No matter where you stand politically, there’s no question that the environment for brand owners has changed in the Trump era.  

The stakes have never been higher in an arena where consumers are watching brands’ actions—and inaction—and judging them relative to their values and expectations.   All this comes at a time when consumers are already gravitating towards brands that demonstrate a sense of authenticity and purpose. 

FUSE 2017 tackles the tough issues that come with a new brand reality. That’s why we’ve added two fresh new keynotes to the program:

Peter Horst, former CMO of Hershey examines the new realities and risks of a Trump-led world, to help brand and design experts find new ways to successfully navigate this new environment.

Michelle Klein, Facebook’s North American Marketing Director details Facebook’s take on the New Brand Reality and what it takes not only to survive, but to thrive.

View the full agenda:

Use exclusive Blog discount code FUSE17BL for $100 off the current rate. Buy your tickets here:

We hope to see you in Miami this spring!

The FUSE Team


“Consumers would not care if 73% of all brand disappeared.”

When we were brainstorming what we should blog about for FUSE this year, this quote was something we all came back to. Which coveted brands would make it on the 27%, and why?

I’m 22 years old, so yes, I’m a millennial. And yes, I don’t trust brands. I have an ad blocker because I have grown up in a world where the same terms used by advertisers are used in war. I’m constantly “targeted” or “bombarded” by “campaigns”. The more advanced technology gets, the higher demand there is to know your audience completely. The lines between privacy and “really good marketing” become more and more blurred, and apart from deleting all my social media profiles and moving to the middle of the woods, there’s nothing I can do about it.

However, when it comes to Target, my skeptical feelings melt away. There have been more than a few times when I see a retargeting ad on Target for a product I was not looking for and was not considering buying, yet I find myself thinking, “you’re right, Target! I absolutely need that ceramic flower holder AND that weird lawn gnome. You know me so well.”

Why is that? I’m not sure. But when I started thinking about what my 27% of brands would be, I remembered an experience I had at Target a few months ago.

I traveled with a good friend of mine to her hometown, and in typical fashion, we stopped at Target for a few items. Although I was several hundred miles away from my usual Target (in the enemy territory of Wisconsin no less), as soon as I stepped in the Green Bay Target the all-too familiar feelings of comfort greeted me. I felt home.

As trivial as that sounds, I take immense relaxation in Target. It’s one of the few brands that has been involved in my life since I was young and there is an extreme feeling of nostalgia tied to it. As I graduated high school, went to college, moved to another state, and returned home, Target has always been a staple. I have spent countless hours wandering around the aisles for everything from school supplies to groceries for my first apartment meal - and now, as I’m on the threshold of real, actual adulthood - wedding gifts and baby clothes.

Needless to say, I would care if Target disappeared.

I’m sure there are other brands I have similar feelings for, but none of them come to mind as easily as Target does. So, for the next few weeks leading up to FUSE, I am on a mission to find out what my 27% of brands are. I’ll be posing challenges for myself every week, and I invite you to join me.

This week, I am going to keep a list for two days straight of which brands I see throughout my day. This includes visual and auditory language: from everything to billboards, Instagram ads, conversations with friends, etc. Next week, I’ll post my observations of which brands I didn’t mind seeing and which ones I did, along with my speculations on why I did or did not welcome them.

So Target, thanks for designing experiences that have made an emotional impact on me. You’ve set a high bar.

Maddi Wagner
Project Coordinator

Remember when you were in school? No, not the sorority party memories. Go back further. I'm talking the days of learning how to get along on the playground. Sharing your lunch treat with the cute boy and being sure to have a Valentine for each and every kid in your classroom. We were taught to turn the other cheek if someone was picking on us. Or if a confrontation was imminent, we should "use our words" in defense. Taking a swing at the school bully was the last resort. As grown adults, I know most of us try to live by these well-taught guidelines. However, sometimes it's not so easy and desperate times call for desperate measures.

The desperate measures I'm referring to relates to this year's theme. Change, by design: Thriving in the new brand reality. Yesterday, my colleague Aaron Keller, shared an introduction to Capsule's  FUSE blogging that will take place leading up the April event. As he shared here, we were all shocked and amazed to learn "consumers would not care if 73% of all brands disappeared." Desperate times, indeed, for those of us responsible for growing the currency of brands.

The statistic is surprising to us, I guess, because we work so hard to help brands flourish in the modern world. We research, design, experiment...research, design, get the picture. In our opinion, it's through this experimentation that brands have the best opportunity to succeed. Maybe we can even call this our 1-2 punch?

The experimentation we speak of is best implemented through experiences. So while Mom may have preached, "use your words", we know brands must do more than talk. Creating engaging experiences is the best way for brands to take a stand and fight for the love and affection of people (not consumers).

One last note, you know how lots of brand consultants say, "A brand is not what YOU say it is, it's what your customers say it is"? Well, I call bullshit on that statement. If you want your brand to mean something specific to people, you have total control over designing that experience.

Our advice? Stop using your words. Time to throw off the gloves, get in the ring and design your most impactful moments. If you want to be in the 27% of brands that people hold dear, adapting means designing experiences.

We plan to dig deeper into this troubling statistic over the weeks leading up to the conference. Is your brand one that can be cast away? If you don't know, well, shit just got real. Better get your ticket to FUSE.
Director of Client Experience

Barry McGeough

FUSE 2017 presenter Barry McGeough is Group Vice President at the Innovation Next division of PVH, one of the world’s largest importers of apparel, which includes iconic brands Calvin KleinTommy HilfigerIzod, and Speedo. Barry’s extensive experience includes directing athlete and human biomechanics-inspired product development and innovation teams at TevaThe North Face and Speedo.

As a preview to his presentation, Barry shares his insights on the impact of collaboration and innovation on designing wearable technology:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What inspires your product development innovations?
Barry McGeough:
 Everything from David Hockney and his approach to digital expression from an analogue perspective, to business leaders like Elon Musk and Kevin Plank who build worlds of business and product possibilities off the back of sheer audacity, to thought leaders like Malcolm Gladwell that challenge all our current ways of thinking conventionally. It’s all about being pathologically curious, finding the problems that vex us in life and the business of product and consumer experience, and using that curiosity to create the elegant solution.

PB: What role does collaboration play in the design-production relationship?
 Sounds stupidly obvious, but collaboration is everything. At Innovation Next, we are now collaborating with everyone as we explore how connected apparel becomes part of the IoT. We are working with universities like NC State and MIT, confederations like Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), schools like University College LondonParsons in New York, Hong Kong Polytechnic, as well as being actively engaged in our partnerships in Silicon Valley, in the start-up community, and looking outside our industry into the Defense and Biotech industries. We even collaborate on industry-wide initiatives with our competitors.

Everyone should be empowered to be their creative best selves. The innovation process works best when it’s smart: when its goals are targeted, its desired outcomes are clear, and a path to success is defined. Innovation and the idea of investing in pure R&D research, while well known in industries like consumer electronics, pharmaceuticals, and the auto industry, is very new to the apparel sector.

As such we are, all of us, from Under Armour to Adidas, defining what these investments could mean to us as we drive to bring relevant, practical solutions that help our brands build their unique competitive edge and drive revenue and profit. With the onset of fast fashion and the demands of an immediate gratification culture, we can no longer succeed using old go-to-market paradigms. We must now look outside our comfort zones and even outside of our industry to find these unique solutions. And that requires strategic collaboration.

PB: What are some notable products you've helped to create?
PB: What do you see as the next phase of wearable technology?
 In the short term, we as an industry must solve for the problems of power generation and power storage before we can fully integrate apparel into the Internet of everything.
But if we believe as we do, as the World Bank does, that by 2020 there will be 8 billion people on Earth, and there will be 50 billion connected devices and 95% of the world’s population will be connected to the Internet, then we also must believe that in a world of smart everything, from cars to phones to thermostats to wearables, that no one will accept smart EVERYTHING and dumb clothes.

Our expectations for connected apparel will be commensurate with our expectations for functionality in all other areas of the consumer and connected experience. And who better to drive this than PVH, who make products in multiple brands that cover the human body every day. Connected apparel is a ‘how,’ not an ‘if,’ and we are building these gateway solutions today.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
 My presentation will specifically discuss the intersection of innovation and biomimicry. As an alum of the outdoor industry, I have been fortunate to cross-pollinate the ideas put forward by Janine Benyus who wrote Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Naturethe primer for the concept of biomimicry, and use some of those concepts to build training aids that help strengthen Olympic athletes for one of the world’s most iconic brands. The inspiration we get for simple yet powerful solutions from the natural world is in its infancy. I will showcase how this insight inspires this and other industries.

Want to hear more from Barry? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.

Brilliance@Work profile originally published on

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in 
corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on 
LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and at 

We sat down this year with our team to discuss what we'd write about for the FUSE conference. Typical to any ideation, it starts with a lot of jibber jabber and the chaff of what might be good ideas. Then, we all focused in on a sharp quote that pierced right through our Patagonia garments, slipped through butter like skin, glanced off a rib bone and was heading right for a beating heart.

"Most consumers wouldn't care if 73% of all brands disappeared."


Stages of grief start to activate.

1. [Denial] This can't be right, who did this study? Can we get our hands on the data? They must have done something wrong? We're not on that list and if we are, we're in the 27% of brands people care about, I'm certain.

2. [Anger] Someone is going to hear about this if one of our clients is on that list of 73%!

3. [Bargaining] Okay, who can we talk to about this study? Can we make some changes to how they analyzed the data? How can we discredit the outcomes? Everyone has a price!

4. [Depression] I don't think I can do this anymore. Why do we even try to make people care when obviously they don't? I need a drink, I know it’s 11am, but I have to go home.

5. [Acceptance] Okay, people don't care about our brand. What do we do to change that, starting today? Let's get moving on a plan to build more emotional engagement into our brand.

Well, here we are, heading into a conference where a large number of brand managers, design directors, marketing minds and [more important] experienced human beings get together. FUSE is not the answer, but there are answers in the crowd around you.

Here are some suggestions, based on what we've seen to this point.

1. Look for ways to humanize your brand. Large corporate brands have a tendency to become large, inhumane and corporate, it’s just part of what they do. They need to take on more human attributes because it is hard to love a corporation, but you can love the brand a corporation projects.

2. Make sure you can live up to it. Please don't set up an agency of record meeting to discuss a campaign to humanize your brand. Being true to who you are requires a deeper dig into the human attributes of your brand. If you haven't done it, start there, before the agency meeting.

3. Measure human emotion. There are ways to measure human emotional engagement without asking people. Using the "will you refer us to a friend" or a net promoter score is equal to asking a spouse if you look fat in a new pair of jeans, of course you do [but they'll never tell you]. If you have no idea how to measure human emotion, ask us. We've got some interesting thoughts on this subject.

4. Experiment, measure and redesign. We are learning machines and our intuition needs to be fed with new knowledge daily. Showing love for the people you want to love you back starts with small experiments. It might be a new messaging platform, or a new designed experience dropped into a busy village, or just some changes to how you respond to global events in social media. Small experiments reduce the risk and then allow you to measure the emotional response. Learn and redesign.

This is just a bit to get you started, we'll be here weekly leading up to FUSE and at the conference as well to identify the patterns, nuggets of knowledge and piercing insights for you to take home and share with your team.

Our weekly series will start with a self reflection, because we have permission to perform experiments on ourselves. We will keep a list of the brands sending us signals everyday. And, on other days, we'll wait until late in the evening to remember the list of brands sending us signals. We'll compare these lists and explore how memory and emotional engagement works.

We know memory decay is abhorrent, but even more impactful perhaps is the lack of emotional engagement by brands. It will be in these spaces that we will set up a conversation for FUSE in April. If you don't have your tickets yet, get on it.

We are in critical times. That 27% can't fall lower. It is our responsibility to take back the emotional higher ground and grow the 27%.

Founder, Capsule Design

Gillian Ferrabee

During FUSE 2017, renowned performance artist Gillian Ferrabee will lead an experiential workshop that introduces creative interactivity and shows why understanding how people play is essential to creating customer engagement and loyalty.

For over 20 years, Gillian has been a performer, creative leader and coach for artists and entrepreneurs. Most recently, Gillian was the Director of the Creative Lab for Cirque du Soleil Media, where she created original content for the international film, TV and new media markets, in collaboration with various partners such as Netflix, Google Chrome, Fox Studios and Samsung.

As a preview to her presentation, Gillian shares her insights on the value of play:

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in dance and acting shape your character and career?
Gillian Ferrabee: Through dance I learned how powerful body-to-body communication is. Over 70% of what we understand in communication is visual, and our bodies are a big part of that. Dance is also a career that requires a very high level of commitment initially, and of re-commitment over and over. I learned a lot about the power of commitment and built inner resilience. Through acting I learned about the subtle interplay between audience and performer, and the flow of attention that occurs during a live performance.

PB: What are the main thoughts around the science of creative interactivity?
Creative interactivity is about agency, play and rhythm. Agency is the amount of recognition and impact given to each party in an interaction. Play describes a state of being, rather than an activity. It is the most natural way to learn, to invent and to socialize. Rhythm refers to the movement of attention between the parties interacting – how fast is it? How even is it? Is anyone leading? Following? How much room is there for improvisation?

PB: How is gamification essential to creating customer engagement and loyalty?
Gamification is about play and fun - two things that most people value highly even if they aren't completely aware of it. We are wired for play and fun, and come back to it over and over. We also identify with our 'tribe' through our play styles.

PB: What do you see as the next phase of gamification as it relates to brand strategy?
 I am by no means a brand strategist; that being said, what I see is that when a brand can 'let go of the reins' and invite their customers/clients/target audience more room to play within the conversation, that is a winning relationship. Listen and toss back (reply), then listen and innovate and toss back (reply).

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference workshop?
People will learn about the science of play, creativity and our brains. They will learn the eight key play styles and how to engage people from each of them. And they will play themselves and together with others, which it turns out is the best way to learn.

Want to hear more from Gillian? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.

Brilliance@Work profile originally published on

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in 
corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on 
LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and at 
Wednesday, February 15th | Chris Laurita social links

lost in thought
with Chris Laurita

Co-Founder, The Little Kernel

I'm inspired by bright, hardworking, successful people.
To me, brilliant is coming up with an idea that revolutionizes or positively impacts peoples quality of life.
When I'm having a creative block I move on and re-address it later.
My favorite brand is BMW.
My favorite color is black.
The best advice I ever received was "Be kind to the people on the way up cause your gonna see em on the way down."
The best way to unwind after a long day is the gym!
If I had a one year sabbatical, I would get a job…I'd be bored.
The most overused word in meetings today is granular.
My tools of the trade are my pda and my gift of gab.
The biggest thing that has changed since I started in the industry is that I'm fat and my hair turned gray.
I'm happiest when I'm busy.
I lead by motivating.
I wish I could have met Andy Warhol.
I'm proud that I'm a loyal, honest person.
My playlist is The Who, The Stones, repeat.
You can usually find me on the phone.
The last stamp on my passport was Italy.
The next stamp on my passport is Peru.
When I look back on my career I am grateful.
I still hope to continue to reinvent myself.
Find out more about his participation in FUSE arrow © 2017 IIR Holdings, LTD. All Rights Reserved.
Lisa Day

FUSE 2017 presenter, Lisa Day, Design Leader at Kellogg’s Masterbrands and Innovation, combines Consumer Research, Marketing and Design to successfully lead redesigns on brands such CHEEZ-IT, Morning Star Farms, Town House and Keebler. 

Lisa has spent the last 15 years showing that good design can also mean good business, resulting in growth on multiple brands globally for Kellogg’s, Procter and GambleInternational Paper and Shiseido.

As a preview to her presentation, Lisa shares her insights on how to bring an iconic brand into today’s world.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What inspires your product development innovations?
Lisa Day: Understanding the world around us that influences the decisions that my consumers make.

Politics: With today’s access to information, we need to be more informed than ever about what’s happening in our own country as well as around the world. We are all connected now, whereas before we were not. What we do here (especially on iconic brands) can influence and inspire what we can do in countries all around the world.

Trends: Understanding where things are heading from a trends perspective helps get ahead of consumer anticipation. Understanding what has been done and done well, coupled with creating or moving a brand to a space where there is a real need can create great brand shifts and new products.

The Stock Market: This is not sexy for most design folks, but the benefits of understanding the market – from charts to theory – not only helps with creating trends, but understanding our current limitations as well as where we can push our boundaries.

Understanding our consumers as people: Many people believe that digital road mapping is the most powerful tool we have. Although it’s extremely valuable, we also have to give ourselves the time to sit with our consumers and have a conversation with them; go their homes, understand them as emotional beings, and see what brands they choose and how they use them in their actual spaces that we want to become a part of.

PB: What role does collaboration play in the design-production relationship?
LD: It’s the lifeline; every success in the marketplace is contingent on collaborating with the people who can turn your ideas into reality. If you can have upfront conversations with your production teams, this will allow you to understand what you can and can’t do to bring your visions to life.

PB: What are some notable products you've helped to create?
LD: Cheez-It Line Design Restage (including Kellogg’s largest grossing Innovation CI Grooves): This is a brand that nobody wanted to touch for many years because it's always been such a successful brand for Kellogg's. Knowing when and how to approach the company about making the right changes was critical. The key to this success was to understand what is working so well and how to keep the essence of that alive along with the brand heritage, all the while bringing the brand into today’s marketplace, both in terms of feel and product innovation. We not only kept the success of the brand alive, but we were able to bring it to a level that Kellogg’s never even imagined.

Keebler Cookies Line Design Restage: A very iconic brand that people know and love. Here, we needed to make sure that the brand worked together as a family while consumers were able to find their favorite cookies. This was a great brand to help recreate because it’s all about keeping the Keebler Elf Magic alive!

Global Re-Branding and Design Strategy for Shiseido: Shiseido is one of the most prestigious and high quality brands in the world, and the number two cosmetic brand in Japan. I was honored to help bring them more into the forefront in the U.S. market while helping to unify them as a global brand. This included Global Branding, Product Development, Global Brand Architecture and Strategic Design Implementation.

PB: What do you see as the next phase of consumer product development at Kellogg's?
LD: Creating new and innovative products that meet market needs while staying true to what the Kellogg’s brands stand for. There are many different facets to consider (some of which I mentioned above). Overall, we need to understand the world around us, we need to inspire our internal teams (which in turn will inspire the work that will inspire our consumers) and most importantly, we need to be open to change.

Want to hear more from Lisa? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.

Brilliance@Work profile originally published on

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in 
corporate communication best practices. Connect with Peggy on 
LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and at 
Get into the minds of the people ushering the new era of brand. 

Each month, we sit down with creatives and brand leaders who share with us their passion, dreams, hobbies, business goals, advice, personal style, tools of trade, proudest moments, last stamp on their passports, and more!

Inside our FUSE MUSE Winter Edition eBook, you will find inspirational pearls of wisdom from design and brand leaders including: 

·         Jeremy Lindley, DIAGEO
·         Barry McGeough, INNOVATION NEXT
·         Judith VanVliet, COLOR MARKETING GROUP
·         Vicki Young, NALLA DESIGN
·         Melissa Steach, HERMAN MILLER
·         Vikram Bawa, MCCAIN FOODS
Download the eBook here:

Happy reading!

Also, this spring, join your peers and uncover the power and impact design can have on your brand and business. Don’t miss our upcoming FUSE Miami taking place April 4-6 in Miami, Florida.

Use exclusive LinkedIn discount code FUSE17BL for $100 off the current rate. Buy tickets here:

The FUSE Team

Creative Powerhouses Reinvent the Brand Rulebook

There’s a new breed of rock stars positioned to throw the traditional brand “rule book” out the door. That’s exciting, but also scary for a more traditional company looking to stay on top.

This April 4-6 in Miami, the FUSE: Brand Identity and Package Design keynote stage has you covered: pairing brand legends with next-generation thinkers you don’t know now, but will change the way you think about everything in the future. Learn more:

·         Capture the Trust and Attention of Millennials
Christopher Gavigan, Co-Founder and Chief Purpose Officer, The Honest Company
·         Designing Calm Technology
Amber Case, Cyborg Anthropologist, UX Designer, and Author
·         Remain relevant in an age of disruption
Martha Stewart, Founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
·         Next Generation Digital and Brand Experiences
Stephen Gates, Global Head of Design, CITI
·         Can A Brand Be Your Friend?
Stanley Hainsworth, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Tether Inc.
·         Engaging Your Audience
Gillian Ferrabee, Director, Creative Lab, Cirque Du Soleil Media
·         Imagination and Innovation
Brian Robinson, Global Head of Creative, Design, and Development, Dreamworks Animation
·         Evolve Brands and Inspire Innovation
Vince Voron, VP, Executive Creative Director, Dolby

See full speaker lineup:

Use our exclusive Bog discount code FUSE17BL for $100 off. Buy tickets here:

We hope to see you in Miami this spring!

The FUSE Team


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