~ by Aaron Keller

Let's look forward to FUSE 2016. Brad Kreit from The Institute for the Future will go there and bring a photograph back.

The Institute for the Future and Brad Kreit give us a ride on the “near future” train. Some of the items we start with today? Big data is gathered on shopping and living behaviors, brands are looking for new ways to be an important part of their customers' lives and the automation of mundane tasks is accelerating at an accelerating pace. The Institute for the Future looks ten years forward. Just far enough to stretch planning cycles and close enough to extrapolate reasonable patterns forward.

Looking one decade forward, what do they see?

They see ubiquitous moments of truth. The phrase “Moment of Truth” was popularized by P&G design driven leadership. The idea is that all marketing expenditures lead up to one essential moment of truth. In the case of P&G, standing at the shelf in a store making a product decision (or just buying what you always do) is the physical and sociological place of focus. In the future photographed by Brad Kreit, these moments are ubiquitous. 

If you’re like many grocery shoppers, the idea of ubiquitous “at the shelf” moments of truth would feel overwhelming and exhausting. Yet, look around, our world is becoming a store as you can rent and watch the movie “SuperSize Me” while standing in line at McDonalds. Though, the line at McDonalds isn’t ever long enough to see much beyond the opening credits. Brad also points to “dash” buttons by Amazon, allowing you to order laundry detergent from your washer at the press of a button. Layer in the efforts by cities to “design more meaningful experiences” for tourists, business travelers and their citizens. Now, we’re starting to see the future photograph Brad has brought back for us.
From just these factors it is easy to see a future where all the moments in your life (space and time) will be designed for you (whether you know it or not). Add to this the data gathered at each moment and you get a hyper personalized experience in a not too distant future.

If you enjoyed FUSE 15 as much as we did, share this with friends.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal
By: Monica Boeger 

Have you ever rushed by that subway saxophone player thinking, “Ugh, you’re in my way”? Do you ever roll down your window and say hello to the woman on the street corner who asks for money? Do you know anything about that man you rode the elevator with when you purposely pulled out your phone to seem busy?

What if someone told you that the saxophone player in your way graduated from Julliard and plays to bring happiness to others before he heads off to scout your class for the next generation of performers? What if that woman on the corner works the night shift as a doctor and donates all the money she collects to the children’s hospital? What if the elevator man you ignored was a Creative Director currently looking to hire the perfect candidate for your dream job?

Whether you’re a jazz musician, a studying nurse, or wanting to grow your design career, everyone benefits from saying “Hello.” It’s the people you meet and the risks you take that can open doors to endless opportunities.

Life is all about making connections. Emotional connections with other people, soulful connections between consumers and brands, internal connections within your thoughts and passions… all types of connections will weave you through a world of opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t know existed.

In order to name your future, be curious, go out of your way to talk to people, and be nice to everyone. You never know where it will lead you. What would happen if you said hello – you’d be 20 seconds late? Or would you possibly make a connection that could change the next 20 years of your life?

The next time you see that subway musician, ask him where he learned to play. Tell the lady on the corner you admire her persistence and ask about her story. And please, leave your phone in your pocket and introduce yourself to the elevator man.

It all starts with saying hello. Don’t wish you would have.

(A reflection on what I took away from Keynote Speaker Stanley Hainsworth, chief creative officer at Tether and former creative director of Nike, Lego, and Starbucks).

About the Author: Monica is a Senior Designer at Fruition, a digital agency in Denver, Colorado. Monica has over eight years of professional experience in the Graphic Design and Marketing industry. Previously, she worked as Art Director in New York City where she developed and oversaw the creative direction of digital and print campaigns for high profile clients and music artists in the Entertainment industry.

— by Dan Wallace

This morning I was inspired by design legend Bruce Mau, who sees design as a central organizing concept for humanity — design with a capital D. Mau says, “Massive change is not about the world of design; it’s about the design of the world.”

Mr. Mau pointed out that "every dog breed was designed by humans, so it is little wonder dogs are our best friends. We designed them that way!" Then Mau went on to talk about something near to his heart: work to help redesign the culture and vision of Guatemala. This project was followed by an assignment to redesign Mecca.

Mau drew me in immediately with the story of his childhood in Sudbury Ontario, growing up without books, or running water in the winter. He believes this background gave him the empathy to design for other people. From these humble beginnings Mau has gone on to collaborate with some of the foremost creative geniuses of our time, including architect Frank Gehry and philosopher Gilles Deleuze.

Mau said, “We are not designing what we look like, we are designing through what we do. We are moving from style design to design thinking, from visual form to enterprise design"

This presentation brought to mind a quote by an early modern philosopher, Henry David Thoreau: "It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."

Bruce Mau is designing the space between us, affecting the quality of the day.

Dan Wallace develops products and is a marketing & brand consultant. He is co-authoring a book, “The Physics of Brand,” to be published by HOW in 2016. This blog post was written for the 15th annual FUSE Conference in Chicago, hosted by IIR. You can follow Dan on Twitter @ideafood.

—by Diane Andreoni

The first thing people notice about Stanley Hainsworth is his hair. He likes his hair because it sparks conversations. This is what he loves—making emotional connections with people. 

Hainsworth started his career as an actor in his twenties with aspirations of fame. But when he realized that acting meant depending on others, he began to search for something he could have more personal control over.

In 1989, he got a job offer from Nike to be a creative director. He was curious, eager to learn more, and accepted the position. Hainsworth grew as a designer and saw parallels with his acting roots—"meeting rooms are like a stage"—where major players watch you perform during presentations. His "we are the stories we tell" philosophy embodies all his ideas.

Over the next twenty years Hainsworth worked at Nike, Lego and Starbucks. He thought of these brands' products as artwork and designed gallery-like events that inspired and engaged people. In 2008, "Stanley Starbucks" went from loving the art of coffee making to giving birth to his own company—Tether.

As Tether's CCO, Stanley Hainsworth now lives his own brand and Starbucks is one of his many clients. His company's mission is to create "brand fans". His hired Tether-ites are experts at "story crafting," using multiple channels to weave together memorable and enchanting experiences. Learn more about Tether at www.tetherinc.com.

Stanley loves his hair. It is his social strategy. He uses it to connect human-beings. It certainly got my attention. Fortunately I'm already doing what I love—living life.

About the author—Diane Andreoni is an inspirational creative director and artist. She is a compassionate and collaborative leader. And she is an energetic explorer and storyteller. Contact her at dianeandreoni@gmail.com, www.dianeandreoni.com, @diandreoni1963


~ by Kitty Hart

Id love to experience Stanley Hainsworth in an elevator. Wouldnt you? Rather than feeling compelled to stand skinny in my own space, eyes down, or pretend to do something on my phone, it would be nice to actually meet someone new in this space that seeps with awkward human interaction.

If you werent present for Hainsworths talk he clued us in to a little elevator behavior he has come to own. Once the elevator doors close and all riders have made their floor selection, Hainsworth turns toward his fellow riders and says something like, I want to thank everyone for attending todays meeting. I've prepared a short agenda, so…” Apparently, by the time he has two sentences out the ice has been broken and some sort of unexpected conversation ensues. Fabulous! I will try this.

Hainsworth the actor, producer turned creative director shared a great deal of wisdom in his 40 minutes upon the FUSE stage. But I think he would be pleased to know of one takeaway that particularly resonated with me. He said, Everyone has a story. Take opportunities to talk to people. As I thought about this simple little statement, I realized how sad it is that we need to be reminded. Even those of us that hail from the Minnesota-nice state, need to be reminded.

As brand strategists and designers, we all know everyone has a story. We eat, sleep and breathe this belief in the work we do. So it is actually the second part of his statement that I want to touch on as we bring closure to FUSE15.

We all attend these conferences for different reasons. Many come to really just focus on the educational content. Many attend primarily to meet people, network and find new business opportunities. And, many work hard to combine these two efforts. Regardless, talking to people is necessary. So I think FUSE re-imagined offered great new opportunities for us to talk to people we may not have in the past. While I always dreaded breaking into small groups when I was in school, the salon approach allowed us to have comfortable and collaborative discussions with complete strangers. These strangers then became acquaintances as we saw familiar faces on our respective field trips and then new friends as we clinked glasses and nibbled roving appetizers during the happiest of hours.

Whether we arrived at FUSE solo, with one colleague or several, the new format offered more time to connect with someone new. And if you were around for the latter part of day 3, we even saw a handful of unsuspecting peers take the stage impromptu to talk about painful lessons learned.

Hainsworth's words ring true as we prepare to close this week of inspiration. Everyone has a story. We need not be afraid to talk to people even in the most awkward of spaces. Opportunities abound. Its up to us what we do with them.

~ by Aaron Keller

We wove an early thread into our posts for the FUSE conference by picking a word from the day and stitching together a story. We've explored words like Hero, Nothing, Re-Imagine, Empathy, and others before the conference. There are a few we've avoided for what might be obvious reasons (design, innovation, brand, and even authentic). Sometimes we worry these words are used so much they will travel toward a desert of meaning. We just didn't want to contribute to the trip.

Yet the word authenticity is hard to pass up. It is like looking at the edge of a mile deep cavern and wanting to jump. Are we suicidal for wanting to explore the word authentic? Yes, no or maybe so. Dan Wallace shared some insight into the word for his post. If you read his post you'd find a mutual friend, Joe Pine and his quote.

As my colleague Joe Pine says, “authenticity is an epistemological impossibility and a phenomenological reality.” 

Dan does a nice job unpacking the word and giving this reader some "fear of use" when it comes to the word. Joe Pine has a nicely shaped and finely packed noggin so he can take on the word authentic for an entire book. For me it feels like a bit of navel gazing with the goal of finding some lint from a 70s shag rug in my distance past. Odd, yes, but history does seem to connect itself to authenticity.

So, Authentic: This is a grizzly bear of a word to confront after a design conference where it was handed out verbally like salmon swimming upstream in the spring (plentiful).

Here are some of my views on the word.

1. Starting with the definition: of undisputed origin, genuine; it would appear every brand should be authentic as the alternative is fake, knock-off or of disputed origin.

2. We seem to have a legal system of intellectual property laws to support the effort to be authentic and protect a unique quality.

3. Why so much fuss over the word authentic? Perhaps it has something to do when the word becomes a philosophy: authenticity. This has many more layers of meaning and challenges to convey authenticity in visual and written language.

4. We know trust is the foundation of any brand and the trust in institutions continues to crumble at significant rates. And, with brands being the face of institutions, perhaps we can start to see why authentic is so troubling.

5. Brands are an extension of human beings, started by founders and teams but inevitably managed by people who may not embody the brand philosophy. But, brands gain authenticity with time, as they have staying power and can be seen as more genuine because they've been around.

6. This is where the word fake comes in and consumers start to see the team managing the brand cut the edges of authentic to find more ways to earn more from the brand.

There we have it.

Two forces working against each other, which is a common thing in the universe. The age and origin of a brand contributing to authenticity and in opposition, the management team making decisions which detract from the origin, story and eventually authenticity.

Things to think about as you manage a brand. Not just who are your audiences, but what do you mean to them and what do they mean to you? How can you keep your unique qualities but move forward and age appropriately with the culture around your brand?

These are challenging questions to answer for talented teams both inside and outside an organization. Be thoughtful and design honestly. We (the people) appreciate the effort.

Aaron Keller
Capsule Design

By day 3 of any conference, we are tired. The days begins by 7am and doesnt end until the last blog post is written. Yesterday that meant after 10pm. But we dont complain. Its all good and we feel fortunate for the opportunity to be a part of the FUSE experience. (It doesnt hurt when we're presented with Mimosas and Cosmopolitans during networking breaks.) So even though we are a bit bleary-eyed this morning, the fabulous IIR masterminds know how to carry this FUSE frenzy forward for one final day.

The content here is always diverse and there is truly something juicy for every discipline represented amongst our audience. This morning, I assume designers grabbed seats early as if anticipating an iconic rock star taking the stage. Its not every day we have an opportunity to rub elbows with such design heroes.

Generally in life, I use the term hero sparingly. Dictionary defined as a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities makes this title pretty lofty and one that should be reserved for a very select group. But in this FUSE context, Im going with it. Because, you see, Im quite sure a large number of us consumed Marian Bantjes, Bruce Mau and Stanley Hainsworths words and images in such a way that fuel the work we all do to make the world a more interesting place. This is mentorship at its best. They embody the belief that it is possible to love what you do and do what you love.

No matter your age, profession or level of achievement, we all need someone to look up to. We need someone to inspire us to reach for more. We need someone to move us to make a difference. We need many "someones" in our lives.

This is what FUSE is all about. These leaders with distinguished abilities to design, lead and influence our culture, hang with us. We will share Mimosas at our morning break. Well all walk through the lunch buffet line together and some will even exchange awkward moments in the restroom. Ok, thats weird, but you know what I mean.

Heroes are the someones we need amongst us. Thanks to all our speakers for sharing your distinguished abilities.

By: Monica Boeger 

Inspiration overload! I can hardly gather all of my excited thoughts after spending the afternoon with the talented Digital Media students at Curie High School in Chicago.

As I walked into their classroom, I could see the motivation and feel the enthusiastic vibe. I was immediately in aw of their state-of-the-art computers with the latest design software, screen-printing equipment, green screens, photography cameras, 3D printers and everything else I wished for when I was in high school. These students blew my mind with their knowledge and talent. They were at a level I didn’t reach until at least my sophomore year of college.

The students and I both felt inspired and a sense of admiration as they presented their work to me and I gave them my feedback. They showed me everything from digital illustrations and packaging design to 3D printing and augmented reality. I learned so much from their talent and hope I passed inspiration on to them through stories of my design education and career experiences.

With today’s technology and the accessibility these Digital Media students have at their finger tips, it’s apparent to me that the next generation of designers and digital marketers will be that much more well-versed by the time they enter the working world.

As a passionate designer, I’m looking forward to the future of our industry. When I think about how far I’ve come with guidance from my mentors along the way, it makes me want to help inspire the next generation of designers to be all they can be and motivate them to grow in their career any way that I can.

The first thing I’m doing when I get back to Denver is telling my boss that I’m starting a Student Outreach program.

About the Author: Monica is a Senior Designer at Fruition, a digital agency in Denver, Colorado. Monica has over eight years of professional experience in the Graphic Design and Marketing industry. Previously, she worked as Art Director in New York City where she developed and oversaw the creative direction of digital and print campaigns for high profile clients and music artists in the Entertainment industry.

— by Dan Wallace

Yesterday I had the good fortune of sitting in front of filmmaker Morgan Spurlock as he presented at the FUSE Brand Strategy & Design Conference in Chicago. For me, it was a standout presentation. Mr. Spurlock displayed candor, critical thinking, video story-telling, courage, and the most innovative branded content I’ve seen to date.

Spurlock’s feature films dive straight into difficult social problems using humor and loopy approaches. In his breakthrough documentary, Supersize Me, Spurlock ate McDonald’s exclusively for 30 days, gaining 25 pounds in the process. His most recent film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, shows Spurlock selling product placements in a film that is critical of product placements.

From a marketer’s perspective, the most innovative and fascinating part of the presentation for me featured GE’s Focus Forward Films, conceived by Mr. Spurlock and GE CMO Beth Comstock. GE gave complete creative control to 30 documentary filmmakers, each of whom featured innovators or world-changing ideas in three minute films. Subsequently this project was opened to filmmakers around the world. The result has been more than 80 million views, resulting in approximately $6 million in earned media value for GE (using TV ad rates as a guide). Moreover, the brand association with the project is much more relevant than intrusive TV ads — and this film library is now an enduring brand asset for GE and free educational content for society. It's a big win for everyone Here is an example of a Focus Forward Film:

Branded content is a hot topic in marketing, leading to effluents of key-work laden content pouring online. As a result, people are using online tools such as Digg and social networks to shield themselves from the online advertorials, advertainment and ads disguised as news. The work Spurlock and Comstock did for GE is an example of fresh, courageous and relevant branded content. Kudos!

The fine line Mr. Spurlock walks is also fascinating. He’s a humorist and documentary filmmaker tackling complex social issues, a TV reporter for CNN, and a partner with corporations to create branded content. Spurlock’s motto is: “Take on as much risk as you can handle,” His actions are equal to his words.

Dan Wallace develops products and is a marketing & brand consultant. He is co-authoring a book, “The Physics of Brand,” to be published by HOW in 2016. This blog post was written for the 15th annua FUSE Conference in Chicago, hosted by IIR. You can follow Dan on Twitter @ideafood.


Sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of Eataly. The more you know, the more you enjoy. The more you enjoy the more you love, Eataly.

I was told on Sunday I was assigned to attend and cover the Eataly field trip. Woe is me. Not only did I have to spend this week in Chicago, office out of the incredibly cool and brand sparkling new Loews hotel, and learn amazing things from significant brand leaders, I now had to be exposed to the inner workings of my most favorite culinary retail experience. 

Again, woe is me.

So, I put a smile on my face, accepted the assignment and took one for the Capsule team.

The walking tour did not disappoint. In fact, it was all consuming. With a most knowledgeable tour guide leading the way, our group of FUSE attendees was engaged, all senses. Walking through the doors we were immediately greeted by wafting smells from the Lavazza and Nutella bars. Yes, a Nutella bar. As hungry shoppers swirled around us in all directions, we fed our curiosity with bits on Oscar Farinetti, the founder and mastermind behind the Eataly experience.

As I jockeyed and elbowed front row proximity and yet still struggled to hear amongst the chaos, then a realization, I wasnt overwhelmed by it all. I actually felt relaxed as I took it all in.

The beautiful, clean design of the space guided us through the experience. Eatalys philosophy of The More You Know, The More You Enjoy, is demonstrated through the extensive signage system throughout the space. While most grocery retail environments incorporate rich product visuals, Eataly takes a different approach. Through well-crafted messaging, all points of interest are explained in words, maps and instructions. This approach follows Farinettis aim of making high quality Italian foods available to everyone, at fair prices and in an environment where people can shop, taste and learn.

Our two-hour tour disappeared in minutes. We cruised from produce to beer, cheese, fish, meat and bakery. The pizza chefs, imported from Italy, whipped up a Neapolitan pizza that fired to perfection in 90 seconds. When we weren’t putting our noses within inches of freshly opened Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese blocks, tasting watermelon radish or feeling the fresh density of the house made bread, we opened our mouths to pepper the experts with questions.

What I find intriguing on Eataly is how quickly Farinetti’s concept and vision has grown. Since the first Eataly opened in 2007, we now enjoy 27 locations worldwide. Exponential growth doesn't happen just because big dollars are spent, but more likely because the experience pulls on an emotional and cultural thread. The Eataly experience fires on all cylanders and engages all senses. The concept beckons patrons in to shop, play, learn and dine. We can't help being moved by the whole experience. And, following Italian heritage, we feel the intimacy that comes from this environment and sharing a meal with others.

There were many on the tour who had never experienced Eataly. It was fun to watch them discover and consume the experience for the first time. This FUSE crowd is an astute band of consumers and they put more currency in the consumption of experiences versus products. We know how to consume in ways that seek happiness, not just material satisfaction. 

This was a great day but I have now consumed all that I can. Until tomorrow, FUSE.

~ by Aaron Keller

The day starts like any other (with the exception of a tax day looming). As we walk into the first event at FUSE day two, there are two introductions. The esteemed, Cheryl Swanson, founder of Toniq and one of the original three to launch the FUSE conference. And, the inspiration for this post, John Silva casually dropped the phrase "do nothing and it may lead to something."

"Do nothing and it may lead to something."

Then, from here we move into a presentation by Peter Borowski, the head of design for Kraft. His leadership position has required him to face some of the most challenging years inside this large food brand. He seems no worse for wear, enjoying a Kraft t-shirt and an elegant perspective on the future of the brands under his purview. Optimism is a trait required for anyone managing design inside a large legacy organization and Peter's cup is overflowing.

From here we wandered into the cavernous mind of Morgan Spurlock, the character most known for the "Super Size Me" documentary. At first, it appears we've got a fashionable, rebellious filmmaker with a hankering for hitting any large brand over the head. Our audience of brand managers, agencies helping to build brands and other partners was offered a treat for the mind. Morgan led us down a path of how he used fifty thousand dollars to launch an international career and cause-driven media business with media like CNN and brands as large as General Electric. You'll have to dig deeper into Morgan's story because this format doesn't allow enough characters to give adequate color to Morgan's story. It will be told again and again in awards shows, roasts and many other future media events. But, leaving you at least one tease, you will not be left bored or tearless.

From a step stool of nothing, to something, a lot of something. Departures to field trips and if you had the coveted ticket, then you found yourself on a Trend Trek visiting Owen + Alchemy, Shinola, TOM'S Shoes, Jeni's Ice Cream, 3D Printer Experience and the Virgin Hotel. Yes. This happened in just under four hours. Our group walked away with the kind of smile most often associated with someone who has just experienced an unforgettable experience.

Here are the top five findings from our trend trek.

1. Juice from Owen + Alchemy is authentic, healthy and designed to inspire desire. The blend of art, plantings, artifacts and the juice bar had us captured and consuming with our taste buds, eyes and camera lenses.

2. The Made In America effort has left the country, but made in Detroit is still alive in Shinola. The bikes, bits and timepieces on display inside Shinola has this crowd panting, touching and wanting more from this retail experience. The Made In Detroit experience was highly coveted.

3. TOM'S Shoes has started more than a venture, they have started a business model and movement. The national entrepreneurial community will never be the same since TOM'S broke the shoe industry mold and made a cause for shoes and a shoes for a cause.

4. Jeni's Ice Cream could have just been a nice break with tiny spoons and creamy ice bliss, but it was so much more. The flavors presented drew authenticity from unique blends you've likely never tried and now will crave until you try them again.

5. Three dimensional printing, as a cultural movement is best compared to the geeky fledgling personal computer industry when Apple was founded. The 3D Printer Experience drew from Internet cafe culture of the 90's and our curious crowd was all "touchy, feely" with the printed artifacts. Really, who wouldn't be excited to see a digital 3D object form into a physical item before your eyes?

6. The last stop in the tour dropped this weary crowd at Virgin Hotels and the carnivorous frenzy hit a new level. The design of an experience by Sir Richard Branson is an orgy of details. From a small sheep icon in the shower of one room to the typography of room numbers to the lighting in the bar, the Branson design philosophy is welcoming, curious and engaging. Whether the design team for this hotel intended or not, the result is a guest exploring every little detail and then sitting back to enjoy the fact someone thought of every little detail. Thank you, Sir Richard, for topping off our trend trek with an experience many will covet for years to come.

The Trend Trek team from FUSE arrived back from what should have been a tiring event, but one couldn't miss the fact that most trekkers had an extra boost in their step. A boost likely inspired by the sights, sounds, touches, scents and tastes they experienced over the short few hours previous.

A day starting with nothing, filled with experiences, led me to plenty of somethings. So, the next time you're all consumed doing something, take a break and do nothing. Perhaps you'll wander into something and by chance it may be a catalyst to something greater than you'd be able to see without starting with nothing.

—by Diane Andreoni

Morgan Spurlock, President and CEO of Warrior Poets Entertainment, and filmmaker of the well known documentary SuperSizeMe, spoke today about how to get people thinking differently.

Spurlock's mission is to create unique, enduring emotional connections with audiences. When bringing ideas to life, he's admirably persistent, winning the support from positive people who believe in his vision.

Working collaboratively with brands, he coined the word, "Coopetition".  Spurlock believes that one of the most important things we can do is meaningfully unite brands and people—to change the world.

An example of this is General Electric and Cinelan's partnership in Short Films, Big Stories, which brings to life one of GE's brand strategies—to invest in innovation. Thirty directors were given total creative freedom to produce thirty, three-minute films. Each one features people, or world-changing events that are making a difference. More than eighty million people around the world have viewed these award-winning films. www.focusforwardfilms.com.

One of these films was screened today; Fire with Fire, a heart-felt story about Emma, a six-year-old girl who was cured of her leukemia from an AIDS virus injection. As a breast cancer survivor, I felt a connection to Emma's story and appreciated how GE celebrated the innovators who were curing cancer. https://www.focusforwardfilms.com/films/72/fire-with-fire

Spurlock believes that if ideas get into the hands, hearts and minds of an audience, it will be powerful. People will engage in conversations that transcends borders. And hopefully they will begin to think differently.

About the author—Diane Andreoni is an inspirational creative director and artist. She is a compassionate and collaborative leader. And she is an energetic explorer and storyteller. Contact her at dianeandreoni@gmail.com, www.dianeandreoni.com, @diandreoni1963

By: Monica Boeger 

They’re your boss, your employee, or you. The most talked about generation currently taking up 75 percent of the global workforce. The Millennials.

This generation encompasses those who were born from the early 1980s to early 2000s and despite the 20-year range; they all have one thing in common. Altruism? Egocentrism? Hardworking? That’s all up for debate. But one distinct common characteristic is their access to the Internet before the age of 18.

Millennials are the first generation to communicate through different layers of technology which has subconsciously lead them to craft a third persona known as their Digital Persona. Social media outlets have provided this generation with the novelty to stand out and appear fascinating to their online community. This competitive interestingness (known as “the new social disease”) has had a hand in Millennials’ high sense of self-awareness and self–consciousness causing personal communication for some to be difficult. Because of their strong sense of self, deeper insight is needed to connect to those of this generation.

Marketing professionals defined six specific values that are important for branding to best tap into Millennials’ nostalgic disposition. They include strong design, altruistic worldview, ingenious approach, user-centric action, strong personality, and tools to participate with a brand. The Millennial generation thrives on a collective experience, thinks judgement is scary, and 30 percent of their photos are selfies.

How many selfies have you taken?

About the Author: Monica is a Senior Designer at Fruition, a digital agency in Denver, Colorado. Monica has over eight years of professional experience in the Graphic Design and Marketing industry. Previously, she worked as Art Director in New York City where she developed and oversaw the creative direction of digital and print campaigns for high profile clients and music artists in the Entertainment industry.
As with every FUSE, social media is percolating with pics and comments.  Even with hashtags, it can be difficult to recall everything via Twitter.

I've created a mash-up of all things FUSE here, courtesy of Seen.co.

You can see the entire, unfolding story of FUSE as the page will compile automatically through Wednesday.

Remember, you get what you give - The more you share, the more we all will receive!
~~~ Share the love of #FUSE15 ~~~

Michael Plishka is the President of ZenStorming(TM), a design and innovation consultancy. He can be followed on Twitter @Plish and through LinkedIn.

Read more at his  ZenStorming Blog.

— by Dan Wallace

Tomorrow, I’m going to meditate at the FUSE Brand Strategy & Design Conference. Medication — in the form of caffeine, sugar and alcohol — is common at national conferences, but meditation is something new.

Since meditation and marketing have been stable fixtures in my life for many years, I’m looking forward to the workshop by Greg Burdilis from The Power of Presence. Mr. Burdilis has impressive credentials, including sevien years as a Buddhist monk in Burma and a TEDx talk in Boulder.

This mash-up of marketing and meditation at FUSE has given me this opportunity to formally connect two important parts of my life. Upon reflection, there is one very obvious connection between meditation and marketing — a shared interest in gaining insight. Meditation seeks to reveal profound intra-personal insights. Marketers seek to discover insights into the minds of others.

From my experience, the greatest hindrance to gaining customer insight is the lack of personal awareness by those conducting an enquiry. Without personal insight, it is impossible to develop the empathy that speaker and researcher Gareth Schweitzer advocated for earlier today. And since the very framework of research is created by our minds, the mind of the researcher is the most important part of any study.

Another connection between meditation and marketing is that both practices generally seek to do something beneficial for self and others. Meditation seeks to increase happiness and beneficial behavior. Marketing seeks to identify and fulfill wants and needs. Neither practice is perfect; both monks and marketers can do harm, but in general, meditation and marketing seek positive outcomes.

The meditation practice I use most is Vipassana, or mindfulness, or insight meditation. The point of of this exercise is to calm the conscious chatter of the mind and then inspect what bubbles up from the subconscious. It is a humbling practice. My subconscious mind is filled with more noise than signal, and I’ve come to learn that this is the way it is for everyone.

I look forward to sitting in silence with fellow marketer tomorrow as we gain insight into our most important research subjects. Ourselves.

Dan Wallace develops products and is a marketing & brand consultant. He is co-authoring a book, “The Physics of Brand,” to be published by HOW in 2016. This blog post was written for the 15th annual FUSE Conference in Chicago, hosted by IIR. You can follow Dan on Twitter @ideafood.
—by Diane Andreoni
Today at the FUSE conference in Chicago, Brian Resnick, of Deloitte Global spoke on "Selling into Leadership".  He calls leaders, "HIPPOS” (Highest Paid Peoples' Opinions). And he reminds us to follow the nine ABC's of presenting—Always Be Closing. Exactly one of the things I love about being a Creative Director.

His ABC’s can close the gap between a concept we believe in and our ability to help the leadership “get it” and love it, too.

1. Hunching:

Create chemistry with your audience by gathering clues and background information about them from sources like social media, and adjusting your presentation to meet their business needs.

2. Leaderese:

Speak the same language as your audience by understanding their business strategy and using the same terminology.

3. Yes Testing, No Resting

Reference research numbers, but don't dwell on them (which can seem defensive); instead, move on to your ideas.

4. Space Invaders:

Use presentation materials to create visual power and set a tone so that your audience is comfortable. 

5. Showy Business:

Use storytelling—personal anecdotes—to keep your audience entertained and engaged.

6. Don't avoid clichés:

Reference clichés, but tell your audience what they will not be seeing, and explain why.  Get them out of their comfort zone. Then show them better ideas to establish a new comfort zone.

7. Essential in-situ:

Use renderings or prototypes to bring your ideas to life so your audience literally will feel them.

8. No peeking:

Don't share your ideas beforehand with your audience. There is great power in the reveal.

9. Playing favorites:

Present a range of favorite ideas, explain why each works, and summarize. (Leaders change their minds a lot.)

My favorite quote from Brian is, ""Experience it like the audience will experience it”.  It reminds me that when I believe in the idea I am selling, the audience will feel and believe it, too.

About the author—Diane Andreoni is an inspirational creative director and artist. She is a compassionate and collaborative leader. And she is an energetic explorer and storyteller. Contact her at dianeandreoni@gmail.com, www.dianeandreoni.com, @diandreoni1963
—by Diane Andreoni

Nathan Iverson fights for outstanding design every day in his job as EVP, Design Director at Deutsch LA. But he doesn't do it alone. Instead, he walks around the office talking with people. He believes in building a "garage spirit" within his creative shop—using collaboration to produce great ideas.

For him, great design is rooted in truth. It shows little bias. It is not empathetic. It is a "cold-hearted s-o-b." And he is on a mission to elevate the power of design. Proving that it can help support business strategies and spread ideas.

But to do this, Iverson emphasizes that brands need to believe in what they sell. Who does it well? Iverson points to three brand examples.

1. Nike: "Just Do It." Their brand stands for innovation, which means they are willing to take risks.

2. Apple: They care about quality not quantity—crafting beautiful products in their simplest forms.

3. Taco Bell: "Live Más." Act like a fan. This live more mentality allows them to do cool things.

These three brands are true to their product and take risks. They try things. Guess what. So do visionary designers. Could it be that the real power of strategic, break out design is a convergence of shared core values between business and art? I'm going to say "yes".

About the author—Diane Andreoni is an inspirational creative director and artist. She is a compassionate and collaborative leader. And she is an energetic explorer and storyteller. Contact her at dianeandreoni@gmail.com, www.dianeandreoni.com, @diandreoni1963

Generally speaking, people don't like change. This is hard for many to admit, but it's just a fact of human nature. This overarching generalization is curious though because the world around us is changing all the time. Whether or not we pride ourselves on being progressive consumers and innovative brand leaders of the 21st century, change is inevitable.

The FUSE conference has been providing brand strategy and design thought-leadership now for 18 years. Amazing. Having weathered a couple of nasty recessions, FUSE continues to grow, educate, inspire and lead. So, as I arrived and got settled in for the keynote session, with my normal schedule in mind, I was interested to hear something new was in store for the next three days. Afterall, I can deal with change, usually.

Cheryl Swanson, our steadfast and fearless leader, set the stage. A beautiful new venue, new stories and even a new format. And in Cheryl's sultry and seductive delivery, she revealed we were in store for FUSE, re-imagined. The addition of salon-style group conversations and out-on-the-town tours will now provide even more opportunities to meet, connect and learn not just from the esteemed speakers but also from our wise and wonderful industry peers. 

FUSE re-imagined.

So, with this fancy phrase now swirling around in my head, I couldn't help but see a common thread throughout the day.

Eric Quint highlighted that while his work as 3M's new Chief Design Officer hasn't included updating the ultra conservative corporate logo, it has focused on helping the monster brand move into new visual and written language to better reflect today's essence of the brand. Re-imaging the 3M brand? That sounds a bit daunting and even a career-killer if mishandled. However, I think Quint's perspective and leadership has helped 3M move beyond the over-used term innovation and re-imagine its future with better understanding.

Science. Applied to life. 

I can get my arms around it. Well done.

We then heard about the pending revival of the Kodak brand from Steve Overman. While some would say he's got a crazy ride in front of him, there seems no one better to be in the driver seat than Steve. It appears that his enthusiasm, experience and corporate therapist abilities will help redesign culture and re-imagine how the Kodak brand can use the best parts of its heritage to once again own its past cache. It remains to be seen how Kodak will engage with younger generations but I'm excited to watch this one.

These stories and insights continued throughout the day and rather than hearing the word innovation repeated over and over like a bad college drinking game, the focus was more on meaningful evolution of these brands we have in our lives. Strength and growth doesn't just come from innovation. It comes from fresh perspectives and the ability to re-imagine the future.

When we re-imagine, we are able to ignite creativity.  Thanks FUSE, for a great first day. I'm off to Ciulla's!

— by Dan Wallace

At 3M, it is the best of times; at Kodak, the worst of times. This morning, stories by Kodak CMO Steven Overman and 3M Chief Design Officer Eric Quint set down bookends here at the IIR FUSE Brand Strategy & Design Conference in Chicago.

Mr. Quint’s challenge is to motivate cultural change within a successful $30 billion company that has 88,000 employees spread across the globe. Design at 3M has historically been viewed as an adjunct to technological innovation.  Mr. Quint is expanding the design role to emphasize B2B branding and business process optimization. CDO Quint showed evidence of progress this morning along with some carefully thought-out plans, which he fully admits could take years, even decades, to fully realize. Eric Quint is moving a human iceberg.

Mr. Overman is working on turning around Kodak, a company that was once the Apple Computer of its day. CMO Overman is less than a year into his role, and while he is short on case studies and concrete plans, he is filled with passion and ideas. Kodak is a poster child for technological disruption, a victim of iPhone's, Instagram and other free photographic options. Fighting fire with fire, Kodak is crowd-sourcing ideas to apply the company’s impressive yet little-known B2B technologies. In short, Steven Overman is working in a 127 year old starup.

Corporations can seem like enduring monoliths. It is easy to forget how fragile corporate success is, and how difficult it is to maintain. May the power of design win the day, for both 3M and Kodak

Dan Wallace develops products and is a marketing & brand consultant. He is co-authoring a book, “The Physics of Brand,” to be published by HOW in 2016. This blog post was written for the 15th annual FUSE Conference in Chicago, hosted by IIR. You can follow Dan on Twitter @ideafood.

Our fifth word, empathy, has ties to the first three sessions this morning and gets an explanation point by Gareth Schweitzer of Kelton. The proper definition is: Sharing the feelings of someone else. Defined by Gareth as "putting yourself in someone's shoes." It is a learned behavior by practice, not necessarily by reading about it. Funny and slightly sad, the word is relatively new and popular in our lexicon as you see in the chart below. 

The greatest value in the word Empathy is when we seek and have a greater understanding of other human beings. Gareth went on to say, "if a culture has a lack of empathy, we have a big issue." People with no empathy go by another clinical name: psychopath. 

Let's look closer at this word and put one of the morning speakers through the empathy filter to see what else rises to the top. 

Eric Quint, Chief Design Officer at 3M spoke on a number of subjects relating to the 3M culture and their need to embed design principles into the organization. 

Here are some of the points he made. 

Define design thinking. 
People-centric, holistic approach, process driven, organization-wide. His perspective on the term "design thinking" was clear, concise and easy to consume. He made the concept of "design thinking" social inside a 3M corporate culture. He spoke on the importance of showing, not telling people about the value of design. He also had a great quote, "do you think Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ives talked about proving the value of design?" Highly unlikely. 

Design as a competence. 
And, design should design, which means design manages design and this needs to be how design is structured inside an organization. This manifests in a structure inside 3M to match design decision-making with design leadership. This has to be one of the strongest legs of his effort to date. It sets up an organization like 3M to go far beyond giving "design" lip service or air quotes. 

Once in a lifetime. 
Then, Eric was able to put into application the discipline he was building inside 3M. He had a chance to shift the meaning of the 3M brand. 

3M Science. Applied to Life. 

This effort intentionally dropped the word Innovation and built an internal campaign to clarify the 3M design philosophy and governance. The result is best exemplified in 
the video. 

If you watch the video you'll see a beautiful engaging story about science being irrelevant without application to people and their individual challenges. To hear a $32 billion corporation like 3M using empathy in their design efforts is encouraging. But, and this is a Kardashian sized but, Eric would likely admit there's a long way to go on his mission to embed design methods into the culture of 3M.

We all appreciate the effort and the talented team he has brought aboard to take on this mission.


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