By: Jenna Smith, Senior Partner, Smith Design

As a busy brand professional and millennial mom, I am constantly trying to maintain a balance of demands both personally and professionally.  So when it comes to shopping, I find myself strategically planning my purchases in-person vs. online. As much as my “packaged good loving” self enjoys a leisurely stroll through the store, sometimes the convenience of technology is too good to pass up.  So, when the need arises to purchase a packaged product, “should I buy online or in person” is usually the first question that comes to mind. The more familiar and predictable a product, the greater chance I have to buying it online. However, the more subjective the experience I have with a product, the more likely it is that I will "perceivably” benefit from buying it in a store.

But, I do have to ask if that is true? Do I benefit from buying some products online vs in person and how does packaging design influence that perception? 

I love that as an online shopper, I have no pressure to buy since I can always come back to my cart. I can read the product reviews; search sites for comparable prices and deals, and generally feel unhurried when it comes to purchasing. When it comes to buying something for my kids, I want to feel like I made the smart choice (not necessarily finding the best deal). Satisfaction, however, is delayed because I must wait for items to ship. I cannot connect with the brand and product in-person and always have a small feeling that it is somewhat of a blind purchase. This is because packaging and a tactile experience play important roles in building my brand loyalty for in-person purchases, while price and consumer reviews influence my purchases online. 

This is not to say that CPGs cannot bring value through exposing me to packaging online. The brands that recognize how packaging influences my online shopping experience have an opportunity to see a casual, positive sequence as I share knowledge with others via social networks. Additionally, brands that can find a way to connect with me emotionally and reclaim a point of difference, that is noticeable through their website or interactive information, compel me to dive deeper to learn, try, and discover new products and offerings. While online shopping diminishes the influence packaging has on my initial (and often times impulsive) purchase decision, I am still interacting with that package upon receipt, motivating my overall encounter and future purchases.

On the flip side, ways that brands can keep me engaged in the brick and mortar experience is by continually innovating and refreshing their offerings and packaging so I feel as though I am receiving something unique and different than what is shown online. Distinctive interactive displays, special product presentations, unique packaging materials & applications, and customization add to the overall experience of going to the store. According to Professor Bell’s book “Location is Still Everything", online purchases are significantly affected by which stores are near the consumer and whether they have "trendy and friendly neighbors.” I live in a heavily populated area and many times, I will go to a store because they have an exclusive offer or are providing an interactive event - allowing me to connect with a brand in a way I cannot do virtually. On a more basic level, ingredients, materials, and components are top of mind for products in certain categories, so being able to feel, touch, read labels is a necessity for me. If a brand does not provide a large image of their label or ingredients and/or components are not easily visible online, I assume the purchase must be made in-person. Perhaps, as packaging designers, more attention needs to be given to back of pack aesthetics for products that live in our ever-growing digital world.

Ultimately, I would say my personal shopping experiences are evenly divided between in-store and online.  Soft goods, such as paper towels, are an easy online purchase. I can search for the best deals and my expectations of the product are always met without any surprises or deviations from the norm. Food and specialty items continue to be an in-store purchase since they consists of many fresh ingredients and each piece is unique.

What I do find surprising is that items I never thought would be Internet purchases – shoes, clothes, electronics – are my top searches. However, I have little brand loyalty in these categories and instead make purchases based on reviews and price.  As stores continue to evolve their experiences to combat online retailers and as e-tailers integrate additional ways for consumers to interact with products as they do in-person, or provide instant gratification (ie Amazon Prime Now), it will be interesting to see how packaging evolves for this revolutionary thing we call the internet.

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When this word first hit my lexicon, my curious antenna went up and started to do some serious seeking. It was used in the context of environmental activism and behaviors that considered the planet first. My curiosity was directed to the broader definition of the word.

Sustainable: like a bridge that lasts from the age of the Romans. Capable of being upheld from below. Or able to be supported with necessities or sufficient funds to continue moving forward. Or perhaps the broader definition, a system that maintains its viability using techniques for continual use. While we need to consider the first two, the third seems to be what most people mean today when they toss the word out in conversation or a speech.

The next time it became a big word in conversation was on a project with Brown-Forman, the owners of Jack Daniels and a variety of wine brands at the time (they have since divested their wine brands). The project was in the last decade and was focused on which brands could and more importantly should put more emphasis on their sustainable efforts. In the middle of the initiative one big yellow elephant question was asked (yellow because spring is coming and its a trigger to get you to sign up for FUSE). Back to the question. 

1. Do people know what sustainability means? i.e. is it common enough.

At the time, nearly a decade ago, I'd say no, average consumers of Jack had no idea what the word meant. Today, likely they know more and in some cases more than they would like. Perhaps it has become politicized, which is sad because it isn't an issue to be owned by a political party. Or perhaps they've heard of it because it has turned up more in the marketing lexicon. This second point is more interesting. 

Have you heard the phrase, "everyone is a marketer"? If you've been in the field long enough, you've noticed, marketing is made up of a lot of "self-proclaimed" experts and loud voices with opinions. Yes, everyone is a marketer, because we are training everyone to be as such. As marketing advances, so does the culture to understand what marketing is doing to obtain the average person's interest, trust and emptied wallet. So, yes, everyone is a marketer hence marketing has to be smarter than the average person on the street who can recite their own demo back at someone and add in some psychographic profile facts (would this happen in the era of Madmen, think about it).

So, yes, sustainability is now a more common word (a decade later) and yes we, as marketing professionals, have just started to teach our audiences about the importance of this word. Now, the second question that was part of the project was, would consumers pay more for brands exhibiting sustainable behaviors? 

From what we've seen working with Patagonia, The Honest Company and others the answer is emphatically, YES. Brands exhibiting behaviors that speak to the greater good and a sustainable methodology to business have shown they can rise to the top. Perhaps because those brands exhibiting horrid behaviors have been called to answer for their behaviors. Or perhaps because the collective effort of marketing has influenced culture in a positive direction. Either way, its a good sign for the future of humanity.

What does sustainability mean to you? Have you seen it return fiscal results to the brands exhibiting this behavior? 

Managing Principal

A few years ago I spoke to a troupe of Girl Scouts as part of a series on careers. In doing so, the first question I posed to the group of wide-eyed young women was, “What is a brand?” Several answers were offered up including, “It’s what they used to do to cows on the ranch.”

Well, I didn’t expect Brand to be our first word studied in this series but, serendipity hit me with a baseball bat on this one. In the process of writing our next book, "The Physics of Brand", the slightly dusty adage of comparing "branding" to the western cowboy method of marking cattle was dusted off. And, upon a quick search, this site describing "How to Design a Brand" was discovered. It’s a great find.

The TSCRA dates back to 1877, when a group of Texas ranchers formed an association to deal with livestock theft. How better to establish ownership than to stamp your mark for all to see? In doing so, not only is ownership established but also reputation for each rancher in relation to quality and quantity of herd. I went deep into this site. The branding language is chock full of meaning. It is a language in and of itself including letters, numbers, lines and symbols. But after reviewing the complexity of the hieroglyphic-like language, I learned these early language designers established simplicity as “the Bull”.

Our first book, “Design Matters // Logos” discusses what makes great identity design. As our clients have experienced, the Capsule philosophy believes in simplicity as a primary criteria. So I chuckled a bit as I learned the early practice of branding recognized that not only are simple branding marks easier to read but also less painful for the cattle. Designers please don’t take offense to being compared to cattle but we certainly understand pain when trying to work with a poorly designed and cumbersome mark. 

My thoughts here are pretty simple, no pun intended. Our world is complex. We chase life at a pace much too fast for anyone’s liking. So, as stewards of many of our world’s largest and most powerful brands gather for another FUSE conference, let’s think about the origin of Branding and the importance of simplicity.

Take a look at your brand. Does it cause you pain? I hope not. Does it tell your story? Does it inspire and make you proud? I hope so.

For more intriguing conversations and content, attend FUSE in April.
March 27, 2015 | Sean Hughessocial links

lost in thought
with Sean Hughes

Chief Design Officer, Philips Design Healthcare

I’m inspired by clever, dynamic and motivated people.

To me, brilliant is taking the biggest challenges and finding simple and effective solutions.

My favorite app is The Times of London.

When I’m having a creative block I take a walk.

My favorite brand is Ralph Lauren as he provides most of my clothes.

My favorite color is any shade of blue.

My dream project is the next one.

The best advice I ever received was go back to school.

The very next thing on my to-do list is to complete this list.

My dream collaborator is Richard Branson. He seems like an interesting person.

I think the Kardashians are irrelevant.

At least once, everyone should coach less than nine girls in soccer.

The best way to unwind after a long day is to have a cup of tea!
If I had a one year sabbatical, I would sail around the Caribbean.

The most overused word in meetings today is “design thinking."

At FUSE 2015, I can’t wait to meet many old friends.

At the moment, I’m obsessed with my heating system - hoping it can last the winter.

As of now, I’m totally over design thinking. I prefer design doing, which of course contains an awful lot of the latter and always has!

I’d define my personal style as pragmatic.

My tools of the trade are PPT and my vocabulary.

The biggest thing that has changed since I started in the industry is computers instead of pens and pencils.

I’m happiest when I’m skiing down a mountain with my three girls,

I lead by example.

I wish I could play the piano.

I’m proud that my design team won 27 international design awards last year!

My playlist is very wide and I love Spotify and iTunes radio.

You can usually find me behind my MacBook air.

The last stamp on my passport is immigration at Logan.

The next stamp on my passport is exit immigration at Logan.

When I look back on my career I still think I have a lot to learn.

I still hope to transform healthcare one project at a time.
Find out more about his participation in FUSE 2015 arrow © 2015 IIR Holdings, LTD. All Rights Reserved.
In any aspect of life, if you are confronted with the question have you worked as either ‘an organic pickle maker, or a fluffer in a strip club,’ you know you are in for an interesting talk. World renowned window dresser Simon Doonan who is the Creative Ambassador for Barney's started his presentation at FUSE 2014 in just that fashion.

Simon Doonan’s presentation at last year’s FUSE event gave the audience insights on finding unique niche roles, Doonan’s examples being ‘a transgender ventriloquest’ or ‘a sustainable goat herder’, and re-inventing and changing the rules in such professions. There are fundamental elements that came from the presentation that can be utilized across many if not all professions. Strategies such as taking an industry norm and flipping it on its head or simply injecting humor into an advertising strategy can grab the attention of consumers and really engage with them, which at the end of the day is vital for sales.

The window dresser from England, who also has penned a number of books and writes a column on style for Slate, often uses taboos or up to date talking points and made them into public displays. He stressed the idea of when starting out in a new job that may have certain norms surrounding it, to do the exact opposite of what everyone else is doing. For example certain displays of his that went completely against the rules of window dressing, were one where a coyote was depicted stealing a baby and another famously Margaret Thatcher dressed as a dominatrix.

These unconventional displays gathered a lot of attention when other shops may have had a tidy display, with pristine white floors showing manikins standing in an orderly fashion showing the garments. By harnessing current trends, popular public figures and injecting a little less seriousness into designs really engaged with consumers. Doonan also regarded text within his designs as important for drawing in customers as they would be inclined to want to know what was being said within the displays, thus heightening the consumer interest.

By interacting and engaging with audiences, the multifaceted designs were able to able to draw in customers and give them something extra to think about as opposed to safer, more conventional displays. Doonan’s presentation stressed the need not to conform to the expected way of doing things in your industry no matter what it is. Humor and striking ideas can create engagement for the consumers and can reinvent industry norms. One of the best points that I got from the talk was that creative satisfaction may lurk in the most unexpected of places so don’t be afraid of taking a new profession in an unexpected direction as it may be the key to success.

Check out Simon’s full presentation below:

Simon Doonan FUSE 2014 Presentation from IIR USA on Vimeo.

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at  
It's absolutely freezing and all we can think about is - when will spring be here?! And with spring, comes FUSE, our favorite place to go for inspiration.  Here are the top 10 things we just can't wait for (outside of not putting on 5 plus layers just to walk out the door): 

1.      Keyu Jin. Know her? You should.  The world's foremost authority on what's coming next in the China economy with an uncanny ability to connect those macro-economic trends to what that means for both US based and global brands:

2.      Stories from the top brand and design leaders from every major company around like Samsung, General Mills, Kraft, Nestle, Kellogg's, Amazon, Allstate, Yahoo, Newell Rubbermaid, 3M and more:

3.     But it's not all go big or go home. Today, whether you work at a startup or not, there's huge value in learning to think like one.  Hear from two of the hottest newest comers - Goddess Garden and Kano Computer Kit. Lessons on Kickstarter and farmer's markets that can be even more effective than the traditional boardroom pitch:

4.      FUSE Salons FINALLY connect you productively through conversation.  Each day collaborate with fellow FUSEsters to identify key themes from the morning keynotes and translate them back to YOUR business and what matters most to you:

5.      Get OUT of the hotel to learn and network. Check out the remarkable new Kraft HQ, spend an afternoon with a burgeoning group of designers at one of Chicago's most cutting edge public schools, or get a behind the scenes tour led by the brand execs behind Mario Batali's Chicago hot spot Eataly. Prefer to stay on property? Log a few hours with a monk and learn to unlock practical mindfulness admits the daily insanity to increase productivity and creativity:

6.     Nothing beats a great story. FUSE is calling for 10 brave FUSEsters to join us on the FUSE Story Stage to share a story of a fortunate mistake. Hosted by SC Johnson, revel in a curated collection of silver linings, failures that opened entirely new doors and that one time when, though you were down, you were definitely not out:

7.     Learn from brands in transition and brands at the top. Kodak's newly appointed CMO has big plans for a comeback.  At some point all of us we will be at the helm of a brand that needs to reinvent or die, learn how at FUSE:

8.     Hear from the creator of Supersize Me - arguably one of the most influential and provocative documentaries of the last decade, Morgan Spurlock.  Now the Host of CNN's Inside Man, Morgan will share lessons in originality, storytelling and doing good:

9.     A full 3 day agenda loaded with provocative keynotes, ground breaking case studies, curated collaboration sessions and tons of opportunities to meet the very best in the brand and design industry.  Love a good party? We have that too - one every night:

10.   FUSE believes in education for all. A part of your investment in your own continuing education will go directly to building a school in Kenya through our annual support of Change Heroes - a groundbreaking effort to build schools in the world's neediest areas.  Hear the story and get a progress report on the FUSE school here:

Are you with us? We sure hope so. Need some more inspiration?  Feel FUSE here in this exclusive video preview:

FUSE 2015
Brand Strategy & Design, One Collective Voice
Ignite Inspiration
April 13-15, 2015
Loews Chicago Hotel

Want it all? Download the NEW brochure for full details:

Use code FUSE15BL for $100 off the current rate. Register today:

The FUSE Team

We are excited to roll into Chicago in April and start socializing one of the big three events in the design industry: FUSE 2015. This is our fifth year of journalistic coverage by the Capsule team.

Each year we attempt to pick a color and style of thread to tie our posts together leading up to and during the three day event. This year we became fascinated with the theme phrase, "Ignite Inspiration." Someone asked, "what does that mean?" Is there a match involved? The words are so happy.

Then we explored antonyms for those two words because we, as humans, derive meaning from the comparisons we make in life. Some call it framing the subject in order to better understand intended meaning. Also, we're dark, pessimistic people so we can't help but seek to understand the other side.

Antonyms for ignite: cool, put out, quench, extinguish, dull.
Antonyms for inspiration: discouragement, hindrance, reality, truth, depression.

Intriguing how it gives more meaning. The antonyms for inspiration include truth and reality. The antonyms for ignite include extinguish, quench and dull. Why does this matter and what does it contribute to the FUSE conversation?


They are currency inside organizations. We exchange them like pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. They make us stop, listen, read, think and resolve. Words are powerful little meaning embedded tools inside organizations. And, when we get together at an event such as FUSE, we exchange a gaggle of words. We take new ones back to our lives or perhaps attach new meaning to words we've used in plentiful form previously. 

Sometimes we abuse words like: innovation, creativity, brand and design. We take the shine off the words by dulling their meaning. We over use some words. In contrast we underuse words and forget words even existed, like aeipathy; continued passion; an unyielding disease. "Her aeipathy for design bordered on pathological." Spell check doesn't even know it. Apparently it died in 1853, sad.

Whatever the case, being at FUSE is a torrential downpour of words for three straight days. So, in order to prepare ourselves and as our thread in the FUSE conversation, we offer a new perspective on existing words. We will pick a pair of words, add visuals and write on our view of their meaning. 

Then, when we get to FUSE, we'll ask our fellow random conference attendees, "what one word would you use for that segment?" We will challenge you to use words outside the lexicon of our world. We will challenge you because if you give us challenging words to write about our posts will only be more entertaining to you and our fellow attendees.

So, there it is. Our plan. Sketchy? Sure. Inspired? Hope so. 

Aaron Keller                   Kitty Hart
Managing Principal          Director, Client Experience
Capsule, Design              Capsule, Design

Friday, March 13, 2015 | Steven Overmansocial links

lost in thought
with Steven Overman

Chief Marketing Officer, President, Consumer and Film Division, Kodak

I’m inspired by people who are utterly madly in love with what they do, no matter what it is.

To me, brilliant is what shows up on the table when I put myself completely in the hands of chef Rabah Ourah at Wormwood, my local restaurant in London.

My favorite app is Snapseed for making photos taken on my iPhone look amazing. I can shave years off my selfies.

When I’m having a creative block, I head into my kitchen and start chopping, combining, and cooking.

The funniest thing that ever happened to me was turning 40. Years ago. Still hilarious.

My favorite brand is Kodak, of course, because of the heritage, the fact that it was designed to be one of the world’s first truly global brands, and all the possibilities for its future.

My favorite ad campaign is I WANT MY MTV. The ultimate call to action – I rang up my cable provider right away.

My favorite color is green.

My dream project is building a vibrant community of artists, filmmakers and photographers – professionals and amateurs – people who help us all see fleeting moments of beauty through their eyes. Lucky for me, this happens to be my job.

The best advice I ever received is know what you suck at, surround yourself with people who fill in your gaps, and inspire them to help you.

The very next thing on my to-do list is a finance call.

My dream collaborator is the artist Tacita Dean.

I think the Kardashians are…who are the Kardashians?

At least once, everyone should visit Jerusalem, to draw your own conclusions - about conflict, sacredness, politics, and humanity. And, discuss it all over dinner at the so-hip-it-aches Machne Yuda.

The best way to unwind after a long day is cooking dinner, setting the table, lighting candles and making a toast with people I love.

The smartest person I’ve ever worked with is a four-way tie between Film Director Jonathan Demme. Artist Peter Halley, Wired Founder Louis Rossetto, and Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke.

I’m looking for but can’t find the DIVA soundtrack on Spotify.

If I had a one year sabbatical, I would write a cookbook.

The most overused word in meetings today is “can’t.”

At FUSE 2015, I can’t wait to be inspired and make new friends.

At the moment, I’m obsessed with Paris, because it defies and defines modernity simultaneously. After years of dissing it in favor of London’s dynamism, I’ve been seduced by Paris’ narcissistic and stubborn obsession with being itself. Some say it’s dead, a museum. It’s got no great nightlife or buzzy edge. But it’s truly global and romantically timeless. The ultimate counterbalance to the hurtling-forward pace of life, or maybe I’m just getting old.

As of now, I’m totally over television. I don’t even have one.

I’d define my personal style as preppy bear.

My tools of the trade are MacBook Air, iPhone 6, Philips electric beard trimmer, and a full range of international electrical adaptors.

The biggest thing that has changed since I started in the industry is the ever-increasing importance of mobile.

I’m happiest when I’m in Barcelona, I’ve stayed out too late, slept in too long, and rock up at the beach no earlier than 2pm.
I lead by having conversations figuring out what really motivates people, and connecting the task to their truest selves.

I wish I could start an ethical and sustainable menswear brand.

I’m proud that I authored and published “The Conscience Economy.”

My playlist includes Jessie Ware, Chvrches, Nina Simone, Chopin, and everything from Horsemeat Disco.

You can usually find me at 40,000 feet.

The last stamp on my passport was Canada.

The next stamp on my passport is Israel.

When I look back on my career, I’m grateful for all its crazy variety and the incredible people who’ve mentored me.

I still hope to leave the world a better place than I found it.

Find out more about his participation in FUSE 2015 arrow © 2015 IIR Holdings, LTD. All Rights Reserved.
Inspiration is really important to us at FUSE. That is why we sat down with one of our amazing speakers, Barry Collin, CEO of Collin Group, Inc., to hear what inspires him. He also shared with us his favorite design, what he thinks is biggest design trend of 2015, and his take on how design and brand strategy has evolved over the years, and what’s in store for the future.  

This year, FUSE connects brand and design leaders to what matters – and each other. In the age of unprecedented collaboration, it is more important than ever for brand strategists and designers to work hand in hand to bring brands to life strategically, visually, emotionally and culturally. FUSE is the only event that unites all the players across industries, disciplines and the world. 

IIR: What is your muse?

Barry: Like many designers, nature is often my muse. As an industrial designer, physiology particularly fascinates and inspires me.  Virtually nothing in nature lacks a practical purpose. Look throughout the animal kingdom. Even extraordinarily beautiful ornamentation (colors, stripes, plumes and even noise-makers) that seem only there to please the senses, actually function to motivate or prevent critical actions or behaviors. Very little is pointless.

Physiology is remarkably efficient; virtually everything that consumes energy has a purpose and uses the minimum required to operate. Everything is optimized as possible. At micro or macro scales, living things provide inspiration for strength, aesthetics, form, function, structure, conservation, mechanics, utility, reliability, and constant refinement.  Inspiration is there -- inside and around us. You just need to look.

IIR:  What is the best design you've seen this year? Why?

Barry: The past year has seen some amazing designs from both expected and unexpected sources. But I'm going to reach higher here -- literally. The best design -- though certainly a work in progress -- I've seen in the past year is SpaceX's Falcon 9 -- a rocket that can bring a payload into space with the goal of re-usable boosters and other components that normally are dropped and discarded into the ocean.

The design is an amazing mix of balanced simplicity and complexity. The effort put into reducing the eco2 (economic and ecological) impact of something that otherwise isn't really environmentally friendly is truly admirable.  There's much for them yet to do, but experimentation and failure is the way towards success. And sometimes design is, well, rocket science!

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

Barry: Too often people view that partnership incorrectly as an art vs. commerce battle. 
 Collaboration between brand strategists and designers is absolutely required. Our joint mission is solely focused on best serving customers. Solving their problems, enabling them to accomplish things, making life better in specific and often diffuse ways. Differentiating your company, brand and products from every competing influence requires synchronization, understanding, mutual respect, and a balance of confined chaos and structure. That's why I love the FUSE conferences. They're a rare opportunity for us all to get together to learn, innovate and connect.

IIR: What do you think is the biggest design trend of 2015?

Barry: There used to be "real world," physical design, and then there was software/UX design. With the rapid takeoff of the Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet, more products this year will require both physical and digital design.  Some physical things will have smarts built-in, and others will be tied to smartphone or other mobile experiences. And some bleeding edge tech -- like the new virtual reality gear from Oculus and Microsoft -- will get beyond toys and games and begin providing real value. The best design shops and departments will develop both design capabilities, regardless of what types of products they currently make. Or at least, find the design partners who can help them integrate the physical and digital worlds.

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

Barry: Design should make everything personal -- no matter how utilitarian the product or project is.
My research and work is on personal processes. Every activity we engage in -- commuting, changing diapers, eating at a restaurant, consuming entertainment, are all personal processes.  All such processes are or can be emotionally connecting experiences. Sometimes adding to the emotional connection directly is the key. Other times it's simply getting out of the way in the best manner to facilitate the process and let the emotions arise naturally.

Clear examples of adding to the emotional connection range from a restaurant or other venue that customers attach a particular set of memories to. Or a product such as a wedding ring, crib, a special gift, or even premium chocolate or champagne.  Sometimes it's just listening to "our song" while sharing earbuds. Emotional connections cover pleasure, pride, memories, desire and the whole gamut of human feelings. I've found that supporting emotions, not manipulating them, is the long-term answer to success. And, design and brand can both facilitate that.

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

Barry: Design has traditionally been tied to sales, marketing, advertising (including packaging), and product functionality. Over the past five years, beauty as an intrinsic component of an offering -- no matter how basic or utilitarian the product is -- has become more prevalent. Not cute or novel, but truly blending with functionality, both high and low end, consumer and industrial.

As an example, even hospital equipment has become, in many ways, beautiful. The "industrial aesthetic" is alive and growing in perceived value (in this case, recovery is shown to improve when you don't feel like you're in a harsh lab environment).  Over the past five years, at home and at work, design is increasingly seen as a quantifiable, competitive advantage. In essence, beautiful design is more important than ever. Not putting in design effort can leave your product seeming at best bland, and at worst undesirable.

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

Barry: Across all business functions we're moving further away from "gut instinct" and towards research. We're integrating both design thinking exploration with big data analysis, and it works. Leveraging data science, I find patterns in behavior, acceptance, usage, aspiration and interest that help me make better decisions in design. As a designer it can take some real effort and getting used to "numerical empathy."

I don't find the melding of traditional with data limiting. Instead I find it liberating to get some insight into customers that you can't get through personal observation. You can create hypotheses, test them against the data, and experiment with models -- even before you prototype. I'd rather work with lots of data models before I even fire up a 3D printer to make a physical model. Remember, ask questions about interpreting the data, and consider it potentially powerful insight, not specific directives.  The bottom line is, the more we can reduce the requirement for clairvoyance, the better chances we have of quickly creating the right recipe for success.

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

Barry: In those instances when I do something that makes my wife especially happy, I always joke, "do I get extra points for that?" While I'm (sort of) joking here, gamification can incentivize almost anything. I use gamification to drive innovation and creativity with my teams and to engage current and potential customers. When there's a million things people would rather do than yet another to-do, gamification -- if done right -- can pull focus onto what needs to be done. Gamification takes understanding your customers; how they process and use what you offer.  In a noisy world where everything competes for time and attention, gamification can motivate people to engage and participate. Consider it motivation, not gaming the system.

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

Barry: Products, brands and companies become important and special to customers when their offer becomes truly integrated into their personal processes, as we discussed earlier. In essence, things become important or special when they either directly do something essential for customers, or facilitate customers in doing something essential. One of the most critical tasks is to understand what your customer considers essential. Again, in our noisy world, what's important is contextual. Your car may be absolutely important one moment, your smart phone another, and a beautiful piece of jewelry another. And sometimes, it's simply a great dining experience.

It's a very specific process, and is the core of what I'll cover at FUSE 2015's onsite interactive workshop "Become Essential: Integrate Your Brand and Products Into Customers' Lives, Not Just Lifestyles.”

In the workshop, brand strategists and designers will learn how to help ensure their products and brands become essential to their customer's lives. The attendees will receive tools and practice in the specific approaches to becoming essential to their customers.

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?

Barry: Everything is competing for your current and prospective customers' money and attention -- from competitors you know to cross-industry entries, startups, apps, games, social media post, "news" articles, texts, endless emails and to-do's at home and work. When there is so much action and distraction, getting and keeping customer and prospect attention is almost impossible.

Again, everything today is based on context -- what time it is, where you are, what you want to accomplish, and so on. One of the great things about mobile and other emerging technologies is the ability to serve your customers at the right time and place. The key in dealing with our noisy, always on, in the moment world is to understand it, embrace it and leverage the tech tools we now have.  The key: You don't need to be in every moment -- just in the right ones.

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

Barry: Design thinking is vital to my work. It's been incorporated into virtually every product, service, business plan and major problem solving project on which I've worked over my career. One of the best things about design thinking is it's focused on buyers' needs and wants, rather than simply what your products do.

But an issue we need to address in 2015 is the rise of demanding unsafe speeds in the process. I often see design thinking's initial stages rushed, or even glossed over. When that happens, the process can lead you astray. Preventing those kinds of disasters requires some educating management by the designer. It's imperative management understands that the rewards of properly-paced design thinking can lead to the right answers -- creatively, technically, and realistically.

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

Barry: Think of narratives as short movies. They are visual, have a beginning, middle, and (hopefully) instead of an end, a future. Like movies they can and should combine drama, comedy, suspense, thrills, heartwarming, heart breaking, and most of all, redemption. Depth of story creates mythology, even legend, and if maintained can last indefinitely. Great narratives become integral to your products, brand and company. Apple, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and the garage they started out in are as inseparable from today's iPhones and MacBook Airs as they were from the Apple II. Your narrative must paint your story as relatable, inspirational, and if appropriate, aspirational. It should motivate connection and action with customers, in context with the parts of their lives your story touches.

In 2015, I'm noticing a growing number of startups that think cute or twee makes great stories -- but those are soon forgotten. Bland stories yield bland narrative. And in our instant click-to-the-next-story world, you can't afford that. A successful story and its narrative can be internalized by 
customers, and becomes part of their own, personal story. Few things are more powerful than that.

IIR: How does your brand connect with the "Connected Generation" (aka Millennials)?

Barry: As my work is mobile- and connected-first, I work with Millennials all the time. And for the most part, they're no different than how I was when I was starting out. In fact, looking at me back then, I was a bit of a trouble maker. Breaking rules, breaking things, frustrated when the "old guard" didn't understand how technology could make something better. Never happy with the status quo. Quit my very first job after college with a Fortune 100 company because of a constant "we don't do things that way here" attitude.

I could be arrogant, teeth gnashing when confronted with slow movement, annoyed with convention. I wanted to use technology to change the world. Sometimes hipster, often nerdy. Moved to Silicon Valley right before the boom and bust because I felt design and tech were the future.  But really, I don't connect with people based on certain birth years any more than by astrological signs based on certain birth days. We need to move beyond the perceived homogeneity of Millennials -- it's neither fair nor accurate. My personal brand is Millennial. And Boomer, X'r and whomever comes next. It's simply individuals, all sharing some commonalties and unique in others. It's design thinking: find what matters, and make that happen for any age and for any person.

Attend my workshop at FUSE 2015 and see what I mean.

Want to hear more from Barry? Join him on his workshop “Become Essential: Integrate Your Brand and Products Into Customers’ Lives, Not Just Lifestyles” at FUSE 2015 April 13-15 in Chicago. To learn more or to register for the event, 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 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator 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.
March 6, 2015 | Ximena O’Reillysocial links

lost in thought
with Ximena O’Reilly

Global Head of Visual Identity & Design, Nestec Ltd

I’m inspired by kindness – true, unprompted acts of random kindness

To me, brilliant is something so effortlessly clever it makes me smile in wonder.

My favorite app is Spotify.

My favorite brand is Aesop.

My favorite color is warm chocolate brown.

The very next thing on my to-do list is to go analog and pick up a physical book. I miss paper.

I think the Kardashians are distractions -- setting no creative limits to raising the bar on futility. The furkini is case in point.

At least once, everyone should live for at least a week like the poorest three billion. No sanitation, no clean water. It’s a humbling and mind-opening experience.

The best way to unwind after a long day is a game of foosball (or kicker or baby foot depending on your language) and a glass of Chilean wine.

If I had a one year sabbatical, I would I would learn to grow an edible garden.
The most overused word in meetings today is “rigo(u)rous” followed closely by “smart” (aka “lean”).

At the moment, I’m obsessed with House of Cards.

My tools of the trade are languages, iPhone, Pinterest, and a pen.

The biggest thing that has changed since I started in the industry is executional speed. Anyone remember sending out for drum scans a day in advance?

I’m happiest when enjoying moments surrounded by family and friends. I’m eve happier with mountains or water as backdrop.

I lead by conviction.

I wish I could understand the greater plan, the mysteries of life. I’m proud that I have found a way to channel my creativity with passion for culture, innovation and people.

You can usually find me scouting for coffee shops.

The last stamp on my passport is Australia.

The next stamp on my passport is Japan.

When I look back on my career I can now see the dots firmly connected but 20 years ago I acknowledge that the occasional murmur of parental doubt was likely well-founded!
Find out more about her participation in FUSE 2015 arrow © 2015 IIR Holdings, LTD. All Rights Reserved.

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