The Okayest Theory

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The Okayest Theory

July 24, 2020

I stumbled on a packaging design lesson that doubles as a life lesson. Yup, life imitates design.

The okayest theory was born at a time when I was really, really, really busy. I had two kids under 5, a demanding career at The GRO Agency, and constant travel for work. As mom’s everywhere will attest, I felt responsible for EVERYTHING, and like I was doing it all poorly. I put so much pressure on myself to meet everyone’s needs that I didn’t execute any of my responsibilities with much grace or effectiveness. If grading adult life was a thing, I was earning a solid C. After running myself into the ground–on the verge of giving up–I realized it was time to apply a design lesson I’d been challenging clients with for many years, to my life: The Okayest Theory.

The okayest theory in two parts:

  1. Focus on what really matters. Do the work to identify what is truly important;
  2. Be the okayest at everything else.

Be decisive and committed. Align yourself with your focus and accept that everything else will take a backseat. For me, I decided to focus on quality-time before bed, and let go of the perfect, organic bento box lunches.

Packaging design often suffers from the same problem. It’s trying to do too many things.

Your brand has many qualities and benefits. It’s healthy, gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, plant-based. It’s the only protein cookie made with Teff, a lesser-known ancient grain. It’s perfect for Yoga-moms, but appeals to hipster, 20-something crossfit dudes too. Oh, and the baby boomers will really benefit from the extra fiber! So, yes, the product DOES a lot. It better all go on the front of the package–we don’t want to leave anyone out, right? EVERYONE is not a target market. Much like EVERYTHING is not in the job description for motherhood. If you don’ t choose, you won’t connect. Choose a focus and hone your connection with the consumer. What will you focus on and what will you let go of? There is always the back of the package!

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