The Maya Principle in Design

Written by
Visions Team
on
May 13, 2024

Raymond Loewy, often dubbed the "father of industrial design," left an indelible mark on the world with his revolutionary approach to crafting products that captivate consumers. From the sleek design of the Greyhound bus to the iconic Coca-Cola bottle, Loewy's work epitomised innovation intertwined with familiarity. Central to his philosophy was the MAYA principle—Most Advanced Yet Acceptable—a concept that has since guided designers and marketers in creating products that push boundaries while remaining accessible to the public.

MAYA Principle

The essence of the MAYA Principle

At its core, the MAYA principle is about striking a delicate balance between novelty and recognition. As explained by Derek Thompson in his book "Hit Makers," consumers are drawn to innovations but also crave a sense of familiarity. Loewy believed that successful designs seamlessly blend innovation with elements that resonate with the consumer's existing experiences.

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Examples of MAYA

Take Apple's iPhone, for instance. Despite its groundbreaking capabilities, Apple introduced it as a "phone," leveraging familiarity to ease consumers into a revolutionary new device. Each subsequent model brought incremental changes, maintaining the balance between advancement and acceptability.

In contrast, Google Glass, with its ambitious technology, struggled to gain acceptance due to its intrusive and unfamiliar design. The lesson here? Being ahead of the curve doesn't guarantee success if consumers aren't ready for the leap.

Another example is openAI's ChatGPT it's another testament to the power of the MAYA principle. By modelling its interface on familiar conversational patterns, ChatGPT made advanced AI accessible and engaging to users. This balance between cutting-edge technology and user-friendly design has propelled its widespread adoption.

Implementing MAYA in Design and Marketing

For product designers and marketers, applying the MAYA principle involves strategic steps: understanding the audience's familiarity with the product, introducing innovations gradually, and framing new features within the context of user experiences and needs.

According to a survey conducted by the Design Management Institute, companies that effectively implement design principles like MAYA experienced a 228% increase in their share prices over a ten-year period. This underscores the tangible impact of balancing innovation with acceptability in product design and marketing.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the MAYA principle remains a cornerstone of design and marketing, addressing the human psyche's inclination towards both novelty and familiarity. Raymond Loewy's legacy continues to inspire, reminding us to create products that are not just advanced but also readily embraced by consumers.

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