In the weeks leading up to FUSE 2011, we're going to be hearing from the speakers! Today we have Sandra Lee: Company Owner, CEO and Brand Guardian Of Crabtree & Evelyn. Ms. Lee will be presenting "Reviving An Icon: How to Stay True to Your Roots Whilst Becoming a Global Icon" on Wednesday April 13th in the Brand Strategy track at FUSE along with Tess Wicksteed, Strategy Director, Pearlfisher, who we featured on Wednesday. To learn more about FUSE, download the brochure here!

Tell us about a Crabtree & Evelyn project you are working on or recently completed that you are proud of

I am really delighted with our newly launched Floral Fragrance Collection, comprised of four exquisite single note scents, Iris, Rosewater, Lavender and Lily as this collection truly offers moments of indulgence to women of all ages. Formulated in partnership with master perfumers, our luxurious body care formulations and perfumes bring to life the timeline elegance, beauty and romance of the garden in full bloom. The collection is artfully crafted and presented in elegant packaging that features quintessentially English water colour designs that are a modern take on the botanical illustration that are inspired by the vibrancy in nature.

Think ahead 5 years, what major changes for design do you see?
I believe design will become more individual and more expressive in the future. Our markets today are highly saturated and brands are often competing for the same space and mindset. Design is increasingly the differentiator, it is how brands create a strong sense of identity, create experiences and express their specialness. I see design in the future very much becoming intrinsic to brand value, especially the intangible that makes brands unique. I think more and more brands will recognize this and we will start to see more original design with a stronger sense of individuality and expression. Especially as we continue to emerge from the financial crisis, I think it will be a very exciting time for design both in terms of ideas and aesthetics.

What inspired you to get in the field and spearhead the Crabtree & Evelyn brand? What keeps you motivated?
I have always felt a strong connection with the Crabtree & Evelyn brand. I can vividly recall the moment I first encountered our iconic Jojoba Seashell soap while on holiday in Carmel with my family 20 years ago. Even then, I immediately felt the richness of the brand and felt the strength of its heritage. However what also excited me was the brands potential. Crabtree & Evelyn is such an iconic brand with a truly wonderful story, but like all good icons it's on a journey and needs to remain relevant and desirable to suit the needs and lifestyles of today's consumers. It needs to do this whilst remaining true to its roots and heritage. I remember the first time I used the product and how the fragrance and experience delighted my senses. This first encounter motivates me and reminds me of the brands truth as we take Crabtree & Evelyn on its global journey into the future. Crabtree & Evelyn transcends beyond being purely a product, and I am motivated by the power of aesthetics and design to bring the brands truth to life for our modern day consumers around the world at every touchpoint of their lives

What is one thing you’re excited about for this year’s Fuse?
I am thrilled to be here to able to learn from so many great minds and leaders in the industry. Design is a crucial element for Crabtree & Evelyn to deliver upon our brand values for our customers and so we have much to learn from the masters!

What is your favorite brand?
There are too many to list! However, a brand that I do admire and enjoy very much is Prada. It is contemporary, relevant yet remains true to its heritage and workmanship.

If you could invite 2 people to dinner (dead or alive) who would they be?
Mother Theresa and Anna Wintour. Quite an unusual combination I know, but I really admire the inner resilience, tenacity and strength of these two great women. Mother Theresa was able to continually give of herself despite her own doubts and challenges, and the same inner strength is also undeniable in Anna Wintour, who is able to lead the fashion trends while remaining true to her own style in the ever-changing fashion industry. It would be an honour to have dinner with these two amazing ladies.

What is your dream project?
Every project I work on for Crabtree & Evelyn is a dream project for me as it is a joy and delight to create new collections that offer moments of indulgences for our customers. I am privileged to work with a brand with such a rich heritage, strong design principles and genuine brand values. My vocation has now become my vacation when working with our master perfumers, skilled formulators and gifted designers!

Learn more about Crabtree & Evelyn at
In the weeks leading up to FUSE 2011, we're going to be hearing from the speakers! Today we have Tess Wicksteed, Strategy Director, Pearlfisher. Ms. Wicksteed will be presenting "Reviving An Icon: How to Stay True to Your Roots Whilst Becoming a Global Icon" on Wednesday April 13th in the Brand Strategy track at FUSE along with Sandra Lee: Company Owner, CEO and Brand Guardian Of Crabtree & Evelyn who we will feature later this week. To learn more about FUSE, download the brochure here!

Tell us about a project you are working on or recently completed that you are proud of?

I like working in China – they are so quick and entrepreneurial, imaginative and clever. We recently redesigned one of their biggest water brands, Nongfu. The express intention of the brand was to celebrate a Chinese future worthy of the best of their past. They invested in a proper immersion upfront, which meant we really understood their objectives and preferences – throughout they were decisive and immediate in their feedback. The working relationship was very respectful – a real partnership.

Think 5 years ahead, what major changes for design do you see?

It depends how depressed I am feeling. In a positive mood I think that all the creative branding industries will fold into design. Design is really the definitive form of brand media – it is preoccupied with the big idea at the heart of the brand and finding a form with which to express it at its most impactful and long-lasting. It’s the precursor to everything else. If you have a bold idea it only counts if you have a strong and unified aesthetic with which to communicate it.
Or, if I am feeling a bit depressed then I think that the design industry will sigh gently and fold into the other sectors. Design is sometimes a bit too nice for its own good.

What inspired you to get into the field? What keeps you motivated?

I like good culture. Good brands are an important part of creating good culture. Good brands tend to be the ones that are preoccupied with ideals or ideas and that use design to propagate them. I’m motivated by the very large amount of really awful and unnecessary stuff that is out there.

What is one thing you’re excited about for this year’s Fuse?

I’ve never been to Fuse so I am very excited about understanding what everyone else is so excited about!

What is your favorite brand?

New York – I believe in it. It has all the characteristics I look for in an icon – intensity (it keeps on suprising me), intimacy (I have a special personal relationship with it), popularity (its intensely democratic anyone can belong here) and longevity (it has lasting appeal)

If you could invite 2 people to dinner (dead or alive) who would they be?

Franny and Zooey

What is your dream project?

Redesigning the UK on American principles: America has a narrative of itself that is both verbal and visual that the UK could have and doesn’t really. The UK has a lot going for it but it doesn’t have a public narrative about its role in the modern world for people to get behind – it’s a repositioning exercise that I would love to do. I see my time here in America as an opportunity to learn from her and see what works and what doesn’t and then take it back home. America has a dream even if it can’t always live it.

Learn more about Pearlfisher at or follow Pearlfisher on twitter here.

On-line shopping shouldn’t translate to a “less than” experience.

In the era of the general store, the primary function of a package was getting the product from the manufacturer’s location to the store and then eventually a consumer’s hands. This meant packages more closely resembled brown paper boxes than robin's egg, blue boxes from Tiffany & Co. Today, brand managers have seen the value of the experience a package can offer, to the point where many packages cost more than the product they carry to market.

So, why is my online package experience still lagging behind the rest of the marketing mix? Is it still important to have an engaging experience? Why is an online package delivered to your door “less than” an in-store experience?

Now, some have told me, we don’t want a package to be stolen from your front stoop, so we can’t do much on the package exterior. Agreed, but that’s not the entire experience. There’s plenty to be done on the inside of any package.

This is all fine and good, you say, but show me some examples. Who’s doing it right? Well, few are. Piperlime packages have shown up at our office with some praise and coveting. On the other hand, Ann Taylor has shipped some beautiful fashions that are in no way packaged comparable to the store experience.

Piperlime Package Experience

While these brands offer some contrast, I believe there is an even greater package experience awaiting us soon. So, my answer to, “show me examples” is: let Capsule put our talents to it and we will give you the next generation of thinking. We can offer a list of questions we would use to inspire the effort:

  • Once the goods are delivered safely, what else can the package do?
  • How do we want people to feel when they open the package?
  • What does the package smell like when opened?
  • What is the reveal of the product inside?
  • Does it feel like you’re getting a beautiful gift? How could it?
  • How will it be recycled, reused or reduced?

We would set a new bar, high above what is being done today. Design something that influences all other boxes. Give us the chance, we’re up to the challenge.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal,

In the weeks leading up to FUSE 2011, we're going to be hearing from the speakers! This week we have Debbie Millman, President of the design division at Sterling Brands, who is co-chair of FUSE 2011 and will be part of the Brand Strategy track. To learn more about FUSE, download the brochure here!

Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for over 25 years. As President of the design division at Sterling Brands she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s, Colgate, Nestle and Hasbro.

She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at and Brand New and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She is the host of weekly radio talk show “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” which is featured on

She is the author of “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design,” (HOW Books, 2009), “How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer” (Allworth Press, 2007) and “The Essential Principles of Graphic Design” (Rotovision, 2008). In 2008 and 2009, Debbie was nominated for a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award.

Debbie was kind enough to share some time with us an record an interview for our FUSE Speaker Spotlight podcast series. Listen to the interview here.

Music for this week's FUSE podcast was contibuted by Audiobrain.

Hear more from Debbie Millman at FUSE 2011, follow her on twitter @debbiemillman or read more at

Each week leading up to FUSE 2011, we're going to be bringing you an interesting fact that we learned at FUSE 2010. You can find it across the FUSE Network on twitter @NextBigDesign, the FUSE Facebook Page and the FUSE LinkedIn Group.

This week's FUSE for thought: How to sell $2B worth Snickers bars annually? Mars’ 3-part strategy: Notice • Understand • Remember

Do you have a FUSE Design Fact? What was the best thing you learned at FUSE 2010?
Share with us today and look for another fact next Friday!

To find out more about this year's FUSE, coming up in Chicago on April 11-13, visit the webpage.
Over the past few weeks, Dr. Michio Kaku has been featured and quoted all over the press and media about what to expect next, given recent events - including a guest appearance last night on "The Late Show with David Letterman".
Now is your opportunity to hear from the mastermind futurist live at FUSE: Design & Culture // Brand Identity & Packaging as he presents...

How Breakthrough Advances in Science will Transform Business, Commerce and Finance

In this riveting keynote session, Dr. Michio Kaku will share his vision of what's next in business, commerce and finance based on recent breakthroughs in science. He is one of the most widely recognized scientific figures in the world whose personal goal is to complete Einstein's dream of a "theory of everything." He is the co-founder of string field theory, a major brand of string theory, which is the leading candidate today for the theory of everything. He is the author of several international best sellers, including Hyperspace and Visions: How Science will Revolutionize the 21st Century. For Visions, he interviewed 150 of the world's top scientists, many of them Nobel Laureates and directors of the largest scientific laboratories, about their vision for the next 20 years in computers, robotics, biotechnology, space travel, etc.

FUSE: Design & Culture // Brand Identity & Packaging showcases extraordinary stories of courageous brand strategy, inspiring design, culture and trends. Three important things have and always will be the backbone of what FUSE was created to achieve: Stories. Lessons. Community. Unite with the top minds in strategy and design to share groundbreaking ideas and strategies in a thought provoking and inspiring environment. Download the brochure.

Time is running out to sign up to join us - register today to secure your spot.

We hope to see you in Chicago next month!
The Fuse: Design & Culture, Brand Identity & Packaging Team
Fan Us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
The Private Brand Movement
Building Brands at Retail. Insights. Strategy. Design. In-Store
September 19-21, 2010 • Wyndham Hotel • Chicago, IL


Submission Deadline: Friday, April 1, 20011

About the Event

From the producers of FUSE & Shopper Insights in Action, we present the 2nd annual Private Brand Movement, the first and only event to focus on the strategy of store brand design and development. New for 2011, we’re expanding the content to deliver the most comprehensive agenda on branding at retail covering everything you need from insight to creation to selling in-store.

With an unprecedented collection of client-side practitioner perspectives than any other event of its kind, it quickly became an industry choice, where retailers attend to focus on building branded portfolios that really connect with their distinct customer needs and brands attend to think differently about their retail partners and to seek new ways to collaborate in a more holistic business sense.

Presenter Qualifications

We are seeking retail and CPG practitioners - who work to deliver unique brands across any and all retail channels including C-store, club, dollar, pet, mass, apparel and grocery- who can share best practices in the form of real-world case studies, stories of what's worked and what hasn't.. We also encourage you to submit team presentations, where two members of cross-functional teams co-present.

The Audience

In 2010, this event attracted more than 150 senior-level executives from the world’s leading retail, brand and design firms, mostly director level and above with expertise in strategy, package design, strategic planning, customer experience, innovation, product development, marketing strategy, brand management, structural design, consumer insights, shopper insights, shopper marketing and design research. Industries included Retail, CPG, Durable Goods and Consumer Healthcare.

Suggested Topic Areas:
• Customer Insights
• Shopper Insights
• Strategy Development
• Design
• Product Development & Innovation
• Packaging
• Go to Market
• At Shelf & In Store
• Shopper Marketing
• Consumer Trends

** We are also happy to consider topics not listed here that you feel would add value and be appropriate for the audience.

Submission Guidelines

Those who wish to be considered for the PBM speaker faculty should send the following via email to Amanda Powers, Program Director at no later than April 1, 2011:

1. Benefit-oriented title of session
2. Summary of session along with three audience key takeaways (no more than 150 words)
3. Full contact details for speaker including name, title, company, email, phone and mail
4. Bio of proposed speaker (no more than 100 words)
5. Speaker headshot jpeg (optional)

If your submission is selected, portions of your bio and summary will be used to promote your participation. In an effort to ensure the utmost quality, all final presentations will be subject to review by our content review board one month prior to the event.

Past Speakers from 2010

Maurice Markey, VP, Private Brands, SAM’S CLUB, Michael Ellgass, Senior Director, Grocery Marketing, WALMART, Annie Zipfel, Director of Owned Brands, TARGET, Kim Coovert, Brand Manager, Own Brand Food & Drug, KMART, Vassoula Vasiliou, Director of Creative Private Brand Development, OFFICE DEPOT, Nancy Cota, VP Innovation, Consumer Brands, SAFEWAY, Melissa Smith-Hazen, Director Strategic Design, Corporate Brands, AHOLD USA, Angie Hunter, Marketing Department, BLOOM/DELHAIZE AMERICA, Mary Rachide, DVP Private Brands, FAMILY DOLLAR STORES, Marcia Minter, VP Creative Director, L.L. BEAN, Moira Cullen, Senior Director, Global Design, THE HERSHEY CO., Kit Hughes. Art Director, PHILIPS

Speaker Benefits

Each speaker receives the following:
1. Free pass to the event including access to all pre-conference symposia and workshops
2. Continental breakfast and lunch
3. Admittance to exclusive speaker networking activities
4. Unique discount code entitling anyone who uses it to 20% off the standard conference rate

Attention to Vendors/Suppliers interested in participating in the event

This call is limited to client side presenters. If you are a vendor, consultant, solution provider, or technology provider and would like to speak at the Private Brand Movement or have a presence at the event, contact Sarene Yablonsky, Business Development Manager at or via phone at 646.895.7474.

Do you have a wise elder experience to share? I do.

My introduction to the design discipline was under the sharp eyes of a great design mind, Mr. Hideki Yamamoto. He was partnered with an equally great woman, Miranda Moss, and while there’s plenty of praise on Miranda, this extraordinary experience has more to do with Mr. Yamamoto.

My understanding of other cultures went from nil to bountiful as I spent time under the guidance of Hideki. He not only taught the Japanese standards and norms, but showed me how he had adapted the traditions to match the lifestyle he led. As a Japanese man in the U.S. culture, we enjoyed plenty of interesting, amusing and compelling cultural nuances. This perspective is more valuable than I understood at the time.

My time with Hideki has me thinking about influence the nation of Japan has had in my life. The Japanese people have a culture we should understand and respect. Just their cultural emphasis on the group over the individual is in stark contrast with the US “me” culture. We need to see the Japanese situation through their eyes.

Which leads to the question, how can design help Japan? After you’ve given all you can, then using your discipline to create works of art is an exceptional way to honor the Japanese culture. And, as I have learned, honor is a gift of infinite value to the Japanese.

A QR Coded Example.

Now back to Hideki, running a design firm and an extraordinary experience. When we left the comforts of Hideki and Miranda’s firm, we discovered, quickly, why they made certain decisions. You could say we saw the world through their eyes, as owners. We talk about it today as the conversion, when we changed our perspective from employee to owner. It is an extraordinary experience when you realize how truly wise your elders are, and how much you learned from them just by being in their life.

We honor your wisdom and the island you originated from, and our thoughts are with you.

Thank you, Hideki.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal,

FUSE is thrilled to announce a new partnership with the School of Visual Arts (SVA) to sponsor the education of the next generation of brand and design leaders. Spearheaded by Kim Rivielle, Managing Director of the Marketing & Business Strategy Division at IIR and Debbie Millman, Co-chairwoman of FUSE and Chair/Co-founder, Masters Program in Branding at SVA, this partnership provides 20 graduate students the opportunity to attend FUSE 2011, April 11-13 in Chicago, where they will learn from and network with more than 500 key industry leaders.

"I am so thrilled to bring the best and brightest students from the inaugural graduating class from SVA's Masters in Branding. It is an honor to participate as well as a true privilege for the students to have access to so many of the brilliant, inspiring minds at FUSE. It is certain to be an unforgettable experience for them," said Debbie Millman, Co-chairwoman of FUSE and Chair/Co-founder, Masters Program in Branding at SVA and President, Design at Sterling Brands.

Keynoted by Ian Schrager, Michio Kaku and Jonathan Harris, FUSE offers more than 50 groundbreaking sessions led by brand and design practitioners from P&G, Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark, Target, Facebook, 3M, Bath & Body Works, IBM, Twentieth Century FOX and more. FUSE will celebrate its 15th anniversary event this year and is the trusted brand for bringing the "best of" in brand identity and packaging, and new for 2011 -- culture and anthropology.

Kim Rivielle, Managing Director of the Marketing & Strategy Division of IIR says, "I am completely humbled by SVA recognizing FUSE as the meeting place for their industry voice. It's exciting to think that FUSE will play a role in the shaping of the next generation of brand and design leadership -- and I look forward to personally welcoming them all to the event in April."

For more information or to register for FUSE, click here.

It takes a well-crafted advertising, marketing and design strategy for a brand to breakthrough from being a challenger - disruptive, breaking codes and challenging a category, to an icon - something beloved, lasting and definitive. And I think Honest Tea is a brand that's making an impressive leap.

Going back a step, do you remember when you made a statement by drinking Snapple? You didn't choose Coke or Pepsi at the local 7 Eleven, but opted for tea -- a decisive move to choose something natural, healthy that had a conscience. Since then, shifts in tastes, the growing tea market, and a better understanding of nutritional data have deteriorated the 'it factor' that Snapple once had. Now the statement, healthy beverage choices are more along the lines of Kombucha, Ito En natural teas, HoneyDrop (a Pearlfisher client) and Honest Tea - perhaps Snapple's most direct descendent.

Honest Tea has an ethos of total transparency that touches on their packaging, marketing, advertising and ingredients. With a commitment to organic teas and sustainability, Honest garnered a faithful following and managed to maintain integrity while quickly extending their product line to flavors outside of the box, like Superfruit Punch and Mocha Cacao. With a 2010 marketing campaign, Honest asserted it's brand awareness - they set up Honest Tea displays in urban markets with a request that customers leave a dollar per bottle. Consumers loved it, the press loved it, and Honest made a big leap toward iconic status.

Honest is a great case study for challenger behavior, and now that it's owned entirely by Coca-Cola I will be watching with more than passing interest to see if they're able to keep the brand fresh and dynamic. And as brand designers, we hope to get our hands on it to make it look just a little sexier.... David Butler, are you reading this?

Tess Wicksteed, Strategy Director, Pearlfisher

Hear more from Pearlfisher on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 in Chicago at this year's FUSE conference.
Each week leading up to FUSE 2011, we're going to be bringing you an interesting fact that we learned at FUSE 2010. You can find it across the FUSE Network on twitter @NextBigDesign, the FUSE Facebook Page and the FUSE LinkedIn Group.

This week's FUSE for thought: packaging for McDonald’s is both über-medium and message. Can global design conquer a PR problem?

Do you have a FUSE Design Fact? What was the best thing you learned at FUSE 2010?
Share with us today and look for another fact next Friday!

To find out more about this year's FUSE, coming up in Chicago on April 11-13, visit the webpage.
Luke Williams of Frog Design has just been added to the FUSE 2011 schedule speaking on "Making Innovation Work," on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 8:00 AM. This blog post on Fast Company's Co.Design blog discusses Luke Williams new book, Disrupt, and the idea of innovation through asking the right questions. What questions are you looking to share at this year's FUSE conference?

Plus, are you a art or design student in the Chicago area looking to attend the 2011 FUSE conference? We are seeking three (3) volunteers, preferably Art or Design students, to assist on-site at this year's FUSE conference. This is a valuable opportunity to get an inside look at the only conference that focuses on brand strategy, brand identity, and design with the potential to network with and hear presentations from brand strategists, designers, packaging leaders, and trendhunters in the top of their fields.

Responsibilities will include assisting in meeting rooms, with speakers, monitoring and collecting evaluations and other duties as needed. Hours are 12:30-5:30 PM on Tuesday, April 12 and 12:30-4:30 PM on Wednesday, April 13. We will compensate parking, provide refreshments and the opportunity to listen to speakers on the program.
All inquiries including a resume should go to Fiona Hendricks, Senior Meeting Planner,
In less than one month, the greatest minds in brand strategy, design, packaging, and marketing will unite at FUSE: Design & Culture // Brand Identity & Packaging.

Download the brochure for event details here.

Limited space is available - register today to secure your spot and join leaders from these prestigious organizations:

3M, {akimbo}, Al Saif Graphics, Altria Client Services, American Speakers Bureau, Ampacet, Anthem Worldwide, b2 Retail Solutions, Bath & Body Works, BBDO New York, Beardwood & Company LLC, Bedford ElastiTag, Beiersdorf AG, Belcorp, Benjamin Moore, Blue Spark Technologies Incorporated, Boon Incorporated, Booz Allen Hamilton, Bose Inc, Brand Agent, BrandImage, Brandit, Bridgemark, Brunel University, Bulletproof, Campbell Soup Company, CAUS, CBA Brand Ignition, Ceradini Design Inc, CETCO S.A., Chevron, Chick fil A Inc, CIULLA ASSOC, Clorox, Coca Cola North America, Colgate Palmolive Company, Community Development Foundation, Comp 24, Continental Mills, Coty U S Inc, Crabtree & Evelyn Ltd, Crystal Flash Energy, Cuticone Design, Darralyn Rieth Consulting, Davis, Daymon Worldwide, Design Force Inc, Design Partners Incorporated, Design Resource Center, Deutsch Design Works, Directions, Discovery Communications Inc, DraftFCB, Dragon Rouge, DuPuis Group, Eastman Chemical, Egg Strategy Inc, Epoch Consulting, ExactTarget, Facebook, FHC Marketing, First Bank Financial Centre, Flood Creative, Franke & Fiorella, Fred Meyer Inc, Frito Lay, Frog Design Incorporated, GE, GE Healthcare, Glenn Davis Group, Groupe Catalpa Inc, Havi Global Solutions, Henkel Corporation, Herbalife, Hershey Company, Hewlett Packard, Hotspex Inc, IAN Schrager Company, IBM, Ideas to Go, Immersive Journeys, Innovative Labeling Solutions, Interbrand, Inwork, Irving Oil Marketing, Kaleidoscope, Kalvin Public Relations, Kao Brands, Kellogg Company, Kelly Services, Kimberly Clark, Koo & Associates, Kraft Foods Inc, Landor Associates, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Little Big Brands, Lowe's, Marketing Store Worldwide, Mars North America, Marsh Inc, Mary Kay Inc., McDonalds Corporation, ME4KIDS, Meijer, Microsoft, Moleskine America, Mundocomm World Wide, Nemcor Inc, Nestle Nutrition, Nestle USA, Nestle Waters North America, NextEra Energy FPL, Nishihara-Wilkinson Design Inc, NML Design, Nokia, Nose Knows Consulting, Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc, Package Design Magazine, Packaging World, Passport, Pearlfisher Inc, Perception Research Services, PETCO Animal Supplies Inc, Phillips Distilling, Pigeon Branding & Design, Plastic Ingenuity, Popsop, Post Foods, Prevent Water Beverages, Procter & Gamble, Product Ventures, Quirk Books, R J Reynolds Tobacco Company, Radius Global Market Research, Real Simple, RHA SAS, Robert Bosch Tool Corporation, S2 Design Group, Siegel & Gale, Smart Design, Smith Design, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Soulsight, Stapley Hildebrand, Starcom USA, Sterling Brands, Sterling Rice Group, Sun Chemical, Sun Products Corporation, Swerve, Symrise Inc, Target Corporation, The Gorilla Glue Company, Tirso Olivares Design, Toniq, Turner Duckworth, Twentieth Century Fox, Unilever, United, University of Arkansas, Venture Concepts, Verge Marketing Incorporated, Vertis Communications, VICINI, Visa Inc, Vitra Campus, Wallace Church Inc, Watt International, We Feel Fine, Weatherchem Corporation, Webb deVlam, Weiden and Kennedy, Wm Wrigley Jr Company and many, many more

2010 sold out, secure your spot today. Register here.

Can a business card save humanity?

FUSE 2011 is fast approaching and we’re all going to be looking to meet, exchange handshakes, business cards and stories. So, it seemed a good time to share a story about the importance of your business card.

Here’s my short story, and an extraordinary experience. My partner, Brian Adducci, is a designer with a respect for business. My background is business with a comparable respect for design. We balance each other out on many occasions. When it comes to making business and design decisions, sometimes we debate the details. Our business cards have provided a great example.

Our cards, for your reference, cost about $1.00 each.

Once upon a time, Brian and I were debating this cost and whether it was worth the investment. It was civil, no hair pulling or name calling, but we both had strong points to stand on. Mine: this was $5,000 and we really hadn’t been able to attribute a specific bit of business back to our business cards. Okay, I have an analytical side that sometimes gets ahead of itself. Brian: it was memorable, people commented and they kept our cards. Hence they were valuable at a dollar a piece to make a lasting impression.

While both were good points, neither of us was willing to push harder for our point or give up to the other’s point.

Then, someone called. He asked for me, so sitting at a standstill, I took the call.

“This is Barry, someone just gave me your business card the other day, and we need to meet. I need to know the people behind this card.”

My first reaction was not a smile, thank you and a “when would you like to meet.” My first reaction was nearly a few swear words, audible to Barry. I held back, we exchanged information and I went back to my debate with Brian and we are still using metal business cards today, eight years later. And, we’ve reordered two times since, without a debate.

How could such a small piece of our social ritual mean so much? I ask how could it not. Why would we do away with something so personal, how could we. It contains the basic information to start a conversation, begin a relationship and get to know another human being.

There’s a social theory out there, and as I understand it the theory goes like this. The more people we know from other cultures and the more we build in social interdependencies the better odds we won’t want to fight and kill each other. So, essentially, the more connected we are, across all cultures, continents and societies, means a better odds on the human race will surviving.

If business cards are one of the oldest and as I see it, essential elements to start a professional relationship, shouldn’t we do our best to keep them around?

If you agree business cards should stay, give me a “like.” If you have a thought, please say so. If you have a business card and happen to be in Chicago in late April, bring it along and meet some interesting people.

As I see it, we could be saving humanity here.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal,

Each week leading up to FUSE 2011, we're going to be bringing you an interesting fact that we learned at FUSE 2010. You can find it across the FUSE Network on twitter @NextBigDesign, the FUSE Facebook Page and the FUSE LinkedIn Group.

This week's FUSE for thought: Why are Starbucks designers free to mess w/sacred logo?

Do you have a FUSE Design Fact? What was the best thing you learned at FUSE 2010?
Share with us today and look for another fact next Friday!

To find out more about this year's FUSE, coming up in Chicago on April 11-13, visit the webpage.
Tone of voice is incredibly powerful in shaping perception. As brand designers at Pearlfisher we connect strong brand truths with powerful desire, and we do this through naming, identity, structure, graphics and innovation. Oftentimes the words we design around a brand become its hallmark - what makes it truly special.

Think about Charlie Sheen. By now he's even a verb and whatever you think about him his way of speaking makes him stand out from the crowd - we find him fascinating, striking, pitiable and impossible to ignore. His tone of voice is definitive, consistent and utterly unapologetic. His 'downward spiral' is a brand in itself that he's managed to capitalize on with great success, but because his dramatic showcase statements don't have any purpose - aren't linked to any message or truth he is unlikely to have any lasting impact - he's too erratic to really say anything really meaningful or change peoples minds.

Contrast him with Ricky Gervais at this year's Golden Globe's ceremony. Like Sheen, Gervais masterfully owned his unapologetic tone of voice throughout the evening. Maybe it's because Gervais was scripted and measured, but his words meant something bigger than the awards show - they were linked to a message or truth that Gervais wanted to bring home - he challenged celebrity worship and sucked the air out of the room with his quick-witted jabs, and many of the millions watching on TV loved it and millions didn't - he polarized opinion but got noticed and made people think all the while building his brand.

A distinct, disruptive tone of voice is one of the most important pieces of ammunition for designers. Look at Miracle Whip. They went through a major redesign and launched a polarizing ad campaign. Most people want mayonnaise, not Miracle Whip, so why not champion the fans? "Are you bold enough?" Who knew buying a condiment could feel so empowering? The new pack is a clean, retro look that's announced with the burst "New and More Amazing!" its own bold rhetoric is a challenge to us to be bolder ourselves.

So, maybe Charlie Sheen can teach us a little something about how we express ourselves... be bold or go home.

- Tess Wicksteed, Strategy Director, Pearlfisher
Follow Pearlfisher on twitter here:

Hear more from Pearlfisher on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 in Chicago at this year's FUSE conference.
There is a consensus among the innovators of the 21st century business world that email has got to go. The technology that created our current communication standard is now holding us back. The inbox zero movement is alive and growing, bringing more and more people to act rebelliously by maintaining an empty inbox. Man of the Internet Kevin Rose is a big fan of responding with Three Sentences or fewer. Researchers have even observed what they call "email apnea", where patients feel a physical compulsion to check email every few minutes (if not continually.)

The madness has to stop. What was once a 30 minute annoyance is now my full-time job
—Kevin Rose

All this begs the question, what is going to replace email? The great white hype of the day seems to be in social messaging tools. Combining aspects of instant messaging, forum posts, chat rooms, file depositories, and yes, email, these new tools hope to make it easier for teams to communicate, especially when not located in the same physical space. Sounds great, but the trouble is, there's a ton of them emerging, with no clear way forward.

Google was the first one out of the gate in this space when they introduced Wave. In fact, they actually said the inspiration for Wave was "What would email look like if it were designed today?" Wave was quirky and interesting, and perhaps due to a clunky invite beta scheme, it never really caught on. Sadly, Google has ceased development.

New tools are emerging rapidly. With SXSWi coming up at the end of this week, the startups creating these new communication media are all hoping to grab thousands of influential new users the way Twitter did back in 2007, and become the next big thing. Groupme, a way of keeping in touch with friends or colleagues on the go, is sure to be a hit, and Convore, which seeks to enable better conversations from the web, is already a great way to track topics of interest. If you work in a conventional office, you might try Rypple, a sort of social-network-in-a-box for co-workers.

37 Signals has a number of products aimed at collaboration including Writeboard, a bare-bones document editor, to Basecamp, their full-service project management suite. In this case, the company developed most of their tools out of necessity, as they have been a distributed company almost since their inception. A free alternative called Co-Op is available from Harvest, my time-tracking/billing software of choice.

Communication alternatives also exist in the more mature web technologies such as forums or wikis. Podcasts such as Keith and The Girl or BoagWorld, comedy and web design shows respectively, have thriving forum communities, in addition to more modern social media presence. Creating a wiki using a system such as WikiSpaces can allow one or more people to document a process, such as the progress of building a website. Even in creating a blog — and encouraging people to comment — teams and companies can find more versatile and accessible ways of communicating than dusty old email.

We live in a busy world. Folks are talking. But it can be difficult to separate the signals from the noise if email is the only method of communicating. Try some of these new collaborative tools and leave email back in the 1970s when it was born. Now if only we could end the fax machine once and for all.

Prescott Perez-Fox is an independent brand developer and graphic designer in Metro New York. You can get in touch with him — even by email — via his blog, »
In the weeks leading up to FUSE 2011, we're going to be hearing from the speakers! This week we have Dr. LiAnne Yu, Founder, Immersive Journeys, who will be part of the Cultural Anthropology, Insights & Trends track at FUSE 2011. To learn more about FUSE, download the brochure here!

Listen to our brief podcast interview with LiAnne here
, or read on for some of her thoughts on design, trends and cultural anthropology.

1. Tell us about a project you are working on or recently completed that you are proud of?
I am launching Immersive Journeys, Kitchen Stories this year, focused on food and memory among immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area. My clients will have the opportunity to spend time with a San Franciscan immigrant family, create a meal together, and in the process, uncover their host family's life histories, memories of the homeland, and how food connects to their personal stories. We will then work together to craft these experiences into an ethnographic story, using words, sounds, images, or a combination. This experience gives my clients, who may be travelers to San Francisco or residents interested in ethnic culture, the opportunity to practice ethnographic skills and develop their own ethnographic account of their visit. I am especially proud of this offering because it highlights the diversity of cultures we have here in the Bay Area, and gives people of all backgrounds the opportunity to learn ethnographic skill sets in a fun and meaningful context.

2. Think ahead 5 years, what major changes for design do you see?
Storytelling will become a more significant part of the entire design process, but especially in the early stages. As we all know, the most powerful brands tell a story, and that story resonates with consumers on a fundamental level, even if they don't explicitly agree with the story or understand it. To take an example, I would argue that one of the most powerful brands today is Lady Gaga. Everything she wears, does, says and performs is part of a larger, overarching story she is trying to convey. While some may view her as off the wall with her random outfits, what's really going on is that she is art directing all of her public life - all of her brand touch points, so to speak. As storytelling becomes integrated into earlier parts of the brand/product design process, I believe we're likely to see more screen writers, film makers, and others with storytelling skills become integrated into the design process.

3. What inspired you to get in the field? What keeps you motivated?
I worked as a design ethnographer for a market research consultancy for many years. What I loved most about my work was the ability to bring my ethnographic skills into a business context, and to work with designers on modeling and expressing information. The inspiration for my new company, Immersive Journeys, was the realization that people are seeking new ways to experience different cultures and to get away from the touristy aspects of travel. I am constantly hearing people tell me that they wish they could just go into someone's home when they travel and experience locals' actual lifestyles, instead of just hanging out in the tourist ghettos. Coaching people on the fundamentals of anthropology and traveling with the intent of creating ethnographic stories is my passion, and keeps me motivated.

4. What is one thing you’re excited about for this year’s Fuse?
Seeing how companies and brands have weathered the economic downturn of the last few years, and how they may be changing strategies to be more nimble in their design process. And this is my first time attending FUSE, so I'm just generally excited and honored to be part of this community.

Immersive Journeys is an experiential travel service dedicated to providing people of all backgrounds the opportunity to:
• Have authentic, 1:1 encounters with locals, learning their life histories, spending time in their homes and participating in their daily activities
• Develop skills for digging in and experiencing cultures from the inside
• Create ethnographic stories reflecting your unique encounters, making use of your natural storytelling style
For more information, visit, or follow LiAnne on Twitter at @lianneyu

Is the Charlie Sheen implosion a publicity stunt?

Let’s talk about the stars in Hollywood. They are valuable assets to the broadcast industry. And, as we all know, brands are property with contracts and agreements in place to make sure behaviors are kept in check.

Charlie is not behaving. This fact is widely known.

Here’s my first theory. As a result of his bad behavior, Charlie is being written out of contracts, agreements and existing deals. He is tossing out the old Charlie brand with the bath water, thus reinventing himself and his brand. And, in doing so, he is finding his way out of the old “trade dress” of Charlie.

Is this just a brand consulting firm attempting to turn a popular culture moment into a lesson about branding? Before you answer that, let’s look inside this situation and follow this theory down the muskrat hole (as that’s the more appropriate metaphorical tunnel to follow).

Celebrities are brands, yes, but they’re also human beings. Some of them forget that their fame and fortune comes at a price, as they become property. At what point in contractual language around Hollywood stars does it start to sound like Charlie is merely a piece of meat? Is he being chopped up and served to the international consuming public with a side salad and just the right starch? What does this feel like as a human being? Perhaps Charlie has had enough and he is rebelling against the industrialized machine of Hollywood. No empathy for Charlie yet? That’s fine, let’s go further into his world. What if a brand starts to become boxed into a certain role in your life? You see it in that way and can’t see it in any other way. Spirits brands run into this when their audience starts to age and die off (Dewer’s). Fashion brands have this happen when they become too focused on one particular style without evolving themselves as trends change (Guess, Girbaud Jeans). Charlie is a brand attempting to get out of the pigeonhole we’ve all put him into, and he’s doing it by acting his way out. It’s also known as improvisation.

Here’s the second theory. Look at this one, Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman back in 2009. He was in character and he was entertaining. It just took the public a while to realize this. Perhaps Charlie is setting up the next phase of his life, starting to blend his acting onscreen to his acting in front of other cameras (and on radio stations). Perhaps Charlie has short-circuited and his acting "off-switch" had a bad reaction to cocaine. But we’ve seen the stunts of Hollywood many times. This seems to smell of something being baked (pun not intended) in the oven of the publicity machine.

So, what's the extraordinary experience? When you realize how much spin is within the spin of Hollywood. Similar to the size of the universe, it is really hard to get your head around.

Theory one: Desperately attempting to reinvent his brand. Theory two: Setting up for his next deal or movie. Theory three: He misplaced his acting off-switch.

Which one gets your vote?

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal,

Brand Tattoos, the sign of a passionate following

The goal of any brand in today's consumerist landscape is to create a passionate following. Following the best practices of politics and religion, we seek to create a group so dedicated to our brand that these passionate followers do our job for us, spreading the brand message, making recommendations on products, and living the brand ethos in all they do. They've been called zealots, ambassadors, fanboys, and devotees. They've been known to get tattoos of a brand's logo, and will buy the latest product without hesitation. They're good to have.

But this group's passion also brings great potential for criticism. These are the hardest-to-please lot, and the ones who will scrutinize the actions of the brand closer than any unsuspecting consumer or would-be client. This is Passion's Paradox.

Even some of today's most popular brands, proud of their cult-like followings, suffer from sniping within their ranks. Brands like John Deere and Harley Davidson have been caught sourcing inferior parts only by those who tinker under the hood year after year. Die-hard fans of Starbucks or In-and-Out Burger will shout in the streets when their favorite product or flavor is discontinued — even though it was never listed on the menu to begin with.

Apple's "fanboys", as they are often called, are notorious for this. Those who use the products day in and day out, who buy new items on day one, and who will camp out for days in front of an Apple store are usually the first ones to observe and decry the decisions made in the design of the product, its release, or even its coloring. (We're still waiting for our white iPhones, by the way.) This week's release of the iPad 2 saw elated commentary — and eye-rolls — emerge mere seconds after Steve Jobs announced each feature, thanks to Twitter and live blogging.

Designers too have been known to let their passions run wild. As most of us rely on several Adobe software titles, we're very keen to observe the shortcomings and vent our frustrations via Twitter, forums, and even entire websites. Dear Adobe is a website set up with just this purpose in mind — an open forum to tell Adobe where there is room for improvement in their products and general operations. A while back, a web designer named Dustin Curtis took the bold step of redesigning the website for American Airlines after his ongoing frustrations as a frequent traveler. Now that's passion. Designers are not afraid to lend their skills toward improving a brand experience, especially for something we're passionate about. I even did a cheeky redesign for the UPS website.

Dustin Curtis's redesign of American Airlines
Dustin Curtis's redesign of American Airlines

So what can brands do to ensure their passionate fan-base doesn't revolt over minor frustrations? Two things: create an avenue for suggestions, and keep people informed on what you're up to. Yes, this requires an effort on the brand's part, I'm afraid to say. By creating a sort of suggestion box, users can feel as if they're playing a role in the brand's future. If their suggestion gets used or implemented, you better believe that user is going to spread the word, even for a minor site update or the return of an obscure flavor. Communicating with the public can occur in many channels. Creating (and monitoring) a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and an internal blog are all great ways to get feedback on how folks are using your product or service. Going beyond this, give the people some insight into how the brand is constantly improving. One blog that does this well is OK Trends, the internal blog of dating site OK Cupid, which presents academic style case studies of how the staff is constantly learning, and how you can make your experience better. Starbucks has a pretty decent site as well. My Starbucks Idea allows users to post forum-style about topics relevant to their personal coffee-drinking needs. And to sign a petition to bring back Almond flavor syrup, in my case.

Your brand doesn't need a PhD candidate writing blog posts, but even a remark saying "here's a suggestion we got ... and we're going to do it." goes a long way wrestling the public's passions to a manageable level. We enjoy being passionate about our brands. We like spreading the word about good experiences and putting out warnings when things go bad. Creating the channels to improve our favorite brands a is a victory for everyone.

Prescott Perez-Fox is an independent brand developer and graphic designer in Metro New York. His passions often run wild, all over his blog, »

Each week leading up to FUSE 2011, we're going to be bringing you an interesting fact that we learned at FUSE 2010. You can find it across the FUSE Network on twitter @NextBigDesign, the FUSE Facebook Page and the FUSE LinkedIn Group.

This week's FUSE for thought: Circle of Trust: a continuum of inextricably connected values and principles, if applied correctly, can form a brand’s suit of armor

Do you have a FUSE Design Fact? What was the best thing you learned at FUSE 2010?
Share with us today and look for another fact next Friday!

To find out more about this year's FUSE, coming up in Chicago on April 11-13, visit the webpage.
As quoted in The Wall Street Journal last week, "Hotelier Ian Schrager, often considered the founding father of boutique hotels, soon will announce that he's building a new boutique hotel in New York and converting three existing hotels in New York and London as part of his two new boutique brands."

Hotel brands across the globe are investing in design, branding and guest experience to create lifestyle hotels that cater to the desires of the luxury hotel guest market. "'These lifestyle hotels are the future of the business,” Mr. Schrager said in the article.

FUSE is thrilled to put you face to face with legendary hotelier, Ian Schrager who will share why brand and design are so critical for the future of the hospitality industry.

In addition to Ian Schrager, hear motivating and career transforming stories from...
Futurist - Michio Kaku, World Renowned Designer - Karim Rashid, Anthropologist - Jonathan Harris, Author - Doogie Horner, Curator - Johcen Eisenbrand... plus top brand, design and packaging executives from: Facebook, Target, P&G, Westin Hotels, Nokia, Twentieth Century Fox, Meijer, IBM, Coca-Cola, GE Healthcare, Benjamin Moore, MillerCoors, 3M, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Moleskin America, BBDO, Crabtree + Evelyn, Kimberly Clark, Bath & Body Works, Frito Lay, Cisco, Kao Brands Company, Monster Energy Beverage, Real Simple, Coty Prestige, Prevent Water Beverages, Me4Kidz, Koo and Associates Limited, and many more.

Download the FUSE Brochure for more details here.

Come celebrate the 15 anniversary of FUSE, April 11-13, 2011 in Chicago, and get the inspiration, information and camaraderie you need to succeed. Register now, and as a Next Big Design blog reader, you save 15% off the standard rate. Use priority code FUSE11Blog3 to register here.

Last year we sold out, so register now to secure your spot!

The Fuse: Design & Culture, Brand Identity & Packaging event webpage
Fan Us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Really, what is sustainable? How long are we talking? Are we talking years, decades or lifetimes? Many lifetimes, I hope.

A couple weeks ago I dinged Cameron Diaz for not being authentic in her sustainable behaviors. Since that time, I've been finalizing a speech for the Green Salon in Cincinnati next week and find the need to clarify. If what Cameron Diaz does is wrong, what is right? Which leads us back to the question of what is sustainable anyway? And, if we combine integrated marketing with sustainability to make, "Sustainable Integrated Marketing", what do we have now? An oxymoron?

We, as purveyors of design, brand, and marketing provide the catalyst for a consuming public. Our livelihoods are typically based on causing an accelerated consumption. Perhaps we must refocus to the right kind of consumption. This would fit with two of the three biblical words of the sustainable movement (reduce, reuse, recycle). But how do we (the collective we) address the need to reduce consumption and the use of resources?

This has perplexed me for some time. It has led me to thinking about this particular problem from a different perspective. You’ve likely seen Freakonomics and learned of the connection between crime rates falling nationally and Rowe v Wade? This is not intended to jump into the middle of that debate, but rather to notice the unexpected connection between socioeconomic patterns. Combined with the idea that not all historic reference points are correct, just because they’re historic, remember the line, “Adam Smith needs revision.”

With this in mind, take a leap with me on this theory.

Use better materials but accelerate consumption.

One: The economic engine of consumption is hard to turn off, but not as hard to accelerate. We know more about how to accelerate than we do about how to decelerate.

Two: The United States is a consumption-driven society, but the social structures in China, India and other nations are more production-driven. The patterns are there and these societies are moving in that direction as a middle class develops and consumption becomes the primary driver. It’s important that developing nations continue to develop, but knowing what we now know about sustainability, perhaps they can be encouraged not to make the same mistakes as the developed world.

Three: The more we use, the faster we burn through the planetary oil reserves and are required to find new more environmentally-friendly sources of energy.

Four: As humans, we learn from what we consume. If we knew what oil would do to the planet as an energy source, we may have changed directions back when it became the dominant source. We know more now and hopefully would apply our collective learning.

Five: The effort to push us to more consumption may just have the opposite effect. This might not be the immediate effect, but it could happen as we become more disgusted with ourselves. The result being a big consumption push, oil reserves find their end and we come together to find new energy sources.

There it is. Flying right in the face of REDUCE. Give it some thought and argue against it. I’d like to hear the perspectives.

Extraordinary Experience? Thinking about what is sustainable and when we are going to make real progress.

I ask this because I’ve been wondering: when does a landfill become as economically valuable as an oil field in our global society? Or when does a plastic water bottle (now known as waste) achieve its true value in the petroleum it contains?

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal,


Most Popular