by Tim Kilpin | 22 Jul 2021
The Bloom Report
Q: Do Details Matter?
A: Um, yes.
Q: Whose job on the Product Team is it to pay attention to details?
A: Um, everyone’s.
Q: What does Paul McCartney have to do with all this?
A: I’m glad you asked.
Hulu is running a fascinating documentary right now, in which uber-producer Rick Rubin interviews Paul McCartney about his music-making process, primarily with that famous band he played in a while back. It’s a rare peek into a legend’s creative process, and it unearths pivotal details about how some of the songs we know best in the world were originally conceived. (I know most of you don’t care if the ‘birds’ sound in ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ was a stacked and endlessly looped guitar lick – it’s a big damn deal to me.)
What the documentary reveals, though, is how the little things – the details – can help turn something from just good to great. My design leaders continually reminded me that details matter. I drifted back to the packaging for Monster High – a wonderfully-designed, modified trapper keeper that was stuffed with story details – like Draculaura’s age (“1,599 – I can’t wait for my Sweet 1600th!”) Or one of my favorite failures – Furryville – which featured ‘The Pigsbys in the Kitchen,” where the cookies coming out of the oven were pig cutouts. Did either of these details sell one more product? No. (In Furryville’s case, nothing worked, but that’s another column.) The point is – the designers and creators involved in these and thousands of other products didn’t stop at the obvious components and features; they kept creating, until every element that could reinforce the product’s promise had been dialed up, refined, and polished.
More recently, our Packaging team created a wonderful presentation for our new Game of Things – Schitt’s Creek edition. (You have to know I am going to advertise here once in a while, right? Sorry, Mary.). The property alone is going to make this a compelling product – but that’s only where the team started. Now the package is actually a replica of one of the Rose family’s suitcases, replete with ‘Property of Rosebud Motel’ score sheets – details that may not close the sale, but will make the experience for a fan of the show that much more enjoyable.
Somewhere around the design table, someone – Marketing, Engineering, Costing – is going to ask the hard question: ‘yeah, but will that sell one more toy?’ (And it’s usually followed by some comment about the lousy margin or the late schedule. Happens every day, trust me.) Please, I implore you: push back and ask everyone to consider this: it may not sell one more toy…this time. But a great play experience that is punctuated by the joy of discovering little details will assuredly help make the next sale.
Sir Paul didn’t need to move to a D7 diminished 9th chord in the opening to ‘Live and Let Die’ either to make that song work – but he did, and it mattered.