon chiefs. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." George W. Bush
"I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe - I believe what I believe is right." George W. Bush