The Importance of Design And The Unimportance Of Blogs ( Or The 9rules Donut Obsession)


Hopefully, the first thing you notice on your first visit to this blog is that it doesn't have a real domain name.

Then, that the design is obviously a template.


By then you'll notice the title of the blog is interesting but really doesn't tell you much.

You'll then see what is (hopefully) an interesting but long blog post title and a cool picture.

Then after reading the post, you'll love it and want to read something else I've written.

That's the design, folks.

I hope to exceed expectations by first lowering them.

But this blog post isn't about me.

It's about 9rules.


Paul Scrivens and his posse follow a completely different strategy.

9rules (hopefully) brings you the best. They (supposedly) weed through the swine and bring you the pearls.

It's brilliant.

The 9rules experience, though, means expectations are high.

But it also means that the payoff for the owners can be great.

I've mentioned it before, but one of the most interesting business fights to watch is the one between Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.

What really makes it interesting is that Starbucks is not really fighting back.

Because they know something the Dunkin Donut executives don't.

Nobody goes to Starbucks to buy coffee.

People are buying the experience.

Because of that Starbucks is able to successfully sell music, movies and practically anything else they want.


What the 9rules team has done is created a successful brand which stands for quality.

Now all they have to realize is that they are not selling coffee.


Explore posts in the same categories: 9rules, blog networks, blogs, chartreuse (beta), coffee, design, dunkin donuts, internet media networks, Paul Scrivens, salvation, Starbucks

25 Comments on “The Importance of Design And The Unimportance Of Blogs ( Or The 9rules Donut Obsession)”

  1. site does nothing for me – really

  2. Robert Bruce Says:

    Can’t remember the last time I paid a buck for a cup of coffee.

    Speaking of experiences, and what they may or may not be worth, I’ve realized the last few days how I’d come to rely on your blogroll to get to certain places that I visit once in a while…

  3. Brian Says:

    Alright, you’ve convinced me… this blog sucks. πŸ™‚

  4. Scrivs Says:

    Hell I can’t even make coffee let alone sell it. Turns your teeth yellow anyways and we just can’t have that on our conscience.

  5. chartreuse Says:

    One of you is going to really get this post. Whitespace folks…
    And you’re right Brian. This blog does suck! πŸ™‚

  6. Adam Kalsey Says:

    Okay, Paul, I’ll spell it out for you.

    You’ve built an experience. People are attracted to 9rules for the brand, not the products. So sell the brand. Sell the experience.

    Nike’s batting gloves are crap. Franklin, the lower-class sporting goods maker, makes a much better product. But Franklin’s considered low-end and Nike is hip and all the kids hang out there. So guess which gloves all the kids want? .Watch a pro game closely and be amazed at how many pros wear Franklin — they want the better product and screw the image.

    Starbucks doesn’t make great coffee. People who care about coffee don’t go there. People who care about Starbucks do. And then they pretend they care about coffee.

    9rules doesn’t *need* to put out a superior product to be a success. You’ve already established in people’s minds that 9rules blogs are good. So if some mediocre stuff creeps in, people will pretend it’s good.

    You can use this to your advantage and start shifting some of the time you spend on quality control to building other revenue streams. Use your brand to branch out a little.

    That doesn’t mean you can let the blogs go to crap, however. You still need to be good. You just don’t need to be *great*.

    Starbucks is good. Nike’s batting gloves are good. They just aren’t great. But the masses don’t care.

  7. Brian Says:

    I get it Adam… Paul should invite Chartreuse into 9Rules!

    OK, I know I’m really in trouble now.

    You know I love ya, Prince. I just can’t resist swinging at lobbed softballs. πŸ™‚

  8. Brian Says:

    Seriously though… I think 9Rules would be extremely smart to have this blog in its fold (or maybe this is all a setup to that announcement… hmmm).

    9Rules has some great content, but it seems to me that a lot of blogs are selected for inclusion more for how pretty they are, and not necessarily how innovative, informative and downright entertaining the content is.

    Which is why this blog (actually) rocks hard.

  9. chartreuse Says:

    This blog will not be joining 9rules.
    I curse too fucking much…

    Adam you nearly knocked it out of the park.

    It’s the Brand that matters, not what they do. What you failed to metion was that they can do practically anything with the brand, as long as it’s the best. And the truth is, fowill think it’s good anyway.

    Your post was a strong triple.

    By the way, You are not allowed to post anymore because you make me look dumb! πŸ™‚

  10. Brian Says:

    Another way of saying it is… strong sales copy will sell larger numbers of an average product than weak sales copy will sell of an exceptional product.

    And of course I’m not plugging my own blog.

  11. chartreuse Says:

    Brian, didn’t I ban you from posting a long time ago?

  12. Adam Kalsey Says:


    I’m going to have to score that one an error. Future extensions don’t have to be the best. They simply have to be better than average. People will assume they’re the best beacuse of the strong brand identity.

    They can’t start flinging crap, because that would hurt the brand.

    It’s probably a good idea to have the first product in a new line be absoluetely amazing. But then they can aim a little lower.

    Starbucks started selling games and toys a while back. They started with Cranium, which was so good it became the hottest selling game ever. Beating out even Trivial Pursuit. Now look at the stuff they sell. It’s okay. Some of it’s even good. But none of it is great.

    The music they sell is all pretty good. Some of it is fantastic. But it’s not all the best.

    I’ve heard their new movie is great. I’d bet that they’ll produce more, and these won’t be nearly as good. But it won’t matter, the star-lemmings will line up and buy tickets. They want to be associated with the brand.

    Starbucks sells travel mugs with their logo all over them for around $20 each. And people buy them so they can carry that brand around with them. Peets sells better mugs with muted logos for $6 each because the Peets customer cares about quality, not image.

    Scrivs needs to give his fans some brand to carry around.

  13. Mike Rundle Says:

    Damn Char, you really know how to spoil a company’s business model. Fuck it, we might as well start selling 9roolatta’s and call it a day πŸ˜‰

  14. chartreuse Says:

    Got to have a way to tag your fans. What's the point of being rock stars if you don't sell t-shirts? 

  15. Scrivs Says:

    The 9rules t-shirts were supposed to come out in March right before SXSW…

    *hangs head

    Adam: I knew where Char was going with this the whole time and there are some things Mike and Colin need to finish up with first before we move on, but it would be nice to push some merchandise to the people who love what we do.

    From the very beginning I spoke that our long term business model does not revolve around advertising, but that advertising is simply a part of it. Sure advertising is somewhat easy to get, but that doesn’t mean it should be easy to trust.

  16. Andy H Says:

    I go to Starbucks regularly. I dont like the atmosphere of it. I just want my Iced Espresso. I always get it to go.

    Really (not just being contrarian) πŸ™‚

    9Rules — have built quite a brand. Not sure how they can leverage this for monetization, except with advertising. What am I missing?

  17. chartreuse Says:

    You kill me Andy. πŸ™‚

    Does Starbucks just sell coffee?
    Does Nike just sell shoes?

    Powerful brands transcend their products…

    And I never go to Starbucks. Really. But I did go see the movie they were involved in…

  18. Erik Says:

    And I never go to Starbucks. Really. But I did go see the movie they were involved in…

    No one else did.

    Starbucks coffee is mediocre at best. That said if their internet access was free I’d go there all the time. They have comfy chairs and a pleasant atmosphere. There’s little risk in going into Starbucks.

    Do they break down their financials in their 10K? I’d be interested to know how much non-beverage revenues they have. The margins on selling coffee are sweet.

  19. chartreuse Says:

    The movie is in the top 10 though it has no stars or special effects. I think they’ll get some of their money back…

  20. Liz Strauss Says:

    It’s not that people let you back off on the quality. It’s that people believe. If you go past what they can see when you start, by setting the bar of quality above their heads. Then you have made a mark that they have to believe is there because they can’t see it.

    Most teachers in school could not tell the difference between A work and A++ work — You know that Char — So what happened you learned as did I that there was no point in doing it. The really high quality design work that designers do can’t really be seen by most who don’t design . . . some can feel the difference on the page but don’t know why, most can tell good design and can separate good from great.

    THAT’S where BRAND really makes a difference. Brand tells those people trust me, mine really is better even though these both look the same to you. Trust me and you’ll always know that you choose right.

  21. Erik Says:

    Laurence Fishburne will be disappointed to hear he’s not a star.

    Yes it will make money, but only because the marketing budget was an internal barter with a production partner. Now if that barter was accounted on a cash basis, this movie would be a huge dog.

  22. I refrain from comments however, I do have an observation .. It seems that approximately 8 out of 10 times .. these public flickr pictures you post .. if you go surf that person’s library of photos .. there are always some group of hidden “T” or “A” in the lot .. πŸ˜€

  23. Koray Says:

    Hey, starbucks does make good coffee. It’s just overpriced.

    I think if you would actually look around at all the 9rules blogs, not just the heavy hitters, you’ll find that not everyone has super amazing web 2.0 fantastic design.

    You make a point, though. Like Mizz Liz says, brand does play an important role. But I agree that brand should be built on the coffee beans, not the fancy cups they come in. And I think most other 9rulers agree as well.

  24. Adam Kalsey Says:


    The coffee’s good, but it’s not *great*. Ask the people standing in line what they think of the coffee and they all say it’s great. They beleive in the brand, so in their mind, the coffee’s fantastic.

  25. […] and Chartreuse discusss the importance of overall experience to certain brands like Starbucks: One of the most interesting business fights to watch is the one between Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. […]

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