Inside FUSE: Zunda Group Knows How to Make a Product Special

With FUSE quickly approaching, we wanted to take some time to speak with two creative thought leaders from Zunda Group to learn more about what’s happening in the design & brand strategy space lately. Charlie Zunda, Owner and Gary Seve Esposito, Partner and Chief Creative Strategy Officer of Zunda dive into inspiration, how design & and brand strategy have changed, and what it takes to truly make a product special.

Check out what they 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?

Zunda: Inspiration is all around in what we see, think and feel. Like the other “I” word, Innovation - which is an iterative process - to be truly inspired is to not expect, but best realized as a “quiet" surprise. It is a sense of “knowing”--- when something feels right, effects or impacts your thinking and opens your imagination to a range of infinite possibilities. Inspiration first resonates on an emotional level, for it is subliminal and difficult to articulate.

I find the multi-dimensional elements of color, light and sound (especially music) quite inspiring. To translate Inspiration creatively into a tangible brand (product or service) is to apply transformational thinking to the creative process. Reimagine. I do not have a “muse” per se.

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

Esposito: Hearing what a consumer has to say is a great starting point in understanding how to emotionally connect with them. But understanding their lifestyle, no matter how they answer questions in a qual or quant test, is the only real key to connecting with them. Hearing that a consumer is green conscious may tell us they care, but does it mean they have the time and where with all to compost?

If we know our market is the light green, caring mom who is just too busy running from PTO to soccer to be an activist, maybe the trigger for her is being easy green. Maybe she'll connect with the effortless green approach. At the end of the day, we really need to know everything about the consumer’s lifestyle, not just their opinion about the category you're addressing, in order to find the right emotional triggers to connect with them.

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

Esposito: Perhaps the biggest misconception in branding is that if your competitor is "doing it," or if all of your competitors are "doing it," then it must be right and we need to "do it."  Brand X is blue, so blue must be our category color. Brand Y is showing people, so lifestyles is the way to go.

Had we followed that direction with Chobani the packaging would have shown the Parthenon rather than build a benefits driven platform, and Greek yogurt might still be three percent of the market instead of 36 percent. I like to believe the starting point is what is "not" being done yet, and work back from there. Isn't that how Kotex rocked their category with "U"? Start with the unconventional and impossible. You never know…it just may become the new norm.

Zunda and Esposito will be speaking at FUSE 2014 in April. Uniting brand strategists and designers, along with trend hunters and culture curators, the 18th annual FUSE conference celebrates a collaborative approach to building more meaningful brands. With One Collective Voice, FUSE becomes a forum for all to share stories, inspiration and best practices. This year, we present our most Iconic and Inclusive experience ever and welcome all to discover the magic of FUSE. To meet Zunda and Esposito in person at FUSE, click here:

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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