Cognitive Dissonance...R U Kidding!!

I suppose you folks at Frog feel you are realllly clever using a psychological term to explain the success of your yuppy status symbol stroller Design Mind | Thought Leadership blog | frog, part of Capgemini Invent.

“Bugaboo created cognitive dissonance for the product’s observers between their expectations for the product category and their perception of the product’s actual form. Cognitive dissonance, in this sense, is the opposition between the product observer expectations for product categories or brands, reality of the product’s actual design, and then mentally rectifying the two countervailing forces.”

Are we to believe that they were banking on this working because people wouldn’t know how to feel about it? What kind of hocus pocus bullsh*t is that? You then basically admit that there is no appreciable design or feature improvement beyond “Euro-Styling” and “ruggedness”.

Equally laughable is the claim of affording self-expression though the use of this stroller. The people who buy this thing are buying it because every other mommy on their block has one (The same reason they buy the Escalade and most of what they conspicuously consume.) which only serves to express ones insecurity about keeping up with the Jonses.

Its disappointing to see more and more “design” firms echoing the marketing hype that their clients want to hear instead of focusing on real design and letting the product speak for itself.

Theodore, did you like anything about the design before you read frog’s analysis? I am least interested in what designers have to say about their design, and most interested in the DESIGN itself - if there is one.

I seldom read designer gobblygook. Like you, I find that it can be a distracting turnoff.

That frog paragraph was nonsensical.

I did look at the stroller and it looks like every other SUV, overbuilt thing out there. I should clarify that this is stroller is apprantly not a Frog design but still their description of its success is reprehensible. I hope they would not approach me with this hype about one of thier designs if I was a prospective client. I would laugh them out of my office.

I think the language in the paragraph you quoted is rather hifalutin’ - but is one of the outcomes of dissonance simply to get people to take a second look?

Isn’t that why this guy is so successful as an advertising icon?

Indeed, this philosophy informed a whole other ad campaign, if not the underlying design.

The design has to sell, and in established categories, it has to differentiate in order to sell.

Theodore - I’m not trying to contradict you, but just to try and understand more specifically what the objection is - is it the message, or the form of the message?

Great discussion, potentially?!

the form of the message makes the message incoherent.

if this is “dissonance” intended to “get people to take a second look,” IT DOESN’T WORK.

i don’t look twice at the dancing yahoo either, and though i’ve seen the same milliseconds of him yahooing (before i flip the channel), i have no idea what he’s advertising!

Guest - it’s possible that you are the exception, then. Stuff that startles and indeed irritates is HUGE business. The Axel-F Crazy Frog phenom may not appeal to you but it’s out-of-control big business right now. Sure, that’s a fad, and not what frog would want to be associatd with, but I think there’s something in the strategy that is effective overall.


An interesting discussion indeed, and my intention from the outset. I agree that in an established or saturated market, one must greatly differentiate and distinguish a product to realize great success, but is it the design or the marketing dept. that is making the distinction? Look at Dyson vacuum cleaners. Who would have thought that this thing could breath new life into a long stagnant market? Not Frog design, but rather a hardworking, creative designer who relied on absolutely no hype beyond an awesome product design. Apple fortunately distinguished itself early in the PC market with its design integrity and has arguably been able to continue walking its talk for some 20+ years finding adept ad firms like Chiat Day to interpret their philosophy

Frog design, seems to hold a philosophy that is perhaps best exemplified by the name of its design award…Bottom Line. This is indeed the realm of bean counters and their evil cohorts in marketing. Stuart Hogue’s white paper on cognitive dissonance smacks of market research mixed with pop pychology. This is decidedly a corporate American marketing take on the success of what appears (upon further inspection)to be a very well designed product from the Netherlands. Hogue may understand the yuppy buyer mentality in Park Slope or Noe Valley, but he completely misses the essence of this products design.

frog (frogdesign)
are two different things!

But they both have frogs in their names. Isn’t that an interesting coincidence?

And I’ve been reading about this agency StrawberryFrog

So much for the interesting discussion.

Yeah, well. Can’t we have both?

Nothing like negativity to really ruin it though. Ah well.

It seems to be Frog is rationally explaining a seemingly irrational design descision. Don’t misunderstand, when I use the word “irrational” I do not mean it in a negative way.

They seem to be explaining the need for using non market styling and deisgn cues to capitalize on the unexpected and focus it on the early adopters to help promote it. They are explaining away the risk that is implied with leading edge design and showing a rational reason for it to exist and to give their clients a rtational reason to embrace it.

I’m sure we have all had clients/marketers/sales etc say: “WE’d never do that or get away with that because our market wouldn’t get it/like it/buy into it etc.” even though we as designers have plenty of proof that their market would get it if it was done right and for the “right” people.

Of course its hype and its how footwear and fashion have been sold for a long time now, and its just starting ot creep into marketing boardrooms again. (last time they were using sock puppets to sell dog food online etc…) When its translated into artspeak and psuedo psycological discourse it makes the seemingly irrational rational to the non irrational biz types.

The bugaboo stroller kicks ass! This thing can be configured ten ways to sunday and the new mom that I visited is totally glad she has one. She actually wanted to explain all the setups to me, and showed me in a bout 1 minute.

It’s light, but got a solid feel, and easily converts between phases.

It’s modualr configuration makes it usable throughout toddler stage ending as a booster chair car seat (I think).

Even if it was a Graco model X300 or some other thing, it would still have it’s core function. The marketing people at frog might be reaching out too far with the psyco babble, but the stroller rocks on anyway. It seems like they nailed the user issues.

I’ll let you all know how the long term experience turns out. I’m not the dad, but I’ll get some wheel time.

Guest friend-of-new-mom,

The Bugaboo definitely looks hot. And probably was developed by designers who serve a serious market like the NL where lengthly maternity leave creates a demand for a quality product like this.

Frog would be well served to devote a little more time designing good products and fewer “transformative, self-expressive phenomena”.

Okay, to me, Theodore’s point was the ineffectiveness of the gobblygook of designspeak.

Supernaut, you’re saying that you and yours tested the product and found it to be fantabulous…but, according to Theodore (and me, incidentally), you might not have known that were it left up to the marketing depts. only, esp. if that was your first introduction or if you had a tendency to mistrust the convoluted…and empty.

Yet, Theodore, you seem to contradict yourself when you bring up the Dyson vacuum cleaner. That thing operated on HUGE HYPE as evidenced by that new totally unbelievable animation of THE DYSON that makes your heart just want to stop beating and leap out of your throat because it is so breathtakingly beautiful AS AN ANIMATION. (I mean, come on, having a closeup shot of some Brit imploring you with his eyes and sexy voice to trust him, followed by that sexy animation a few months later…talk about marketing hype.)

If it IS left up to marketing departments only, I’d say that the Dyson vacuum cleaner was SUNK BIGTIME by that counter commercial that aired saying something like (totally paraphasing here) “why have a vacuum cleaner that just looks pretty when you can have a vacuum cleaner that actually CLEANS?” Little beauty and little “dissonance” there, but the timing and straightforwardness of the message (not nec. the form of the message) nailed the point and crystallized the flaw(s) in the Dyson’s marketing campaign…enough to convince you that the flaw IS IN THE PRODUCT.

(Guess this can all be boiled down to Bush vs. Kerry???)

Stevep, I hope I am not in the “minority” when I say that the “dissonance of the yahoo” has no impact on me whatsoever (save for a negative impact)…but I am willing to acknowledge that a younger generation* as well as a very old-school generation* is probably completely seduced by the dissonance of the yahoo(s) and/or the over-built(s).

Theodore, very good point about the NL market’s relation to the product ----> relation to NL’s politics. Sarcastically, I would also include the cultural detail that Nederlanders with (and without) babies actually WALK.

My advice: Just don’t read the crap. Test the crap. And stick to your determination never to hire a designpsychobabbler ever.

*Can flesh this out more later. Totally drunk now.

I guess I don’t watch enough TV to be up on any of these advertisements. My take on the Dyson which I owned while previously living in europe, was based on a live demo by a knowledgable salesperson in a home appliance shop (imagine). The Dyson was hands down a superior product over all other (Miele…) euro designs. I was amazed that someone put that much thought and effort into a vacuum cleaner and I bought the thing based on that. If I could have designed a mount for a transformer on that puppy, I’d still have the thing.

As for the ads, people will say anyting to get you to buy something on TV, but should the same hold true for a serious design firm looking to shape the future of your company ?

Bugaboo and Dyson are winners because of detailed and thoughful design. Scott Hogue says its due (in the case of Bugaboo) to some marketing term du jour that some MBA learned in a psychology class. He and Frog present their “Design Mind” (complete with chromed brain logo) as a serious aspect of their service offering as if they have some PhD who ponders the congitive processes involved with human needs for self-expression. Sure human factors go well beyond ergonomics but this is just plain ole’ vanilla BULLSH*T. Frog must be hurting for serious design talent and are resorting to “building passionate brand loyalty”.

Television, internet blog or star lecture series: DON’T JUST BELIEVE THE CRAP, test the crap. Seems you did with the Dyson, just as people are doing (?) with the stroller. Sounds like not-her-baby’s-daddy had a firsthand demo of the stroller…


Of course, we make decisions based on things we hear and see as well as on our firsthand experiences.

Theodore, if you are anti Frog’s blurb, you have every right to be. That shit’s some verbal shit. But breathe easy, b/c I doubt that anyone will purchase the stroller on that blurb alone. It is poor marketing that smacks of insecurity.