Shalom Ormsby is the Design Director of bud.com. Here he shares the design philosophy he’s developing with the bud.com team & our users.
The most effective and meaningful way to design anything, in my experience, is with love. Whether serving multi-billion dollar companies or lean startups, the starting point, the purpose, and the driving force behind my design work has always been love.
Not everyone I worked with understood or agreed with this approach. During my tenure as a design instructor in San Francisco, many students raised quizzical eyebrows when I taught about the essential role of love in the practice of human-centered design. I taught that design requires a sincere interest in people’s problems, empathy for their frustrations, and the creation of iterative solutions that improve their experiences in progressively more meaningful ways—all of which is powered by the skillful application of love. Although all of this seemed self-evident to me, no else spoke about designing with love in the office and the classroom. Over the years, I came to see myself as a philosophical outlier among designers.
That idea ended when Apple’s Chief Design Officer, Sir Jonathan Ive—one of the world’s most renowned living designers—announced that he was leaving Apple to create his own design firm, called LoveFrom. The name was inspired by Steve Jobs, who. according to Jony Ive, said in a staff meeting at Apple:
“When you make something with love and care… you are expressing your gratitude to humanity, to the species.”
Ive added, “I so identified with that motivation and was moved by his description. So my new company is called ‘LoveFrom’. It succinctly speaks to why I do what I do.”
Ive’s celebrated role as the designer of many of the world’s most beloved products (including, as we all know, the iMac, iPod, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, & more) demonstrates how successful – and even strategically disruptive – the result of designing with love can be.
Obviously, we can’t all be Jony Ive or design like him, but every designer in the world can design with love. I’ve discovered from personal experience that doing so creates positive effects on your team, products, customers’ experiences, and beyond that are too numerous to track. Consequently, I made it my professional goal to apply this practice of designing with love at the largest scale possible, so as to be able to make the greatest possible positive impact.
That’s why I was delighted to become the Design Director for bud.com. In our early discussions, it became clear that the executive team is aligned with this approach of designing with love. They had already organized the company as a Benefit Corporation, with the intention to create tangible benefits for the communities they serve. Together, we recognized that bud.com’s purpose, process, and product center around love—love for the plant, love for our team and partners, and, of course, love for our customers. So, we instantiated love as bud.com’s first principle—the solid, self-evident foundation of everything we do.
Love inspires us first to seek to understand our customers. Who are they? What do they need? What kind of experiences do they want to have? What frustrates them and how can we fix those issues? What delights them and how can we build on this? Once our research provides answers to these questions, we design, build, test, and refine our product over successive iterations, making sure that every detail of the experience we create for our customers communicates an understanding of and a love for them. Can our customers feel the love here? If the answer isn’t a resounding “Yes!” then we go back to the drawing board.
Fortunately, other companies that are household names had already demonstrated that love was integral to their success. Subaru, for example, unabashedly aligns with love. “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru.” They build on their slogan with The Subaru Love Promise. By delivering on their promise of love for their customers, Subaru was able to surpass Toyota to claim the top spot in customer satisfaction among all automakers.
Love is so central to Southwest that they’ve made the heart a part of their logo. “Love is foundational to Southwest,” says its CEO, Gary Kelly in an interview with MarketWatch. “Love is part of the fabric at Southwest Airlines. Love Field is our headquarters in Dallas. LUV is our three-letter symbol on the New York Stock Exchange. It’s a word that we’re not embarrassed to use about how we feel about the company, our employees and our customers.” They infuse love into everything they do, from customer experiences to human resources to strategy. Southwest has the distinction of being the only major airline in the US not to have jettisoned staff and debt by filing bankruptcy. With their unabashed application of love to all aspects of their operations, Southwest thrived when other airlines struggled to survive.
Many other companies also harness the power of love in service of their customers. “We aspire to love our fans more than they love us,” says the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s, Matthew McCarthy in an interview with Thrillist, for example. What do all of these companies have in common? In one way or another, they all share this key awareness:
People fall in love with brands that love their customers.
The truth of this statement may hide in its obviousness. As with romantic love, when we’re falling in love with a brand, feelings often surpass understanding. Customers who actively delight in a product are unlikely to think about all of the hard work that’s been done in the background to create it. They just feel understood, as if the product gets them in a deep way, and serves them exactly in the right way. That’s when the magic happens. They feel loved.
Behind the scenes of delightful experiences like this is the hard work of many coordinated teams. The product design team does intensive research & analysis, wireframing, prototyping, testing, and iterating to solve their customers’ problems. The engineering team builds and refines products with impeccable attention to core functionality and fine details of a product’s fit & finish. A customer support team attentively listens to and champions the needs of their customers. And an executive team oversees these operations and orchestrates them with great skill and integrity. This magic becomes possible only when all teams are aligned and working together harmoniously. Good designers lead by example, but everyone in the company must infuse their work with love to make sure that customers will feel their love, from the first contact all the way through to the last.
At bud.com, we offer a love-filled product with a purpose that’s deeply meaningful to all of us. We all love cannabis and are grateful for the many gifts it offers—helping us feel more relaxed, more blissful, healthier, less dependent on pharmaceuticals, more expansive & creative, and more deeply connected to nature. By helping adults to easily and joyfully access cannabis, we’re improving the quality of our customer’s lives, and on a larger scale, we’re also contributing to “the healing of the nation,” as Bob Marley put it. We also provide informative articles on our online magazine at bud.com/read that deepen people’s understanding of cannabis, its effects on our bodies, and its impact on our society.
Our love of this beautiful, generous plant combines with our love for our purpose, process, and product, which flows directly to our customers and outward to society at large. It’s a grand vision, but every time we help lift the spirits or decrease the suffering of one of our customers, we’re invigorated and empowered to provide even better service to all of them. This is the virtuous cycle that’s created when a team engages the power of love across all divisions, in service of a product that truly serves others.
For more love, check out:
- Love is the Best Business Model – An interview with cannabis activist, Aundre Specialé.
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Shalom Ormsby is the Design Director of bud.com.