Apr 30, 2008

The Monkey Box

Downtown Natchitoches, LA, showing brick streetsImage via Wikipedia
I love it when I find something special. Especially when I'm not looking. It happened to me this weekend on a trip to Natchitoches, Louisiana. We were browsing the antique stores and shops with no particular purchase in mind; mostly just window shopping.

One of the stores we visited had two floors of items. It was kind of like visiting a museum. Some of the things I saw brought back old memories from when I was a kid. This place had every kind of bauble you could imagine old toys, tools, every kind of old bottle or container, records...I could go on and on. In fact, It had so much stuff that it all started to blend together.

But then, in the last room, I spotted the oddest, most eye catching item in the whole place. I took to it immediately.

I saw the Monkey Box.

I turned it over, looking for a price.

$6.95. A steal in my book.

Out of two floors of items (and I really mean a lot of items) this one piece jumped out and demanded my attention.

Without hesitation I snatched it up and quickly paid the $6.95.

I've been asking myself what it was about this piece that made me stop in the first place. What about it prompted me to purchase it so quickly? Here's what I've come up with.

  1. It was unique, with it's own character and voice. Sure, there were other interesting items there, but the Monkey Box didn't really fall into a specific category. If everything else in the shop set the tone for what was the norm then the Monkey Box broke that standard right in two. It was simply out of the ordinary.
  2. It had strong, simple images and great color. I spotted it immediately.
  3. It was a box, but it wasn't a basic rectangle or square, which was really cool. There were some other containers on the shelves, jewelry boxes and things like that, but the shape gave it an eye catching edge over the other items.
  4. It looked friendly...really. Nothing hard about it. Now, don't ask me to tell you exactly what it was about it that made me feel that way. Perhaps it's just the monkeys themselves, the looks on their faces. Who knows, but for whatever reason that's the way it came across.
  5. It looked hand made, authentic, not produced by a machine or assembly line. I didn't feel like I was buying something that anyone else had. I mean, come on; who would want an empty box with some monkies painted on top (unless you collect monkey nik-naks)? It wasn't hiding any of its imperfections.
  6. The price was great. I didn't feel snaked (yeah, yeah...I know; who would want a monkey box). I like unique items and I especially like it when I don't have to pay a lot for them, but actually I would have probably paid more for this item because I really liked it a lot.

So, you may be scratching your head, wondering "what does this have to do with the creative profession? Where's the tip? Where's the tidbit?" Well, here it is.
The Monkey Box provides a simple formula for getting noticed in an increasingly cluttered market place.
  • Be unique
  • Find your voice
  • Have character
  • Use strong images
  • Use great color
  • Twist on an existing idea
  • Be friendly
  • Be approachable
  • Be authentic
  • Be useful
  • Be fair

Good advice for those of us who are in the business of graphic communication.

Heck...I think it's good advice in general.

Peace. -O
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