Edo the Reliable

Posts Tagged ‘Customer Experience’

Bernard Madoff’s Black-Hat Design

In Billing on October 23, 2009 at 2:09 pm

What design elements lent Madoff’s trading statements the respectability of a conservative investment house?

Functionality-wise, any customer report or invoice must include some factual details. it also must follow certain legal and accounting rules and conventions. In addition, from the product point of view, each statement is also a contact point between customer and brand. This can be used to communicate ideas and emotions beyond the mundane details. Not just the “collaterals” (the envelope stuffers, the logo, etc.) – the core document itself offers branding opportunities.

Take, for example, the statements sent by major telcoms. They project their brand image: they are modern, efficient, and doing their best to be clear. Customers can’t comprehend the bill, but the statement’s design projects good faith. Yes, to a certain degree, we’re dealing with a black art here, and the trading statements of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC are a case in question.

The trading statement below (click on image for 7-page trading statement) was produced by Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. They list many lines of transactions; we are told Mr. Madoff later admitted, “it was all just one big lie”. With over 50 billion dollars of investments, Madoff’s was the largest Ponzi scheme ever. Let’s examine what makes the trading statement appear valid.

Madoff’s trading statement caught my attention because, compared to contemporary styles, it projects an overly traditional look: an old dot matrix printer on a traditional ledger-design background (that doesn’t even match the line height, either because it was intended for a different printer and/or was  used as an illustration only). Read the rest of this entry »

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