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Why Brutal Honesty is at the Top of our Brand Behaviours

Dishonesty comes in many forms. We decided to be brutally honest, warts and wonders and all.

Posted by Chris in Blogs » Journey
Small Dog

DIshonest Fluff

For many years I’ve been frustrated by organisations and individuals hiding behind Fluff.

In addition to the obvious – stupid jargon, that kind of thing – by Fluff I mean:

  • dazzling and engaging visual brand
  • addictively engaging UX/UI
  • continuous incremental improvements
  • cultivation of an unwavering fanbase

It’s all Fluff and Fluff can be bad for everyone.

Stick with me.

Where any of the above Fluffs are used to conceal poor functionality or to encourage our brains to fill gaps with invented purpose – that’s dishonest.

I see many services with beautiful design, amazing, fresh new narratives and engaging descriptions of function that will change my life.

I sign up to many of them and spend hours looking for the thing I think is there, the thing I’m sure I’ve been sold (but can’t quite identify) until I eventually realise – this is just another BLAH with a new face.

All this irks me as a founder and always has done and it’s not what I wanted to build, even though it’s what I started building in my first sketches of Task Page.

Then two things happened.

An Epiphany

The first thing was an accidental discovery of A World Without Email by Cal Newport. I read it and immediately deleted about half the code I was working on and shifted my thinking to a distraction-free, hyper-efficient, mentally healthy workspace.

The second thing was my co-founder slamming his glass down during a beer-strategy night and shouting “Brutal Honesty! That’s what the world needs!”

That was the epiphany.

Over the following days I began to think how we could incorporate Brutal Honesty into our brand voice…

…and everywhere I turned it was staring me in the face. Literally, anything we did could be analysed through this lens with some simple, honest guidelines.

Brutal Honesty For Us:

This is our current implementation:

  1. Where 5 clear words will do, don’t use fifty
  2. Simplicity and clarity before beauty and wow
  3. All design and process decisions must be User First Focused, not System First Focused
  4. Function must drive adoption, not just form
  5. We can’t please everyone, but those we do please must make waves, not make do

For example – take rule #3 and apply it to the constantly iterated paradigms around notifications. A notification does not really benefit the User except in very certain circumstances. The User does not need to know in real-time that someone said “Thanks” on a thread. The System wants them to know because then they’ll be back into the System. Why else are so many notifications delivered without a body, just a link to login and see.

That’s just one example but we have hundreds already.

Brutal Honesty is allowing us to cut away the noise and focus on the pieces that matter – and with everything we have to do to get to market, that’s a GREAT thing!