Archive for November, 2010

Apple’s design was liberating. Will it now become repressive?

by Alex Benady
Something rotten about Apple?

Something rotten about Apple?

Who loves Apple products? We all do.  As members of the creative industries we scarcely have a choice. They are by far and away the best products for what we do. But as we all know it is not superior functionality that makes Apple a religion among us creative types.

It’s the design stupid. No brand has ever used design as an agent of liberation in quite the same way that Apple has. Apple was the challenger brand whose refined aesthetic sensibility liberated us from the soul-destroying tedium of paste-up and mark-up and lettering. Its intuitive interfaces liberated us from the dreary business of mastering Word. Its sleek and sexy ipods liberated us from the clunky business of the conventional MP3. By its very existence it promised to liberate us from the conformity of the evil empire of Microsoft. (more…)

Shiny Happy People

by Wendy Pearce

Congratulations to our new Shine winner, Jessica Sidaway from Staffordshire University, who yesterday wowed the judges with her stunning design. She answered the brief with simplicity and originality. Look out for her poster adorning the walls in all UK art colleges and universities next year.

It was a brilliant night. Thanks to all of the Shiners, it really was a joy to see such great work, keep in touch and I’m sure we’ll be seeing you soon. A special thanks to Chivas for sponsoring the event and in particular for providing us with whisky cocktails.

Brands need a stronger ‘sense of self’ to ensure success

by Emma Brock

Believe it or not 150 billion minutes were spent on Facebook in 2009.  But that was nothing.  It is predicted that this year Facebook’s five hundred million members will spend somewhere between 200 and 500 billion minutes adorning their walls and messaging their friends on the site.   Meanwhile 2 billion videos will be viewed on Youtube each and every day (which, incidentally, is now the second largest search engine).

The figures are simply staggering. Social media is the crack cocaine of the internet. It elects presidents, recruits armed forces and helps us get married (apparently one in 8 marriages in the US are now the result of social media connections).

It is no exaggeration to say that for many people, certainly those under 35, social media is a main driver of their lives. But it is much more than simply a series of channels for communication. Collectively it has changed the individual’s relationship to the rest of society.

It’s not news that it has also changed the relationship of brands to society.  Where once it was the done thing to mind your own business, plough your own furrow and keep your opinions to yourself, now people are free to comment and vent on anyone and everything, even when they don’t know the individuals involved.

Many of the implications for brands of this seismic social shift have been well documented. Consumers now assume the right to criticise corporate behaviour and comment on every aspect of our marketing from portfolio management to new product concepts, names, designs, distribution and promotional material.

And they don’t stop at comments. They originate, recast and reshape marketing materials, they make spoof films and posters and they mount powerful campaigns against behaviour they don’t like.

It’s no exaggeration to say that consumers have arrogated to themselves the right to manage your brand.  And what brand managers they are. Some are thoughtful, committed, knowledgeable and engaged. Others are careless, capricious and even malicious.

But it doesn’t matter whether they are a Harvard Professor offering her considered opinion or a bored housewife venting her anger. All these opinions count and many brands have learnt that you ignore them at your peril.

Quite rightly marketers are taking this stuff extremely seriously. That’s why Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever, recently took a delegation of top marketers to Silicon Valley. As one of the world’s leading marketing companies, Unilever understands what it doesn’t understand and knows what it doesn’t know. And it is desperate to cope better with this new world that leaves the boundaries of the brand porous and ill defined

But I believe before we open up to the hundreds of millions of opinions and mash-ups and piss-takes, before we cast our brand to the winds of social media, brands need a powerfully developed sense of self. 

That sense of self comes primarily from strong brand design. Not the simply the brand’s livery and contours, but its entire construction, its DNA.

Only brand design will provide the compass that will allow brands to navigate their way through the sea of conflicting voices.  Only strong brand design will enable a brand to stand strong in the face of the hostile reception from a small but vociferous group of consumers. Only strong brand design will help a brand resist the siren calls of misguided supporters.

When the world and his dog can tamper with your identity, if you don’t have a clear idea of who you are, you’re in real trouble. That’s why in the era of social media, brands need strong brand design like never before.

Coley Porter Bell creates the first insider’s guide to the East End

by Alex Benady
Buzzstops: Can an app help regenerate an area?

Buzzstops: Can an app help regenerate an area?

Brand design agency Coley Porter Bell has designed a new app for the East London Business Alliance, which will allow visitors to explore the nooks, crannies and hidden gems of East London as it rises to international prominence over the coming years.

It is believed to be the first time this technology has been used for urban regeneration and economic development in this way.

The free app branded ‘Buzzstops’ is a guide to what’s on and what’s cool in East London and will become a useful, informative guide to what’s hot and what’s not, as visitors flock to the UK.

It was created for ELBA, a charitable enterprise which works with companies from chiefly the City and Canary Wharf, to bring about the social, economic and infrastructure change in East London, where some of London’s poorest communities are based. (more…)

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