We sat down this year with our team to discuss what we'd write about for the FUSE conference. Typical to any ideation, it starts with a lot of jibber jabber and the chaff of what might be good ideas. Then, we all focused in on a sharp quote that pierced right through our Patagonia garments, slipped through butter like skin, glanced off a rib bone and was heading right for a beating heart.

"Most consumers wouldn't care if 73% of all brands disappeared."


Stages of grief start to activate.

1. [Denial] This can't be right, who did this study? Can we get our hands on the data? They must have done something wrong? We're not on that list and if we are, we're in the 27% of brands people care about, I'm certain.

2. [Anger] Someone is going to hear about this if one of our clients is on that list of 73%!

3. [Bargaining] Okay, who can we talk to about this study? Can we make some changes to how they analyzed the data? How can we discredit the outcomes? Everyone has a price!

4. [Depression] I don't think I can do this anymore. Why do we even try to make people care when obviously they don't? I need a drink, I know it’s 11am, but I have to go home.

5. [Acceptance] Okay, people don't care about our brand. What do we do to change that, starting today? Let's get moving on a plan to build more emotional engagement into our brand.

Well, here we are, heading into a conference where a large number of brand managers, design directors, marketing minds and [more important] experienced human beings get together. FUSE is not the answer, but there are answers in the crowd around you.

Here are some suggestions, based on what we've seen to this point.

1. Look for ways to humanize your brand. Large corporate brands have a tendency to become large, inhumane and corporate, it’s just part of what they do. They need to take on more human attributes because it is hard to love a corporation, but you can love the brand a corporation projects.

2. Make sure you can live up to it. Please don't set up an agency of record meeting to discuss a campaign to humanize your brand. Being true to who you are requires a deeper dig into the human attributes of your brand. If you haven't done it, start there, before the agency meeting.

3. Measure human emotion. There are ways to measure human emotional engagement without asking people. Using the "will you refer us to a friend" or a net promoter score is equal to asking a spouse if you look fat in a new pair of jeans, of course you do [but they'll never tell you]. If you have no idea how to measure human emotion, ask us. We've got some interesting thoughts on this subject.

4. Experiment, measure and redesign. We are learning machines and our intuition needs to be fed with new knowledge daily. Showing love for the people you want to love you back starts with small experiments. It might be a new messaging platform, or a new designed experience dropped into a busy village, or just some changes to how you respond to global events in social media. Small experiments reduce the risk and then allow you to measure the emotional response. Learn and redesign.

This is just a bit to get you started, we'll be here weekly leading up to FUSE and at the conference as well to identify the patterns, nuggets of knowledge and piercing insights for you to take home and share with your team.

Our weekly series will start with a self reflection, because we have permission to perform experiments on ourselves. We will keep a list of the brands sending us signals everyday. And, on other days, we'll wait until late in the evening to remember the list of brands sending us signals. We'll compare these lists and explore how memory and emotional engagement works.

We know memory decay is abhorrent, but even more impactful perhaps is the lack of emotional engagement by brands. It will be in these spaces that we will set up a conversation for FUSE in April. If you don't have your tickets yet, get on it.

We are in critical times. That 27% can't fall lower. It is our responsibility to take back the emotional higher ground and grow the 27%.

Founder, Capsule Design

Gillian Ferrabee

During FUSE 2017, renowned performance artist Gillian Ferrabee will lead an experiential workshop that introduces creative interactivity and shows why understanding how people play is essential to creating customer engagement and loyalty.

For over 20 years, Gillian has been a performer, creative leader and coach for artists and entrepreneurs. Most recently, Gillian was the Director of the Creative Lab for Cirque du Soleil Media, where she created original content for the international film, TV and new media markets, in collaboration with various partners such as Netflix, Google Chrome, Fox Studios and Samsung.

As a preview to her presentation, Gillian shares her insights on the value of play:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in dance and acting shape your character and career?
Gillian Ferrabee: Through dance I learned how powerful body-to-body communication is. Over 70% of what we understand in communication is visual, and our bodies are a big part of that. Dance is also a career that requires a very high level of commitment initially, and of re-commitment over and over. I learned a lot about the power of commitment and built inner resilience. Through acting I learned about the subtle interplay between audience and performer, and the flow of attention that occurs during a live performance.

PB: What are the main thoughts around the science of creative interactivity?
Creative interactivity is about agency, play and rhythm. Agency is the amount of recognition and impact given to each party in an interaction. Play describes a state of being, rather than an activity. It is the most natural way to learn, to invent and to socialize. Rhythm refers to the movement of attention between the parties interacting – how fast is it? How even is it? Is anyone leading? Following? How much room is there for improvisation?

PB: How is gamification essential to creating customer engagement and loyalty?
Gamification is about play and fun - two things that most people value highly even if they aren't completely aware of it. We are wired for play and fun, and come back to it over and over. We also identify with our 'tribe' through our play styles.

PB: What do you see as the next phase of gamification as it relates to brand strategy?
 I am by no means a brand strategist; that being said, what I see is that when a brand can 'let go of the reins' and invite their customers/clients/target audience more room to play within the conversation, that is a winning relationship. Listen and toss back (reply), then listen and innovate and toss back (reply).

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference workshop?
People will learn about the science of play, creativity and our brains. They will learn the eight key play styles and how to engage people from each of them. And they will play themselves and together with others, which it turns out is the best way to learn.

Want to hear more from Gillian? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.

Brilliance@Work profile originally published on www.starrybluebrilliance.com

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in 
corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on 
LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and at www.starrybluebrilliance.com. 
Wednesday, February 15th | Chris Laurita social links

lost in thought
with Chris Laurita

Co-Founder, The Little Kernel

I'm inspired by bright, hardworking, successful people.
To me, brilliant is coming up with an idea that revolutionizes or positively impacts peoples quality of life.
When I'm having a creative block I move on and re-address it later.
My favorite brand is BMW.
My favorite color is black.
The best advice I ever received was "Be kind to the people on the way up cause your gonna see em on the way down."
The best way to unwind after a long day is the gym!
If I had a one year sabbatical, I would get a job…I'd be bored.
The most overused word in meetings today is granular.
My tools of the trade are my pda and my gift of gab.
The biggest thing that has changed since I started in the industry is that I'm fat and my hair turned gray.
I'm happiest when I'm busy.
I lead by motivating.
I wish I could have met Andy Warhol.
I'm proud that I'm a loyal, honest person.
My playlist is The Who, The Stones, repeat.
You can usually find me on the phone.
The last stamp on my passport was Italy.
The next stamp on my passport is Peru.
When I look back on my career I am grateful.
I still hope to continue to reinvent myself.
Find out more about his participation in FUSE arrow © 2017 IIR Holdings, LTD. All Rights Reserved.
Lisa Day

FUSE 2017 presenter, Lisa Day, Design Leader at Kellogg’s Masterbrands and Innovation, combines Consumer Research, Marketing and Design to successfully lead redesigns on brands such CHEEZ-IT, Morning Star Farms, Town House and Keebler. 

Lisa has spent the last 15 years showing that good design can also mean good business, resulting in growth on multiple brands globally for Kellogg’s, Procter and GambleInternational Paper and Shiseido.

As a preview to her presentation, Lisa shares her insights on how to bring an iconic brand into today’s world.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What inspires your product development innovations?
Lisa Day: Understanding the world around us that influences the decisions that my consumers make.

Politics: With today’s access to information, we need to be more informed than ever about what’s happening in our own country as well as around the world. We are all connected now, whereas before we were not. What we do here (especially on iconic brands) can influence and inspire what we can do in countries all around the world.

Trends: Understanding where things are heading from a trends perspective helps get ahead of consumer anticipation. Understanding what has been done and done well, coupled with creating or moving a brand to a space where there is a real need can create great brand shifts and new products.

The Stock Market: This is not sexy for most design folks, but the benefits of understanding the market – from charts to theory – not only helps with creating trends, but understanding our current limitations as well as where we can push our boundaries.

Understanding our consumers as people: Many people believe that digital road mapping is the most powerful tool we have. Although it’s extremely valuable, we also have to give ourselves the time to sit with our consumers and have a conversation with them; go their homes, understand them as emotional beings, and see what brands they choose and how they use them in their actual spaces that we want to become a part of.

PB: What role does collaboration play in the design-production relationship?
LD: It’s the lifeline; every success in the marketplace is contingent on collaborating with the people who can turn your ideas into reality. If you can have upfront conversations with your production teams, this will allow you to understand what you can and can’t do to bring your visions to life.

PB: What are some notable products you've helped to create?
LD: Cheez-It Line Design Restage (including Kellogg’s largest grossing Innovation CI Grooves): This is a brand that nobody wanted to touch for many years because it's always been such a successful brand for Kellogg's. Knowing when and how to approach the company about making the right changes was critical. The key to this success was to understand what is working so well and how to keep the essence of that alive along with the brand heritage, all the while bringing the brand into today’s marketplace, both in terms of feel and product innovation. We not only kept the success of the brand alive, but we were able to bring it to a level that Kellogg’s never even imagined.

Keebler Cookies Line Design Restage: A very iconic brand that people know and love. Here, we needed to make sure that the brand worked together as a family while consumers were able to find their favorite cookies. This was a great brand to help recreate because it’s all about keeping the Keebler Elf Magic alive!

Global Re-Branding and Design Strategy for Shiseido: Shiseido is one of the most prestigious and high quality brands in the world, and the number two cosmetic brand in Japan. I was honored to help bring them more into the forefront in the U.S. market while helping to unify them as a global brand. This included Global Branding, Product Development, Global Brand Architecture and Strategic Design Implementation.

PB: What do you see as the next phase of consumer product development at Kellogg's?
LD: Creating new and innovative products that meet market needs while staying true to what the Kellogg’s brands stand for. There are many different facets to consider (some of which I mentioned above). Overall, we need to understand the world around us, we need to inspire our internal teams (which in turn will inspire the work that will inspire our consumers) and most importantly, we need to be open to change.

Want to hear more from Lisa? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.

Brilliance@Work profile originally published on www.starrybluebrilliance.com

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in 
corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on 
LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and at www.starrybluebrilliance.com. 
Get into the minds of the people ushering the new era of brand. 

Each month, we sit down with creatives and brand leaders who share with us their passion, dreams, hobbies, business goals, advice, personal style, tools of trade, proudest moments, last stamp on their passports, and more! http://bit.ly/2kLRUv5

Inside our FUSE MUSE Winter Edition eBook, you will find inspirational pearls of wisdom from design and brand leaders including: 

·         Jeremy Lindley, DIAGEO
·         Barry McGeough, INNOVATION NEXT
·         Judith VanVliet, COLOR MARKETING GROUP
·         Vicki Young, NALLA DESIGN
·         Melissa Steach, HERMAN MILLER
·         Vikram Bawa, MCCAIN FOODS
Download the eBook here: http://bit.ly/2kLRUv5

Happy reading!

Also, this spring, join your peers and uncover the power and impact design can have on your brand and business. Don’t miss our upcoming FUSE Miami taking place April 4-6 in Miami, Florida.

Use exclusive LinkedIn discount code FUSE17BL for $100 off the current rate. Buy tickets here: https://goo.gl/WFF03u

The FUSE Team

Creative Powerhouses Reinvent the Brand Rulebook

There’s a new breed of rock stars positioned to throw the traditional brand “rule book” out the door. That’s exciting, but also scary for a more traditional company looking to stay on top.

This April 4-6 in Miami, the FUSE: Brand Identity and Package Design keynote stage has you covered: pairing brand legends with next-generation thinkers you don’t know now, but will change the way you think about everything in the future. Learn more: http://bit.ly/2lh3w90

·         Capture the Trust and Attention of Millennials
Christopher Gavigan, Co-Founder and Chief Purpose Officer, The Honest Company
·         Designing Calm Technology
Amber Case, Cyborg Anthropologist, UX Designer, and Author
·         Remain relevant in an age of disruption
Martha Stewart, Founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
·         Next Generation Digital and Brand Experiences
Stephen Gates, Global Head of Design, CITI
·         Can A Brand Be Your Friend?
Stanley Hainsworth, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Tether Inc.
·         Engaging Your Audience
Gillian Ferrabee, Director, Creative Lab, Cirque Du Soleil Media
·         Imagination and Innovation
Brian Robinson, Global Head of Creative, Design, and Development, Dreamworks Animation
·         Evolve Brands and Inspire Innovation
Vince Voron, VP, Executive Creative Director, Dolby

See full speaker lineup: http://bit.ly/2lh3w90

Use our exclusive Bog discount code FUSE17BL for $100 off. Buy tickets here: http://bit.ly/2lh3w90

We hope to see you in Miami this spring!

The FUSE Team

Vince Voron. Photo: Paul Sakuma Photography

FUSE 2017 presenter Vince Voron, VP, Executive Creative Director of the Brand Content Experience team at Dolby, oversees design, brand, experiential marketing, the Dolby Theatre®, and the Dolby® Institute. He came to Dolby after leading marketing design teams at Apple and Coca-Cola.

As a preview to his presentation “Making Others Successful with Your Design Agenda: Leveraging In-House ‘Creatives’ to Evolve Brands and Inspire Innovation,” Vince shares his insights on how a global mindset can help you thrive personally and professionally.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did living and working in multiple countries shape your character and career?
Vince Voron:
 Living abroad was a humbling experience that provided activities and experiences that I had never imagined. I am so fortunate and grateful to have been exposed to so many diverse cultures, both personally and professionally, during such a moldable portion of my life.

Spending the first 10 years of my professional career working in Singapore, France and Ireland had a dramatic impact on how I communicated with and inspired my colleagues and external partners. The diverse cultural experiences of those three countries alone helped me to construct the values I have today. Living within that diversity provided introspection and outlined the cultural and business values most important to me.

My experiences abroad were also profoundly enriching from a visual standpoint – in very different ways – from food to architecture to landscape to fashion. I learned to speak French, I became fascinated with cultural differences, and I gained a solid appreciation for navigating new locales that were so very different than from where I grew up in Pennsylvania. In addition to those first 10 years solidifying my career foundation, they also had a profound impact on me personally, as I met my wife while I was working in France.

PB: How did your work at Coca-Cola and Apple influence your work at Dolby?
 I like to say I earned my design chops at Apple and learned my brand knowledge at Coca-Cola. The fusion of working for so many years at these great companies has been one of the greatest assets to enable me to build teams that create thoughtfully-designed experiences that can be scaled and appreciated on a local level, globally.

My global mindset definitely helped me to thrive and survive in two such different corporate cultures as Apple and Coca-Cola, where the work and leadership styles vary vastly.

One of the parallels of working at Coca-Cola that has also helped me at Dolby is the importance of partnerships with other corporations. Both Coca-Cola and Dolby have very integrated co-branded partnerships around the world, and that ability to integrate and synthesize two great brands together, while preserving the authenticity of each, takes time, persistence and patience to do well.

PB: How do your leadership values support your creative work?
 Trust and transparency are two leadership values that I seek to strive for in my own work and in that of the teams I lead. It is so very important for a leader to earn trust with their teams, and that takes time and significant engagement on a day-to-day basis. It also requires taking the time to understand how different personalities and subject matter experts are inspired, how they work and how they think.

Delivering trust and transparency is a principal element as a leader, but at the same time it’s really important that my team members reciprocate that as well, and for them to be transparent with me, they have to trust me. It’s that two-way street. It’s paramount in all relationships, but especially with a leader who has to work harder to develop and maintain that trust and transparent communication highways.

PB: What role does a collaborative culture play in building a strong brand?
 Accountability and expectation-setting are at the core of successful collaboration partnerships that are effective. At the beginning of a project, I spend a lot of time assessing and determining roles and accountability amongst team members. I find that by taking this time at the onset, it opens up these channels for my team to challenge me, or me to challenge them, in a non-emotional way. 

One of my primary philosophies is how can I make others successful. And collaboration is closer to diplomacy than business negotiations – it’s really important for everybody to experience something positive throughout the process.

PB: What do you see as the next phase of design at Dolby?
 We continue to work on creating holistic Dolby experiences as well as inspiring our partners with our technologies to help them create and enable amazing experiences. The globalization of the Dolby Cinema® platform is one of our key initiatives that I’m really excited about because we have curated and designed every moment of that movie-going experience from the moment you walk in until the time that you leave. All that attention to detail that we’ve put into this platform - including architecture, design, imaging and audio technologies - is truly compelling. We also strive to look for new opportunities where our technology can improve audio and visual experiences at home, at work and on the go.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
VV: I’ll be sharing insightful stories from my experience working in the design teams at Apple, Coca-Cola and Dolby, as well as methodologies and anecdotes that have helped these great global brands become even greater. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all my years in design, it’s that if a brand can learn how to tell a great story and deliver a great experience, they will capture the hearts and minds of their consumers, and in turn, strengthen the bottom line of the company. I’ll be sharing practical insights on how great brands have developed and leveraged entertaining storytelling to engage consumers and build brand love.

Want to hear more from Vince? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.

Brilliance@Work profile originally published on www.starrybluebrilliance.com

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in 
corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on 
LinkedInTwitterGoogle+, and at www.starrybluebrilliance.com. 
Brian Robinson

FUSE 2017 presenter, Brian Robinson, Executive Vice President of Creative, Design and Development at Universal Pictures, spent 10 years in retail, leading brand strategy and new partnership ventures. Over the last four years, he’s been a brand leader in the entertainment world, building and cultivating brand and creative teams at DreamWorks Animation and now Universal Pictures.

As a preview to his presentation “DO NOT OPEN: A Tale of Resiliency, Imagination, and the Power of Curiosity,” Brian shares his insights on how unbridled imagination is at the heart of innovation.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your previous work in retail and brand strategy translate into success in the entertainment world?
Brian Robinson: 
Have a seat and let me tell you a story, a great, grand story. But first, tell me yours.
Listen to the rhythm of culture, hear the dreams, ideas and aspirations of your fans and build an undeniable empathy for those that love what you do. This understanding, this empathy, will allow you to tell great stories, and great stories are the great connector. Whether campaigns, design, product development or innovation, the combination of empathy and great storytelling will always deliver success.

PB: How do your leadership values support your creative work and the work of your team?
The culmination of my leadership values – courage, authenticity, resiliency, respect –are intended to unlock the most exciting and purest forms of creativity, while encouraging individuality.

PB: What is the creative process you follow to bring your ideas to life?
The most unadulterated form of my personal creativity is free-form writing and is always the beginning of my creative process. Followed by editing, challenging, story-arching, and ultimately, pitching the idea.

PB: How do resiliency, courage and imagination drive your quest for innovation?
Life is a quest and trying to innovate within my own life journey means I’m living. I’m failing, I’m learning, I’m living, I’m failing, and in this cycle, it is my own personal resiliency, courage and imagination that continually drive me forward.

PB: What do you see as the next phase in the movie entertainment industry?
Phases no longer exist. The speed at which change takes hold is breathtaking. In the great renaissance of storytelling, one’s relevancy is the single most important idea in the entertainment industry and dare I say all industries. You must have compelling, empathetic stories that connect to culture, but unless you can make your stories relevant, they don’t exist.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
They’ll experience the amazing, courageous art of getting knocked out and the resiliency and determination to get back up and keep on fighting.

Want to hear more from Brian? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.

Brilliance@Work profile originally published on www.starrybluebrilliance.com

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on LinkedInTwitterGoogle+, and at www.starrybluebrilliance.com. 
Wednesday, January 25th | Aaron Keller social links

lost in thought
with Aaron Keller

CEO and Founding Partner, Capsule

I'm inspired by my daughter, she started a non-profit at the age of 8 to collect and give away a million books to kids who don't own a book. She is currently at 2 million books after 6 years: www.readindeed.org
To me, brilliant is a level of bright intellect capable of seeing the entire system of things.
When I'm having a creative block I run, read, run some more, read and generally get outside of four walls.
My favorite brand is Patagonia
My favorite color is green
My dream project is the rebranding of a country or the Democratic Party.
The best advice I ever received was "Entrepreneurship is defined by being able to have your best day and get a standard night's sleep, then have your worst day and do the same."
The very next thing on my to-do list is to write another book.
My dream collaborator is a large ad agency or research group.
I think the Kardashians are a scary reflection of our culture.
At least once, everyone should start a business.
The best way to unwind after a long day is read, play games with kids, read.
If I had a one year sabbatical, I would ride bikes with my wife throughout Europe.
The most overused word in meetings today is collaboration.
At the moment, I'm obsessed with brain science and memory.
As of now, I'm totally over crowd sourcing anything.
I'd define my personal style as Gap meets Goodwill.
My tools of the trade are words, images, more words and some auditory output of such words.
The biggest thing that has changed since I started in the industry is that we have moved to an era when the datafication of people intersecting brands has become a reality. This will have a profound impact on the relationship between people and brands. Profound.
I'm happiest when I am with my family.
I lead by example, talking, more examples, more talking.
I wish I could get stranded in the world's largest library with an attached Starbucks.
I'm proud that my daughter is more famous than me, at the age of 16.
My playlist is whatever Pandora selects for me or whatever motivational music plays in my ears when I'm on a bike ride.
You can usually find me riding a bike for 100+ miles with our client Smartwool or traveling to another city for a Physics of Brand book tour.
The last stamp on my passport was Ireland.
The next stamp on my passport is Canada or Italy (depending on which client calls first).
When I look back on my career I wish I had started a design firm sooner or started writing books sooner in my life.
I still hope to travel the world and write more books.
Find out more about his participation in FUSE arrow © 2017 IIR Holdings, LTD. All Rights Reserved.

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