Today's New York Times title page announced: Firefighters Symbol of Pride Gets Image Upgrade. Sounded like a rather innocent piece of news. But, as I read on, it became clear that the New York Fire Department's unofficial patches are either being refashioned, or eliminated all together, if deemed inappropriate. These patches are worn on the right sleeve, opposite the department's official patch.
Web bots, the “internet of things”, machine learning and other converging technological advancements offer an early glimpse of our artificial intelligence future. And marketers need to start paying attention.
On rare occasions, a name comes along that captures the essence of the target audience's primary characteristic. In the machismo world of South America, such a name exists in Horniman's Tea.
I was delighted to see the flight attendants handing out snack packs, remembering the most delicious chocolate covered caramel on an earlier flight. Eagerly breaking the seal, I was met not only by the chocolate, but a most unfortunately named package of crackers.
Fast Company's cover story in the September issue is a must-read for any marketer, no matter the industry.
Davis Brand Capital friend and collaborator Kevin Slavin spoke at TED Global this month about how algorithms are increasingly shaping our world. Think that doesn't concern you, your business or your life? Think again.
Admittedly I’ve never had much use for the GAP, other than the fact it inspired some of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits (“Lay off me I’m starving”). But its newly designed logo seems to be leaving branding experts and fans alike starving for a bit more.
PBS chef and 1999 James Beard award winner Lidia Matticchio Bastianich is a stark contrast to the Food Network's lineup of chef entertainers. She exudes knowledge and offers simple, clear instruction on her PBS show Lidia's Italy. There's no pageantry or pretense -- just a serious chef with a love and appreciation for Italy's many classical, regional dishes. Yet while I'm a fan of her show and her approach to cooking, her brand strategy lacks the refinement of her recipes. As meticulous and knowledgeable as she comes across on her program, the translation of the promise she establishes isn't consistently translated across her many ventures, most notably her restaurant Lidia's in Kansas City.
Twist Worldwide, a global visual intelligence firm, presents quick views and insights into the moments that are working in today's retail environments. Enough with self-impressed trend consultants who claim to see the future: Twist sees the present with clarity and provides practical intelligence on how to make your business better today. Over time, patterns emerge and possibilities get realized. But first we have to see what is right in front of us. This week: back to basics.
Last week, Santa Clara hosted the first global augmented reality event - gathering the developers, creative directors and engineers from around the world who are driving nascent “augmentation” technology into our immediate reality. If you said “Say what?” to that sentence, you will appreciate the following. In the first keynote of the conference, WIRED’s contributing editor Bruce Sterling defined a singular challenge for the assembled that had very little to do with technological wizardry and everything to do with communication: create and shape the language of this brave new world.
When BP rebranded itself a few years back, it did so in a way that made the redefinition of its initials an overt gesture: "British Petroleum" would now stand for "Beyond Petroleum." In other words, we were asked and empowered to reimagine what "BP" means.
Twice each month, Twist Worldwide, a global visual intelligence firm, presents quick views and insights into the moments that are working in today's retail environments. Enough with self-impressed trend consultants who claim to see the future: Twist sees the present with clarity and provides practical intelligence on how to make your business better today. Over time, patterns emerge and possibilities get realized. But first we have to see what is right in front of us. This week: the power of transparency.
Trouble. Oh we got trouble right here in Disney. With a capital T that rhymes with C and that stands for Chip and Dale and that rhymes with...Monorail. More than a few fans of the Happiest Place On Earth aren't on board with the new appearance of one of the park's iconic monorails. To drum up early buzz for its big December release of Tron Legacy, Disney has repainted one of its 11 trains to include an image of a light bike from the film and the "Tron" name.
Twice each month, Twist Worldwide, a global visual intelligence firm, presents quick views and insights into the moments that are working in today's retail environments. Enough with self-impressed trend consultants who claim to see the future: Twist sees the present with clarity and provides practical intelligence on how to make your business better today. Over time, patterns emerge and possibilities get realized. But first we have to see what is right in front of us. This week: fun in the garden.
The Museum of Modern Art's recent acquisition of the @ symbol challenges, in the museum's own words, "the assumption that physical possession of an object [is] a requirement for an acquisition." The move has provoked varying responses, from mystified to dismissive. While some consider it no more than a clever marketing ploy, the move is not only bold and necessary, but indicative of something much more momentous: MoMA's redefinition of "modern" and evolution of the role of today's museum.
Twice each month, Twist Worldwide, a global visual intelligence firm, presents quick views and insights into the moments that are working in today's retail environments. Enough with self-impressed trend consultants who claim to see the future: Twist sees the present with clarity and provides practical intelligence on how to make your business better today. Over time, patterns emerge and possibilities get realized. But first we have to see what is right in front of us. This week: the power of universal stories.
Twice each month, Twist Worldwide, a global visual intelligence firm, presents quick views and insights into the moments that are working in today's retail environments. Enough with self-impressed trend consultants who claim to see the future: Twist sees the present with clarity and provides practical intelligence on how to make your business better today. Over time, patterns emerge and possibilities get realized. But first we have to see what is right in front of us. This week: the power of a smile while shopping.
We're fans of IKEA and have written on their past marketing successes and brand missteps. The company captures our attention again by tackling an area of its business that, for many, leaves much to be desired: the assembly of its products.
Haute couture brands recently have been in the headlines for promoting an unhealthy body image, mourning the loss of one of fashion's brightest stars and, in general, dealing with a full-blown identity crisis. Meanwhile, an increasing number of mainstream brands have turned their attention explicitly to the end consumer: she now plays a central role in how we view and buy fashion. This reinvention and democratization of fashion has its origin in the mainstream, unlike most trends, which work their way in from the fringe. Moreover, it's a global phenomenon with brands from Japan to Germany embracing the everyday woman's new role.
I have a mouse pad on my desk that reads, "Design is a good idea." But for organizations trying to adopt a design-centric approach, what does that mean exactly? John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design, recently tweeted "Instead of saying we need to "elevate" art+design's role, we need to instead *reveal* art+design's role." Over the past month, at events with leading design thinkers, I've heard a lot of discussion about the definition and role of design. In the spirit of "revelation," here are some points of consensus I'm hearing from across design disciplines.
When Steve Jobs took to the stage in San Francisco's Moscone Center on January 27, the world knew what to expect: Apple would finally announce its long-awaited tablet. With that pre-determined focus and the anticipatory roar for the next "insanely great" thing, most missed the larger announcement of the day. Steve Jobs did not simply announce the company's latest creation; he completed a task first made public in January 2007, when the company dropped "Computer" from its name to become Apple, Inc. The real news hidden in plain view as Jobs unveiled iPad was the repositioning of the company that created the personal computer.
Recently, Slate's Ben Sheffer presented Apple's case against Gawker's Tablet Scavenger Hunt, suggesting the web pub's Valleywag blog may be inducing Apple employees to violate trade secret law. But to measure the potential loss for Apple solely in terms of trade secrets is to overlook a much larger violation not just to Apple, but to the customer as well.
In what seemed like a tribute to the cute little kid from Jerry Maguire who kept repeating "the human head weighs 8 lbs," Fast Company recently published a Mr. Egghead infographic that illustrated an astounding fact from the brainiacs at UC San Diego: the average American, on the average day, consumes 34 gigabytes of information. And from 1980-2008, bytes consumed increased 350%. That eight pounds can sure pack a punch. For the purposes of explaining the infographic, writer Maccabee Montandon uses information, content and data interchangeably to argue that Americans are ravenous for "data." But hold up -- do we want to gorge on data? I'm not sure I buy his conclusion about our appetite.
Migros is Switzerland's largest supermarket chain and one of the 500 largest companies in the world. Known as the big M because of its iconic orange logo, the company employs more than 84,000 people and has recently posted sales of more than $20 billion. Turning 85 years old in 2010, Migros' unique history, business savvy and far-reaching vision make it a noteworthy case study for brands in and outside the category. Migros has been ahead of its time from its inception, and is a prime example of how a company can diligently build brand capital through innovation, social responsibility, thoughtful portfolio strategy and a careful management of brand voice.
This spring, Universal Orlando will open the much-anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which it promises will be "unlike any other experience on earth." If the park succeeds with what it's got tucked up the sleeve of its flowing robe, there's going to be a new owner of magical theme park experience (that sound you just heard was a 81-year-old mouse shaking in his over-sized yellow shoes).
New mobile applications from automakers GM, Mercedes, Ford and BMW advance the concept of branded utility in profound ways. Recent apps from these brands blur the lines between branded utilities and pure product features. And there are important implications in the auto industry and beyond.
GE (NYSE:GE) captures the number two spot in the Davis Brand Capital 25 for 2009. The world's largest company, GE has rebounded from a transition period and one of the most challenging years in its history -- one that saw its stock plunge to record lows. The company's nimble and effective management of its brand capital is helping it tackle new market paradigms and position itself to lead into the future.
As the year ends, we look back at the most read and shared posts from Unbound Edition's contributors, and a few more favorites chosen by our editorial team. We appreciate your continued readership and commentary and look forward to more dialog in 2010.
For more than a year now, I've admired an unusual vegetable garden in a middle-class St. Louis neighborhood. The owners, Chinese immigrants, have carefully designed the space to house lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, berries and all varieties of climbing and flowering foliage. What's unusual is that it's all in the front yard -- a space the other neighbors reserve for traditional landscaping. Compared to the austere evergreens around it, the garden is a beautiful, bountiful, dynamic space that transforms year round. And it reflects the reinterpretations and reappropriations of space I see springing up in the post-digital marketplace.
Two autumns ago, Chevron, working with the Economist Group, launched Energyville as part of its "Will You Join Us" campaign. Not surprisingly, the campaign, the site, and the game drew a lot of criticism and vitriol for alleged greenwashing and hypocrisy. By posing a question the way it did, Chevron also invited negative answers (“No, I will not join you” on the blog) and word play that twisted the URL (Will you join us in protesting Chevron?). Despite all this, Chevron has persisted.
The motoring and mainstream media alike have scrutinized Detroit's Biggish Two-and-a-Half ad nauseum. Both experts and the car-buying public are questioning Detroit's ability to innovate in the post-SUV cash cow, post-bailout world. And rightfully so. Admittedly, there are a few bright spots on the horizon. But the real innovation story likely won't be the much-hyped Chevy Volt or even Ford's Fit-beating Fiesta. And it certainly won't be the ridiculous idea that positioning Chrysler to compete with Cadillac will somehow save the beleaguered brand (have you seen Cadillac's sales figures, Mr. Fong?). I'm betting Detroit's next disruptive innovation will be the rebirth of Saturn.
IKEA fans are all a-Twitter over the company's recent font change from Futura to Verdana. Designed to be easy to read at small sizes (like catalogs and computer screens), Verdana will be used in IKEA's print and digital communications. What seems on the surface like a simple, subtle shift -- one that arguably fits the company's brand of streamlined, smart, affordable design -- has triggered an onslaught of negative reaction so filled with bile that one might think the company switched to Comic Sans or Jokerman.
Usually, the city of Venice is partially flooded by water a number of times every year, courtesy of its slowly sinking foundation. However, these days the city called "La Serenissima," or most serene, is facing a different kind of flood -- one it is much less prepared to stem.
Pepsi is exhibiting some fresh bruises after recent media coverage of the company’s brain drain under Massimo d'Amore. When one considers Arnell’s leaked logo study and the lashing from the trades (and 20% freefall) over Tropicana’s repackaging, it’s hard to argue freshening up its brands netted PepsiCo any positives. Yet despite a flood of negative attention (much of it deserved), the most interesting aspects of the work have received the least attention. I may take my own lumps for this one, but I think the Pepsi brand has made some smart choices in its updated approach to communicating “refreshing.”
Recently TYPECON came to Atlanta on a week-long celebration of type and design. I attended Typeface, a documentary on one of the oldest wood print shops in the United States. The film is a fascinating and disturbing look at the disappearing trade of typography and printmaking in the digital era, and the importance of the perseverance and preservation of art.
One ad campaign that resonates with me surprisingly comes from a bank. HSBC’s “Point of View” airport campaign is impactful, open-ended and sometimes humorous. The creative is unexpected and a strong example of a powerful voice, free of industry jargon that stands out from the hum of the marketplace.
I recently attended a lecture by Edward Tufte, a driving force behind the information design movement. He has written, designed and self-published several award-winning books that dive deep into the realm of data and statistical visualization -- the topic of his presentation. He is also an established artist and shared some of his landscape sculptures before getting started. Simple yet engaging, I found this chapter of his work the most interesting, as it was here that we could see his design approach, ideologies and aesthetics in practice. Here are three of my favorites, and what they convey about space, scale and perspective.
LEGO made its first brick in 1958 and has been building ever since, but not without difficulty. Facing major competition from interactive electronics and computer games, the Danish company almost crumbled into bankruptcy in the late 1990’s. Then LEGO redesigned the brand blueprints, with a little help from its amateur architects.
Although I am a novice knitter, I have a yen for yarn. I love to go to knitting shops to peruse the different colors, textures and sizes of the skeins. I imagine myself a master at the craft, fashioning jaw-droppingly gorgeous and unique scarves, hats, gloves, socks and sweaters out of sustainably harvested, hand-dyed Peruvian wool. The reality of my current knitting ability limits me to monochrome scarves and fingerless hand warmers but, still. I can dream. The popularity of knitting, and crafting in general, has been on the rise for a few years, so it’s always cool to learn about knitting retailers that are taking a new and different approach to brand, aesthetic and voice. Enter the cleverly named Wool and the Gang.
Over the years, I’ve admired IKEA’s ability to consistently create unique experiences that engage consumers in unexpected ways. IKEA has a knack for showing rather than telling.
I’ve been researching interactive websites for inspiration and recently found Lovelines, an intriguing website that pulls blog messages of love and hate from the internet and posts them through an interactive, dynamic spectrum. The design is simple and elegant. It features a soft color palette of gray and pink and a pure, white page anchored by top and bottom navigation. A smart, minimalist design approach to the presentation of complex data.
The hunt for my wife’s new laptop just got more difficult. Apple recently announced a planned reduction in prices for a pair of to-be-announced Macs. And the blogosphere is brimming with speculation.
Everyone wants to be a designer! Retailers are competing with the name brands on their shelves by focusing on private-label packaging. And some of them are simply doing it better. Last year, sales of private-label food and other consumer products jumped 10% to $82.9 billion, from $75 billion in 2007. Here are a few design standouts pushing those numbers higher:
Brands are valuable assets and packaging plays a major role. Well-designed packaging can transform a product into an experience and help a consumer feel empowered, not overwhelmed, by the many choices in the marketplace. Now, more than ever, strong visual strategies separate winning brands from the competition. Here are a few principles to keep in mind:
The evolution of data visualization software is merging data and art, and allowing us to convey and digest complicated information in exciting new ways. But used irresponsibly, these technologies have the potential to usher in a new wave of “data porn,” where the dazzle trumps the data.
After ten years, Companion was embarking on an ambitious plan to expand its bakery/cafe business. In conjunction with the expansion, Saint Louis-based designlab and Atlanta-based Patrick Davis Partners developed a unique identity. The wordmark and logo—birds holding various conversations about life, bread and friendship—provided the foundation for an extensive brand strategy. Because a majority of the design would be produced in-house, a Brand Expression Guide was developed to assist designers and vendors with creating a cohesive presence.
Welcome to the new Unbound Edition. For the past two years, our readers have made Unbound Edition one of the Web’s most read marketing news aggregators and blogs. Along the way, we have laughed with you, listened to you and learned from you. Thank you. Now, we are making some changes to serve you better and to take advantage of new technologies.
In the wake of the Consumer Electronics Show, we look at the most promising products for 2009 and discuss our favorites from 2008... Palm stock jumped 34% Friday after the company wowed CES with the prē, the first real contender for iPhone killer. Noteworthy features include quick scrolling though open applications, a three megapixel phone with flash and slide-down QWERTY keyboard.
Henry Ford famously declared that the Model-T buyer could choose “any colour, so long as it’s black.” While I would argue whether or not black is a color, this restriction was important to providing affordable automobiles to the masses. A century later, consumers expect more from their favorite brands. They want an emotional connection, and during a time of budget cuts, job loss, and a major global plunge, a little color can make a big difference. Innovative companies know this. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
To many, Coco Chanel, single-handedly invented the look and fragrance of the 20th century, if not the woman itself! Who doesn't know or even covet the quilted handbags, the No. 5 square-cut perfume bottle, the little black dress, the braid-trimmed, brass-buttoned two-piece suit, the dark-toed sling pumps, or the fashion jewelry? Who doesn’t recognize the elegant simplicity of the interlaced double C, the minimalist color palette of white, black and gold…each piece telling the story of a woman with an extraordinary gift for fashion, social trends, and business? Enter Karl Lagerfeld, the man who is in charge of her legacy.
Old Facebook was charming. It was simple. It did a job nothing else had done. I liked the odd tidbit updates from friends and colleagues, the new form of autobiography, the passionate grouping of wing nuts and dilettantes alike. Mostly, I liked that it was, in its own words, “a social utility.” It was helpful, and it performed. Then along came Microsoft with a huge infusion of cash and, it seems, clunky PC-world inefficiency and “more is better” ideology. So now we have the “New Facebook.” A fix without a problem. A mousetrap with no rodent. And, I would suggest, a business model without a business.
I’d like to offer an alternative interpretation of Barak Obama’s recent reinvention of the presidential seal.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama spoke today in Chicago in front of a seal surely meant to convey a presidential image and his readiness for the job at stake. Instead, he made me giggle.
These days, consumers are used to having the opportunity to be actively connected to the brands they love through personalizing, customizing or designing their products. Quick examples that come to mind are NIKEid, RbkCustom, Become an M&M and the Coca-Cola Creator.
The fever for the flavor of a Pringle finally caught up with product designer Fredric Baur.
Earlier this month I was discussing fad products in my Marketing class and brought up 80s icon Chia Pet. Immediately my senioritis-inflicted students burst into renditions of the now infamous jingle. That’s impressive name recognition for a brand that peaked in popularity when they were fetuses and sustains itself today only through nostalgic impulse buys and endless line extension. It got me wondering whether manufacturer Joseph Enterprises, with a little outsourced design help, could retrieve the Chia brand from the compost pile.
London-based designer Orla Kiely has extended her brand to stationery. In so doing she is growing a design language that seems familiar and global at once. It is the right way to build the next major brand.
Many of the DLD participants have moved on to Davos and concerns about the volatile financial markets. I am back home, but still thinking about social networks – social networks like, say, Davos and DLD, as well as Facebook and LinkedIn.
A Brand on Any Other Platform Can Still Smell as Sweet There was a lot of talk at DLD about Millennials – 3 billion under age 25 in the world, but fewer of them in the audience. They’re probably at home on Facebook, listening to their ipods, surfing YouTube or canvassing door to door for Obama.
To me, the French luxury brand Louis Vuitton has just taken the cake with its Christmas windows. The following imagery is from Basel, Switzerland, but it could have been taken anywhere around the world, since it has been featured in all of its 380 stores:
Given tight deadlines today, this blog post arguably has neither. But I thought this article on OpenAd.net, “The Biggest Creative Department in the World,” was worthy of discussion.
Step right up! Have you seen the recently unveiled logo for the 2012 London Olympic Games? If not, here it is.
What do you know about Dutch Wax? Nothing? Neither did I. That is, until I came across Yinka Shonibare’s work.
The faces of the planet, as seen from space
Beautiful design is a key element of online business in this era, which has resulted in more images and video all across the Web.
The significance of design in business is ballooning. Over recent years, the field has become a darling of large corporations, even those who traditionally don’t have design interests.
A gun made with 3-D printer technology has been successfully fired in the U.S.
Could a recent push by the Congressional Budget Office to include data visualizations in their complex reports drive more nuanced, informed thinking?
Fast forward to 2020. What job skill must you have? Coding.
As a data scientist, if your data causes co-workers to lose sleep, you've done your job, perhaps too well.
I want you to imagine a scene. You come home with a bundle of squished white fabric. You plug it into the wall like a heating blanket. And within 10 minutes, you have a new chair.
For wearables to really take off, we’ll need powerful and sophisticated devices that are light-weight, elegant and small enough to be worn as accessories—or embedded into the fabric of our clothes.
Sometimes your most obscure tweet gets picked up by an equally obscure person. Now a new service lets you see exactly how a message disseminates through the tangles of the interwebs, leaving no retweeter anonymous anymore.
The Trailblazing Firm Is Knee Deep In A Massive, All-Hands Project To Rebrand Itself--And It’s Doing It In Public.
“You have to have that really tight narrative around the problem that you’re solving,” says Rahman, whose company created Jawboone headsets.
The sting from a Portuguese man-of-war hurts like hell, so most people avoid the jellyfish-like creatures. Not Aaron Ansarov — he and his wife don rubber gloves and collect them when they wash up on the beach near their home in Delray Beach, Florida.
A new building in Germany gets its energy from what’s growing inside it.
These Harvard Undergrads Are Working On Technology To Translate Paintings Into Something More Sculptural.
Like these speakers? You can’t have them.
3D printing is still in its infancy. But, to use an overused phrase, it is the future. From home use to enterprise use, 3D printing will continue to grow and break into new areas.
If biologists could put computational controls inside living cells, they could program them to sense and report on the presence of cancer, create drugs on site as they’re needed, or dynamically adjust their activities in fermentation tanks used to make drugs and other chemicals.
The patent describes designs that could have a seamless, continuous surface resembling the fourth generation iPod nano, as well as other shapes closer to the current iPhone, but with every surface a touch-sensitive glass display.
The Torre de Especialidadesis is shielded with a facade of Prosolve370e, a new type of tile whose special shape and chemical coating can help neutralize the chemicals that compose smog.
From the shiny, strong nacre that gives abalone shells an unbreakable, opaline sheen, to the goopy mix of proteins fired by a velvet worm that solidify and trap prey upon impact, nature is packed with inspiration for scientists designing new materials.
Korean Emart recently placed 3D QR code sculptures throughout the city of Seoul that could only be scanned between noon and 1 pm each day — consumers were given discounts at the store during those quiet shopping hours.
The invisibility cloak has long been an idea present mostly in comic books and sci-fi novels — remember the Cloak of Invisibility from J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books or the scramble suit from Philip K. Dick's "A Scanner Darkly"?
Matt Richardson's hack displays a moving odometer in real-time.
Invisible Cities is a project looking to make technology and nature come together seamlessly in order to draw a new, connected generation into spending more time in the outdoors.
There's no doubt that Google remains the world's most popular search engine, but are you using it to its full potential?
The show will be “a chance for visitors to explore the very physical history of the typefaces they already know,” says Monotype’s Type Director Dan Rhatigan.
Aiming to create an "object of desire" rather than just another TV, Philips' designers have created a TV that looks like a seamless sheet of glass with a black gradient.
Repeat trips to the doctor could become a thing of the past thanks to a new technology that can monitor your health and wellbeing remotely – directly from the surface of your skin.
The Shadow Cube creates barcodes that point to Wikipedia entries of great thinkers.
Our Selection of the Most Eye-Catching Ads on Billboards
The idea that we could invent tools that change our cognitive abilities might sound outlandish, but it’s actually a defining feature of human evolution.
Fjord charts the major innovations of the past, and predicts a future of totally intuitive "micro gestures and expressions" that will control our devices.
This sense of secrecy extends to the highest levels of the organization.
Flexible, stretchable electronic devices will help monitor athletes on the field, take medical monitoring away from the hospital bedside, and make portable electronics more comfortable—perhaps even wearable.
Starting tomorrow evening, anyone looking at the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge at night will be wowed by the ever-changing swirls, bursts, star fields, and other patterns of the Bay Lights Project, the world's largest LED art installation.
What was the purpose? What was the process? Whose ends were being served? How should we judge success? But we seldom look any deeper than first impressions, wallowing instead in a churning maelstrom of snap judgments. Should we be surprised when the general public jumps right in after us?
Building a space away from normal activity, where people trust each other and agree to behave by a different set of rituals, is key to enhancing a team's creative capability.
We need to move away from the outdated relics of design and towards creative competence.
What is it about tech that allows these corporate giants to enjoy so much love?
It's like harnessing the Force: A new armband uses the electrical activity in your muscles to let you wirelessly control digital devices.
Stanford invites “pioneers in the field of communication” to share their insights and to coach business students in the art and science of persuasion, pitching, communication, and presentation skills.
Frog Design asked designers to invent wearable tech concepts, with results ranging from interactive tree displays to a wristband that helps wearers navigate NY subways.
On Wednesday, the search giant launched an application contest to let regular people from all walks of life try out the head-mounted, augmented reality "glasses." They simply have to prove they deserve it.
Nike CEO Mark Parker On His Company's Digital Future: Body-Controlled Music, Color-Coded Heart Rates
"Nike has broken out of apparel and into tech, data, and services, which is so hard for any company to do." In the coming years, Nike will expand its footprint in the digital space, especially through partnerships like the one it struck with TechStars, to attract startups to build on the Nike+ platform.
Is it not ironic that we call customers “targets” and seek to engineer their empathy in “war rooms?" The hostilities are endless. And it’s not enough to win. Someone must lose. Beating the competitor takes precedence over helping the customer.
Over the next few months, all of Hearst Digital Media‘s titles are getting a new look. The new responsive design is the more obvious change. It’s an increasingly popular strategy for companies to adapt to mobile by creating websites that rearrange themselves based on the size of the screen.
The long delayed release is critical to BlackBerry’s attempt to re-enter the marketplace. Once the darling of company-issued smartphones, owning nearly a quarter of the marketplace in the U.S., they currently have about a 4% share.
How often do you come face-to-face with a hotel employee, fast food entrée, or piece of technology and say, “this is not quite living up to the dream?” Most of the time, we sigh and accept the perceptual gap between the brand promise and our experience.
Vine and Snapchat both use the simplest of interactions--holding your finger anywhere on the screen (which I’ll call “tap-and-hold”)--to power core functions in their interface. And in each case, that single interaction changes everything about the app.
Design judges at the 2012 Cannes International Festival of Creativity had a "Cocoon" moment. They ran in and out of the jury room with the glee of 5-year-olds, having just gotten their hands on a magical piece of work from Serviceplan, Munich. On the surface, it was a completely blank white book. But all came to light -- literally -- when the book was exposed to the sun and its rays interacted with specially treated paper to reveal the content within.
Colour and Space is a project by designers Mie Frey Damgaard and Peter Ørntoft for decorative paint brand Jotun (Turkey). It digs through Turkish Pinterest boards, analyzing two fairly basic but powerful categories: color and location.
Nissan will dabble in automotive aromatherapy at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, launching a "brand smell" that it hopes to eventually roll out to its dealerships. Nissan describes the fragrance as "quite a modern smell — a bit Oriental."
Most gestural UIs still feel like little puzzles to solve instead of an easier way of interacting with apps, and Rise’s "gestural redundancy" makes its interface feel immensely more user-friendly.
With New Fantasyland, we seized the opportunity to bring to life some new classic stories — Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid — using innovative technology and entertainment approaches that elevate the guest experience beyond anything we’ve ever delivered.
To a certain extent—in this age of marketing ourselves, finding our niches and explaining how our distinctive personal backstories make for unique selling propositions—all our names are brand names. But some have gone above and way beyond.
Content is all the rage these days, but it falls flat if you don’t consider one of the most important aspects of your site: navigation.
Associational thinking takes unrelated ideas and restructures them in novel ways. It's responsible for innovations from the theory of dinosaur extinction to Pinterest's groundbreaking layout. So how do you apply this principle to your business?
What can we expect from Lacoste, the traditionally ‘preppy’ brand that arguably hit its stride in the 1980s?
By putting its talks online in 2006, what was previously a members-only affair—an annual Davos-like conclave of wealthy Silicon Valley and Hollywood types—suddenly became an enormous and almost democratic cultural force, reaching millions of viewers around the world.
Campbell’s soup held a special place on the American dinner table for the better part of the 20th century. But in the last few years its core soup business, which accounts for half the company’s $7.7 billion in annual revenues, has faded to 46% market share from 51% in 2007, an ever smaller part of an ever smaller food category. An ill-advised move into low-sodium formulations under Morrison’s predecessor, Doug Conant, accelerated the decline.
As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of baby gear and preschool toys, Fisher-Price believes that traditional branding processes no longer guarantee success. To differentiate its brands in a highly competitive industry, the company maintains a laser-like focus on creativity and innovation -- and its sphere of influence is large.
With the newsroom housed 24 floors below, the seven-year-old R&D Lab acts as a tech startup of sorts inside the New York Times Co., home of the 161-year-old, self-styled newspaper of record. With 20 staffers, the lab’s mix of crazy smart technologists, programmers, designers and business brains are charged with the Sisyphean task of developing tech innovations and new business models to help the struggling Times weather an uncertain future following five consecutive years of falling revenue and net losses totaling more than $300 million over seven years.
Forget about the clicks and check-ins so commonly associated with what many marketers call the "second screen" experience, which typically involves use of a tablet or smartphone while the user watches anything from "The Voice" to "Hoarders." Marketers are starting to use the medium with more in mind than just sparking idle talk.
A few weeks ago, at the Fast Company offices, we convened an all-star panel of designers and design leaders to talk about the problems that they found most vexing in the past year, and what they were trying to do to solve them.
Lately we’ve heard a chorus of skepticism regarding the importance of viewability, and some say that there is no correlation between viewability and conversion rate. In reality, there are only three reasons why one could legitimately argue that viewability doesn't matter.
In the 1980s, Ingvar Kamprad, Ikea’s octogenarian founder, started building a series of foundations to protect the business after his death and minimise its tax bills, a contentious move in egalitarian Sweden.
It used to be that brands and agencies would create ad campaigns, push them live, and use the resulting consumer reaction to help inform the next campaign. But with the rise of real-time data, marketers can now keep tabs on real-time consumer reaction and use that knowledge to make smarter decisions around all facets of creating, distributing and measuring brand campaigns.
For years, Microsoft sidelined itself from the world of Web standards. Internet Explorer, especially the now-despised IE6, exemplified how spurning standards held back the Web. But Microsoft has performed an about-face.
Google has created a crisis map for Hurricane Sandy, which includes information on the storm's current location, its predicted path and the locations of emergency shelters.
I would argue that we have yet to see a startup nail ANY part of the video experience except for sharing. Apps in this category include Viddy, SocialCam, Klip, Chill, Vodio, and more. To me, this is classic Silicon Valley just building something they’re comfortable building: platforms, social graphs, viral hooks, blah, blah, blah.
8tracks is a streaming, not on-demand, music service. Its some 600,000 mixes are uploaded by a small portion (less than 1%) of the app’s users, known as DJs. There are no restrictions on the type of tracks these DJs can choose, beyond a couple of requirements that help keep 8tracks legal.
Time had social media users high on its mind when it decided to move to responsive design. Social media now accounts for at least 12 percent of referrals to Time.com, and most people who click on Time links from Facebook, Twitter and the like are doing so on a mobile.
Shoppers at the new International Finance Center Mall in Seoul can find their way around the four-story complex by approaching one of 26 information kiosks. When they do, they also are being watched. Kiosks at a Seoul mall, above, would use facial recognition software to decide what ads to present shoppers. Just above each kiosk's LCD touch screen sit two cameras and a motion detector
Starting in March, Wendy’s will introduce its first logo makeover since 1983. The redesign, only the fifth since Wendy’s was launched in 1969, features an updated, more prominent cameo graphic of the iconic pigtailed Wendy’s character and a sleeker, more contemporary script font.
The car has been called “the fourth screen” for internet-connected content. But even for high-performance brands like BMW, adapting the car to keep up with the fast pace of mobile computing has been a slow and complicated process. The luxury automaker plans to bring automotive technology up to speed and in sync with smartphones, computers and tablets by leveraging an EU-funded project called “webinos.”
So fervent is our desire for Design, we have created “Design Thinking”. And to prove its theorems, Stanford now has a D School to remind us that we can’t just create things from blue sky. From sea to shining sea, the U.S. has become obsessed with Design.
Are New Devices Adding to News Consumption? What does the growing expansion of mobile mean for news consumption overall? Are people who own mobile technology getting more news now that they have more ready access to it? Or are they merely replacing one platform with another? Here, the findings are as strong as in 2011, and in some cases even stronger, in suggesting that mobile technology is increasing news consumption.
The social media site, whose attempts at monetizing the brand are currently coming thick and fast, has launched Facebook Collections. No, not that long-awaited range of sportwear in Poke Me Blue, but a new button it's trying out in conjunction with a select bunch of retailers in the U.S.
it's inherently impossible to design a great user experience for bad content. If you're passionate about creating better user experiences, you can't help but care about delivering useful, usable, engaging content.
The New York Times this morning announced a new HTML5 web app for iPad, rounding out their lineup of web and tablet products for digital subscribers. The Times is soliciting feedback from its users about the app and its features, which suggests that it’s looking at this as a way to experiment with a non-native delivery method, but isn’t quite sure about how consumers will respond.
That consumers are turned off by sites not optimized for smartphones isn’t news to anyone who uses the mobile Web. But marketers need more than anecdotal evidence to get their organizations to invest in the medium.
Don Chadwick, whose ergonomic Aeron chair for Herman Miller has been so influential in furniture design that it has been honored with the ‘Design of the Decade’ Award and given a spot in MoMA’s permanent collection.
Six-year-old Good — the company behind Good Magazine and Good.is — is beginning a new chapter Wednesday, with the relaunch of its website as a digital community for social action. The new Good.is is a place for people interested in creating change to spread awareness for different causes with a like-minded community
Google Maps Street View is fine for eyeing what a business looks like on the outside. But Google just made it much easier to open up Maps, then open up doors of select businesses to see what it looks like on the inside. Now when you open up Google Maps, you can pull out the orange Pegman and drop him on top of any of the new orange dots that will appear to take a tour inside a business.
A mix of factors, ranging from commoditization to evaporating barriers to competition, are conspiring to push design to the fore of business thinking.
In a bold first-day speech, the BBC’s new boss says the corporation must stop thinking that online innovation means repurposing broadcast content and instead ‘create genuinely digital content for the first time’.
USA Today, with its colorful omnipresence on airport newsstands and outside the doors of hotel rooms, is showing off its new look on Friday. And the makeover for the newspaper, based just outside the Washington Beltway, comes straight from Silicon Valley.
We researched a number of companies that overcame the multi-channel dilemma — systematically — by applying business discipline to the practice of customer experience in an integrated way. Here are three of their most effective strategies.
A WEEKLY trade publication covering Madison Avenue since the Hoover administration will soon introduce its most significant redesign in years, as part of efforts to further redirect its editorial focus in a digital world toward analysis from breaking news.
Two years after launch, Bloomberg Sports is rapidly expanding its offering of data-driven technology tools, signaling the growing demand for advanced analytics by fans and teams alike as the digital capability to deliver such content matures.
This year 12% of IKEA's content for the Web, catalog and brochures were rendered virtually; that number will increase to 25% next year.
Because these outfits cater to a certain niche, they don’t have to appeal to everyone, which in turn, liberates them to take the risks that yield creative rewards.
A great new way for you and your Facebook friends to share your favorite articles.
Successful innovators ask users to embrace--or at least tolerate--new values, new skills, new behaviors, new vocabularies, new ideas, new expectations, and new aspirations. They transform their customers. Successful innovators reinvent their customers as well as their businesses. Their innovations make customers better and make better customers.
More than a dozen big merchants are expected to announce Wednesday their plans to jointly develop a mobile-payments network that would battle similar services from Google Inc. and other companies, people involved in the effort said.
Trapit For iPad is the latest in a wave of news-reading apps designed to make finding and reading online content on a tablet easier, more intuitive and elegant.
The $25 million funding and sales deal announced late yesterday between mobile payments startup Square and coffee giant Starbucks is big, but it is only the tip of the iceberg for what the implications will be for Square and for mobile payments in general.
With London 2012 come three, totally minimal olympic sites that leverage rapid development to celebrate this fleeting worldwide event. They’re the collective antithesis to nbcolympics.com, covering granular information with an unfettered layout devoid of audio clips, listicles and even ads. They’re also a sign of current web technologies.
The use of apps as a way to gain an advantage over others is clearest in categories where there is already significant competition for consumer attention, including quick-service restaurants, banking, hospitality, fashion and beauty.
Autistic children with limited verbal skills are often taught how to communicate and make choices using pictures. Drawing on her experience as a behavioral therapist in college, Adriana Herrera realized that key design principles from her work with Autistic children could also be applied to the website she founded.
To make it easier for New Yorkers to commute and keep them posted on scheduled maintenance and delays, Google is adding information about service alerts that occur throughout the city’s 468 subway stations labeled on Google Maps.
Co-design from business to product design solutions is seen as a potential new avenue for breakthrough innovation in design. Co-design is when firms and non-design users jointly design offerings. Examples range from surgical tools and sport equipment to Lego elements and software.
Our future is as much threatened by the lack of imaginative connection making as it is from a dearth of engineers or mathematicians. Here are practical lessons from 35 years of writing poetry that can help individuals and teams deliver more innovative products, processes and services.
Most national brands are strategically positioned at the national Web level with strong awareness and branding, but these companies often lack insight into how their brands are represented at this level. Their local presence becomes clear when you conduct local searches on national brands using the “Local Web Test.”
If you are of a certain age (around 50-60), Atari made the first computer games you ever played. Pong, anyone? Joystick? If you are a hip gamester today, Atari is a retro brand. Now in its 40th year, Atari is still in the games game. Recently, I spoke to Atari's design director, Kris Johns (whose team is responsible for the Atari timeline below) about the legacy, inventions, and future of this legendary brand.
Marketers have tried targeting consumers in stores with QR codes and barcode scanners that so far have gotten limited traction. Now IBM is testing a new approach, dubbed augmented reality, which is a bit like applying search or a personalized version of Google Goggles to the world of physical store shelves.
A mobile-display ad from none other than one of world's biggest mobile-ad sellers, Google, won the first Mobile Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions ad festival today. In what's essentially business-to-business marketing, Google's winning campaign "Hilltop Reimagined for Coca-Cola" was designed to show adland that online and mobile display advertising aren't as low-rent or constraining as is often thought.
In the sea of horror and despair that is the American shopping mall, the Apple Store is often a singular source of refuge. Check your email -- for as long as you want! Play a game of Angry Birds -- on the iPad of your choice! Ask a bearded blue-shirt named Jon anything at all about about the new MacBook Pro -- he'd be totally happy to talk about whatever! Beneath all the chillness and chirpiness, though, there's one more bit of precision required to make the Apple Store so Apple-y.
Southwest Airlines just recorded its 39th consecutive year of profitability—in a business sector where profits can be excruciatingly tough to come by. How does Southwest do it? In part, by keeping operations simple. Simpler operations mean fewer things that can go awry and botch up the whole process.
PepsiCo has tapped Mauro Porcini, 3M's longtime design guru, as its first chief design officer. Mr. Porcini will be charged with creating a culture of design at PepsiCo as well as globally managing design for a variety of key food and beverage brands. His reach will extend from package design to advertising, industrial design and digital experiences.
Canadian franchise Tim Horton is pairing fresh coffee with fresh news in the UAE. Recognizing the parallels between news and coffee, Y&R Dubai adapted Tim Hortons’ coffee cup sleeves turning them into an advertising medium for Gulf News.
Behold, the Twitter rebranding. Starting today, there will be no more logo text or the lowercase 't' that users have gotten to know so well. Instead, the social network announced a slight rebrand via blog post, declaring the iconic, ascending bird as the "universally recognizable symbol of Twitter."
Which new media platform has rocketed to hundreds of millions of unique visitors, provides both utility and entertainment for the masses, and has become the destination of choice for its generation? If this were 1999, Yahoo! would be your answer. Today, that torch has been handed to Facebook. And with good reason, since they have embedded their ubiquitous social network of nearly 1 billion members into a large part of people’s lives and the digital ecosystem. But Yahoo!’s challenges tell a cautionary tale for Facebook.
When I was a kid and we got to the end of the ketchup or mustard after smacking the container with my palm and shaking it side-to-side I’d ask for a new bottle. But before a new one could be opened my mother would always require that I scraped out what was stuck inside the bottle with a knife or spoon. Her rationale for this was that leaving anything in the bottle was wasteful … and she’d invariably add “That’s how Mr. Heinz got rich.” My mother would have appreciated a new product called “LiquiGlide.”
It was Giorgio Armani's obsession with health that led to his brush with death. For 10 days in May 2009, Armani, one of the most influential fashion designers and entrepreneurs of our time, lay in a hospital bed with what he describes as "a very serious" case of hepatitis. The cause of his illness wasn't the stress that comes from juggling a global empire of clothes, accessories, furniture, cosmetics and real estate. It was the supplements. Even though Giorgio Armani single-handedly built a billion-dollar brand his own way, where does his empire go from here?
Most leaders are unbalanced. They are relatively stronger in some areas than others. The secret to making them more productive is to let them play to their strengths, while at the same time bringing in someone to work with them that has complementary strengths.
In one sense, perhaps the most important sense, a brand is a promise. Think of some top brands and you immediately know what they promise: McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Budweiser, Ford, Apple, MetLife. It takes a lot of time, money and very hard work to build and maintain great brands like that, brands that can speak volumes in just a few syllables.
The Huffington Post is expanding the way it works with brands in an effort to cash in on the popular brand-as-publisher trend.
House Beautiful is letting users post photos from its print edition directly to Pinterest using smartphone apps, the latest effort by a magazine to make print more interactive.
The strategy address recently delivered by the corporation's new CEO, Kazuo Hirai, earned press coverage that verged on mocking, with The Wall Street Journal noting that the brand's "once-sterling cachet has deteriorated," and The New York Times going further, placing Sony in "a fight for its life," and accusing it of "an astonishing lack of ideas." Both observations are correct, but they only hint at the underlying question: why is the strategy that once served Sony so well now failing so badly?
Design has finally become democratized, and we marketers find ourselves with new standards to meet in this new “era of design.” To illustrate, Apple, the epitome of a design-led organization, now has a market capitalization of $570 billion, larger than the GDP of Switzerland. Its revenue is double Microsoft’s, a similar type of technology organization but one not truly led by design.
As far as phone sensors go, the GPS sensor appears to be one of the most coveted by developers, after the camera. For a consumer, the trade is quite simple: offer your location at a specific point in time, or your patterns, and in exchange for that information, an application will offer you something — a deal, a coupon, or information about who and/or what is around you.
Sometimes, user interfaces come together at the last minute. And not very well. In devices that should be up to date in the interface department you see multiple personalities fighting. It's like being a fly on the wall of the meeting where the designers and engineers all just said, when they had to finalize the design of a product, "Oh, screw it. Let's go get lunch."
A fascinating trend is consuming Silicon Valley and beginning to eat away at rest of the world: the radical simplification of everything. Want to spot the next great technology or business opportunity? Just look for any market that lacks a minimally complex solution to a sufficiently large problem.
While Google keeps cramming its search results pages full of tools and social content, today Bing confirmed with me the full roll out a redesigned search results page that completely clears the left sidebar, and replaces the tabbed header with a cleaner set of links.
Take a look at the first-class section on any airplane today; it’s full of corporate leaders lugging around Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography, searching for insights they can use to make their companies as successful as Apple.
NPR is taking another stab at creating new programming, but the approach looks quite different. What’s different this time? The network seems to be taking a page from agile software development, the philosophy that products should be released early and iterated often.
The publishing industry has a problem. The old guard haven't innovated. And neither their business models nor their products embrace the digital books revolution.
You'll see Flyknit on the feet of olympic marathoners this year. This limited-edition collection shows the real-world application of Nike's newfangled technology. The limited-edition HTM is intended for the rest of us: plain old sneaker geeks.
Recently, PSFK launched our inaugural print magazine: the first offline publication that we hope to release every quarter. Some reasoning why a new media entity like PSFK.com decided to trial the analog.
UK-based Black+Blum’s Eau Good water bottle embraces the centuries-old use of active charcoal to make every day tap water taste better.
After releasing two generations of iPhones with exactly the same form factor, Apple is expected to show off a new chassis design — and possibly new materials — in its sixth-generation smartphone. And a little-known alloy that Apple has quietly been using for the past two years could be just the ticket to make consumers swoon.
Just a few months after the Nest’s introduction, it’s clear that Fadell and his new company also took another Apple lesson to heart: the constant need for tiny tweaks that are laser focused on making the user’s life easier. And also: the need to introduce big changes to the consumer slowly, over time. By looking at how Nest’s second-generation thermostat has evolved, we can see those two crucial ideals at work.
Amazing design is not enough. It is like fashion. Everybody is excited about it at the beginning, but then people are getting used to it and eventually it wears out. After it does, the user is left with the essence of the user experience.
With the recent software available to allow easy creation of interactive books and with the race to bring these products to market, there seems to be a more and more dilution of quality and a loss for the meaning of interactivity. When publishers create new eBook titles or convert a traditional printed book to a digital interactive eBook, they often miss the added value this new medium can provide.
Adidas will embed its miCoach data tracker in uniforms worn by players competing in the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 25. The “professional soccer team tracking system” riffs on the miCoach Speed Cell introduced last year, and Adidas says it will provide coaches with real-time data about player position and performance.
A South Korean Dunkin’ Donuts campaign is reinventing the traditional radio advertisement using unique technology and the smell of coffee. The campaign, named, Flavor Radio releases coffee aroma via sound recognition technology.
California-based company Stacked Wines offers a change from the traditional wine bottle, with four individually-sealed containers stacked on top of each other. Consumers are free from the hassle of a bottle, corkscrew or stemware, and they could be sold at venues that don’t permit glass.
While so many eyes have been on magazine and newspaper media and their desperate embrace of mobile technology, one of the most interesting sectors of old media on new platforms is the comics. Long before Apple instituted its newsstand, for instance, DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse and others like powerhouse distributor Comixology were demonstrating how mobile or tablet apps could make superb periodical merchandising machine and reader/library.
In an age when anyone can share, download and create not just digital files but also physical things, thanks to the proliferation of cheap 3-D printers, are companies at risk of losing control of the objects they sell? In March Levin and his former student Shawn Sims released a set of digital blueprints that a 3-D printer can use to create more than 45 plastic objects, each of which provides the missing interface between pieces from toy construction sets. They call it the Free Universal Construction Kit.
Integrating design into your company involves more than just hiring superstar designers. It takes a long-term commitment and developing a culture that brings everyone up to speed.
Siri is about to get one-upped by Google. The company on Wednesday unveiled a long-rumored concept called "Project Glass," which takes all the functionality of a smartphone and places it into a wearable device that resembles eyeglasses. The see-through lens could display everything from text messages to maps to reminders.
The gadgets of your smart home now come with software updates. Nest Labs today released the equivalent of version 2.0 software for its smart thermostat available for the Web, iOS or Android. The software tweaks for the $249 Learning Thermostat are designed to help people better understand how thermostat changes affect energy usage.
Nike is milking its moment in the sports world spotlight, with fans and football players alike buzzing about its new National Football League uniforms. Between the heavily-hyped unveiling ceremony in Brooklyn, the massive pop-up shop in Manhattan showcasing the new look, and the big anticipation of the draft April 26, it looks like Nike is barreling into its five-year NFL contract just fine. And outgoing Reebok’s fan jerseys are finding their way into bargain bins.
Remember Next Issue Media, the “Hulu for Digital Magazines” consortium made up of the biggest names in publishing? It has finally delivered something worth talking about: Call it Netflix for Magazines. The pitch is simple and intuitive: All the magazines you want, delivered digitally to your tablet, for a flat fee of either $10 or $15 a month.
After a couple of seconds of scanning this article, and maybe reading parts of the introduction, you may have started to ask yourself whether the information that you’re consuming at the moment is actually relevant to you—the user. Unfortunately (and as certain as death and taxes), if users cannot find the information they are looking for, chances are they will abandon their track, never to return.
Every day it seems that we read about the launch of a new startup or technology application claiming to disrupt and reinvent the health care system. This flood of activity comes at a time when the health care industry is in dire need of entrepreneurial spirit, fresh perspectives and new skills. But to create products and services that have the potential to make a large impact, entrepreneurs and health care professionals need to work together.
Emirates is launching a campaign aimed at evolving the airline from a travel brand to a global lifestyle brand. With the tagline “Hello Tomorrow,” the creative seeks to paint the Dubai-based airline as an “enabler of global connectivity and meaningful experiences,” according to the company.
Wikipedia’s Next Big Thing: Wikidata, A Machine-Readable, User-Editable Database Funded By Google, P
Wikidata, the first new project to emerge from the Wikimedia Foundation since 2006, is now beginning development. The organization, known best for its user-edited encyclopedia of knowledge Wikipedia, recently announced the new project at February’s Semantic Tech & Business Conference in Berlin, describing Wikidata as new effort to provide a database of knowledge that can be read and edited by humans and machines alike.
You might not be willing to fork over a monthly subscription fee to read some of your favorite news sites, but would you answer a survey question? That’s what Google and a handful of well-known online publishers are aiming to find out.
Magazines more than doubled their paid digital circulation in the most recent reporting period, but print remains the overwhelming majority of their business, according to a new analysis by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Digital circulation soared to an estimated 3.29 million in the second half of 2012 from 1.46 million in the year-earlier period, a 125% increase, according to publishers' reports with the Audit Bureau.
Brand mascots are rebounding as marketers redeploy old characters in new ways, create fresh ones from scratch and use digital media to spin out rich storylines not possible in the past, when critters and cartoon characters were pretty much confined to TV. While it might be too early to declare a full-fledged mascot revival, brand characters are undoubtedly regaining attention.
Google is marching steadily towards Larry Page’s reported goal of a “single, unified, ‘beautiful’ product, across everything.” It started last year, as redesigns came to all of Google’s big products, Search, Maps, Translate, Reader, Gmail, YouTube, etc, etc. A black navbar appeared, which Google later announced it was removing, only to then reverse course and keep it. And then, earlier this month, it announced Google Play.
Enter Red Tomato Pizza, a single wood-fired joint in Dubai, UAE, and their disruptive new model for easy ordering: The idea is nothing short of brilliant.
With its 2011 corporate revenue estimated at $54 billion and brands in practically every aisle of the grocery store, Kraft is the largest producer of branded, packaged food and beverages in America. So it’s hard to believe that before MiO, the last new category Kraft created was DiGiorno frozen pizza in 1995 and its last new beverage brand was Crystal Light, launched in 1988.
The innovation game is changing. Delivering great products is no longer sufficient for success. And as the Fire's limited memory, ho-hum processor, and and lack of camera demonstrate, great products may not even be necessary. Rather, what matters is delivering great solutions.
Noting that arthritis and MS sufferers can experience difficulties with standard designs, Xeni Collection is now offering fashionable attire that is designed to be easier to put on.
Today, Eventbrite, the online ticketing startup, got terrestrial too. It's launched the At The Door Card Reader, a credit-card swiping accessory for the iPad that enables merchants to sell tickets, merchandise, drinks, and more on-site. Until now, Eventbrite has focused on pre-sale online transactions. But since a significant number of event attendees are still purchasing tickets at the door, the company figured out a way to tap into that market--without help from Square or another solution.
If your brand isn’t on Pinterest, you could be missing out on a growing stream of potential customers.
Pinterest has rolled out its first significant makeover since gaining popular attention in a move that sees it streamline the look of profile pages on the service.
Which one is best for you? We took a look at the various features for each offering to help you make the decision:
Nike has opened the world’s first NikeFuel Station at the Boxpark in Shoreditch, London. The retail space breaks new boundaries in digital displays and design, aiming to appeal to today’s digitally-enabled athlete.
Singapore-based photographer Kamarule explores the viewer’s relationship with 2D still images reproduced on photographic print medium with the Facial Codes series. Circular discs with QR codes are superimposed onto the faces of the people in group photos (school, college, national service, etc), creating a sense of impenetrability.
It’s hard to ignore Pinterest‘s explosive growth over the past year. In a very short period of time, the social network has gone from relative obscurity to a top 100 site, with 11.7 million unique monthly U.S. visitors. But how many referrals does Pinterest generate?
Encyclopaedia Britannica will stop publishing print editions and go digital-only — a huge step for the encyclopedia which has been in print since 1768. The sales of Britannica print editions has been on the decline since 1990, when 120,000 32-volume sets were sold.
PayPal is expected to launch a mobile payment dongle that would allow small businesses to process credit card transactions with a smartphone, according to a GigaOm report.
Today at SXSW, Marvel announced a partnership with Autonomy’s Aurasma platform to lets users watch video trailers of books they see in stores, as well as 3D animation, recaps, and other augmented reality extras by holding their phones up to comics.
Buying someone a drink in person is a nice gesture, but buying someone a drink via Twitter is, well, not something you do often. Online networking app Tweet-A-Beer hopes to change that and make paying for other Twitter users’ drinks more of a habit.
In what may be the most overdue brand extension in history, Kraft is using the 100-year-old Planters name to speed growth of its mature grocery business.
A CFO won't make decisions without reliable metrics based on time-tested performance indicators. So why do so many sane, rational marketers think they'll get a pass when it comes to social media?
Brands are spending a great deal of time and energy investing in platforms to get likes or pluses, and not really being social at all.
Brands have historically paid for media to deliver their messages. But now, those brands are becoming the media, attracting their own audiences. And not just within social networks, but through their own online publications. This new strategy is known as content marketing, and it has been embraced by leading brands like American Express, IBM, and General Mills, with more joining the ranks every day.
One Romanian man's tribute to the end of the space shuttle era may leave you slightly misty-eyed.
Attention all those who like to gripe about lousy customer service and companies (I'm looking at you AT&T and airlines everywhere) that tend to provide it: there's a new place for people to get their complaints heard, and it means business. The site is called Gripevine, and it's more than a platform like Facebook and Twitter on which frustrated customers can broadcast their complaints and hope for a response.
Best Practices: From First To Worst - Continental In A Post United World, Lessons In Next Gen Custom
Despite the numerous attempts by CEO Jeff Smisek to gloss over the issue with increasingly slicked up, feel good, on board welcome ads, Continental’s customer satisfaction numbers have reached the abyss of United’s. While United Holdings may tout their most admired status in the airline industry by Fortune, the award is measured by corporate executives, airline executives, boards of directors and industry analysts
The New York Times' Facebook Timeline goes all the way back to 1851, and it's filled with some choice photos and milestones from the paper's history. It also tells the story of how technology changed the business of keeping you informed.
"Experience" is the marketing buzzword of our time. It seems like every week someone is extolling the vast untapped potential of experience to move your customers: Starcom recently created a Chief Experience Officer position; SMG Global CEO Laura Desmond has called experience the "future of advertising," and Starbucks is revitalizating through a focus on moments of "human connection."
If you pay attention to advertising, you may have seen some charming, pencil-figured ads entitled “Good to Know” about managing your privacy options. After midnight, Google will start linking your data across all of Google’s products.
When you get into work on Monday you’ll find that the Continental Airlines brand has vanished for good. That’s when the airline and United, the 4th and 3rd largest carriers respectively, will adopt a single passenger reservation system.
Facebook brand timelines went live this morning, and though we've known about these for a while, some of the executions are pretty impressive, including founding documents, early advertising, memos, news clips and photos. It's as if dozens of little corporate museums just launched on Facebook.
MTV has introduced a mobile app in Europe that fits somewhere on between HBO Go and social-TV platforms, letting users watch the network's shows on demand and invite friends to chat. Don't Expect a U.S. Version Anytime Soon.
If there’s one thing Burstein has learned over the years of producing the arts and culture radio show Studio 360, it’s that telling stories is the best way to learn about empathy. So now she tells of four qualities she believes help us all when looking to embrace our own creativity
Back in November, Square told us that 20,000 merchants had signed up for Card Case, and four months later that number has more than doubled to over 40,000 businesses using the loyalty and mobile wallet platform.
Design company QA Graphics has created an interactive digital kiosk for a McDonald’s franchise in Richardson, Texas, that provides customers with nutritional information about the menu items and lets them make an informed choice about their meal.
why is it that consumers are still paying through the nose for e-book titles that ought to cost a fraction of the price charged for the used hardcover version?
If you’re tired of seeing the same news as everyone else, The Washington Post is now experimenting with personalized headlines. That experiment is called Personal Post, and it’s available at personal.washingtonpost.com, where you’ll see a river of content that you can customize.
"People are 'Fancy-ing' what they like, forming communities around these products or experiences, and now we allow merchants and brands to come in and fill that interest and demand in real-time, which no one is doing," says founder Joseph Einhorn.
A Bloomberg report this weekend pointed out that Gap, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom and GameStop have all opened and closed shops on Facebook within the past year — undermining expectations that the social network will become a major revenue driver for retailers over the next decade.
What do superheroes ride? Unless they're from a Japanese Manga comic, it would probably be an American motorcycle brand. Harley-Davidson, to be specific. The Milwaukee-based, all-American bike maker has signed a pact with the iconic American comic book and production company Marvel
People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time.
Microsoft and Apple should hate one another right now. I mean, really hate each other. After decades of domination, Microsoft has watched their rival move from death’s door to become the most valuable company in the world
Jeremy Levine, who led Bessemer's investment, tells us about all the ways Pinterest can make money, why it's not thinking about that right now, and why the company is more like Google than you might imagine.
People seem really intent these days on fusing television with the Internet. On one level this makes no sense. Television technology works just fine and we all understand how to use it. We’re also in the midst of a golden age when it comes to programming; I can’t remember another time when there were this many good shows on. Also, television advertising rates are enormous compared to the Internet. There are people on YouTube who have more subscribers than top network sitcoms have viewers, yet they earn a minuscule fraction of the revenue. Television, as an industry, is strong. So there is the scent of blood in the water, and out of the resulting frenzy a few lessons have appeared. Here are four of them.
NBC Universal's broadcasts of the Olympics from London this summer will be filled with the usual athletic contests: synchronized swimming, basketball and canoe sprinting, among others. Behind the scenes, however, NBC will engage in a different sort of game: tablet counting. Mindful that audiences are no longer relying solely on TV to get all their video content, NBC Universal will use the Olympics to set up a system that purports to count viewers across all the different ways they now watch their shows.
The future of shopping means every garment--and shopping experience--can be customized to fit both your body and your thirst for discovery.
There’s a new movement underway. If you haven’t come across Pinterest yet, you soon will do. It’s a new virtual pinboard site that everyone’s talking about. It allows you to easily share visual things you’ve discovered online with your followers. You simply browse the web, spot something that inspires you and ‘pin’ it onto one of your boards. It’s as simple as that.
The 54th Annual Grammy Awards was a huge hit across social, digital and broadcast platforms. Excitement for the return of Adele, as well as the tribute to the late Whitney Houston kept viewers engaged online and off. CBS reported that 39.9 million viewers tuned in to Sunday’s award show, the second-largest Grammy audience ever and the best ratings since 1984.
What do you get when you cross Walmart with Mother Teresa? Who would be the Square Deal candidate in 2012? And how in the world do you compare--and rank--such dynamic, eclectic businesses as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google?
ON a Sunday in early December, Marcus Brauchli, the executive editor of The Washington Post, summoned some of the newspaper’s most celebrated journalists to a lunch at his home, a red brick arts-and-crafts style in the suburb of Bethesda, Md. The Post faces the same problems as other daily newspapers, whose revenues have sunk as the Web and the tough economy have sapped advertising. But in some ways, its situation is even more daunting.
Every company wants customers talking about their products. But before they can sing your praises on social media or evangelize to their friends, they need to remember your product’s name. It seems obvious, but many companies – especially in the technology sector – overlook this easy way to connect with their audience.
Even if you haven’t ever visited popular visual bookmarking site Pinterest, you might recognize its design elements — which have been popping up everywhere since the startup burst onto the mainstream scene in 2011. The site doesn’t use traditional web building blocks.
The burrito chain is revolutionizing food: Why doesn’t it get more respect? Hunting for business success stories in a recession is a difficult (and sometimes depressing) task. Most of the feel-good stories seem to come from the high-tech world and the burgeoning app economy. One important exception is Chipotle Mexican Grill, a company that shows there’s clearly room for growth and innovation in even the most basic sectors of the economy.
Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use Pinterest to communicate through vibrant images and share their personal interests.
Bitly shortens URLs on web services like Twitter where space is at a premium. But nowadays, it’s also offering software for big businesses: Bitly Enterprise. With the help of the Kalman Filter, this software identifies which of your shortened URLs are generating the most interest amidst the sea of noise that is the internet. It’s not unlike locking onto a Soviet helicopter simply by turning your head.
As part of its promise last year to improve the nutritional quality of the food it sells, Walmart said on Tuesday that it had devised standards to determine what is healthy and would label the foods that meet those standards. A new label with the words Great for You will appear on Walmart's Great Value and Marketside food items this spring.
The thermostat business is getting ugly. I understand that sounds crazy, but it’s true. Late last year Tony Fadell, the guy who created the iPod at Apple, launched Nest, a new company that aims to reinvent household devices. Nest’s first product is a beautiful, easy-to-use, $249 “learning thermostat.” It launched to rave reviews, and sold out instantly. In retrospect it’s clear why Honeywell put on a full-court press to show me all the ways its thermostat was superior to the Nest.
Ah, the complex olfactory bouquet of the urban bus shelter! Trying to identify individual odors within such dense scent tapestries can be difficult, and most disturbing! That's not the case, however, at some locations in British cities like London and Manchester, where McCain Foods is installing 3-D ad panels that emit the aroma of freshly baked potatoes at the push of a button.
More than ever, the core drivers of brand loyalty are emotional rather than rational. That’s the takeaway from the 2012 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI), which marks the survey’s 16th year. While emotional engagement factors have become more critical each year, the influence of two core, overarching components rose markedly in 2012: the brand’s “values” and the consumer’s brand “experience.”
Because you work in advertising or media, a little more is expected of you when it comes to Super Bowl advertising knowledge. It's not enough to mindlessly chuckle along with the masses at the CareerBuilder monkeys or Volkswagen's body-image-obsessed canine. You need to be able drop some serious knowledge on this, advertising's biggest day, whilst juggling a microbrew and a plate of nachos.
At first glance, it would seem that the new generation of product-bookmarking sites such as Pinterest and Svpply are nothing more than new tools to feed the consumer machine, driving us to buy more stuff. But, counterintuitively, my experience with these services is that they actually help me cut my consumption and to direct my money at goods that more closely align with my values.
Good design is like pornography: You know it when you see it. Incredibly subtle Supreme Court justice jokes aside, design really can make or break a company--especially for an “early adopter” technology that hasn’t quite caught on yet. Convincing people to do anything that’s out of their comfort zone (in our case, getting them to pay with their phones using LevelUp) is tough. But one of the benefits of being somewhat early to a market is getting to define what an entirely new experience means for a person. In this instance, design, function, and brand can become one
Trying to figure out what’s on sale when and then waiting for the next sale to buy particular items can be frustrating to consumers so J.C. Penney Co. — in its first major overhaul of its retail arm since former Apple exec Ron Johnson took over as CEO in November — is attempting to make things much easier. The company this week announced that its stores are doing away with having seven kazillion different items on different sales simultaneously and just “marking down all of its merchandise by at least 40% so shoppers will no longer have to wait for a sale to get the lowest prices in its stores.” The move comes as jcpenney, as the chain rebranded itself at the 2011 Oscars, is re-rebranding with a new logo — following the previous year's rebrand at the 2010 Oscars (check out the logo progression below). What was that about trying to avoid consumer confusion?
The brand new Land Rover Range Rover Evoque started 2012 off right – with a prestigious North American Truck of the Year win at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. This topped off a terrific 2011 for the Tata Motors-owned brand, with Land Rover sales up an impressive 19.6% to 38,099 in a new car market that grew by 10.6%. The success of this off-road brand is in stark contrast to its former competitor, GM’s Hummer, which logged no new sales last year and like so many Hollywood marriages, failed to survive to the 10-year anniversary it would have celebrated this year. As you may recall, on February 24, 2010, eight months into its post-bankruptcy life, and nearly eight years after debuting the H2, GM officially announced they would begin the wind-down process for the Hummer brand. The last Hummer rolled off the Shreveport production line in 2010. So how did these two brands with arguably analogous products end up with such different fortunes?
Esquire magazine, a monument to male vitality, seemed about to keel over in 2009. Famous for laying down a much-followed literary track with an article in 1966 by Gay Talese titled “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” the magazine found itself gasping for breath and fighting for survival. Amid the plague that hit the magazine industry back then, Esquire was worse off than most. Beaten up by a crop of lad magazines like Maxim, then hammered by the flight of advertisers and readers to the Web, Esquire suffered a 24.3 percent loss in advertising pages compared with 2008, which was almost as bad, by the way. A Web site for investors, 24/7 Wall Street, predicted in 2009 that Esquire would be one of “Twelve Major Brands that Will Disappear” the following year.
Some years ago, I hosted a blind tasting beer party where everyone voted for their favorite and least favorite beers from a collection of microbrews and mainstream brands. Although there was no clear winner, there was definitely an outright loser. I was thinking about that party when I read about Coke’s decision to kill its White Coke can before the scheduled end of its holiday season run. This was primarily a story about customer confusion -- there was not enough difference between the White Coke can and the Diet Coke can and people were getting confused and buying the wrong one. But there was a side-story that some people thought that the Coke from the white can did not taste the same/as good as the Coke from the red can. Ridiculous, you might say. Not that surprising, I thought, based on my own experience from that beer-tasting party.
“Active fiction” publisher Coliloquy launched this week with four young adult ebooks that create a rich, interactive experience for the reader. This development in customizable fiction takes advantage of the digital format to push expectations of “choose-your-own-adventure” stories to new levels. The four new titles from Coliloquy are Heidi R. Kling’s Witch’s Brew (The Spellspinners of Melas County), Kira Snyder’s Dead Letter Office (Parish Mail), Liz Maverick’s Arcania, Trial by Fire #1 (Arcania), and Tawna Fenske’s Getting Dumped. These series, available exclusively in the Amazon Kindle store, reinvent the way authors and their readers interact with books. Coliloquy’s new publishing format enables multiple storylines, serial and episodic story-telling, personalized content, and in-book engagement mechanics, which create a more immersive experience.
The lead producer of festivalslab Rohan Gunatillake gives four reasons why new thinking and tools can produce better experiences
Just beneath the surface of the digital landscape, yet in plain sight, a raging war is brewing. Like a big global conflict, this digital one too involves many players: the media, brand marketers and social networks. Mirroring other great battles of historical significance, it's being waged for control of a precious resource that's in short supply: consumer attention.
What Peter Drucker would say about the e-tailer's foray into book publishing.
Apple television rumors have swirled for years. But only now do we know that when speaking to his official biographer, Steve Jobs was keen to reinvent the television. And after ages trying to polish it into a user-friendly interface to video content he finally felt he'd "cracked it." Excitement has grown quickly since this revelation, but one analyst--Gene Munster--has checked with his sources and says that test HDTV prototypes are already in the pipeline, suggesting the device could be en route sooner than we thought.
Like so many others her age, Casey Barber, 33, furnished her home with affordable basics from major retailers, pieces like that requisite “Ikea table that is still making the rounds after all these years,” she said. But when it came to accessories, Ms. Barber, a writer and the editor of the Web site Good.Food.Stories., took care to search out the unique and handmade — things that communicated her personality and a certain sense of authenticity.
"Happy chic" designer Jonathan Adler took some time away from whatever he's doing now to help put together eBay's first storefront. It's located in New York City, naturally. Each item in the storefront has a QR code; if you scan a code with your eBay phone app, you're directed to a special purchasing page within the app. What's that, you say? No, it's not a slightly more complicated version of browsing the site on your computer. Shut up. It's a dynamic and totally new 24-hour shopping experience.
Unleashed into the digital wilds, creatives have responded with innovative, far-reaching ideas that leverage interactive’s unique attributes. We look at some of the people best utilizing the new technologies to create work that stands out amidst today’s multimedia clutter.
One constant of the outpouring of grief over the death of Steve Jobs has been modified Apple logos, including creative use of apples in front of Apple stores. What few realize is that this capacity to fiddle with Apple's most recognizable bit of brand identity, and at the same time not lose any of that identity, speaks to the power of even the simplest element of what the Apple brand is.
While there are many things worth celebrating of Steve Jobs's life, the greatest gift Steve gave us is a way to design our own lives.
Nike is setting up a a venture capital fund -- the Sustainable Business & Innovation Lab -- to invest in startups working on alternative energy and green innovation, reports Bloomberg.
Jeff Bezos announced a new family of Kindle’s today, including the Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch. But he also had one more thing. The Kindle Fire tablet is coming with an entirely new mobile browser called Amazon Silk. The browser is “cloud-accelerated” in that it splits tasks between the cloud and the device.
For the first time in its history, the editors at The New Yorker know which articles are being read. And they know who's reading them.
People are getting antsy for the iPhone 5—agitated, even. And all the anticipation may be building the mythical gadget into something greater than it is—people may end up being disappointed if it doesn't wipe your bottom along with everything else.
Last night in after-hours trading, Apple's stock dropped precipitously. The prophets of Apple's doom emerged after a very long hibernation. Even those bullish on Apple's prospects could hardly muster more than lukewarm praise of Tim Cook's appointment to CEO of Apple Inc, saying, "he's pretty good, but he's no Steve Jobs." We believe they're all missing the point. Jobs has managed to perform the ultimate feat of leadership — he's embedded himself so deeply within the cultural fabric of Apple that the company no longer needs him.
Anheuser-Busch InBev NV is redesigning the Budweiser can for the first time in a decade, seeking to reinvigorate sales of the storied brew. The company unveiled a new, bolder look Wednesday that makes the Budweiser "bowtie" symbol the centerpiece of the label and goes much heavier on the color red than previous versions.
The model Veronica Webb made charming faces at the camera. Michael Stipe, the lead vocalist for R.E.M., cozied up to a snake. The actor David Arquette designed a T-shirt that read: “I love. Therefore I am.” Friends of the former magazine editor Jane Pratt, they and other members of the Pratt Pack — the rapper Estelle; the designer Isaac Mizrahi; and the models Carol Alt, Helena Christensen and Crystal Renn — showed up last month for a series of photo shoots at Drive-In Studios to help promote xoJane.com, Ms. Pratt’s new Web site, which went live on Monday.
You know the bag. The chocolate-brown leather canvas emblazoned with quatrefoils and the LV monogram is immediately recognizable as the international symbol of globetrotting luxury. The Louis Vuitton brand is the most valuable brand in luxury, according to a new study from Millward Brown. But in a world with knock offs on street tables from New York to New Dehli and rappers like Kanye West pronouncing himself the "Louis Vuitton don," how does the world's most famous luxury brand protect its image?
It used to be that beer came in a glass, can, bottle, or keg. End of discussion. Today it seems as if the packaging gets almost as much attention as the liquid itself, if not more. Special cans turn color when the beer is cold. Some bottles are funky too, with one brand featuring a special vortex neck meant to improve taste. Don't want a keg? Try a "home draft" that fits in your fridge.
Last October, BMW introduced a six-year project with the Guggenheim Museum -- the BMW Guggenheim Lab -- aimed at developing new ideas for design and urban living. On Friday, the company unveiled specifics at an event at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The Lab, designed by Japanese architectural firm Atelier Bow-Wow, will be an open-air installation featuring an open-air loft built largely of carbon fiber (a substance BMW plans to use in its vehicles) and designed almost as a theater space with elements that can drop down from the overhead space, a kind of Swiss Army knife of cultural props and media implements.
Few publishing executives have gotten a closer look at how quickly digital technology is transforming businesses around the globe than John Makinson, chief executive of Pearson PLC's book publishing arm, Penguin Group. The house publishes 4,000 fiction and nonfiction titles globally, and does business in a wide variety of markets, including India. Deciding how and where to sell those books is significantly more complicated than when Mr. Makinson took over as CEO in 2002. At the time, e-books were a minor enterprise, and the full impact of online discounting hadn't yet been felt.
Few people are better situated to speak about the present state -- and future prospects -- of design today than Kevin Slavin and Paola Antonelli. Antonelli, of course, is the senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Among the many groundbreaking shows she's put on, perhaps the most influential was Design and the Elastic Mind, which tracked the various ways that designers were using technology to break out of the discipline's old boundaries. Slavin, working with Frank Lantz, co-founded Area/Code, a game developer that was just recently acquired by Zynga, becoming Zynga New York.
How many will we carry? What will they look like? What will they do?
At SXSW, the chief of one of America's favorite online shoe stores lets Fast Company in on his newest idea, a lifestyle and business brand with partner Jenn Lim named after his bestselling business book, "Delivering Happiness."
Design is an inescapable dimension of human activity. To adapt one of my favorite quotes by Reyner Banham, like the weather it is always there, but we speak about it only when it is exceptionally bad or exceptionally good.
When Gap introduced a new logo in October, public response was overwhelmingly negative. With Internet speed, someone created a microsite where readers could render their own Gap-like logo. With the outcry of resistance, the logo was quickly pulled and mea culpas were quickly issued by the retailing giant.
A couple of years ago, Rick Meyerowitz was on the A train in New York City. He was staring at the subway map and he was thinking about lunch. Suddenly, station names began to look like food. Rick asked, “What if I redid the subway map [as] a food map?” He brought in his friend Maira Kalman and the two of them renamed 468 stations. Avenue H became Mulligan Stew, Avenue J became Can of Soda, and Brighton beach became Beach Stroganoff. The New Yorker published their map in 2004. This is remapping, taking a world we know, and reworking how we see it. It's one way to make culture.
Another iconic brand is messing with its logo. To commemorate its 40th anniversary, Starbucks today unveiled what its PR team calls a "subtle but meaningful update." We'd call it a hot mess. Meaningful? Only to Starbucks. Subtle? Not at all. In fact, the focus on the brand's mermaid and scuttling of its name jettisons the distinctive black and green color combination that nearly everyone associates with Starbucks.
Of late, I've been thinking a lot about visual storytelling and the various ways that the Internet and digital devices like the iPad require us to process information and content. Over the past decade, there has been an astounding rise in the value of visual literacy -- the ability to process information and content that is delivered via images rather than text. When you think about it, all of the most popular forms of new Internet content - whether infographics, casual games or video clips - place a premium on visual storytelling. At the end of the day, the Apple iPad is primarily a device for consuming visual content.
Viacom's Comedy Central network today revealed its new on-air branding coming in January. The new logo features a mark, resembling a loopy Chanel or copyright symbol, and an upside down "Central" — a severely mod contrast to its retro skyscrapered globe now being put out to pasture.
Employees at the Silicon Valley design firm IDEO LLC spotted weaknesses in the current crop of electronic-book readers. So they did what came naturally to them and designed their own.
Design reigned supreme in the 20th century, when it was an integral part of the way artists, publishers, governments and political parties communicated to the first mass audiences. Message and presentation were inextricably intertwined, with the latter lending power, impact and even meaning to the former. Not for nothing was Marshall McLuhan able to say, with gnomic brevity but not a little insight, “the medium is the message.”
Taking a page from a rival's playbook, Anheuser-Busch is rolling out cold-activated Busch Light bottles.
Now you see it, now you don't. The new Gap logo was around for just one week, but now the question is: What was management thinking? How could this happen?
Today, Stonyfield Farm, the organic yogurt company, is unveiling a new packaging solution: A yogurt cup made from corn. It's not the first revolution in yogurt cups, or the first packaging innovation made from corn. But Stonyfield's journey to today is a case study in sustainability, innovation, persistence, and systems thinking that I think is worth sharing.
So was the Gap's logo debacle really a debacle, or was it a clever sleight of hand? In response to my post last week, some of you said: wait a second — what if this was a genius move by the Gap, garnering a boatload attention with minimum effort?
Here's a thought: 21st century organizations need not just half a brain — but a whole, full, complete brain, where both halves work in unison and harmony. Let me explain, by way of an example. It hurts your eyes to look at it. It's making designers world-wide recoil in amazement and horror. The latest installment of Aliens vs Predator? Nope — it's the Gap's new logo.
Gap has finally shed some light on its new logo, which has had the industry buzzing and wondering why the retailer ditched its previous iconic mark. The logo, created with Laird & Partners, New York, is meant to be the latest "evolution" for the brand, which has been updating its product, rolling out pop-up stores and tapping hot designers such as Patrick Robinson. The logo is also in line with the label on Gap's popular 1969 jeans line.
I will always remember my first introduction to the power of good product design. I was newly arrived at Apple, still learning the ways of business, when I was visited by a member of Apple's Industrial Design team. He showed me a foam mockup of a proposed product. "Wow," I said, "I want one! What is it?" That experience brought home the power of design: I was excited and enthusiastic even before I knew what it was.
Journalists are coping with the rising information flood by borrowing data visualization techniques from computer scientists, researchers and artists. Some newsrooms are already beginning to retool their staffs and systems to prepare for a future in which data becomes a medium. But how do we communicate with data, how can traditional narratives be fused with sophisticated, interactive information displays?
Kevin Slavin has been thinking about the intersection of games and daily life for nearly a decade. As the managing director of Area/Code, he's worked with Frank Lantz to integrate gameplay into the fabric of reality using a technique they call "big games." In the following interview, Slavin discusses the thinning boundary between the game world and the real world.
I was recently turned on to the legendary designer Dieter Rams, whose comments below were made three decades ago during a speech to the supervisory board of Braun: "Good designers must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times. They should, and must, question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must have an intuition for people’s changing attitudes. For the reality in which they live, for their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits. They must also be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology." It occurred to me that if you replace the word “designers” with “leaders,” Rams’ wisdom would ring especially true in today's chaotic marketplace. So I've decided to appropriate Dieter’s ethos and apply it to designing a “good” brand; one that creates growth in profitability, as well as happy and healthy, holistic relationships.
Inside the $2.4 billion plan to change the way you think about the most iconic restaurant on the planet.
Twitter unveiled a new Web site on Tuesday that it hopes will be user friendly. The redesigned site, which will be available to all users in the next few weeks, makes it simpler to see information about the authors of Twitter posts, conversations among Twitter users, and the photos and videos that posts link to. “It’s going to increase the value that people are getting out of Twitter, so in less time you can get more information and value,” Evan Williams, Twitter’s co-founder and chief executive, said in an interview.
A Japanese resort town has created real-world getaway packages for men and their virtual schoolgirl dates. It’s weird and creepy, for sure, but it also demonstrates the power of virtual experience to be, as Dr. Eldon Tyrell once boasted, "more human than human."
What is it about design that makes it so well suited to solving complex problems? Why is design thinking such a promising avenue for business and government tackling seemingly intractable problems?
Whoever said technology was dehumanizing was wrong. On screens everywhere — cellphones, e-readers, A.T.M.’s — as Diana Ross sang, we just want to reach out and touch. Scientists and academics who study how we interact with technology say people often try to import those behaviors into their lives, as anyone who has ever wished they could lower the volume on a loud conversation or Google their brain for an answer knows well. But they say touching screens has seeped into people’s day-to-day existence more quickly and completely than other technological behaviors because it is so natural, intimate and intuitive.
David McCandless turns complex data sets (like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates) into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information glut -- and it may just change the way we see the world.
Openness is the mega-trend for innovation in the 21st century, and it remains the topic du jour for businesses of all kinds. Granted, it has been on the agenda of every executive ever since Henry Chesbrough’s seminal Open Innovation came out in 2003. However, as several new books elaborate upon the concept from different perspectives, and a growing number of organizations have recently launched ambitious initiatives to expand the paradigm to other areas of business, I thought it might be a good time to reframe “Open” from a design point of view.
I couldn’t agree more that we should take creativity “out of the art room and into the home room.” And we should start by looking to art education as a model. The National Inventors Hall of Fame school’s success in “project-based learning” emulates the studio model that has existed and been refined in art schools for hundreds of years. Learning through making actual objects in a studio equips artists and designers with the curiosity, open-ended inquiry, problem solving, critical thinking and critical making skills that are key to creative contributions. These methods are the most promising pathway available for cultivating creativity in future generations, whether kids grow up to be bankers, medical professionals or politicians.
Nike's Mark Parker brings together extreme talents, whether they're basketball stars, tattooists, or designers obsessed with shoes.
K-Mart and Marc Jacobs have something in common: low- and high-end fashion products tend to have less conspicuous brand markers than midprice goods, according to a paper soon to be published in The Journal of Consumer Research. Rather than rely on obvious logos, expensive products use more discreet markers, such as distinctive design or detailing. High-end consumers prefer markers of status that are not decipherable by the mainstream. These signal group identity only to others with the connoisseurship to recognize their insider standing.
While 2009 was arguably the year brands embraced the iPhone, developing apps left and right, the iPad doesn't seem to have inspired the same enthusiasm. Magazines have embraced the iPad, but despite the product's hype, larger screen and dual-touch technology, brands haven't followed suit.
My last column, “Specifying Behavior,” focused on the importance of interaction designers’ taking full responsibility for designing and clearly communicating the behavior of product user interfaces. At the conclusion of the Design Phase for a product release, interaction designers’ provide key design deliverables that play a crucial role in ensuring their solutions to design problems actually get built. These deliverables might take the form of high-fidelity, interactive prototypes; detailed storyboards that show every state of a user interface in sequence; detailed, comprehensive interaction design specifications; or some combination of these. Whatever form they take, producing these interaction design deliverables is a fundamental part of a successful product design process.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs addressed these issues Friday from the company's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. His take? There's a small problem, but one that was blown out of proportion by the press. For once, it may be hard to argue with Apple's best salesperson. What are the ramifications for a brand that rarely deals with a crisis on this level? Experts agree that Apple will be just fine.
Two venerable brands have recently sidelined their names in favor of initials. National Public Radio now wants to be known as "NPR" while the Young Men's Christian Association — the YMCA — has abbreviated its abbreviation to, simply, "The Y." But aren't "NPR" and "The Y" already de facto brand names?
One only needs to note the proliferation of Victory Gardens during World War II or the past year's explosion of community plots to know that when economic times are tough, Americans head back to the garden. But today's gardeners are also sowing seeds for weight-loss and environmentalism, according to legendary American seed company Burpee, the country's oldest and largest seed purveyor. As Burpee CEO George Ball noted earlier this year, sales of Burpee seeds are up 15-20% in 2010, and consumers are not only turning the soil to save money: Ball says that people are looking to the garden for emotional and physical growth as well.
Designing a new brand platform for a 160-year-old organization is no easy task, particularly when that organization is as diverse and well-known as the YMCA. The new brand platform involved a two-year development process that looked to reflect the character of the more than 2,600 individual "Y" organizations around the country.
Now Kleenex, the brand that invented facial tissues 86 years ago, is hoping to bolster summer sales with packages that resemble wedges of fruit and look more at home on a picnic table than a bedside table. The A-frame packages, featuring fruits like watermelon, orange and lime, were available only at Target last summer, and are being sold at all major retailers this summer.
No one is an expert, and it is only through a multidisciplinary process that it all comes together; materials, process and design. There must be a meaningful confluence of the elements otherwise it will be like sticking wood laminate on a laptop to make it more valuable. Furthermore, this requires stepping away from the computer and getting reacquainted with materials and processes. Indeed this is quite a hat tip to the old school craftsman approach to design.
We are facing a pandemic of ‘designed stuff’ and we have reached a contamination point, a crisis for Design. Why are we not more perturbed and disturbed? Why are we so tolerant? Should we not be calling for a guerrilla war against ‘designerism’ or do we need a revolution to cut the ties with the hero’s of 20th Century Design?
PSFK sat down with Anna Klingmann for a conversation covering trends in architecture as they pertain to sustainability and health. Her agency, Klingmann, specializes in a niche area where architecture meets branding. Although not all applications of branding will bring about improved communities and healthier living/working spaces, Klingmann’s work clearly demonstrates the importance of branding in nurturing a sense of belonging.
Forever 21 Inc. is set to open a massive new store in New York's Times Square on Friday, the latest and most aggressive step in the low-priced fashion retailer's plan to expand from a clothing boutique into a department store. The privately held, Los Angeles-based company is expanding aggressively at a time when most retailers are holding back or downsizing, a move enabled in large part by the recession.
Aleksandr is one of the more prominent examples of the trend for animated characters or puppets to act as brand ambassadors. US consumers have long been charmed by the frogs that feature in Budweiser’s advertising or the cockney gecko that stars in Geico’s campaigns. Meanwhile, Domo, the saw-toothed mascot for Japanese broadcaster NHK, has gone on to appear in video games and comics, and spread virally online. But the proliferation and popularity of these creations and the merchandising they have spawned raises questions for both brand owners and advertising agencies hoping to capitalise on the value of the intellectual property.
Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN network has convinced three major advertisers to produce expensive 3-D commercials for its new sports channel debuting Friday with the 2010 World Cup broadcast. It is the first major test of marketers' appetite for 3-D pitches. Procter & Gamble Co., Sony Corp. and Disney's Pixar will all experiment with spots on the new 3-D sports channel. ESPN has previously aired several 3-D telecasts, including the Masters Tournament.
In the third millennium it’s getting harder than ever to stay in place. Who hasn’t seen a driver almost crash while talking on a cell phone? Who hasn’t noticed children in a park staring down at a game-boy instead of romping about? Who hasn’t been to a dinner party and caught someone sneaking a glance at his handheld under the table and sending a tweet about the first course before even finishing it? Each week, it seems, industry comes up with new gadgets that help us to jump out of our bodies and flash out there to everything under the sun that can be encoded by electrical signals, pulses of light and binary values. Few of these digital experiences would have registered before the 21st century and some have become widespread only in the past few years. We’re in the first stage of a transformation of our sense of place as momentous as that which occurred a couple of centuries ago, when products from smoke-stacked factories forged modern society.
CEO Steve Jobs also unveiled some new metrics. Among them: Apple expects to control 48% of the mobile display ad market in the second half of 2010; it already has $60 million in commitments for its mobile iAd format; and it has paid out more than $1 billion in revenue to app developers. Here are some takeaways from Mr. Jobs' presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference today.
There's been a lot of buzz about the long-tail phenomenon—the strategy of selling smaller quantities of a wider range of goods that are designed to resonate with consumers' preferences and earn higher margins. And a quick scan of everyday products seems to confirm the long tail's merit: Where once we wore jeans from Levi, Wrangler or Lee, we now have scores of options from design houses. If you're looking for a nutrition bar, there's one exactly right for you, whether you're a triathlete, a dieter or a weight lifter. Hundreds of brewers offer thousands of craft beers suited to every conceivable taste. It's not surprising that so many companies have embraced this strategy. It allows them to avoid the intense competition found in mass markets. Look at the sales growth that has taken place in low-volume, high-margin products such as super-premium ice cream, noncarbonated beverages, heritage meats and heirloom vegetables. But the case for the long tail has frequently been overstated. This strategy can be expensive to implement, and it doesn't work for all products or all categories.
Brand Australia was conceived by the Federal Government of Australia as a four-year program to position Australia internationally as not just a pleasant place to holiday, barbeque shrimp and wrestle crocodiles, but also a nice enough place to perhaps invest a few dollars. And that’s the key to understanding the place this brand is intended to take; it does not replace the tourism brand created by FutureBrand, rather it sits above it as the overarching brand for global citizenship, culture, business and investment. Confusingly, that same tourism brand created by FutureBrand had been in use as the business to business brand under license by Austrade — the government agency responsible for promoting Australia and Australian businesses overseas. Therefore, it’s a before and after, whilst not being a before and after. Still with me?
Starbucks is brewing a fresh image for Seattle’s Best Coffee, a specialty brand it acquired in 2003. The coffee giant this week kicked off a rebranding effort, which includes a simpler logo and a new tagline, “Great coffee everywhere.” Starbucks hopes to grow Seattle’s Best into a billion-dollar business by expanding it to fast food channels, convenience stores, drive-through restaurants and even vending machines this fall. But the coffee chain faces a challenge presented by competitors like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts; both have rolled out lower-priced coffee drinks aimed at penny pinched consumers. That's why Starbucks is rounding up its best and brightest marketers to lead the rebranding effort.
Whatever industry you’re in, in the end, everything is about status. And since what constitutes status in consumer societies is fragmenting rapidly, here’s a (modest) framework to help you start exploring new status symbols and stories with your customers.
Today, Seattle’s Best is announcing a major push in its distribution: By partnering with other retailers like Burger King, Subway and AMC Entertainment (one of the largest movie theater chains in the U.S.), to add Seattle’s Best coffee to their menus, bumping its distribution by about 30,000 points of sale. Additionally, Seattle’s Best will be dispensing coffee via vending machines, although I’m not clear how or where. Along with this announcement, a radically new logo has been introduced, designed by Seattle ad agency Creature.
This morning during his keynote talk at Web 2.0 Expo, Tim O’Reilly took a look at the State of the Internet Operating System — a term he uses to describe the intertwined web services like search, the social graph, and payments systems that power applications on the web (and increasingly, mobile devices). During his talk, he gave a report card of sorts for tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. Apple, he says, “has a vision of world domination”, and that with the App Store platform Steve Jobs is trying to build a fundamental challenge to the web.
Yesterday, United and Continental Airlines, the third- and fourth-largest U.S. carriers respectively, announced they would be merging, creating the first-largest carrier. While the media focuses on numbers of flights, ramifications for shareholders and what will happen to customers’ frequent flyer miles we focus our attention on what really matters: The literal merger of two infinitely different brands.
Last week I presented at Stanford Graduate School of Business in a session on Mobile Computing called, "Creating Mobile Experiences: It's the Platform, Stupid." As the title underscores, I am a big believer that to understand what makes mobile tick, you really need to look beyond a device's hardware shell (important, though it is), and fully factor in the composite that includes its software and service layers; developer tools and the ecosystem "surround." Successful platforms, after all, are more than the sum of their parts' propositions. They are not simply a bunch of dis-integrated ingredients.
It took both the telephone and the mobile phone 15 years to amass 100 million users, but Facebook did it in 9 months. We see more and more people becoming connected on online social networks, and it seems our networks are growing exponentially. But the reality is, social networks rarely add to our number of connections. We’ve already met almost all the people we’re connected to on social networks. We’re already connected to these people offline. Social networks simply make the connections visible.
"Brands are dying," we're told. As a result, we hear that branding is no longer relevant. So now, what do we do?
Everyone knows there's a critical difference between Brand imagery and User imagery. A brand's personality tells a story about the product. It tells its target market what to expect. It suggests heritage, quality, flavor, status, effectiveness, attractiveness, service, value, when to use it, where to use it, how to use it, etc. Potent brands create rich pictures in the eye of the consumer. User imagery, on the other hand, generally refers to one of two possibilities.
Advertising agencies and software developers on Friday welcomed Apple’s new iAd network as a potential breakthrough that could give an important boost to the small but fast-growing mobile advertising market. However, they also warned that making ads for iAd would be expensive and it was likely to take some time for Apple to demonstrate it could build a big enough market to make it worthwhile.
It was such a long time ago when AT&T ditched its original Saul Bass logo that the discussion about it happened not on Brand New, but on Speak Up. In 2005. One year before the launch of Brand New and, also of importance, nearly two years before the iPhone launch. All this to say: Has it really been that long? But also: Didn’t this happen, like, yesterday? Either way, a lot has changed for AT&T, having risen as the heaven where the iPhone lives to also being the hell where the iPhone dies in the clogged lines of its 3G network with all of its hope placed in the hands of Luke Wilson. No more. Yesterday, AT&T launched a new brand campaign that introduces the theme of “Rethink Possible” and tries to do what few other companies — like Nike, Target and Apple — can, drop the name from the logo.
It's a sign of the times when The Economist, the house journal of the global business elite, holds a conference in London on 'design thinking' (official Big Rethink site here). Having attended the conference, produced in association with The Design Council and held over 11-12 March, I was left wondering one thing: why is design thinking such a hot topic with business leaders, given that it leaves so many designers cold?
A company shows anxiety on its face — that is, on its Web site, which has become the face of the modern corporation. Visit sites for recently troubled or confused enterprises, including Maclaren, Toyota, Playtex, Tylenol and, yes, John Edwards, and you’ll find a range of digital ways of dealing with distress.
In 1900, an American man could on average expect to live until he was 45 years old. By 1940, that life-expectancy number had jumped to 62 years, while for women the average number increased from 51 years to 66 years. That unprecedented advance in public health was largely the result of the spread of disease-fighting technologies like vaccines, antibiotics and improved sanitation. A similar “very auspicious moment” is at hand in public health, according to Thomas Goetz, executive editor of Wired and author of a new book, “The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine” (Rodale, 2010). This time, the potential revolution in public health, Mr. Goetz said in an interview on Friday, will be led by digital technologies that enable people to live healthier lives and make better treatment decisions.
Mark Rolston is Chief Creative Officer of Frog Design, creating Frog’s digital media group back in 1996. He’s fascinated by the intersection of technology with our perceived reality, and draws on examples from our own lives to illustrate how close we are to fully integrating the two. Big “whoa” factor.
Design, or design thinking, is becoming increasingly popular among management practitioners and scholars. Leading popular magazines like BusinessWeek and Fast Company regularly feature design as an important topic. Many leading business schools around the world incorporate some elements of design as a part of their curriculum. At the same time, leading design schools around world are challenging business schools by providing plausible alternatives to students and recruiters alike.
A little while ago, I wrote about my current class assignment to reinvigorate a brand that is “dead, dying or defunct”. As we are nearing the semester’s end next month, I thought it would be a good time to begin describing the process of this project. The final deliverable is a book, in which we describe the history of our chosen brand (and why it’s time for a update), outline the new identity guidelines (visual standards manuals, usage considerations etc), and show potential extensions (mock ups of storefronts, products, etc). For this process post I’ll describe my brand choice and eventual logo development.
That limited, old-school perception of design is missing out on something important: Today's increasingly complex and multi-faceted marketing campaigns are, in essence, design projects. With the splintering of "old" media and the explosive rise of social networking, marketing messages now are constantly morphing and being reinvented--taking new forms that range from highly innovative viral stunts and films (such as Volkswagen's Fun Theory) to branded social networks (Nike Plus) and even sponsored save-the-world movements (Pepsi)'s "Refresh Everything" project).
It looked like the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Three years ago, Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, jogged onto a San Francisco stage to shake hands with Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, to help him unveil a transformational wonder gadget — the iPhone — before throngs of journalists and adoring fans at the annual MacWorld Expo. Google and Apple had worked together to bring Google’s search and mapping services to the iPhone, the executives told the audience, and Mr. Schmidt joked that the collaboration was so close that the two men should simply merge their companies and call them “AppleGoo.” Today, such warmth is in short supply. Mr. Jobs, Mr. Schmidt and their companies are now engaged in a gritty battle royale over the future and shape of mobile computing and cellphones, with implications that are reverberating across the digital landscape.
Renzo Rosso, the tattooed, Ducati-driving founder of denim giant Diesel, owns some of fashion's most cutting-edge labels. In addition to the popular jeans-maker, Mr. Rosso's holding company, Only the Brave, includes celebrated European fashion houses Viktor & Rolf and Maison Martin Margiela. But Mr. Margiela is gone, as is the designer of Diesel, which Mr. Rosso founded in 1978. Mr. Rosso has replaced them with unknown teams that rank lower in the brands' hierarchy than business executives. The new creative director at Diesel is a magazine editor, not a clothing designer. Mr. Rosso believes his brands need trend-spotters more than someone who can craft a hemline.
Gary Flake demos Pivot, a new way to browse and arrange massive amounts of images and data online. Built on breakthrough Seadragon technology, it enables spectacular zooms in and out of web databases, and the discovery of patterns and links invisible in standard web browsing.
HauteLook, Gilt Groupe, Rue La La and Ideeli are just a few of the members-only sales sites introduced in recent years with offerings of deeply discounted designer apparel and accessories. Now, to the delight of beauty enthusiasts, they have added beauty products and services. With millions of members, growing friend by friend, day by day, the sites offer everything from Botox treatments at a dermatologist to detoxification at a spa. Some industry watchers predict these sites will change the way we shop, but others wonder whether online flash sales are a flash in the pan.
Caribou Coffee, a distant No. 2 in the coffee chain category next to Starbucks, is attempting to bolster its appeal as a branded coffee company by playing down the ski lodge imagery and, yes, the caribou, with a sweeping rebranding. The push, which includes a new logo and print work, comes as the brand attempts to foster a more contemporary, less regional image. With locations in 15 Midwestern and Eastern states, Caribou doesn’t have the national retail footprint of Starbucks and has a fraction of the marketing budget. But it is known for its quality—Consumer Reports ranked it No.1 among java purveyors—and a new management team wants to expand upon that and build a national presence. One way to do that is by rolling out branded ground coffee on other retailers’ shelves. Such sales rose 77 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, per the company. Caribou is now in 7,000 U.S. grocery stores.
Efficiency is a business school idea that suggests a company is running smoothly. It’s absolutely terrific when you’re talking about a coal mining operation or a Supercuts. But when it comes to a company like Yahoo, it’s not a positive. The Internet is still in its wild west days, and the “ready, fire, aim” game plan of Facebook and the other young guns is eating their lunch. Even the massive Google is still trying to shake things up with new and controversial products. Yahoo’s strategy seems more like “ready, aim, aim, aim, aim…”
The wave rolls in every day at noon Manhattan time. It gathers invisibly, out in the digital netherscape. A few minutes before the hour, the online retailer Gilt Groupe blasts out an e-mail, and a hush falls over many a workplace, as phone calls are cut short and spreadsheets minimized. Gilt Groupe is in the business of selling high fashion at deep discounts, and as you might deduce from the company’s name, with its Frenchified “e,” it presents itself as an exclusive club. In reality, that’s just artifice—Gilt is a viral-marketing phenomenon. During the hour after its weekday sales kick off, between noon and 1 p.m., the company claims, its site is visited by an average of roughly 100,000 shoppers. For that time, it might as well be the most crowded store in New York.
Data visualization is cool. It's also becoming ever more useful, as the vibrant online community of data visualizers (programmers, designers, artists, and statisticians — sometimes all in one person) grows and the tools to execute their visions improve. Jeff Clark is part of this community. He, like many data visualization enthusiasts, fell into it after being inspired by pioneer Martin Wattenberg's landmark treemap that visualized the stock market. Clark's latest work shows much promise. He's built four engines that visualize that giant pile of data known as Twitter. All four basically search words used in tweets, then look for relationships to other words or to other Tweeters. They function in almost real time.
Disney, the company that created "the happiest place on earth" and cornered the market on pink, is embracing a darker aesthetic as it reaches out to an unlikely audience for new merchandise: female "goths." In the run-up to the March 5 opening of director Tim Burton's movie "Alice in Wonderland," Walt Disney Co.'s consumer-products division is aiming its marketing firepower at young women and teenage girls, particularly those who gravitate to darkly romantic entertainment like the "Twilight" series.
Even in these tough times, surprising and extraordinary efforts are under way in businesses across the globe. From politics to technology, energy, and transportation; from marketing to retail, health care, and design, each company on the following pages illustrates the power and potential of innovative ideas and creative execution.
It goes without saying that the Great Recession has been a time for companies to pull back and retrench. But the recessionary downswing has also become a remarkable opportunity for re-imagining and reinventing brands. Some marketers have been forced to rethink their brands because of competitive pressures; when things are good, it's easy to put aside the marketer's responsibility to continually re-excite its consumers (and stun gun the competition). Too many marketers leave that quest to Apple, Nike and Marc Jacobs.
The bowls are getting bigger and steamier, but the soup spoons are going away. Those are among the biggest changes Campbell Soup Co. is making in decades to the iconic labels and shelf displays of its condensed soups—the company's biggest single business, with more than $1 billion in sales. The changes—expected to be announced Wednesday—will culminate a two-year effort by Campbell to figure out how to get consumers to buy more soup. Condensed soup has been a slow-growing category in which budget-conscious consumers have little tolerance for price increases.
No one has seen more changes to the MTV brand than Judy McGrath. The CEO of MTV Networks started with the network in 1981 as a copywriter and eventually ascended the ranks to her current position in 2004, where she has seen many different iterations of the network and its programming even as fellow pioneering executives such as Tom Freston and Robert Pittman have come and gone. One of those changes came as recently as last week, when MTV unveiled the first major on-air update to its logo in its 28-year history. The redesign was met with mixed reaction. "I don't think what they did is wrong," George Lois, creator of the network's historic "I want my MTV" campaign, told Ad Age. "I think what they did is strategic. And it just proves to me that MTV is dead."
Daring Fireball's John Gruber — a Drexel University computer major turned professional blogger — is perhaps the most forceful and articulate defender on the Web of all things Apple (AAPL). He came to Macworld Expo 2010, however, not to praise the company but to probe its vulnerabilities.
As soon as Buzz was announced — before I could try it — I tried to intuit its goals and I found profound opportunities. Now that I’ve tried it, reality and opportunity a fer piece apart. It’s awkward. I’d thought that I had wanted Twitter to be threaded but I was wrong; the simplest point quickly passes into an overdose of add-ons. Worse, Google didn’t think through critical issues of privacy — and it only gets worse (via danah boyd). I won’t go as far as Steve Rubel and some others, who instantly declared Buzz DOA; there is the essence of something important here (which I think will come out in mobile more than the web). But there’s no question: Buzz has kinks.
Toyota’s recalls and disclosures in recent months are part of a lengthy pattern in which the automaker has often reacted slowly to safety concerns, in some instances making design changes without telling customers about problems with vehicles already on the road, an examination of its record shows.
The frequent question asked of the design community is of its value to business. The query itself makes little sense. Quite simply, the role of designers has always been to translate and communicate the value of a business idea to consumers. The best designers can do far more—they can help companies connect and establish a dialogue with consumers, thus enabling firms to innovate more efficiently. The challenge for most corporations today is about how to innovate while mitigating risk. For consumers, choices are made by balancing the need for evolution with the force of habit. Designers are trained to understand how people think and how to make things. For this reason, there are four basic areas in which design has an important role to play in value creation.
When I picked up my iPhone over the weekend, I had an epiphany. I was using the LinkedIn app to confirm an invitation to connect, and it hit me: This is the future of mobile computing, the mobile web — the mobile experience. No, I’m not saying the LinkedIn app is the future per se (that’d be silly), but rather the overall concept of it. The LinkedIn iPhone app is, in my opinion, better than the actual LinkedIn.com website. Same goes for the Facebook app compared to Facebook.com. Gone are their busy, tab-infested UIs. In their stead are beautiful bubbly icons screaming “Touch me!” We no longer have to squint or click around in search of the feature we’re trying to access: The button is right there in that simple interface for us to tap. The Facebook and Linkedin apps are two key examples of popular services whose iPhone apps outdid the websites they were trying to “port.” They’re two gems glistening brightly for the future of mobile.
The door of a dry-cleaner-size storefront in an industrial park in Wareham, Massachusetts, an hour south of Boston, might not look like a portal to the future of American manufacturing, but it is. This is the headquarters of Local Motors, the first open source car company to reach production. Step inside and the office reveals itself as a mind-blowing example of the power of micro-factories.
As Toyota’s problems mounted in North America with the announcement of a halt to sales and manufacturing of the bulk of its cars, commentators in Japan fretted Wednesday that the automaker’s problems could seriously hurt the reputation of the rest of Japan’s manufacturing sector. “Toyota’s reputation for safety is in tatters, and it is inevitable that its image among consumers will suffer,” the Sankei Shimbun daily said.
As we wanted to keep things straightforward and hands-on this month, we're highlighting "FUNCTIONALL". Which is all about a new breed of products that are simple, small and/or cheap (with a dash of sustainability), giving them global appeal, from India to Sweden. Now, if that doesn't warrant a brainstorming session...
When it comes to innovation, many executives in the consumer goods industry are chasing Apple. Who can blame them? While most retailers spent the holiday season slashing prices, Apple reported record earnings by enchanting audiences with iPhones. Now, as retailers try to re-engage consumers this year, executives are trying to replicate the "Apple thrill." But focusing exclusively on product innovation is a mistake for most companies, say executives who gathered recently at Berglass + Associates, my company, to discuss innovation.
Steve Jobs is walking the same path as Walt Disney. As soon as California’s Disneyland was completed, Walt knew he had made a terrible mistake by not securing the surrounding real estate. He had built this wonderful destination but his oversight allowed hotel chains and restaurants to come in and make more money off his customers than he did. So Walt immediately went to Orlando, FL and built Disneyworld the right way. The moral of the story is that Steve Jobs is not someone you want to depend on for your livelihood. His goal is to build a closed digital neighborhood where Apple (AAPL) controls who makes money and who doesn’t. I'll bet that in one of those Apple board meetings that Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt used to attend, he realized that Jobs was on the verge of building AppleWorld and he's been scared ever since.
With the new tablet device that is debuting next week, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs is betting he can reshape businesses like textbooks, newspapers and television much the way his iPod revamped the music industry—and expand Apple's influence and revenue as a content middleman. In developing the device, Apple focused on the role the gadget could play in homes and in classrooms, say people familiar with the situation. The company envisions that the tablet can be shared by multiple family members to read news and check email in homes, these people say.
Your iPhone operates by the touch of your fingers. Why not your car? Auto makers are starting to roll out a new generation of dashboard technology that substitutes touch-sensitive pads and displays for knobs and switches and videogame-style graphics for drab two-dimensional displays. Technology created to power games, mobile phones and computer displays is now being adapted—and often significantly improved—for those two-ton hand-held devices that come with four tires and leather seats.
If you’re a businessperson or someone interested in understanding how to facilitate innovation, you’ve probably heard of “design thinking” by now. Coined by IDEO’s David Kelley, the term refers to a set of principles, from mindset to process, that can be applied to solve complex problems.
Most of the marketing rules we lived by just five years ago are practically obsolete. The industry has faced more changes in the last five years than in the previous 50. Let's face it, there's no point in improving broken legacy models. Since necessity is the mother of invention, let's not waste this recession and instead use it to rethink how we go about branding in this new decade.
In the midst of every marketing meeting, there comes that point where the entire room leans forward in their seats. The tension heightens. There's an almost palpable sense of voyeurism; everyone strains toward the reveal of that titillating morsel that represents insider access. And the question is asked: "So, what's the consumer insight?" The strategist slowly rises and says, "We always knew that the consumers say this, but did you know that they really do this?" Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's shock and awe time. As a planner at heart, that's my bread and butter. What this very authentic example of consumer-insight fetishism raises is the question of what to do when your brand represents one thing but consumers are searching for another. Said differently, what can be done when your brand marketing becomes more about reflecting the reality of your consumers and less about your brand's aspirational identity? To keep your unique brand-driven narrative alive and prevent it from turning into a slow-moving episode of "60 Minutes," there are a few things that I believe every marketer should strive to do.
So Google's got a new phone now. Internet coverage is predictably hyperbolic, though Scott Anthony smartly puts the phone's potential to make waves into the future tense, and the New York Times' typically giddy David Pogue was downright snarky in his review. Nevertheless, the tech industry is atwitter with a fresh new rivalry. Mac versus PC is so last decade. Now, it's "Hello I'm an iPhone." "And I'm a Nexus One." I vote for Rainn Wilson playing Google in the commercials.
When it comes to rebrands, few were more ridiculed in 2009 than the Sci Fi Channel's much-ballyhooed switch to Syfy, a respelling that prompted an outcry of negative feedback from hardcore fans and marketing gurus alike (including our very own Adages, which asked, "Is Arnell involved in this somehow?") But unlike the ill-fated redesign of the Tropicana logo that Peter Arnell oversaw last February and that Pepsico eventually pulled, the switch to Syfy is so far a success, with the network logging its highest-rated year, quarter (fourth) and series ("Warehouse 13") ever after its July 7 rebranding. The newfound ratings momentum also seems to have had a halo effect on its ad dollars, which were already up to $264.8 million by November 2009. That means the network is on track to surpass the $274.9 million logged in measured ad spending it recorded for all of 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
At year’s end, I have an unhappy thought, that some of the creative professionals who rose to prominence in the first decade of the 21st century will be eclipsed by the end of the decade coming, that the first decade of the 21st century will be, for some creative professionals, a brief moment in the sun. This suspicion turns on three propositions.
Every address, every building, every business has a story to tell. Visualize your world that way: Look at a restaurant and think about all the data that already swirls around it — its menu, its reviews and ratings and tags (descriptive words), its recipes, its ingredients, its suppliers (and how far away they are, if you care about that sort of thing), its reservation openings, who has been there (according to social applications), who do we know who has been there, its health-department reports, its credit-card data (in aggregate, of course), pictures of its interior, pictures of its food, its wine list, the history of the location, its decibel rating, its news… And then think how we can annotate that with our own reviews, ratings, photos, videos, social-app check-ins and relationships, news, discussion, calendar entries, orders…. The same can be said of objects, brands — and people.
Last time there was this much excitement about a tablet, it had some commandments written on it. A blizzard of speculation is building over Apple's as-yet-unconfirmed release of a tablet computer. Among other things, the tablet is expected to offer e-books and TV programs. Apple has been trying to get TV networks to license their programming for a subscription service planned as part of a revamp of iTunes, presumably with the tablet in mind.
Google will start the new year with a mobile product announcement, setting the stage for what is turning into a showdown with its former ally Apple over mobile computing devices. The search group revealed earlier this month that it had issued employees with a mobile device to test, though it did not give details. On Tuesday it disclosed that it would hold an event at its headquarters in Silicon Valley next Tuesday for a mobile announcement, prompting speculation that the device would be unveiled.
Not everyone thought it was adorable in September when a 13-year-old wunderkind blogger named Tavi was given a front-row seat at the fashion shows of Marc Jacobs, Rodarte and others. Oh now, don’t misunderstand. She was totally adorable. You could have gobbled her up, with her goofy spark plug style — a Peggy Guggenheim for the Tweeting tween set. Rather, it was what the arrival of Ms. Gevinson, as a blogger, represented that ruffled feathers among the fashion elite.
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Mark Twain Remember that quote. In 2010 the very best marketers, PR professionals, and social media consultants will put data at the center of everything they do. For anyone unfamiliar with these concepts, just as with social media, data marketing may seem opaque or intimidating at the beginning. The only way you ever learn is by jumping in headfirst — become a data nerd, because data nerds are changing the world.
Apple has something big up its sleeve for next month. The company has rented a stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco for several days in late January, according to people familiar with the plans. Apple is expected to use the venue to make a major product announcement on Tuesday, January 26th. Both YBCA and Apple declined to comment.
In 2007 Steve Jobs launched the iPhone with a fanfare of fiery rhetoric. The iPhone, Apple's chief executive claimed, was three "revolutionary" devices in one. Combining a touch-controlled iPod media player, a phone and an "internet communicator", the iPhone was "a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any mobile device has ever been". In contrast, when Mr Jobs introduced the App store a little less than 18 months ago, his vocabulary was considerably more muted.
How designers can influence behavior—and why they should.
Emily Pilloton is the founder and executive director of Project H Design, a nonprofit that aims to change the world through the power of design. Her recent book, Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People, is available now from Metropolis Books. Here, Pilloton gives the lowdown on 25 of the products she chose to feature.
Gone are the days of relying solely on boasts about towing capacities and horsepower to move the metal. Ford and Chevy dealers soon will start talking more about fuel economy and iPod outlets as the companies roll out new compact and subcompact cars.
Ford Motor Co., betting that U.S. drivers will embrace small cars with the amenities of larger models, is preparing to resume building subcompacts in North America for the first time since ending the Pinto in 1980. The domestic version of Ford's (F) new Fiesta was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Tuesday, Dec. 2. It will feature seven air bags and voice-activated audio controls to help win buyers who might snub diminutive cars with substantial prices.
AOL is putting the finishing touches on a high-tech system for mass-producing news articles, entertainment and other online content, the linchpin of Chief Executive Tim Armstrong's strategy for reviving the struggling 25-year-old Internet company after Time Warner spins it off next month. Mr. Armstrong's goal is to make AOL, which has been losing visitors and revenue, a magnet for both advertisers and consumers by turning it into the top creator of digital content. He hopes to do so in part by turning some media and marketing conventions on their ear, and potentially blurring the lines between journalism and advertising.
It is no secret that the real world in which the designer functions is not the world of art, but the world of buying and selling. For sales, and not design are the raison d’etre of any business organization. Unlike the salesman, however, the designer’s overriding motivation is art: art in the service of business, art that enhances the quality of life and deepens appreciation of the familiar world. Design is a problem-solving activity. It provides a means of clarifying, synthesizing, and dramatizing a word, a picture, a product, or an event. A serious barrier to the realization of good design, however, are the layers of management inherent in any bureaucratic structure. For aside from the sheer prejudice or simple unawareness, one is apt to encounter such absurdities as second guessing, kow-towing, posturing, nit-picking, and jockeying for position, let alone such buck-passing institutions as the committee meeting and the task force. At issue, it seems, is neither malevolence nor stupidity, but human frailty.
Some 300 attendees gathered at the Saatchi Gallery last week for Ad Age sibling Creativity's technology conference, Creativity and Technology, were treated to musings on bleeding-edge digital communication from Europe's top talent in advertising, technology and design. Speakers ranged from agency creatives and technologists to writers such as Adam Greenfield, author of "Everyware" and head of design direction at Nokia. Here are a eight takeaways from the conference if you missed it.
If you put an energy meter inside a home and show people total usage in real time, a miraculous thing happens: they use about 10 percent less energy. The simple act of placing data in front of people changes their behavior. Data makes people smarter and inspires them to make small changes to save money and energy. You can use this powerful tool in business not only to cut costs, but to drive innovation and revenues.
Design thinking translates rigorous trend research into meaningful experiences that lead markets and foster brand loyalty instead of merely following the cult of now. Blue may be the new green, but how is that relevant to an industry, a brand and the evolving desires of its customers? Times and trends can change so quickly that a campaign, product or service can be rendered irrelevant by the time it gets to market.
The good news: data from governments and other organizations is increasingly open and online. The bad news: it's rather dull. The result? A booming interest in data visualization, which can transform boring stats into compelling graphical presentations explaining our world. "Institutions, governments and companies more and more are releasing and making publicly available their own data sets," notes Manuel Lima, an interaction designer and data visualization expert. But while "we are collecting data like maniacs," he adds, "our ability to gather data is much greater than our ability to make sense of that data."
“Volkswagen is really down-to-earth.” “Nike is exiting.” These examples show that consumers use personality traits when they communicate about brands among each other. Brand personality is the set of personality traits that consumers associated with a brand. Brand personality is related to human personality theory that explains human behavior and preferences on the basis of personality traits. Personality traits are distinguishing characteristics of a person. They are a readiness to think or act in a similar fashion in response to a variety of different stimuli or situations. So, the traits of a person define behaviour to a large extent and consistent over time: an extravert person will behave in an extravert way, while an introvert person will most of the time behave in an introvert way. The value of human personality is found in the potency of the model to forecast human behavior. If a person is introvert he or she can be expected to behave in this way most of the time. Next, personality steers preference. For example women prefer more than men people who show higher levels of socially desirable traits. Brands, like people, can use the potency of personality.
Collaborative design methods play a key role in aligning team members towards a shared and strategic project vision. In this article we describe how user stories stimulate and facilitate discussion and decision making with clients in the development of a User Experience Strategy. In our context (the development of online projects) the User Experience Strategy becomes an ‘in principle agreement’ on the shape of the project (what), its purpose (why), and provides potential implementation strategies (how). It takes into account all perspectives (e.g business, technical, marketing, brand) but privileges the intended user experience.
What if the magazine article of the future, the album of the future, and the novel of the future are all the same thing? And what if they’re all events? Start here: TED is one of the surprise media successes of the last few years, but not by chance. Their insight was that a conference can be a machine for making media—media that can build a big audience on the web. They invested in media production, and it paid off. But TED is just a starting point. They’ve done a remarkable job, but—this always happens—it’s almost too big at this point. Too homogenizing. You could squint your eyes and recognize a TED talk by its red-blue glow. And—snark aside—it has a real weakness.
At GE, P&G, and other companies, a design perspective is a problem-solving apparatus that can be applied companywide.
It's the hot design company hired by Apple to create its first mouse, (and by Microsoft to create its second), by the Post Office to rework the postbox, by Muji to create its wall-mounted CD player and by Procter & Gamble to reinvent toothpaste tubes. It made the Nokia N-gage, the Palm V and the Head Airflow tennis racquet. Now IDEO is being retained by Barack Obama's White House to help to reinvigorate the American civil service; by the government of Iceland to help the country to innovate its way out of financial crisis; and by the Kellogg Foundation to reinvent education. It might seem bizarre that a company used to designing products is now solving country-sized problems, but it all comes down to the technique it pioneered and preached to its clients. It calls this philosophy "design thinking".
Isn’t all design a service to someone? Perhaps that can be debated. But currently the service design genre is receiving considerable attention and achieving currency. When Phi-Hong D. Ha, an interaction design and strategy consultant, was asked what is meant by “service” in today’s design world, she responded, “Service design is a collaborative process of researching, planning and realizing the experiences that happen over time and over multiple touch points with a customer’s experience.” And according to Liz Danzico, chair of the School of Visual Arts’ new MFA Interaction Design program, “Service design looks at customer needs and experiences in a holistic way.” Yet many service designers in the United States do not call themselves Service Designers. Much of the work done in this area is still referred to as “customer experience” or “user experience.” This is where Ha enters the arena.
In this thoughtful analysis, Roberto Saco and Alexis Goncalves map the landscape of service design. They define the discipline and key players, and sketch its potential vis-à-vis growth and profitability. Saco and Goncalves elaborate on the multi-faceted realities of this work with examples from the Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Herman Miller, and Egg Banking. And they wrap things up with a discussion of key principles related to practice.
We’ve collected the thoughts of 30 of the world’s most inspired creative professionals. Architects, designers, authors and leaders of iconic brands. We asked them two questions: “What single example of design inspires you most?” and “What problem should design solve next?” Their answers might surprise you. But hopefully, they’ll all inspire you. Discover what they have to say. Then share your thoughts. After all, this is a conversation. We’d love for you to join.
How many design icons were developed based on consumers' stated needs? We've researched this question, and think we've found the answer: none. Celebrated examples such as the iPod, Walkman, Dyson Cyclone, Formway Lifechair and Fisher and Paykel Dishdrawer all have one thing in common-a strong team of designers who ignored focus groups and ended up shaping markets to their advantage. Although it's tempting to attribute this success to lone genius, analysis reveals that these products are underpinned by design-led cultures.
What's the difference between personalization and customization? Are consumers really in control? Do brands (and designers) want them to be? Nick de la Mare considers curation and the myth and reality of control.
Whenever I see a business magazine glow about design thinking, as BusinessWeek has done recently with this special report, and which Harvard Business Review did last year it gets my dander up. Not because I don't see the value of design (I started a company dedicated to experience design), but because the discussion in such articles is inevitably so fetishistic, and sadly limited. Design thinking is trotted out as a salve for businesses who need help with innovation. The idea is that the left-brained, MBA-trained, spreadsheet-driven crowd has squeezed all the value they can out of their methods. To fix things, all you need to do is apply some right-brained turtleneck-wearing "creatives," "ideating" tons of concepts and creating new opportunities for value out of whole cloth.
We are all consumers. As we continue to gain a deeper understanding of the impacts of global growth, it has become clear that our consumption-centric lifestyle has challenged our planet's ability to support us. Recent market meltdowns, regulatory limitations on off-shore manufacturing, and the social and environmental impacts of a consumption-oriented economic model has given rise to a challenge -- does our economy need to be focused solely on spurring consumption in order to survive? The answer is a resounding no.
A few months ago, I sat with John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple, who described Steve Jobs' primary design principle: "Not what you can add, but what you can remove." It reminded me of the first law I outlined in my book The Laws of Simplicity, that, "The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction." This philosophy runs counter to a typical tech company's approach, where the goal is always to upgrade and add as opposed to subtract. It's true, for the consumer to pay more and get less defies conventional wisdom and seems to contradict economic principles. But simplified technology doesn't necessarily mean less functionality. Apple products aren't simple technologies by any stretch, but there is a beautiful simplicity to them.
Meet the man with a nearly uncontainable design challenge: making Coke even bigger (and staying ahead of Pepsi).
Finding patterns is what Elizabeth F. Churchill does. Patterns that underlie human behaviour and can point to what certain people might want to use their mobile phones for or how they might go about finding a friend online. A psychologist by training with a PhD in cognitive science from the University of Cambridge, Churchill has specialized in observing people and the way they interact with technology for 15 years now.
This is Cambridge, Massachusetts, one rainy autumn afternoon in 2005. Fantastic? Or totally spectacular? You be the judge. It was created by Burak Arikan and Ben Dalton at MIT's Media Lab. It designed to show the color of clothing in motion in the many neighborhoods that make up Cambridge. Arikan and Dalton rigged up cameras, capture color data and converted it to this astonishingly useful piece of data visualization. To be fair, Cambridge is not the most fashion forward place in the world. Indeed, I have seen people on the MIT campus who look as if they just walked out of explosion at Goodwill. I'm not talking hipster refusal of mainstream fashion. I'm talking completely random. This is a wonderful thing from an anthropological point of view but somewhat at odds with the clothing conventions that rule our world. So the Chief Culture Officer may not care about these data as data. The Arikan-Dalton visualization will matter more as proof of concept.
For decades, companies from Cisco Systems to Staples to Bank of America have worked to embed the basic techniques of Six Sigma, the business approach that relies on measurement and analysis to make operations as efficient as possible. More recently, in the last 5 to 10 years, they have been told they must master a new set of skills known as “design thinking.” Aiming to help companies innovate, design thinking starts with an intense focus on understanding real problems customers face in their day-to-day lives — often using techniques derived from ethnographers — and then entertains a range of possible solutions.
Organizations are tenuous phenomena; they can fall apart at any time. To navigate the landscape of organizational culture interaction designers need a set of practical tools, language & knowledge drawn from the world of cultural anthropology. It’s happened to all of us. We walk into what we think is a Web redesign project, only to find we have unwittingly ignited the fires of WW III in our client’s organization. What begins as a simple design project descends – quickly – into an intra-organizational battle, with the unprepared interaction designer caught in the crossfire. What is it about design projects that seem to attract such power struggles? Contrary to what you might think, being stuck in the middle of an internecine battle is actually an opportunity to effect meaningful change on your client’s organization.
In reality a product is all about the experience. It is about discovery, purchase, anticipation, opening the package, the very first usage. It is also about continued usage, learning, the need for assistance, updating, maintenance, supplies, and eventual renewal in the form of disposal or exchange. Most companies treat every stage as a different process, done by a different division of the company: R&D, manufacturing, packaging, sales, and then as a necessary afterthought, service. As a result there is seldom any coherence. Instead, there are contradictions. If you think of the product as a service, then the separate parts make no sense - the point of a product is to offer great experiences to its owner, which means that it offers a service. And that experience, that service, comprises the totality of its parts: The whole is indeed made up of all of the parts. The real value of a product consists of far more than the product’s components.
As the global economy emerges from recession, regardless of when or how quickly, the focus in the executive suite is already shifting from cost cutting to recovering top-line growth. What role can the CMO play? If CMOs are truly to be growth champions for their corporations, they can't simply rely on traditional marketing and brand-building techniques. In nearly a decade of research, my colleagues and I have found that established companies increasingly are successfully building new businesses on a repeated basis, a process we call corporate entrepreneurship. Marketing -- true marketing, not just selling the story but helping create it -- must play a central role. True marketing is about understanding current and potential customers better than anyone else, translating those insights into powerful new offerings and experiences, and creating ever more effective and efficient paths to market. In other words, marketers must design new businesses, rather than just launch new products.
Rapid commoditization of products. Jaded consumers. A tough economy that has changed customers’ spending habits. Perhaps permanently. How can a consumer product company grow, or even survive in this new paradigm? I’ve been mulling this over for a while and it seems to me that it’s time to become “disruptive.” Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen coined the phrase “disruptive technology” in his 1997 bestseller The Innovator’s Dilemma. The concept has been widely discussed ever since. Christensen’s argument states there are two kinds of companies: those that use sustaining technologies and those that employ disruptive ones.
When consumers make purchase decisions, they're spending anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds - according to surveys and research conducted by consumer behavior experts. Studies show that consumers ignore up to two-thirds of category products when they shop. That kind of statistic points to just how difficult it is to successfully package products. And clearly demonstrates why so many products fail at retail.
It's ugly. It's not proactive. It turns a deaf ear, a blind eye, and a snubby nose to investors. And it looks upon advertising as if it were as appropriate as an anchor tattoo on the Pope's forehead. In sum, suggests Gary Wolf in the latest issue of Wired, Craigslist is a mess. A horrible mess. An embarrassing mess. A willful mess in which its principals rake in money while its principles seem to revolve around some weirdly benign view of human goodness.
When A.G. Lafley was named CEO of Procter & Gamble during the summer of 2000, the task of turning the organization around looked overwhelming. The price of a share in the consumer packaged goods giant had declined by nearly 55% in just two months. The company was missing revenue and profit targets as it learned to grapple with the Internet and new global competitors. To remain the world's preeminent maker of useful stuff for the house, P&G needed to make a lot of changes very quickly. Lafley saw design as being central to P&G's transformation. Design promised to unleash the creativity of the organization and find new ways to unlock value that a marketing-driven company might not have discovered.
At the intersection of art and algorithm, data visualization schematically abstracts information to bring about a deeper understanding of the data, wrapping it in an element of awe. While the practice of visually representing information is arguably the foundation of all design, a newfound fascination with data visualization has been emerging.
We all know what our customers want. We’re confident that we understand the problem. We look at reams of marketing reports. We conduct the focus groups. We survey them. We have plenty of data. Guess what? It’s not enough. Data can only indicate facts.
When what you teach and develop every day has the title “Innovation” attached to it, you reach a point where you tire of hearing about Apple. Without question, nearly everyone believes the equation Apple = Innovation is a fundamental truth. Discover what makes them different.
In nearly every conference room across the business landscape it's inevitable that at some point the phrase "social media" enters the discussion. Marketers, PR and salespeople are among the first to engage in the discussions, trying to figure how networks can be leveraged to sell more stuff. But I'd like to propose another way to approach the topic. What if we looked at "social media" as a design problem?
Few concepts in business have been as popular and appealing in recent years as the emerging discipline of “open innovation.” The overarching notion is that the Internet opens the door to a new world of democratic idea generation and collaborative production. Early triumphs like the Linux operating system and the Wikipedia Web encyclopedia are seen as harbingers. But a look at recent cases and new research suggests that open-innovation models succeed only when carefully designed for a particular task and when the incentives are tailored to attract the most effective collaborators.
These are austere times, but the logos recently loaded onto Logo Lounge.com–nearly 35,000 since 2008 – certainly do not reflect it, writes Bill Gardner. And that is how it should be. Wary homage may be paid to marketing in lean times, but not to identity design. These are two wholly different efforts with different goals. Identities should set a long-term course for clients, not fall into the pits carved out by economic phases. Our seventh annual logo trend report, as always, is as much a forecast as it is a study of the past 12 months. The past informs the future, and the recent past has such momentum that designers would be well-advised to stay this course, even when clients are only maintaining the brands they have, not creating new ones. Business may be slow, but it does not have to be dull.
Since the video game console industry began with the Atari 2600, every successive generation has been touted for its better graphics, faster processors, and increasingly complex controls. In 2005, when the latest generation of consoles was first announced, many assumed Sony's Playstation 3, which had the boldest specs, would prevail, following on the monster success of the Playstation 2. As it turns out, Nintendo's Wii has been the runaway success.
As a concept, American design is very tangible. It's unapologetic. It's a roll-up-your-sleeves and get your hands dirty, "show me" sort of design. American designers, engineers, entrepreneurs and inventors alike feast off an American license to create what's next. It's the boldness of a Corvette or Mustang plus their afterlife hot rod modifications. It's Jobs' confidence to create Apple's Mac, iPhone & iPod. It's Jack O'Neill making his first wet suit so he could surf in cold NorCal waters. It's the Yahoo! or Google boys living on air in college and then creating empires from their hard work.
At the Aspen Ideas Festival this week, Andrew Sullivan said, “Journalism has become too much about journalists.” True. It’s not just that newspapers are covering their own demise as thoroughly as Michael Jackson’s. This is about the mythology that news needs newspapers – that without them, it’s not news.
This is a time to ask questions. Not small questions but big, fundamental questions. What role did Design play in contributing to our current global crisis? And what role should/will Designers play in leading us out of this mess? The gloves have come off over the last few months with a raft of posts by influential design thinkers questioning the impact of Innovation and Design Thinking, two of the most fashionable elements of contemporary design practice, on business practices.
I’m sure you’ve heard the definition of madness: Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. But have you heard of the "First Rule of Holes?” When you’re in one, stop digging! I see it all the time. Organizations are lost, but they’re making really good time. Ask yourself, and really think about it: Is my organization producing the growth in customers, members, revenues, donations, profits, etc. that it is designed to produce? Like it or not your answer has to be “yes,” because the design determines the results.
Edward Tufte combines a policy wonk's love of data with an artist's eye for beauty and a PR maestro's knack for promotion.
I've been thinking a lot recently about the growing popularity and potential of interactive data visualizations as feedback mechanisms on the world around us. Over the past few weeks, I've had the pleasure of talking with two talented designers who are both well-steeped in the information visualization space about why we're starting to see more of them and where they see it all going.
As the focus of design shifts from the production of finite goods to a practice of experimentation, ideas take precedence over products.
Design thinking is currently an "It" concept, the topic of countless books and blogs and conference panels. While it can mean a lot of different things to different people, for me, design thinking is a methodology, a tool, a killer app, and a problem-solving protocol to be used on virtually any problem. It can be equally effective in designing a new product or creating a new brand, to envisioning a new approach to health care or to reinventing city management. Mayor Daley in Chicago, where I live, is a pretty effective design thinker. That's right, Mayor Daley.
There are no rules about creativity. Which made constructing our list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business a tricky task. We looked for dazzling new thinkers, rising stars, and boldface names who couldn't be ignored. We avoided people we've profiled in the recent past. We emphasized those whose creativity addresses a larger issue -- from the future of our energy infrastructure to the evolution of philanthropy to next-generation media and entertainment. So read on. Enjoy. Quibble. Complain.
As books make the leap from cellulose and ink to electronic pages, some editors worry that too much is being lost in translation. Typography, layout, illustrations and carefully thought-out covers are all being reduced to a uniform, black-on-gray template that looks the same whether you’re reading Pride and Prejudice, Twilight or the Federalist Papers.
Everything is information and information is everything. It’s the mantra of marketing in an age where people are constantly creating collectible data—all the things we do, say, use, buy, click and share are data points in the graphs of our lives. But in an increasingly visual society, pie charts and bar charts can’t begin to do justice to this wealth of information there is to digest now. Data visualization tools are helping to change the ways we look at information and audiences.
Can a company blunt its innovation edge if it listens to its customers too closely? Can its products become dull if they are tailored to match exactly what users say they want? These questions surfaced recently when Douglas Bowman, a top visual designer, left Google.
Is understanding the selfless behavior of ants, bees, and wasps the key to a new evolutionary synthesis?
By thinking outside the parameters imposed by technology, executives and designers can build businesses by creating an experience that truly resonates.
For marketers and publishers of the social Web, design matters. Creative matters. Ideas matter. It is true that properly utilized data can drive better decision making, but it is also true that all the data in the world doesn't create innovation without interpretation, and data doesn't always lead to great design (especially when the data is about the wrong thing -- clicks, anyone?).
Everyone's (or no one's) favorite redesigned brands, Tropicana and Facebook, came up yet again at this weekend's Y Conference as Liz Danzico, chair of the new Interaction Design MFA program at the School of Visual Arts, focused on the concept of "designing in real time." She thinks redesign recalls are about to get a lot more common as designers are more likely to launch alpha or beta versions of experiences and then monitor user behavior to get feedback.
In a simpler time, design wasn't harsher than a mixed-martial arts event. In the olden days, say three years ago, companies would order their new logos and new-and-improved packaging from their design fortresses on high, and the lowly customers below would quietly accept the blobby, 3D-textured versions of once-beloved logos without complaint. No more, of course.
Life today can be complicated. The accelerating pace of innovation, ideas and technology, and the pressure to keep up with it all in real time can make just getting by quite an effort. So, people don’t have the time or attention to go out of their way to understand things that are confusing. In fact, the more complicated something is, the greater the need for simpler ways of understanding it.
Alberto Alessi, head of his family’s iconic design factory, talks about how to sustain innovation over decades—and why companies should take more risk.
Several groups, ranging from economists and bioengineers to Christian creationists, have claimed the word "design" as their own. They might have an etymological right to do so, but they also contribute to the ambiguity surrounding one of the most important and least studied fields of human applied creativity, the process of making things for other people. From chairs to interfaces, from food-delivery trucks to conceptual scenarios on the impact of nanotechnology - design takes into account people's needs and concerns, helping them live better within the broad context of the world.
The smell of ramen noodles wafts over the Stanford d.school classroom as David Kelley settles into an oversize red leather armchair for a fireside chat with new students. It's 80 degrees and sunny outside in Palo Alto, and as the flames flicker merrily on the big computer screen behind him, Kelley, founder of both the d.school and the global design consultancy Ideo, introduces his grad students to what "design thinking" -- the methodology he made famous and the motivating idea behind the school -- is all about. Today's task: Design a better ramen experience.
How does design respond to a bleak economic landscape? Philippe Starck, Sir Terence Conran and Kirstie Allsopp debate the future of their industries in these lean times.
Few of the arts benefited from the late economic boom more than design. After all, when the wealth is flowing, people don’t covet the concerts you see or the books you read. They covet the couch you bought, and then they buy a cooler one.
I have been asked several times of late whether managers (and management students) should be expected to invest in design and design thinking during an economic downturn. There are at least two kinds of answers to this question.
In a way, there’s something kind of cool about a company that changes its logo every decade or so: Each new logo is like a cultural milestone - a snapshot if you will, of that decade’s graphic flavor, and how tastes change over time. But I guess once you get past the cool time capsule thing, you kind of have to wonder: Has each change in logo actually resulted in some kind of benefit for the Pepsi Cola company?a