FUSE 2013 has promised to have an even more pronounced presence of brand strategy alongside of course, all dimensions of design. This week we wanted to take a look at some of the sessions that will bring this promise to life.

On Monday, April 15, 2013 in our Igniting Brand Growth symposium join No, I don’t drive a Pink Cadillac, But I know 40 thousand women who do: Globalizing & Modernizing a Heritage Brand with Stephen Webster, Corporate Design Director of Brand Vision, Mary Kay Global. Webster will share how an internal Brand & Design Department updated the core product line, modernized and unified the marketing materials in 37 different countries around the world, and helped to brand a new website and award winning virtual make-over App—all while gently nudging the ‘sacred cows’ off the road.

(Click here to revisit an exclusive FUSE interview with Stephen Webster.)

A Tazo® Awake™ Tea Latte
On Tuesday April 16 and Wednesday April 17, take a dip into "Stream B" for more brand strategy focused sessions. For example, in The Rebranding of Tazo Tea: A Starbucks Case Study with Daniele Monti, Creative Director, Brand Expression, Starbucks, we'll hear how the Starbucks in-house creative studio was assigned the task of fully re-thinking the Tazo tea brand that Starbucks acquiredin 1994.

Months later, the brand rolled out with new strategic positioning, visual expression, packaging, retail and ecommerce touch points. The presence of the Tazo brand in multiple channels (CPG, proprietary retail, Starbucks retail, and ecommerce) made this inter-disciplinary case study on how to hold brand vision intact as tools are being built, and how to make a once revered brand relevant again without losing its soul.

Other brand strategy focused sessions will include:

Collaborative Disruption: Innovating Brands, Business Models & Wellbeing with Pepsi
Nerf: Achieving the Impossible Through Innovation and Insights with Hasbro Sports Action

Fun is Not Good Enough: Winning at the Business of Play with Mattel, Inc.

And more!  To learn more about these, or other FUSE 2013 sessions, visit the event website and download the conference brochure.  Readers of our blog can save 15% off the price of registration. Use code FUSE13BLOG to save.
This month, Fast Company delves into the art of the conversation and shares countless accounts of some of the best ideas, businesses and decisions that were unintentionally born from a simple conversation. Zuckerberg's bet on social, Starbucks commitment to humanity and the Michael Graves collaboration with Target are a few. They weren’t the result of someone on the hunt for the next big thing. They came from a conversation.

In the same issue, Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter likens a conversation to engagement and goes on to say that true, revolutionary learning results from that unique level of human engagement you experience in a conversation. With a new format designed to foster more conversation and collaboration than ever before, have conversations at FUSE that will spark great ideas, your personal reinvention or new business directions. This type of engagement is difficult to create virtually- in a LinkedIn discussion, 140 characters or over a webinar. It requires a face to face experience.

Join us for the rise of a whole new FUSE. Why chose FUSE

We were curious. Why, after all these years, do people continue to return to FUSE? Sure, we had our speculations and best guesses, but we wanted to hear the real reasons right from the horse’s mouth. We were blown away by the responses. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of the reasons why people choose FUSE with you.

Here’s why Sharon Reiter Lindberg, Senior Design Manager, Unilever Visual Branding, chooses FUSE every year: FUSE IS...

  • Reinvigorating 
  • Social 
  • Provocative 
  • Exciting 
  • Interactive 
  • Professional 
  • Fun 
  • Multi-Dimensional 
  • Thought-Provoking 
  • Imaginative 
  • Invigorating

We call on the great people of FUSE to join us in championing One Collective Voice. 

Want to share why you choose FUSE? We'd love to hear from you. Tweet @NextBigDesign #FUSEDesign, via Instagram @nextbigdesign or share your thoughts below. We'd love to hear from you too.

Register by February 8th, 2013 to save $600 now! Register today to be a part of this fabulous movement of amazing brand and design leaders.
Let's face it: 3D printing is capital C Cool. We've heard about it's uses in everything from toys to transplants:
Keynote Karim Rashid spoke to the Fuse 2011 audience about the fact that 92% of the world's products are made by machines, but that those machines are now offering ever more customized and personalized products.
But do we really want to be living in a world that's just being filled up with more plastic stuff?

Seemingly at the exact opposite end of the spectrum from the customization trend is the sustainability trend, telling us to think responsibly, to make less and to ship less. 3D printers generally rely on plastic filament, meaning more plastic production. Enter Filabot, (pictured above) which according to this piece in Wired "promises to help turn your plastic crap into 3-D printed fanciness, alleviating one of the biggest sustainability problems for 3-D printing."

Re-using our plastic junk? Now that is very cool.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing, she may be reached at mleblanc@iirusa.com
We recently wrote of the inspiring voices that are the hallmark of the FUSE conference brand. Over the next several weeks, let's take a deeper look at some of the speakers that are going to make the FUSE 2013 our most captivating lineup to date.

Up first:


From her website:

Honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” Tiffany Shlain, 42, is a filmmaker, public speaker, writer, founder of The Webby Awards, and co-founder of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

Tiffany’s films have won over 45 awards and distinctions including Audience and Grand Jury Prizes, and a 2012 Disruptive Innovation Award from The Tribeca Film Festival. Her films have been shown at museums, theaters, conferences and festivals around the world, and are known for their irreverent and profound unraveling of complicated subjects like identity, technology, and science.

Tiffany is currently working on a film series which employs a new kind of collaborative filmmaking she and her film studio call CLOUD FILMMAKING. The series, titled “Let it Ripple: Mobile Films for Global Change,” will include 12 short 2 to 10-minute films over the next 4 years about important aspects of life. Each of these films is made collaboratively by inviting people from all over the world to send in videos from their cell phones. Then once the film is completed, her team offers free customized versions of the film to non-profits to help spread their message.
This two minute film, ENGAGE is an example

Shlain will be presenting "Cloud Filmmaking: Cloudsourcing Creativity in the Age of Collaboration" at the 2013 FUSE conference. In this session, she will address the following questions:
  • How can you engage your community’s creativity?
  • How can you use models of participation online to create better stories?
  • How can you truly experiment with mobile and understand how the word “Lab” is embedded in “Collaborate?
To learn more about this, or other FUSE 2013 sessions, visit the event website and download the conference brochure.  Readers of our blog can save 15% off the price of registration. Use code FUSE13BLOG to save.

They’ve become a hallmark of the FUSE experience. The keynote speakers that have graced the FUSE stage over the years are collectively the world’s best designers like Philippe Starck in 2008, the most strategic branding experts like Jim Stengel in 2010, the most intuitive trend visionaries like Michio Kaku in 2011 and the most inspiring storytellers like Joe Sabia in 2012.

This year, we raise the bar yet again and present 2013’s captivating lineup:

ON DESIGN: Jonathan Adler, World Famous Designer
ON BUSINESS: Mike Indursky, CEO, Bliss World
ON BRANDS: Dennis Furniss, Vice President Global Design, Unilever
ON CREATIVITY: Maria Popova, Founder & Editor, BrainPickings
ON WHAT’S NEXT: Magnus Lindkvist, Trendspotter, Futurologist and Author, Everything We Know is Wrong!
ON CULTURE: Virginia Postrel, Author, Substance of Style

Plus, more than 50 world-class speakers will be on hand to share their story – Visit our website and download the conference agenda for full details.

Readers of our blog can receive an exclusive 15% discount. Use code FUSE13BLOG to save.

Register on our website.

Be provoked. Be inspired. Be better. We'll see you in Chicago,
The FUSE: Design & Culture// Brand Strategy & Packaging Team
I was recently watching this video featuring Fuse 2013 speaker Jonathan Adler where he discusses designing a limited edition straw for Diet Pepsi, and I got to thinking about the ways that design has become part of the conversation...even outside of the design world.

Drinking straws always needed designers (Marvin Stone...Joseph B. Friedman?), but this video shows a respected designer chatting with a mommy blogger about his project and inspirations. Like Adler, I grew up using Krazy Straws, but I certainly couldn't have told you who designed them. By injecting design elements and promoting his involvement, an every day object - a small thing really - is elevated...or to look at it the other way, what was once either an "elevated" or an invisible practice is made mainstream and visible.

Jonathan Adler has become a household name across America by bringing his pattern-happy, Mid-century-inspired housewares to the likes of Target and JC Penney and even serving as a judge on a reality TV show: “Top Design” on Bravo.

In a December 2012 feature in the New York Times, Adler was quoted as saying, "I don’t like it when design becomes unnecessarily oblique or when it doesn’t communicate, I hate dour obscurantism. I like it when things are chic and optimistic and communicative. It’s not dour at all. It’s not about ‘process’ and ‘exploration.’ It’s about ‘I’m going to make my apartment even cuter.’ ”

What it comes down to: the appeal of things that are "chic and optimistic and communicative" is universal (We've heard before about the psychological appeal of rounded corners or certain logos.) Huge brands like PepsiCo and Target are embracing this and using design as a differentiator. The explosive popularity of Pinterest is yet another indicator of interest in the topic.

Is this new, more inclusive idea of design, even in the small things, just a trend? Or are we looking at a future world of "cuter" apartments for everyone?

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing, she may be reached at mleblanc@iirusa.com

This year, FUSE is smashing silos and debuting a more inclusive and comprehensive experience than ever before. Introducing an entire format re-invented around cohesiveness and collective-ism—we proudly unveil an agenda crafted to present choices that empower.

Visit our website to download the full program.

Our 2013 theme, One Collective Voice, celebrates a more collaborative approach to building brands through the synergy of strategy and design. With more NEW this year than ever, this FUSE is one that must not be missed.

Find it and love it at FUSE 2013:
• The perfect balance of practical and provocative
• The best brand and design work in market now and a dialogue around what’s next
• An even more pronounced focus on brand strategy
• Back by popular demand: a comprehensive focus on graphic, industrial and interactive design
• Legendary keynote lineup featuring designer Jonathan Adler, Target’s SVP of Marketing and Unilever’s Head of Global Brand Design
• Seven new session formats including FUSE Exposés, Gallery Sessions and Stories
• More industry representation provides for a richer exchange of ideas
• New Symposium on Trans-media and Interactive Design AND Igniting Brand Growth

It’s the rise of a whole new FUSE. Don’t miss it.

Readers of our blog receive an exclusive 15% discount. Use code FUSE13BLOG to save.
Register on our website.

If you have any questions about the agenda, feel free to contact me, Michelle LeBlanc at mleblanc@iirusa.com

The Fuse: Design & Culture, Brand Strategy & Packaging Team

Join the Fuse Community:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FUSEBrandingDesignCulture
Twitter: http://twitter.com/nextbigdesign
At Fuse 2012, Sheena Iyengar spoke about choice, and about the paralysis that comes with being presented too many choices. At that time, I wondered " if we will all walk away from Fuse this year with a new desire to narrow down, simplify and create less clutter, both personally and professionally."

Back in July 2012, The New York Times ran a feature on "Paring Down Marketing Messages to a Few Simple Basics" noting that the simplicity trend was "in response to three related trends: how busy life today seems, the growing complexity of technology and the increasingly complicated economic picture."

And now, UK retailer Selfridges is kicking off 2013 with their "No Noise" campaign." Featuring quiet rooms and debranded products, even taking the branding off of iconic Heinz containers.


As an immersive retail experience,  I love the sound (or lack thereof) of this campaign. To this frenzied city-dweller a bit of quiet sounds like pure delight. Is this really just another gimmick, or a sign of an enduring move towards something a bit more simple?

I wouldn't call our plans for FUSE 2013 simple, but I do know that out of the cacophony we hope to find "One Collective Voice." Download our new brochure now to learn more.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She is the voice of the Fuse conference on Facebook and Twitter.

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