Inside FUSE: Brand Strategists and Designers Need to Inspire Eachother

With FUSE 2014 quickly approaching, we were fortunate to sit down with Tyler Thoreson, VP of Editorial and Creative of Gilt, Men's and Home to hear about what’s happening in the design & brand strategy space lately, from an editorial perspective.

At FUSE, Thoreson will be speaking along with countless brand strategists, designers, trend hunters and culture curators. With one collective voice, the 18th annual FUSE conference celebrates a collaborative approach to building more meaningful brands – becoming a forum for all to share stories, inspiration and best practices.

Here is what Thoreson had to say:

IIR: A big theme for FUSE this year is inspiration. So, we want to know what is your “muse” or what inspires you in your work?

Thoreson: I’m inspired by people who exude…whatever you call the opposite of FOMO. The ones who are so thoroughly in possession of themselves that they draw the rest of us into their orbit. Also, people who can get by on only four hours of sleep a night.

IIR: What is the best website you’ve seen this year? Why?

Thoreson: It’s called, and you should definitely check it out. It’s shopping as entertainment, a window into the exceptional, and a new store every day. Check it out. Buy something. Repeat.

IIR: Why is it important for brand strategists and designers to work collectively?

Thoreson: One needs to fuel and inspire the other, in equal and alternating doses.

IIR: What is the biggest design and brand strategy trend of 2014?

Thoreson: We’ve heard a lot lately about simplicity and authenticity, and I expect we’ll hear a lot more about both of those things in the year ahead. They’re buzz words that are going to be with us for a while. And, frankly, I’m not complaining.

IIR: Who is your industry icon?

Thoreson: I’m still trying to figure out what industry I belong to, but one person I have a ton of respect for is Andy Spade. His creativity is both strategic and savant-like. And he dresses well, too.

IIR: What are ways a design can emotionally connect with its audience?

Thoreson: By anticipating and addressing a need the audience didn’t even know needed addressing.

IIR: How has design or brand strategy changed in the last 5 years?

Thoreson: I think both have become more aware of their own importance and their shortcomings.

IIR: Knowing how consumers will react can be an art and sometimes involves clairvoyance. How have you developed this skill?

Thoreson: This, in a nutshell, is what an editor does. It’s part highly analytical navel gazing, and part trial and error.

IIR: Gamification is shaping our interactions with everyday experiences, from education to retail. How has gamification affected you?

Thoreson: Gilt has virtually pioneered the concept of shopping as a competitive sport. What I love about our version of gamification is that it’s not a “technique” we’re trying to goose sales. It’s core to what we do. 

IIR: Brands want their products or services to be special — to mean something important — to their customers. How do you make your product special?

Thoreson: We inspire our customers to live a more rewarding and stylish life, from fashion to experiences to home décor, but we never forget that the luxuries that we provide access to are meant to enhance a life, not define it. 

IIR: We live in an always-on “now,” where the priorities of this moment seem to be everything. What does this emphasis on immediacy mean to marketing and design?

Thoreson: It makes the creation of products and ideas that endure that much more important.

IIR: How have you used Design Thinking to solve a problem?

Thoreson: Design Thinking starts with empathy, and as I mentioned earlier, empathizing with the reader/ user/customer is what an editor does. That’s true whether you’re editing a magazine or working in ecommerce.

IIR: Each brand is a story and must be approached as a narrative. What makes a successful brand story?

Thoreson: Being true usually helps!

Thoreson will be speaking at FUSE 2014 in April. This year, we present our most Iconic and Inclusive experience ever and welcome all to discover the magic of FUSE. 

As a loyal reader of our blog, you get an exclusive 15% off discount when you use the code FUSE14BL. So register today to meet Thoreson in person at FUSE!  

About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1st, and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc
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