As we shared in our January newsletter blog post, at Designsensory we strive to stay ahead of trends in marketing, communication, strategy and technology. Our goal is to use changing information about all channels in order to better help our clients achieve their goals.
Here are a few more trends that DSers are tracking:
Reaching Varied Age Groups
Contrary to the belief of many corporations, the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 age group (up 79% since 2012). It's important that clients see Twitter as an beneficial tool for reaching that age group and tailor content to the group's interests.
In the meantime, "more information faster" seems to be the trend among younger audiences. Tweens, teens and twenty-somethings are trending toward faster visual media, spending less time on Facebook and similar social media sites, and more time on Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. Instagram’s recent video integration gives users 15 seconds of video clips, similar to Vine, while Snapchat's unique format lets users send a photo that can be viewed for only 10 seconds, before it disappears.
With so many channels of 24/7 information, the possibility of being misled by errors and misinformation has grown exponentially. Mistakes often take on the patina of respectability and truth simply through repetition. Go back to the credo journalism teachers have lived by for decades: If your mother says she loves you, look it up!
If you haven't already, read the first part of Trends 2014 for more information.
For the past several years, the turn from December to January has brought cold temps, shorter days and the threat of snow. Fortunately, it also brings the opportunity to view creative work from around the southeast.
Several weeks ago, I had the honor of judging the local ADDY (American Advertising Federation Awards) competition for the AAF Roanoke and AAF Southwest Virginia chapters. What ensued was a grand old time of meeting new professionals, eating fantastic food, sampling great drinks and being inspired by some wonderfully creative work.
Standout pieces included illustrations for a book, The Working Dead, the chapter video promo for the ADDY Awards channeling AMC's The Walking Dead, and corporate branding work for Advanced Auto Parts (based in Roanoke).
There was some superlative corrugated packaging work as well as particular pieces that reflected railroad culture and history of the area. They also had some really strong student work, helped by the fact that they have several feeder schools with good programs in the surrounding parts. In fact, the SWVA and Roanoke ADDYs boast one of the highest numbers of student entries in the U.S. It's great to see up-and-coming talent find their way.
I would like to express many thanks for the warm hospitality to the Roanoke chapter leadership and the fine folks who chaired and organized the awards.
What could be more inspiring to a creative soul than an evening away from the office admiring the work of other creative types! The American Advertising Awards (formerly the ADDYs) recognize the best in all types of advertising from agencies, professionals and students. These awards also represent risk-taking clients who trust and collaborate with our design, content and tech teams to create the best possible advertising for their company and, in the cases below, gain award-winning recognition. We certainly wouldn’t have had the opportunity to win these awards without our wonderful clients’ inspiration.
Local chapters honor advertisers from their area, and Gold Award winners go on to be entered into regional and national competitions. Fingers crossed!
Designsensory's 6 GOLD American Advertising Award Winners
Designsensory's 19 SILVER American Advertising Award Winners
TN Department of Tourism (4 awards)
Tennessee Fund - UT Knoxville
Designsensory's 2 BRONZE American Advertising Award Winners
Congratulations to all the 2014 American Advertising Award Winners!
Being proactive is something we strive for every day: creating forward-thinking design aesthetics, leading development on bleeding edge technology, defining content across brandscapes and sharing impactful strategic planning. All of these defining aspects of Designsensory’s team and our craft take refined intelligence, insight and a little bit of intuition, some of which can be gleaned from these trends shared by several DSers.
The Decline of PERFECT
While we can all strive for perfection, it’s okay to be imperfect. Some customers seek this out over what could be perceived as mass-produced and processed perfection. With the rise of Etsy, organic and one-off artisanal products, imperfection is now something regarded as a must-have in elements of transmedia storytelling and branded content. J. Walter Thompson advertising agency conducted a study in which three-quarters of U.S. and U.K. consumers surveyed said they increasingly value things that aren’t machine made, and almost six in ten said they like goods that are a little imperfect (with the two younger generations more likely to agree). When it comes to people, 71 percent said they find beauty in people’s flaws, and 86 percent agreed that people’s flaws make them authentic. Interested? Find out more about the "survey":http://www.jwtintelligence.com/2014/01/data-point-pizza-people-imperfect-fe….
Multi-screen, multi-modal engagement continues to be explored, especially with tactics that stitch UGC (user-generated content) and social activation in with an overall brand narrative. Beyond activation and conversion, this is seen simply as a way for brands to invest in continuous experiences that entertain and fortify relationships with brand loyalists, influencers and advocates (ex. Pepsi Halftime, Jag British Villains).
The face of the world is changing. The content we produce, that is a reflection of society, is also changing to match.
Expanding Social Roles
Working dads. Telecommuting. Active older persons. Advertising will mirror the reality of culture and amplify this reality within advertising contexts.
Emphasis on organic and authentic
Selfies. Instagram-like photos. Hand-lettered type. Go-Pro videos. Hand-drawn doodles and typography. These elements continue to suggest casual, candid production that captures the essence of "real" and authentic. Similarly, criticism over fantastical, over-touched images has spawned a hunger for advertisers and brands to celebrate and showcase real people (ex. Dove, Vanity Fair covers, Aerie).
Emphasis on a modern, digital look in screen design
With the pendulum swinging away from skeuomorphic design, modern, simple digital-centric looking design will continue to trend in favor.
Now that people are more familiar with digital-only contexts of consumption (responsive, transmedia, scrolling) designers and content creators will feel the freedom to enhance and augment UIs (user interfaces).
Crisp, beautiful photos combined with simple, modern screen design and experimental UX (user experience) have pulled background image blurring back with a vengeance (ex. iOS7, Windows 8, Yahoo app).
Meaningful Big Data
Data continues to be collected and reported but an emphasis will be placed on meaningful, empathetic insights that recall a more anthropological, psychological view of users vs. anonymous numbers. These insights will help refine brand engagement, technology, functions and content.
This is applicable not just for brands but for people; the quantified-self will now have to make sense of the data and look at ways to impact behavior and thoughts.
"Magic" was the word repeated over and over during the three-day commercial shoot for PetSafe’s stoneware fountains, one of the brand’s newest additions to the hydration systems.
Cats and dogs can create unknown variables during photo and video shoots but, with great pet handlers on the set, this became one of many magic components. The animals readily drank from fountains, created best moments with the on-screen talent, and were loving and friendly to DSers and staff during downtime between shots.
More magic occurred behind the scenes when branded content meshed with interviews of PetSafe staff, DSers and, newcomer to the set, veterinarian Tracy Dewhirst. The collaborative message shared the medical benefits for dogs and cats of free-flowing water and the importance of proper health hydration.
Even the location was magic, since the shoot took place at the amazingly curated and modernist-styled home of interior designer Paula Clancy, owner of "Nouveau Classics":http://nouveauclassics.com/?page_id=2. From her perspective, Paula was able to share her take on the colors and style of PetSafe’s new stoneware fountains.
Designsensory, PopFizz and PetSafe’s team worked long hours and multiple days to collaborate and capture some amazing stills and videos--and the wrap party kept the magic flowing.
DSers have been out and about with colleagues, comrades and classes. Here’s a recap of some of the wonderful moments.
Creative Director Joseph Nother shared inspiration and thinking in a presentation at a Creative Caffeine gathering of Knoxville chapter AIGA members. His topic, The Course of Creativity, addressed focusing on the dynamic, nuanced and fluid movement that creativity can take in achieving the best human-centered design.
Highlights include these twelve ideas to ponder:
• Start with the end in mind but be ready to course-correct.
• Connect objects to ecosystems.
• Design moments of truth.
• Get intimate with your client and understand their customers.
• Form follows function but both take a back seat to emotion.
• The creative continuum moves from What Is to What If to What Wows to What Works.
• Square the circle.
• Ideas get you noticed. Craft gets you recognized.
• Mind your mannerism.
• How much pain are you willing to sustain?
• Surround yourself with awesome.
• The end is the beginning.
Strategist Josh Loebner as well recently spoke with Knoxville chapter AIGA members and shared that good people skills better facilitate human-centered design and overall longer, more productive relationships. The presentation focused on five points of Differentiating, Openness, Vision, Enlighten and Selflessness, forming the hopefully memorable acronym D.O.V.E.S., the birds that mate for life.
Differentiate : Go above and beyond in client service. Being proactive; not answering client’s questions but asking them.
Openness: Great work entails risk. Most clients do not take risks. If they are going to take that risk, they are much more likely to do so with people they trust. Openness is about no surprises, and transparency when mistakes happen.
Vision : Look beyond the project.
Enlighten: Whenever possible, educate clients, your team and the people around you.
Selflessness : Understand limitations; give advice and help with services even if you don’t provide them. Make yourself available, not just as a skilled worker but as a person.
Designer Joyanna Hirst informed and enlightened as guest lecturer at the University of Tennessee in a higher level English course centered on writing, layout and production of technical documents. Lecturing on design theory and practice, Joyanna shared her thinking on best practices and trends, giving the students ideas and tools to take action. As a recent graduate, Joyanna also gave some orientation to careers and internships in graphic design, mentioning how organizations such as the AIGA help foster connections among design professionals and daily work life at problem-solving at Designsensory.
During the holidays we often get caught up in a rush of gift giving and social events. But, at a deeper level, in many ways, this season is about finding inspiring moments for oneself and others that can extend well beyond the parties and presents.
Inspiration truly is at the core of our business. Internally, we strive to craft elevated concepts, designs, strategies and technologies. And, we hope those translate externally to inspire action among the people who engage with the work we create.
In an article from MIT Sloan School of Management, Tim Brown, Ideo’s president and CEO, shared three important phases of design: inspiration, ideation and implementation. Brown notes that if you skip inspiration, ideation is of little value. You can’t have ideas in the abstract. He defined inspiration as the collection of insights, and stated that being inspired begins with empathy. It is important to understand how people experience the world physically, cognitively and emotionally, and how groups work and cultures behave.
Cognitive scientist Scott Kaufman shared his thinking in a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Why Inspiration Matters”: “In a culture obsessed with measuring talent and ability, we often overlook the important role of inspiration. Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility, and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities."
Inspiration enables progress toward goals. In a recent study on inspiration and goal achievement, researchers noted that goal progress and inspiration build on each other to form a cycle of greater goal inspiration and pursuit. In the study, inspired individuals reported experiencing more purpose in life and more gratitude.
Kaufman goes on to share that “another incredibly important, and often overlooked trigger of inspiration is exposure to inspiring managers, role models and heroes." As Gregory Dess and Joseph Picken note in “Changing Roles: Leadership in the 21st Century,” our competitive global economy requires leaders to shift their focus from efficient management to effective utilization of a company’s diversity of resources. They argue for five key roles of leadership:
• Using strategic vision to motivate and inspire
• Empowering employees at all levels
• Accumulating and sharing internal knowledge
• Gathering and integrating external information
• Challenging the status quo and enabling creativity
What inspires you, your team and your company? Ultimately, are those inspirations conveyed in the communication that connects customers to your brand?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday ring in the holiday season and officially commence what most retailers hope is their best time of year. Utilizing key online retail trends and consumer insights may give you the tools you need to succeed. Although people will still brave crowds that gather and line up outside locked doors in the wee hours the day after Thanksgiving, online shopping continues to gain momentum from a sales standpoint. According to a recent Forbes article, “Blurring the line between in-store price comparison shopping and stay at home shopping via the Internet, IBM reported the number of consumers using their mobile device to make a purchase on Black Friday 2012 increased by nearly two-thirds from 2011. . . . Online retailers had their biggest day ever on Cyber Monday as holiday shoppers drove sales up 30% vs. the same day last year according to IBM.”
Earlier this year, comScore asked 3,000 consumers which factors led them to shop on their computers, smartphones or tablets, to abandon their shopping carts, and to recommend retailers to friends. “Consumers have a growing number of digital touchpoints, with more ways to stay connected with their favorite online retailers through every phase of the shopping, buying and fulfillment process,” said Susan Engleson, comScore senior director. “What will set apart one retailer from another in a competitive marketplace is how well they meet the rapidly evolving needs and expectations of customers.”
Key findings among those surveyed in the U.S. include:
• 47% want a coupon or promotion sent to them on their smartphone when they are in-store or nearby
• 58% want to see a 2-3 day delivery option at checkout
• 53% want an estimated delivery date and shipping costs early in the process
• 7 in 10 online shoppers prefer to access multichannel retailers through a digital channel
• 84% of online shoppers not only use social media platforms but are also actively engaged in seeking out updates and promotions for sites they follow
• 66% of consumers review a retailer’s returns policy either before or both before and after making a purchase, demonstrating that return policies are one of the top consumer considerations when making a purchase online.
In a recent Harvard Business Review webinar, Jeffrey Rayport, Harvard professor and digital marketing expert, explained how the consumer landscape is being reshaped, and that five principles can help companies leverage the opportunities of the new reality.
1. Deliver a commanding targeted abundance of content, apps and services.
2. Socialize the brand, and forge communities of conviction based on location, identity, interest or condition.
3. Work the web by letting the outside in, and adopt “open source” thinking as an aggregator while exploiting network effects.
4. Design for occasion---allow the consumption context to drive decisions about user interface design.
5. Integrate the experience and orchestrate multichannel media content delivery to establish the best “ecosystem."
Your people and your brand are your most important assets, and we believe that brands should work as hard inside a company as they do outwardly. Our approach and tools for internal branding help clients cocreate, empower staff and engender a more unified voice. Beyond the regularly scheduled weekly project briefing meetings, we believe in the value of bringing our team together to connect inspiration to action.
Whether your business or organization is a large multinational conglomerate, regional organization or startup boutique with a handful of people, internal communications among staff is just as important as, and can help foster, outward branding.
At Designsensory, we bring individuals, teams and the entire staff of DSers together through fun and inviting ways, including potluck breakfasts and birthday celebrations, weekly sharetimes, staff-wide fireside chats, internal surveys, planned and impromptu gatherings and collaborations.
Tim Brown, lead thinker/designer at industrial design firm IDEO, shares in a recent blog that “food represents much more than an employee perk here—it’s a central part of our creative culture.”
Whether with a casserole in the kitchen or dialogue through an intranet, we continue to discover new ways to bring people together for successful internal communications. Here are a few we thrive on:
Brand style guide: We like to call this your “brand bible.” It gives your internal team the chance to bring together everything that is important about your brand, from logo guidelines to font style, ad and packaging parameters, tone of voice and other specific needs that make your brand unique.
Intranet: For larger business and organizations, intranets offer instant connectivity via a closed online platform accessible only to internal staff. Incorporating social components such as a blog and short-form posting, similar to Twitter, can enable dialogue and collaboration among staff.
Internal surveys: While one-on-one interviews provide individual feedback, internal surveys of an entire staff share the collective pulse of the group.
E-newsletters and emails: For most organizations, email is something everyone connects with multiple times daily, before, during and after work. Utilizing this platform, either through a designed internal e-newsletter or a simple regular email, adds another touchpoint of staff connectivity.
Crisis communications: During emergencies and times that call for immediate action and crisis-specific communications, our staff is united through one voice and message. A crisis communications plan outlining action and short-term next steps facilitates branding and marketing when immediate action is required.
In-person gatherings: Whether bringing staff together during a potluck lunch or a fireside chat with a virtual fireplace played through a TV (yes, we’ve done that), in-person gatherings connect us as extended family.
Clicking the play button of an online video can lead to the promise of “more”—from more time onsite to more conversions and more conversations. The power of that play button can increase by extending online videos beyond a company’s website to a broader digital presence.
Video aggregators, native advertising, paid placements on YouTube, YouTube channels, Vine and soon-to-be video ads in Facebook’s newsfeed are examples of how an expanding online video ecosystem is shaping brand stories, content sharing and drive results.
A recent Forbes article, The Content Revolution: Emerging Forms of Online Video, shares that “the latest comScore numbers are evidence of just how massive this growth has been: 38.7 billion video views from 182 million Internet users in December 2012.
It’s hard to say which came first—the widespread increase in consumer adoption or the massive surge in the quality and type of video content available. Whatever the cause and effect, the end result is lots of content being viewed in new and different ways.”
Business Insider reports that, “After polling 5,000 executives attending the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Digital Content NewFronts, the IAB found that 75 percent of U.S. senior executives plan to shift their budgeting from television to digital video ads.”
Many of these video distribution avenues are economical, ranging from free to a few cents per placement up to more considerable amounts that mirror traditional media spends.
Video and rich media can help engage, connect and motivate your customers. From setting a long-term content strategy to writing, producing and editing rich media, Designsensory can help you learn more about how to integrate rich media and video into your marketing toolkit.