2007 Human Centered Communication Award: Fred Water

13 12 2007

“Fred has a blackbelt in hanging out.”

Fred water is the most brilliant product launch of 2007, even beating out the iPhone. No other product embodies the perfect synergy of marketing and design. Fred, redefined water, a product category most people would say is boring and saturated. Human centered communications is a term I coined to describe the fusion of the human centered design trend with marketing communications. Fred personifies water, making it different, but also increases utility through unique bottle design.  Fred is a product where the advertising positioning was integrated from square one, not a component slapped on the end of the development cycle.

The advertising/design convergence trend is something I have been proclaiming for a number of years, and Fred is the proof of concept that I hope opens the floodgates.

Tangerine Toad’s post on design as the new advertising.

Post on Human Centered Design

Post on Apple’s organizational structure to merge design and marketing.

Without further adieu, the inspirational development process of Fred direct from his father, via PSFK.


Becoming Gatekeepers: How Old Media Can Leverage Brand Trust

28 11 2007

“This is art? My 4 year old could paint this”

Any person that has ever walked into a museum, especially of the modern/contemporary variety, has no doubt uttered an iteration of these words. Lets face it, art is an ambiguous concept and us laymen goto museums because people that know far more than us about the art world carefully curate the pieces that are displayed. They are our filters to the art world, and I would say 95% of the art I am exposed to is in museums. Of course, aficionados have expanded circles of exposure beyond museums such as galleries, art shows, artist friends, publications, books, etc.

The art world is a great metaphor for today’s media landscape because for the same reasons that we allow curators to filter our peek into the vast artistic realm, we allow media outlets such as Vogue, CNN, BusinessWeek, etc. to filter our fashion dos & don’ts, world news, and business thinking. The answer? Trust.

As productive people we often don’t have the time to waddle through 3000+ blog posts a day so we either trust other bloggers like Robert Scoble to filter news for us, or let it bubble up to mainstream trade publications and news sources. To further clarify, just like in the art world the hardcore among us read everything ourselves and conduct our own filtering, but that is merely because our egos tell us that we are the best curators for our information, which sometimes can be true as no one else knows what information you deem most relevant.

So, what is this holy grail that I speak of?

Well the most trusted media sources are offline entities, although they may have online components. Therefore, they are in a position to leverage their clout to become online filters for their area of expertise. For example Vogue should reach out to fashion bloggers, allow them to become affiliates that they can sell ads for, and create a mini-portal where they aggregate posts they feel are most relevant for their readers on their site. It’s a win-win situation: Bloggers get better CPMs and more exposure, and Vogue becomes a gatekeeper and increases their online ad revenue. I spoke about topic-centric vertical ad networks in my previous post and in my opinion these old media powerhouse names are best positioned to take advantage of this new trend.


Apple’s Best Kept Secret: Jobs + Woz = Joz

26 11 2007

Design/Marketing Convergence is Embodied by ‘The Joz’

Here is a great interview with Greg Joswiak, who according to ex-Apple insider Steve Chazin (MarketingApple), goes by the nickname Joz. Joz, as Steve explains, is a fitting hybrid mutation of Jobs and Woz (Short for Steve Wozniack, co-founder of Apple) as he not only heads up Product Marketing, but also leads Product Management at Apple. This is the convergence I have discussed in a number of posts between Design and Marketing that is the future of both industries. By combining these two entities under one leader you create circular system where marketing insights inspire products and product design inspires marketing.

Take a read and please stop back to post any comments you may have. Very interested to hear what you folks think on this trend.

It’s all a matter of perspective: Letting our physical spaces define us

19 11 2007

Our minds are built on patterns.

We are creatures of habit and we attempt to understand our world by forming patterns based primarily on our past experiences. But, unfortunately life, nature, and people we aren’t that simple. When we are children we learn through association: Fire is hot and it burned me therefore other things that are hot should burn me too; however, as we quickly learn, these rules can breakdown under certain situations. For example, I remember sticking my hand in a bucket of dry ice when I was 5 and being extremely confused as to how I got burned from ICE.

In the grand scheme, these types of survival based constructs are static and with a few exceptions serve us well in understanding our surroundings and staying alive. However, when trying to apply these types of associations, that work so well, upon ideas and concepts in flux like trends, it narrows our field of vision. The tough part then becomes being able to break through these layers of patterns and reverting to a child-like state.

This is a topic I have touched on before in a number of posts, but here I wanted to discuss how physical spaces influence our perspectives by reinforcing or diminishing our patterns. For example, if you are a high-powered CEO nestled in your office surrounded by your ‘success’, it reinforces your patterns since your previous applications of understanding based on those associations got you where you are today.

In the picture at the top of this post we see a series of concentric circles that are dependent on the physical location they are viewed from. Step out of your comfort space. Step out of the world you have built around you to reinforce your ideal self.

Trust me it isn’t an easy excercise.

But, try to build small escapes into your daily routine such as having lunch outside the office in varying environments, or conducting meetings outside the corner conference room.

Here are a couple cool examples of how we jump to conclusions too quickly (a bit NSFW)

Part 1

Part 2

More cool examples of the pic at the top of the post.

11.5 Ways To Keep Your Company Ahead Of The Creativity Curve

30 10 2007

The list below was pulled Robert I. Sutton’s Weird Ideas that Work

A few obvious ones, but there are a few gems as well.

“(1) Hire smart people who will avoid doing things the same way your company has always done things.

(1.5) Diversify your talent and knowledge base, especially with people who get under your skin.

(2) Hire people with skills you don’t need yet, and put them in untraditional assignments.

(3) Use job interviews as a source of new ideas more than as a way to hire.

(4) Give room for people to focus on what interests them, and to develop their ideas in their own way.

(5) Help people learn how to be tougher in testing ideas, while being considerate of the people involved.

(6) Focus attention on new and smarter attempts whether they succeed or not.

(7) Use the power of self-confidence to encourage unconventional trials.

(8) Use “bad” ideas to help reveal good ones.

(9) Keep a balance between having too much and too little outside contact in your creative activities.

(10) Have people with little experience and new perspectives tackle key issues.

(11) Escape from the mental shackles of your organization’s past successes.”

The Design Centered World

29 10 2007

The design centered world is a trend I have discussed in the past here and here.

Elizabeth Sanders is putting together is an in-depth analysis of the trends progression global. Below is an excerpt, check out the full article here.

We are in the middle of massive change.

It’s not about the world of design. It’s about the design of the world’. (Mau et al., 2005).

The market-driven era is finally giving way to the people centered era. What this means for design and design research is that:

  • people who are not educated in design are designing;
  • the line between product and service is no longer clear;
  • the boundaries between the design disciplines are blurring;
  • the action now is in the fuzzy front end of the design development process with a focus on experiential rather than physical or material concerns;
  • the action in the fuzzy front end is all about new ways to understand and to empathize with the needs and dreams of people.

So this is an exciting and a confusing time for design research. The excitement comes partly from the significant recent interest of the business community in the value of design research and design thinking. The excitement is particularly evident in the fuzzy front end of the design development process.”

Designing Communities: Presentation by Christina Wodtke

25 10 2007

This is just a quick repost of a fantastic presentation on designing communities by Christina Wodtke:

Check it out!