Mixed Signals: Creative Lessons from a Thermostat

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.

Have you seen the new thermostat that’s taking the marketplace by storm? It’s called Nest.

Pretty nifty, eh? Nest is a start-up company whose founders hail from Apple. The thermostat’s ease of use and sleek aesthetic form an intricate and complex system, reminiscent of Apple product design (a recent Nest blog post title reads, “From iPod to thermostat.”).

I wouldn’t have guessed that a promo for a thermostat would spark creative thinking in me, but it did. Not only is the product itself appealing, I love the time-lapse story showing how Nest is used throughout the course of days. From a marketing standpoint, Nest is fantastic.

Nest is like the technological offspring of an iPod/thermostat union. And if iPod could fuse with a thermostat, what other products could benefit from an Apple-esque design upgrade? I appreciate the leap Nest takes from music player to thermostat. That leap inspires me to seek fresh ideas in my own field of communications. As I look at how Nest made this leap, I see two principles at play.

First, creativity grows when connections are made where once there were none. Nest founders could envision Apple design principles at work in something as simple as a thermostat. They took the design from one product field and applied it to another. Likewise, if I want fresh ideas, I don’t need to start from scratch. I can look at effective communications and powerful copy from other fields and launch from there.

Second, creativity builds when imaginative minds huddle together. Apple attracts creative people, and that environment is conducive to collaboration, dreaming, and trial and error. Writing is a solitary task, but I’ve found some of my best writing comes after a brainstorming session with other creative writers.

When these two creative principles are in play around me, there is also a buzz within me. That’s when I have an excitement for work and a willingness to take my own creative leaps. I’ve always sensed a deeper communion with God when I put my hands to the work that best uses the gifts He has given me. We are creative because we are made in the image of our Creator. It is the Creator of all who inspires the creative leaps we take, whether in thermostats or writing or lawn care or cooking.

Whatever your field, keep leaping.

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  • Wow. That’s all I can say about this gadget. I must have it!