No doubt many of you have heard about the new browser from Google called Chrome. Some of you may have also heard about how Chrome’s features were explained: with a comic drawn by Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics.
Google’s use of comics is a tremendous validation for applying the medium to business contexts and in the spirit of, “it never rains but it pours,” a number of other business related comics have been cropping up lately on my radar. It seems the popularity of comics used not only for idea conception but also for marketing is increasing.
Akoha is an attempt at creating more in person interactions through a card game. The concept can be fairly confusing to communicate, so they chose to do so with a comic that tells the story between a few people.
Similarly, Dial “DIR-ECT-TIONS” uses a comic to quickly inform how their service works. The service is, in fact, quite simple. As its namesake implies, it tells you directions when you call the number. While Akoha needed to explain something quite complex to their visitors, this service had a 3 step process that could easily be explained in a few bullet points. Nevertheless, the comic form is much more entertaining and likely to get the idea across without any confusion.
Perhaps the most surprising example of comic usage I’ve seen recently is the U.S. Navy in Japan’s usage of a full blown manga comic book, translated into both English and Japanese, created to promote and explain the arrival of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington to Japanese audiences.
Finally, I ate my own dog food recently by using a comic on the homepage of a product that I’ve been working on since the beginning of the year. Raptr, a social platform for people who like to play and discover games, is the company that I work for. Our previous homepage created a lot of confusion as to what our product did or how it differed from existing services. We saw a lot of misinformed comments that came from first impressions. In comparison, the comic marketed one of our product’s core values in a much more concise and accurate fashion and the result has been a much more engaged audience who seem to more accurately understand the product.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll look at some of these comics in use in the industry in more detail and talk about what I feel worked and didn’t work with their implementation. I’ll also discuss the process that we went through for the Raptr comic.
If you or your organization are using or trying to use comics, feel free to let me know and perhaps I can review them here on the blog. If it’s possible and with permission, it may even become a part of the book!
Footnote: One thing to recognize is that all of these comics were created for marketing purposes and naturally required a bit more fidelity. As the book will explain in more detail, artistic ability is purely optional when it comes to using comics to get ideas across. You wouldn’t necessarily want a stick figure on your homepage, but it will do the job in more situations than expected.