Pushing the Boundaries of the Medium

Today, their are many reasons to have a website and develop it to its’ full potential. But how to you get your customers to interact? Sure, there’s Facebook and Twitter, email marketing and many other social media avenues. But how can you stand out in the midst of all the other business’ doing exactly the same things?

I was recently inspired by the work of mono, a company located in Minneapolis, MN. They aren’t a design firm nor an advertising firm. They are a hybrid group, collaborating to bring their clients the best pathways to expose their business to the world. Whether is be on the web, on the street, or on the side of a building. The medium doesn’t matter. And this is probably the greatest lesson I have learned recently.

To push the boundaries of the ordinary, the materials you use isn’t really of most importance. Let’s say for example I wanted to promote my new smoothie and coffee stand in my local downtown area. I am a new business and it’s May in Wisconsin, just starting to warm up again from a long winter. How do I bring in new customers to try my product and come back again? I could put up a website, advertise on Facebook, send out postcards to local businesses, the usual. Or, I could take a different approach. Rather than using a particular medium to solve my problems, I need to think deeper.


I’m located in the middle of a downtown square. My stand is moveable, keeping in mind to have permission first for my various locations in the area. Maybe I could offer passerbys some sort of schedule for my locations? Since I do have the ability to move, I should use that to my advantage.

Digging a little deeper, I was thinking about what the customers passing by might be on their way to. Chances are they don’t have a lot of time to spend waiting in line for coffee. What if the stand had a section of small heated drink lockers? These lockers would house their pre-ordered drinks and allow the customer to swing by, type in a combo on the locker and grab their drink. No waiting in line or having to wait to purchase the drink. Customers would be able to send in their order from our website or via a paper slip at the stand.

Perhaps a great way to utilize the lockers further would be to offer mystery drinks or giveaways. The customers every week would put in their name (after purchasing a drink of course) in a bowl and the winner would receive a coffee cup, ground coffee, a free week of using their locker with the drink of their choice each day. It would personalize the process of grabbing a cup of joe in the morning and allow the customers to interact as they pleased, either online or in person.

“Start the process with ideas to solve the business’ goals, don’t start with a medium.”

I think many designers have been guilty of this. So you need a website? A direct mail piece? But why?

Granted, I am a web designer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t just love solving problems in general. That’s what makes me a designer. I just happen to love working in an online environment.

My point in all this is that there are many ways to design. I believe for business’ to stand out, they need to prepare to think outside the medium before committing. It takes two dedicated parties to build a successful marketing campaign or design.    

Sarah Shuda

Sarah Shuda

Designer. Mom. Wife. Loves Gilmore Girls, healthy living and a good cup of coffee.

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