"Each one of you is a fuse.” - Edward Koch, Former Mayor of New York City

Here's a short round-up of things to light your FUSE this week:

- Take a look at this creative gallery launched by Google's Think Insights to showcase digital marketing innovation at its best.

- Here's a fun way combining nature, waterfalls and technology in Osaka Station, Japan.

- “The Sinking World“ by Andreas Franke: Surreal, decadence, menacing depending on the story being portrayed. The imagination if one were to be living under the sea.

- Some pretty neat packaging: BMF and Random House help readers pass books on to homeless Australians

The ground is shifting under your feet and your standing is not as solid as you come to expect living on this big ball in space. Where are you exactly?

You’re living inside retail. More so, you’re living in the midst of a number of dramatic changes happening to the industry.

One. Digital and physical commerce are meeting and going on a few awkward dates as they try to figure each other out.

Yeah, it is just that, the geek (digital) taking out the super model (physical). While volume of sales is still in physical stores, the super model knows there's a need to adapt. Kiosks are starting to look more sustainable as they adapt the looks of Best Buy express stationsCosmopolitan self serve wine in Vegas and less like their awkward attempts in the 90s we'd all love to forget. 

This is just one aspect of digital and physical getting together—QR Codes, Near Field, and a truck load of other attempts are mingling. The good news is the reward is large enough to create plenty of experimentation. The bad news is nothing is an overwhelming winner at this point. 

Two. Mobility is more than just a form of transportation; it’s a growing part of how people expect to buy in the moment versus as a planned event. 

Remember the story of the first guy who never left home, bought everything online and was proud to say he spent a year shuttered in his apartment on his PC (because you know he didn't have an Apple)? The next one is someone who buys everything they need via a mobile device and never buys from a cash register ever again—while remaining a social, living being. Mobile purchases are certainly still infantile, but they’re growing like a well fed hog heading for the state fair. 

Three. Design of experiences isn't just lipstick and a good-looking sow, it’s real and those who get it are going to win on the sales percentage per square inch game (yes, inch).

Last week a good friend, former head of design at Best Buy, James Damian, told me an amazing story about a meeting with Apple and Best Buy. It can't be shared here, but if you run into me at FUSE, I'll share it. It epitomizes the differences between Best Buy and a retailer like Apple who exceeded Tiffany's per square foot sales numbers and has since that time doubled that number. The design of experiences in retail is going to hit the stride of an Olympic runner in the next five years. Yes, it does mean measuring success by the square inch, not by the foot. Keep pace.

Four. Culture designed to be sustainable is evermore important on a landscape full of potential failures, fiascos, and chances to step on your poncho (yeah, that hurts). 

Here's another story about a local retailer, known for design but less known for designed culture. The culture of celebrating failure is a great one to spit out and smile, but how often does it really happen in the dark caverns of corporate America. Really? Well, Target has practiced this at the highest level of the organization and it shows up when things don't go as planned. They have recently stepped in an icky pile with the "shops at Target" concept, but culturally they will learn from this and design something better. They have done it before and with certainty, the experimentation within Target is far from complete. This behavior is essential to deal with the changing landscape of retail. 

The voice of design is strong in retail—it always has been. Now more than ever, the behaviors and thinking that goes with the voice of design is something essential to retail success. 

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal

You’ve heard it all along, this year FUSE is smashing silos and debuting new formats to completely mix up your experience and ensure you have access to the very best across industries. Because you are more than your title, department and your role, sessions are no longer labeled by department or function. At FUSE, we all have One Collective Voice.

Participate in provocative, content driven and inspiring experiences:

Partake in some good old fashioned conversation

The Role of Insights: When To Trust Your Gut vs. Follow the Data

Building off of three years of spirited discussion focused on this topic at FUSE, this moderated, interactive discussion will discuss the evolving role of insights in the development of brand strategy, communications and design. At what point in the process does insights stand to have the most influence and, at the end of the day, how improved is the brand experience because of it?
Get the “behind the scene” scoop

Reanimating an IconWendy Orner, Design Leader, Surface Care, P&G

P&G needed to reinvigorate a tired but well known brand. By mining the rich heritage and finding the “fruits in the roots,”  Design lead the restage and created a bold new look for a brand that had lost its way.

Elevating the AT&T Customer Experience: "It’s What You Do With What We Do"Gregg Heard, VP of Brand Identity, AT&T

Through their emphasis on developments in their brand identity programs—visual, sonic and verbal— and the launch of an interactive store experience, AT&T set out to brand the intangible parts of the experience. This session discusses AT&T’s design initiatives that focus on the customer’s application of their technology, encourage customer engagement, and foster innovation.
Three panelists, Three different functions within the organization

Brand Differentiation Through DesignMelissa Smith Hazen, Director OWN Brands Design, AHOLD USAJosh Handy, Industrial Designer, MethodSuzanne El-Moursi, Chief Marketing Officer, Power2Switch

Some of today’s most recognizable brands like Apple and Target to name just two have leveraged design as a strategic lever to stand out from competition and inspire brand love and passionate loyalty. Representing perspectives from strategic design, industrial design and marketing, this panel will discuss how you can make design work even harder for your brands.
Three panelists, Three different industries

Design Thinking: Championing the Strategic Integration of Design Within Your OrganizationSean Hughes, Chief Design Officer, Philips HealthcareWilly Wong, Chief Creative Officer, NYC & CoVince Voron, Head of Design, The Coca-Cola Company

We all believe in the strategic power of design to ignite brand growth, build trust with consumers and differentiate brands from competition. This panel unites the most inspiring and influential design leaders to share how to strategically elevate the influence and impact of design within your organization and the potential for collaboration at the most strategic levels.
Interviews with today’s most influential brand owners

Kendra Inman, Creative Director and Co-founder, One Love Organics on Creating Authentic Brands

Question everything. How starting with “beginner’s mind” helped us launch an innovative, values-based, natural beauty brand. By starting with what seemed, at the time, like a simple question, we built the foundation for an authentic, unique brand in a hypersaturated, often superficial market.
Experts share thought leadership, success stories and award winning work.
Designing in the Fifth Dimension.Peter Clarke CEO and Founder and Marcus Hewitt, CCO, Product Ventures

In a world previously constrained by space (3D) and time (4D) the emergence of the elusive fifth dimension (5D) changes the future of design by increasing its probability of success. Our unique perspective on the holistic collaboration of graphics (2D) and structure (3D), unlock an entirely new dimension of infinite possibilities. Join us as we reveal the magic that can be created when all disciplines are in play and under one roof.

Download the full agenda here to see full FUSE 2013 details

* Mention FUSE13BLOG to save 15% off the standard rate.

When did natural products come to realize woodcut type and craft paper likely perpetuates the negative stereotypes of natural products and are therefore not required to be considered a player in the natural product industry?

According to Eric Ryan of Method, the natural products industry (if it is to be labeled as an industry) has transformed since Method arrived on the scene. Don't misinterpret my meaning, he wasn't taking credit for the change, he was merely noting it as a happy observer.

We were a recent witness this transformation when we visited the Natural Products Expo West to meet with clients, prospects and friends. It was an eye opening experience.

After knowing Eric for almost a decade, we were able to see him surrounded by an industry that his brand has dramatically influenced. We have friends at the brand Kind, but until the expo, we had never realized their prominence in the Natural Products industry. Though we have worked with many natural products brands, we had not yet experienced what it was like when they came together under one roof and got busy socializing. It was an event.

Brands like Seventh Generation had typically passed by packaging aesthetics in favor of product efficacy and sustainability messaging. The voice of design has now entered the halls of this brand.  Seventh Generation now demonstrates how putting effort into design can benefit the brand because of the improved perceptions of consumers.

Design is deeply embedded in natural products — the industry has discovered bright colors, professional photography and a variety of other design constructs. Does this mean the industry is no longer as natural or has sold out in some manner? Not in our view. It merely showcases the fact that product efficacy and a "green" message doesn't have to look like it was run through the dirt before getting to your kitchen table.

The reason: bad design is not about making something look ugly but rather about not taking the time to thoughtfully consider all factors in developing a brand. Being intentionally ugly can be a good design decision, but not taking the time or resources to consider your aesthetics is a bad design decision.

The voice of design is strong in this one.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal


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