Random Acts of Delight in Logos and on Twitter

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We all have reasons for our love or disdain of Twitter.

It’s been around since 2006, which makes it about 400 in internet years—so it’s even somewhat shocking that it remains relevant. I don’t object that it has its share of self-involved, narcissists. I also can’t deny its strength as a tool for grassroots advocacy. In my day-to-day I utilize Twitter as a vehicle to deliver interesting stuff from handpicked curators, but the thing that keeps me tweeting, other than my desire to participate in a like-minded community not bound by geography, is something that Frank Chimero discussed at the Design Currency Conference in Vancouver in 2010- the element of delight in design.

So how is Twitter delightful?

Twitter has all kinds of uses and the organization of social events is one of them. The other day I had been tweeting with a couple of my friends who were organizing an outdoor projected Geena Davis-themed movie night. They were going to show a double feature and were crowdsourcing movie recommendations. I responded with the tweet: “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice?” Immediately upon tweeting that statement a user named @Betelgeuse_3 tweeted to me: “IT’S SHOWTIME!” (If you have seen the movie you know that repeating Beetlejuice three times conjures up a ghost played by Michael Keaton who says the previously delivered response). @Betelgeuse_3 had used Twitter to facilitate a shocking experience exactly as the movie character would have done.

It was so unexpected, so clever, so awesome.

This apparently spontaneous connection made me laugh for about 20 minutes and later upon relating the story, over several occasions, I experienced the same elation. It could be that I have an alternative sense of humour, but I think it was the “delight” created by the combination of surprise & nostalgia.

So how was it done? This experience was mediated by a Twitter Bot designed by Muffinlabs. It uses a keyword search which identified the combination of words and immediately tweets a response with a previously set statement. They have similar bots that are triggered by lines from Robocop, Princess Bride and Office Space. Muffinlabs states on their site that the bots are, “just for fun” and have made the code which they call Chatterbot available to everyone—with the stipulation that it is used for good, not evil.

Contemporary audiences have evolved and are not satisfied by the passive consumption of content—they desire to produce while they consume, to contribute while they connect. Twitter is successful at delivering all kinds of content but what makes it special is that it is punctuated with these witty & playful exchanges—random acts of delight. Some say it is just another medium, a trend that will fade over time, but for now it offers something more than your Google Reader, RSS feeds, newspapers or televisions do. It offers opportunities that yield thoughtful, well crafted, delightful experiences masterminded by real people going out of their way to turn the mundane into something special.

Corporate identities are generally not known for being delightful—although, some of the best logos are infused with a hint of wit. A logo is just one of many touchpoints that comprise an identity, so a clever designer can find other ways to incorporate intrigue. Chimero highlighted interactive design as one such touchpoint that offers an opportunity to inject a delightful experience—which engages audiences on both intellectual and emotional levels. The key to creating this type of experience is having intimate knowledge of your audience, something that Muffinlabs had bang-on. Identity design is much more than doodles on a napkin, although that may be how it starts. It is a thorough understanding of a company, their clients, the competition, the industry, their aspirations and the best strategies to get them there.

So, do share; has Twitter delighted you? Or even better, in the wide world of design how have you managed to infuse some delight?