Posts filed under ‘design’

Yes, MINI can.

My buddies over at Kreative Konzeption, who are behind the site pulled a nice one: with their campaign claim “Creative Use of Space,” which has been running primarily in the digital space and initiates and supports collaborative design/architecture efforts all over the world, is a participative design platform that has garnered celeb appearances in the past, but mainly for the partying part. Now Minispace got coverage for a surprise visit by Obama to one of the design projects: a DC homeless shelter project.

Check out Minispace. It’s a great case study for any brand wanting to engage in acts, not ads. It redefines what brands have to do in the future in order to exist with a human reason for being.


January 26, 2009 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

How brands can learn from people’s crisis coping strategies

OMG, another crisis-related blog entry?

To be honest, I don’t know what’s worse: the crisis or people talking about it constantly. Which is why I thought, how do people cope? And, what could brands do?

Whatever the crisis, usually it follows this well-known process.


What’s interesting here is really the area of coping, because this is a) the phase that usually takes the longest b) is the most visible character building one and c) for our purposes probably the place were brand can play a role. What’s more inspiring that people that master a crisis? Without crisis, there are no heros. And, boy, don’t we love heros?

However, most brands and the companies behind them are still struggling with the crisis themselves, and, in a way are still coming up with their coping strategies. As usual, the bigger they are, the longer it takes. But the biggest ones are the ones that  people are waiting to hear from, and the ones that could make the biggest qualitative difference in people’s lives. In other words: it’s nice when my local restaurant is offering me a recession burger, but what if someone could do more?

More interesting therefore are the different coping strategies people adopt, and, this is the theory, brands adopt as well.

Coping strategies

1. Rejection of reality:

This essentially means you stay in lethargic denial, and invent ways of pretending none of it, or certain aspects of the crisis aren’t happening. You see the crisis, but you are too paralysed and uninspired to actually convert the crisis into something new. If anything, you’re just hoping it’s a bad dream.

One great example for this are financial institutions. Not only are they faced with utter loss of trust, but they also stand for a failed system who got us into this mess. So, what do most of them do?

They run the same advertising as before the crisis, promising the same stuff that is now proven to be a pipe-dream.

Bad idea.

2. Regression to previous behavioral patterns, ego-centricity:

Instead of looking at the crisis dead-on, you use your arsenal of previous crisis coping strategies to distract yourself from it. This is visible in the typical “après-nous-la-deluge” behavior, where people buy that expensive car and caviar in a egocentric spiteful hatred of the world at large. It’s a reaction to having become a victim and not wanting to be one and showing the world: “hey, buzz off. I am doing good, let’s get a drink on.” I am reminded of the pink-slip parties of the first dotcom crash.

To some degree this helps, as you are less likely to get mired in total lethargy and inaction which makes your more likely to stumble upon new opportunities. Finding a way to  celebrate a crisis can be therapeutic. Problem is, it might make you feel better, but doesn’t address any of the systemic issues in the long-run. You are setting yourself up for a bigger crisis in the end. And how long can you sustain a regime of Louis XIV type partying while there is a revolution going on? The chopping block is waiting, and they don’t even serve you a drink there. This kind of reaction can be seen in the luxury brand segment. Things are getting more expensive, not less, due to the crisis.

3. Acceptance of reality

This coping strategy is characterized by a feeling of letting go, looking for new avenues, infomation, new strategic partnerships in your life, and by a sense that “hey, there is some good sides to this crisis”. Maybe the crisis even helps in re-orienting yourself and questioning the values that might have brought you into this crisis into the first place. It’s like “Well, it’s not business as usual, but business as usual wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be anyway, so that’s an opportunity, right?”

So while this is the most constructive strategy to deal with it also has a dangerous side: if you are not completely honest and precise in your assessment about the ramifications of the history of the crisis, you just see the good things in it because you have to, and you are actually, in a way denying it through imposed optimistic behavior. Back to square one.

Also, you become more vulnerable to rescinding your responsibility and follow the expert’s advice or some kind of “leader” without question his/her motives. Manager magazines and financial publications are full of this expert stuff. If you thought you were great at managing your portfolio, you now are in pre-school again. You can’t do it alone. So, anything that looks positive and actionable suddenly becomes a way out at the price of disenfranchising yourself. The most dire historic examples for this kind of thing: any dictatorial leader that took over because there was a crisis beforehand, getting away with murder.

So how is this relevant for brands?

It could be avered that brands behave like people, meaning they have or will have the same coping strategies for this crisis, which, if true, it means you know what to avoid.

So, the tough ticket is this:

First of all, don’t wait. The crisis is gonna end. But sticking your head in the sand will mean that you either gonna be out of business, or, if you survive, you will have no role in the new lay of the land. You will have missed your chance to be a hero, or at least will have made no difference.

Secondly, as a brand, do all you can do to reassess the situation carefully, and know the part you may have played in it. Then accept the crisis and don’t jump on the band wagon of promising an unrealistic relief or offering gratuitous and self-serving distraction: instead, find a new human purpose that utilizes the new insights from the crisis.

Thirdly, people are already talking about it. The web is full of people reaching out to each other, sharing information, and coping with it their own way. The last thing they need is someone to shout at them with big bang messages. Join the conversation credibly and offer your honest opinion and be ready for heated arguments. Be inspired by what people do, so you can come up with acts and solutions that make a difference, one act at a time.

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December 9, 2008 at 4:40 pm Leave a comment

Redbull’s use of Flash

Check out this highly interactive site by Redbull.

You can easily build your own plane design in this fun application and take it to the sky, to see how well it flies. A great inspiration for all those who program flash. Also, what I found really well done was the level of detail as far as making even forms and buttons usable.

Also VERY surprising for this brand: MOZART. Can only be explained by the fact the Red Bull’s CEO is Austrian, and Austrians think Mozart was Austrian.


November 27, 2008 at 7:44 pm 1 comment

Wassaaaaaap? 8 years later.

You all remember the successful viral WAAAAASSAAAP ads from Anheuser-Busch in 2000? Well, here it is 8 years later. I can only say: TRUE.

November 2, 2008 at 5:27 pm 1 comment

Can design save advertising?

Here is the thing: advertising really doesn’t work that well anymore.

At least, it doesn’t work for all of the things it used to work for. I won’t go into the reasons for that, because, frankly, the topic is so hackneyed and over-discussed that it is more likely that indigenous tribes of the south-west Amazon have already come up with digital strategies to address the issue, than Sara Palin knowing that the Amazon is a river in Latin America, and not just where she buys maternity literature for her daughter.

My story is more around design. “Funny,” you might say “because isn’t design a completely overused topic as well?” Well, yeah it is, but no so much in the context of what it means for advertising agencies which have made their money with development of messaging.

If you think of design as a mindset of creating acts that lead to valuable exchanges with brands, rather than just a specific design discipline, such as graphic design, as well as if you allow the inclusion of other design fields, such as software design, interior design, product design, you at some point might ask yourself the question: if advertising bombards people with messages they don’t want, and if advertising makes promises brands can’t keep, whereas design actually delivers experiences that people want, can design save advertising? And you can see it’s a timely question because all types of agencies now dabble in or with design.

Why do they do that? Because design delivers experiences, whereas advertising only delivers messages. And, of course we all know, there is a rich market for experiences and not so much for messages. For example: if the design of a software leads to a new algorithm which allows to more successfully rank pages of a search result, you end up getting a brand called Google which doesn’t even have to do advertising. In fact, the software design success of Google’s new algorithm created a platform that is so successful, that everyone who sells stuff has to advertise there.

“If that’s the case, why bother with advertising?” you might say, “why don’t you just do design then? Why save advertising?” Because, here is the cincher: if you have great design, you’re gonna need advertising. The problem isn’t that advertising is evil. The problem is that many brands don’t innovate anymore, so they got nothing to say. Or even if they have innovations, they stick to their advertising/marketing process that doesn’t consider people and their true behavior. The end result: they just advertise stuff people don’t want or in a way they don’t want to be advertised at.

As a result, advertising people need to think about creating acts that deliver experiences for marketing and product innovation even if, in the end, you also deliver ads. This means talking to all sort of designers who can help you come up with solutions that make a qualitative difference in peoples’ lives, no matter how small.

The most important thing though is that whatever we do, we give brands a purpose so they can deliver experiences and communications that are valuable to people. Because, just as with ads, acts that don’t have a purpose with people in mind, are useless just the same. In fact, purposeless brand acts can be even more annoying that purposeless ads.

So, in the end, it’s not about whether design can save advertising. It is about coming up with a human brand purpose that is based in actual human behavior.

A brand purpose, mind you, not a promise, not a positioning, can deliver the necessary reason for being of brand, so it can innovate and create acts for which, ultimatly you can create ads for.

And BTW: hasn’t it always been a fact that every successful brand we know is here because it has or used to invent a new design for a challenge in people’s lives? You need to innovate and do so something before you say something and tell people about it. There is no room for messaging without substance, no room for ads without acts.

October 10, 2008 at 2:59 pm 2 comments

For web designers: 960 grid system

The 960 Grid System, by Nathan Smith, is an effort to streamline web development workflow by providing commonly used dimensions, based on a width of 960 pixels. There are two variants: 12 and 16 columns, which can be used separately or in tandem.

The 12 column grid is divided into portions that are 60 pixels wide. The 16 column grid consists of 40 pixel increments. Each column has 10 pixels of margin on the left and right, which create 20 pixel wide gutters between columns.

All modern monitors support at least 1024 × 768 pixel resolution. 960 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 20, 24, 30, 32, 40, 48, 60, 64, 80, 96, 120, 160, 192, 240, 320 and 480. This makes it a highly flexible base number to work with.

Download (180 KB) ( Zip contains PDF grid paper, templates for Fireworks, OmniGraffle, Photoshop & Visio, and CSS framework with demo HTML.

(via swissmiss)

October 6, 2008 at 1:38 pm Leave a comment

Marketplace for unused brands

Now this is idea a lot of graphics designers probably had before: just reuse logos that got canned after long hours of tough work. Well, know there is a chance your unused logos and brands can be reawakened.

From Springwise:

Launched last month, Texas-based IncSpring is a virtual marketplace linking graphic designers and businesses interested in corporate logos, brands and corporate identities. Designers can upload brand concepts onto the site for the perusal of entrepreneurs, corporations and businesses without middlemen or agency fees; they also retain complete control over their pricing. Potential buyers, on the other hand, can search by industry, colour or name, evaluating and even assessing market reactions to the designs they see via IncSpring’s social network, which lets users rate and provide public feedback on submitted ideas. Potential customers can also request minor changes to shape a particular design to their individual specifications. When a purchase is made, IncSpring charges a commission of 15 percent, the artist receives the rest and the buyer receives the brand in a ready-to-use digital format. As part of its site launch, IncSpring is currently holding a contest—with a deadline of Sept. 19—offering USD 2,000 in cash and other prizes for designers who submit ideas to the site. Membership on IncSpring is free.

Check it out here.

October 1, 2008 at 5:41 pm 2 comments

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