Think It. Blog It.
16 ways to change the world…
An attention-grabbing Royal Institute conference in London last week. Yes, we are entering another era of exponential science-driven change: the curve keeps going up and up, as the more we discover, the more we can discover. But are all changes for the better?
Some great stuff, some fun stuff and some scary stuff:
The great: The future of Human Health is looking rosy on a number of fronts:
- Personal nutrition management: combining of all your unique variables (incl. your very own microbial makeup) means personal, accurate predictions to food responses. Pizza and ice-cream could be good for you (but not for you...)!
-The astonishing world of nanotechnology... Things behave differently at nano-level, and it seems we will be able to tackle illness and dysfunction at cell level.
- Mobile Health, (though not well communicated here) will contribute to this rosy future for each of us...who can access and afford it.
The fun: Future toys - Flying cars, Hybrid Air Vehicles, Smart Robots are in the air. City planning and predictions involving autopilot cars gave us visions of children playing safely in car-free streets. Great optimism. This recalls the story of an earlier team of scientists (from The Royal Institute?), in early Victorian times, who modeled the future of London and its infrastructural needs. After months of deliberation, they concluded that any cities maximum size was 2.5 million inhabitants. The crucial limiting factor? Transport emissions, in the form of horse manure.
The scary: Geo-engineering. Has human technology screwed up the environment? Let us fix it...with more technology! The side effects of science 'changing the world' have not always been benign (Atom splitting, plastics, DDT, CFC)... Who knows what the fallout may be from 'intervening' with the environment on a planetary scale? As Danish scientist Niels Bohr memorably said, "Prediction is very difficult, especially if its about the future".
Beyond the honeymoon excitement, what are the potential dangers of the new super-material, graphene? And the threats from cyber security? Even the minefield of nanotechnology? Scientists by their very training tend to think and work within their own tight constructs. Maybe, like any good commercial innovation projects, they should build teams with multiple perspectives. Include the projective, the empathetic, lateral and poetic thinkers, the multi-visionaries.
On that note, we look forward optimistically to a healthy 2015!
Ubiquitous branding: good tips
Sitting on a Gatwick express this morning, I'm presented with a fully branded PG tips cup of tea. Recognising that the Gatwick Express is a somewhat tired brand, and realising the potential of a captive audience, the catering unit have cleverly done a deal with more credible beverage brands - Starbucks, PG tips - to make the mundane more pleasurable. It's still a teabag in a paper cup with boiling tapwater - but you drink the brand. And it made me recall that last night, downloading the brain by watching a TV comedy, PG tips slipped into the script: a Moslem cleric offered a CofE vicar a "nice cup of PG tips" to signal a small moment of bonding. Warmth generated.
Clever placement in both cases. As a consumer I joined the two dots : better than watching a paid ad pushing the predictable message.
A good tip from PG for other everyday brands: forget disruption, focus on blending into the fabric of consumer lives. And adding that appropriate bit of value.
According to Wikipedia, Starbucks is present in 61 countries & territories as of November 2012. This international growth has not disguised the fact that like McDonalds, KFC and the original Coca-Cola, they are exporting an essentially American experience.
And with it, American world views and values. As the debate about the influence of Britain, the small Island(s) than no-one listens to, continues within Britain (and no-where else), it comes as a salutary reminder where we REALLY fit into the American world view and values. Starbucks reminds us that to them, Britain is England – a city somewhere east of New York noted for dead playwrights and old buildings.
Is this a reflection of the Starbucks sensitivity to local cultures – or more a reflection on Brand Britain?
Answers in a sonnet, please.
M&S with a Capital F.
Now in Britain, its the autumnal discontent about M&S. Possibly orchestrated, all the noise is about the 'limited availability' of its new range of 'exclusive' womenswear. Yes, to be 'exclusive' you do have to exclude: it's a tactic used successfully by other retailers, like H&M with its limited edition 'designer' ranges. It generates noise. But in M&S case, the noise is more sound and fury than the sound of cash tills ringing. Why is this?
I went into M&S in central London to see what was going on. There were no sale-type scrums around the till, no piling up of desired designer wear. As ever, the buzz was in the food halls. In the menswear, nothing in the 'smart' sections demanded a share of my heart or wallet. In the end, I resorted to buying some socks and pants – well, its M&S after all. The old staples. When I got them home, it felt like they had been made with old staples: the socks were rubbish, and the pants excruciatingly uncomfortable. I had to throw the whole lot away. Only £25 worth, but unwearable. What's going wrong?
Look no further than the strategy. Back in May, M&S revealed their strategy was to "reassert our position as a leading, premium fashion retailer". Umm – what? It kept generations of Britons in warm sensible underwear, pyjamas, pullovers - occasionally, a smarter but always solid coat or skirt. And always at a solidly reasonable price. But a "leader in fashion and design?" No, Ms Belinda Earl – the new 'style director' who has coined the unfortunate phrase 'fashion with a capital F' - that's not what consumers mean by 'better quality and style'. They mean something they want to wear – and is actually wearable!
It's back to Maslow's needs. Get your basics right – be the best, once again, at the staples, the regular purchases: get that visit frequency up. Then add some seasonable desirables on top, to increase interest and basket size. Then, and only then, add some icing on the cake – a bit of fashion frosting.
That's the F in idea.
Within any advertising, branding or graphic design company, I expected creativity – and a lot of it. What I didn't know were all the minds behind it. I initially thought that there were a few people in a team, all using the same skills. However, what I have quickly learnt at Ergo, is that there are different people with different skills, and this will appear to be apparent in most creative companies. For example, you have the person that comes up with all the ideas (the conceptual person), designers (who bring it to life), researchers (who test it), technology geniuses (who build it), project managers (who plan and manage it), and the list goes on... Yet they are all striving towards one thing, and at Ergo, what I understand is that their main aim is to improve a brand and unlock their true potential.
What stood out to me was the work area. Ergo are lucky to be surrounded by trees with a canal running by with large open windows – the perfect creative environment in my opinion. In order for ideas to flow and design to happen, it needs to be relaxed; a vibe I instantly received upon my arrival at Great Western Studios.
As I am yet to learn, there is a great deal behind the branding of a product that we see on the shelf or a website that we browse. I didn't really know what to expect when it came to the design/idea of a brand, so this process is something I am keen to learn about whilst I am here. Ergo's strategy seems simple, as displayed on their website, a breezy 'before and after' deal – but all those little pencil sketches in between don't begin to portray the thought and hard work behind all of it.
So these next few days should help me recognise the truth behind branding and Ergo's approach.
Ergo at Circus
What a lovely night out, dinner at Circus Restaurant!
Creative Designer - All–Round Discipline (Midweight) Wanted!
We're currently on the look-out for Designer to join our team in the Studio, on an on-going flexible contract.
You'll need to be a versatile all-round creative, with a fine eye for detail as we'll be asking
The great part is that the work will be very varied:
- Working with our Visual Planner to create conceptual and appealing brand worlds, and the occasional mood boards
- Branding (covering identity and brand execution across different media and touchpoints, brand packaging)
- Press and ATL campaign concept development
- Digital (web pages storyboarding, basic video editing)
You will be guided by a Creative Director and/or Strategic Director, but will also be given the opportunity to shine and no doubt show us a thing or two!
You will not be expected to artwork. Rather, we're looking for a true creative, someone who can turn ideas into something that makes clients appreciate what you do.
You will be working on internationally known brands – so we're in need of someone with some experience, and can work to tight deadlines.
Ideally, we'd like someone to start working with us next week (w/c 10th June). *Rates are negotiable
Studio Coordinator Wanted!
We’re looking for a bright, well-organised and experienced studio co-ordinator to cover maternity leave.
You will be supporting all aspects of the business and its projects, so you will need to
The role has two main functions:
1. Studio Management
You are responsible for the day-to-day smooth running of the studio. This includes basic bookkeeping, the ordering of all supplies, post, couriers, answering the telephones, greeting guests and preparing for meetings (managing and setting up the meeting room, ensure meeting room is tidy, make tea/coffee, purchasing biscuits etc), managing petty cash and keeping the studio clean and tidy. You will oversee all contractors: this includes any cleaners, maintenance, suppliers and IT support.
Book-keeping; managing expense inputs, purchase orders and supplier invoices.
IT & Telephony: responding to problems as they arise and liaising with IT and telephone suppliers + support.
2) Support to Account Manager
Ad-hoc support to our AM; assisting with research, brainstorming input and presentation preparation as required
Design input – on house brand issues, the occasional literature and smaller aspects of client concept work and presentations.
We have a very open culture, a hands-on work place with the opportunity for all employees to become involved in all aspects of the company. You may well find yourself in creative naming brainstorms, pulling together mood boards for positioning concepts or designing communications elements.
Handover: 1 week
Contract length: From 3 to 6 months
Salary: £20 - 24K pro rata (depending on experience)
Days: Mon – Fri | 9 -6pm
Please send your Covering Letter & C.V. to firstname.lastname@example.org
Last night we attended The Annual Recommended Agency Register Awards (RAR), and we're pretty excited to share that we won, in the category of Brand Strategy!
This achievement is thanks to all of our lovely clients, whom we owe special thanks to – without you this would never have been possible, especially those of you who took the time to write such warm recommendations! THANK YOU!
The RAR Awards highlight the agencies that have been highest rated by their clients – the brand owners! http://www.recommendedagencies.com/agency-awards/2013/winners/544/