Bill DeRouchey, [EDIT: former] Creative Director at Simple, spoke about engaging customers with humanizing design and engaging through opinion for this month’s Creative Mornings here in Portland. A very solid crowd of local designers, publishers, do’ers, and makers filled the seats at the Ziba Auditorium for the short, yet solid event.

DeRouchey had a mission to impart a simple (pun intended) yet deep message– the need to engage with customers. While that sounds a little cliche and dime-a-dozen business book-like, DeRouchey backed the statement with strong examples of how Simple engages its current and potential customers with a philosophy of designing with an opinion.

He showed examples of how Simple’s product and software design imparts their opinion and reasoning on banking to the customer. Each example was a glimpse into how Simple stopped communicating and marketing things the “old way” (classic marketing benefits and values), going beyond what’s “current” (cute and whimsical, yet humanizing communication and design) and into what he called the “better way.”

DeRouchey’s better way: “Take a stance,” he stated. Have an opinion, make people think things through, and voila– engagement. Take that, dime-a-dozen books about engagement.

He encouraged everyone in the room to take this stance when they build whatever they’re doing, be it software, marketing communications, web design, or what have you. “We all build things for a reason,” he said. “Get that reason out.”

The big idea: Whatever we’re working on, there’s a reason why we’re doing it. Let that opinion shine, somehow, through the end-product. If we can make customers think, then they are engaged.

With 90,000 people patiently awaiting an invite from Simple for nearly two years now, DeRouchey and his colleagues definitely have engagement down, I think.

Definitely looking forward to the next Creative Mornings.