Every great brand tells a great story – what’s your story?

It was Mad Men’s Don Draper who said that every great ad tells a great story. But you no longer need a Madison Avenue advertising agency to tell that story for you. You need good design, a great website and social media channels. And lots of hard work of course!

In my view every great brand needs to tell a great story. If you’re a brand owner or a marketing professional I think you’ll probably agree.

Each new Steve Jobs keynote created a chapter of the Apple story with every new product launch. Usually that was an insanely great story that anyone could connect with.

Enzo Ferrari took the famous prancing horse logo from a design on the fuselage of a World War 1 plane. He added the yellow background and invented the Ferrari logo as a good luck symbol. But you don’t need to be a petrolhead to understand and admire the power and history of the Ferrari brand.

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Building a total brand experience for Nuvem 9

Nuvem 9 are a new type of financial and accounting consultancy service that specialises in working with companies and entrepreneurs with ambitions to take the profitability in their business to the next level.

‘We are not advisors with an MBA who have never actually worked in a business,’ says partner Niall McGinnity.

We developed a real ‘cloud 9’ experience for Nuvem 9 – a total brand experience that creates a unique tone of voice for their market.

The first thing we did was to sit down with the partners and fully understand their business and even more importantly help them understand what makes their business different from other brands and their competitors.

Only then did we start redesigning the logo to make the ‘nuvem’ or cloud part of their brand more legible and approachable, in keeping with their brand positioning. We developed a real ‘cloud 9’ experience for Nuvem 9 – a total brand experience that creates a unique tone of voice for their market.

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You’re not really a brand owner until you own your brand data too

I was having lunch with an assistant professor of machine learning recently, when he asked me why, as a brand and design specialist, I was so interested in data?

My reply was quite simple. If you want to take ownership of your brand and control how it develops and grows, then you must understand and own your data too. And I didn’t have to look too far for an example.

I’d invited my friend to have lunch to discuss some of the more advanced aspects of data science, so I booked a table at a restaurant he suggested, followed up the booking with a confirmation the day before our lunch, and then as the host I would pay for the meal with my credit card and walk off into the afternoon skyline.

Right away you can see there were three times where the restaurant, let’s call the restaurant the ‘brand owner,’ had an opportunity to talk to and engage with me personally using simple digital tools including email.

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Irish design’s leading role in the startup culture

If you’ve visited Dublin lately you may have noticed that the Irish economy is showing quite a few signs of recovery. In many areas the gloom of recent recession has started to lift and the technology sector in Ireland has been experiencing something of a boom due to several factors.

Leading tech companies like Twitter and Google have been growing and developing their Dublin presence, often citing the availability of a highly skilled graduates and a cosmopolitan environment as some of their reasons for increased investment in Ireland. And then there’s the Irish weather – seen as ideal for data centres, the temperate climate dramatically reduces the need to heat them during winter or cool them during summer. Who’d have thought the changeable Irish weather would turn out to be a great technology asset? While a few hundred new jobs in Dublin doesn’t mean a boom, it’s the quality and profile of the new Dublin based tech firms that catches the attention and leads to further interest from overseas investors.

So what do these things mean for design? As Ireland is becoming internationally respected for its startup technology and contributions in the areas of Big Data and web innovation, is Irish design ready to play a part in communicating and expressing new technological innovations? Will the Book of Big Data be the new Book Of Kells?

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CultureTech’s creative marketplace – a designer’s view

In my early days as a Creative Director in London it wasn’t unusual to invite key members of a client’s marketing team for a strategy dinner in Paris, or to fly them business class to Monte Carlo for an industry specific conference.

Which is why it was extremely refreshing to be invited to take part in CutureTech’s creative marketplace in Derry, an event where clients and agencies could meet and agree deals and where the businesses attending had been given access to funding to buy design services on the day. As an experienced designer this was one of the most enlightened and trail-blazing events I have attended anywhere in the world.

Outsiders wouldn’t perhaps think of Derry as a shining example of new creative thinking – a place where the new wave of design agencies could gather and help define the future of business, but that is how the city is presenting itself through CultureTech. Read more

Design your future

When you work with new business start-ups and established companies it soon becomes clear which ones give themselves a greater chance of growing their business and having a brighter future.

Companies that value design and value ideas and creativity in everything they do always seem to do better and grow faster than those that simply go with the flow. As a company owner or marketing specialist, if you’re not moving forward and thinking creatively every day then you’re not using the power that design and inventive thinking give you to grow your brand and design your future.

Design is important in everything you do in your business. From the way you design and reply to your emails, to the typeface and logotype you use and the subtle communication your web site and social media accounts convey to the people who interact with you and potentially buy your products and your services. Good design helps you engage with, learn from and better understand your customers.

The future of your business is the way you design your business. I have recently seen at first hand businesses that have used external funding to quickly establish and develop their brand and build credibility and value in a matter of weeks all through using the power of good design and inventive thinking. I’ve also seen businesses struggle as they’ve become mired in meaningless processes and outdated ideas leading to the uncertainty of an undesigned future. Read more

Irish design at the centre of Europe

As Guinness promotes Arthurs Day 2013 it’s a good time to look at the role design has to play in the growth of the Irish economy. In some areas the gloom of recession has started to lift and the technology sector in Ireland has been experiencing something of a boom due to a number of factors.

Ironically, the Irish weather is seen as ideal for data centres, as the temperate climate dramatically reduces the need to heat them during winter or cool them during summer. Just this week Twitter announced that their European headquarters in Dublin will double its workforce, citing the availability of a highly skilled graduates and a cosmopolitan environment as some of their reasons for increased investment in Ireland.

While one hundred new jobs in Dublin doesn’t mean a boom, it’s the quality and profile of the new Dublin based tech firms that catches the attention and leads to further interest from overseas investors. So what do these things mean for design?

As Ireland is becoming internationally respected for its technology and contributions in the areas of Big Data and web innovation, is Irish design ready to play a part in communicating and expressing new technological innovations? Will the Book of Big Data be the new Book Of Kells?

The great advantage Irish design has is an ability to embrace all types and styles of influences thanks to technical innovations and cultural diversity.  With the influential Game Of Thrones series being made in Northern Ireland, design and film production are also benefiting from the higher profile the production brings.

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We can say Irish design has always been at the centre of Europe as that’s where Celtic design originally came from. The knotted intricacy of Celtic design has echoes in contemporary Irish design and thinking. There’s a Celtic self-reflection about James Joyce’s Ulysses and the cubism of Joyce’s approach has the same origins as that of Braque and Picasso.

Thanks to its geographical location and, yes even the climate, Irish design is perfectly placed to be part of a technological resurgence and design itself is constantly changing and evolving with the technology. If you haven’t been there lately Dublin is in many ways more open to other cultures and influences than London.

The swirls and knotwork of Celtic design are the interconnected data of twenty-first century communication – a knotwork of connectedness and a network of form and expression. Irish design has the opportunity to be reignited for the interactive era. Irish design and Irish business has the chance to be at the centre of new thinking and new technologies. Wouldn’t you like your business to be there too?

Have a look at our new brochure Irish design at the centre of Europe.

Eugene Burns

 

 

 

 

Big data approach means business empowerment for all

In one of our previous posts on Big Data we looked at how a Big Data approach can let you see your brand’s performance before it happens, because of the competitive and marketing advantage it gives you.

Business owners often ask me if Big Data really will make any difference for them and how is it possible to gain a competitive advantage if you don’t have the time and resources to adopt an enterprise level Big Data strategy?

Many of the tools used to help get insights are available to everyone and can empower virtually every business.

You may feel a Big Data approach is only for the big boys, however many of the tools used to help get insights and measurements are available to everyone and can empower virtually every business.

It’s probably not feasible or appropriate for you to have a team of data analysts sifting through your company and customer data in the hope of uncovering actionable insights. But you probably already have feedback and listening systems in place that tell you about your brand performance and the thoughts and views of your customers.

BigData2You probably have a social media account like Twitter, or Facebook, that gives you the chance to measure and react to your sales and marketing messages and brand performance. You can listen and absorb what clients and potential clients are saying about you and your competitors and what they’re looking for from you and other companies. Twitter and Google, for example, make great Big Data tools, as their open search engines can give you a large amount of free data and information that can help drive your business and brand decisions.

You may not have the luxury of full-scale data analysis, but if you take the time to think and digest what social media and organic search results can tell you, then you’re using a Big Data approach where you decisions are based not on gut feeling alone, or conjecture, but on live social data mined from your own and other easily available sources.

If you operate in a B2B environment, there is no better Big Data tool than LinkedIn where you can use saved searches, build prospect lists and search a wide variety of criteria to build a unique data-rich resource to help drive your new business strategy, without even having to pay for a premium account. With the right Big Data approach you can use LinkedIn as your own personal new prospect database.

Google AdSense and Facebook advertising both give you access to a rich resource of potential targets for your products or services, that can also be approached with a Big Data mindset to ensure your marketing campaigns and brand promotions reach their desired targets. You get fast, accurate feedback on the effectiveness of your campaigns and this speed of response is exactly what a brand owner needs to measure and respond to brand communication. It takes a willingness to be flexible and to have the speed and desire to adapt and evolve.

Your website too is one of the primary resources of easily available data. Once you have registered your site with Google Webmaster tools, you get measurable information on how visitors are using your site without having to pay for expensive analysis. If your site is built on a platform like WordPress, you also get great tracking and feedback from useful plugins like Jetpack, that help you learn more about where your users come from and can help you get more and better traffic from your web design and content.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

So you see these are all things any marketer or business owner can do right now to begin to adopt a Big Data mindset and help grow your business in a competitive and cluttered market. The most important thing, however, is to be ready to adapt as soon as useful information becomes available. As Charles Darwin said “it is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

The Big Data model then is to become the Amazon or the Netflix of your market, by being the business that listens to and responds to what your clients want now and will probably want tomorrow and you’ll find that this approach can help you empower your business and your brand and give you confidence in, an ownership of, your future.

Eugene Burns

 

 

 

Apple and the new design philosophy behind iOS 7

In a new Wired article, Kyle Vanhemert examines the underlying philosophy behind the new Apple iOS 7 update and makes some valuable insights.

The first is that the new operating system looks likely to change not only the way apps are created, but the sort of people who will be creating them, ‘iOS 7 will set a different trajectory for apps, changing not just how they look, but how they work, and in some cases, who’s building them, too.’

The new visual language is designed to get out of the way of the further development of new and potentially exciting app developments, as iOS 7 isn’t just prettier to use, it’s more accessible to build for, too.

‘The new software looks the way it does not just because the shadows and bevels of previous incarnations were stale or tacky; it’s because they were fundamentally limiting the types of things that were being built for the iPhone.’

The emphasis is less on design for its own sake, but on design that’s thoughtfully and effectively applied to solve a problem and delight the user.

The new ‘flat’ design means that developers no longer need to emulate the Blackberry world of buttons and skeuomorphic pseudo-physicality and instead can concentrate on content rather than interface, on solving actual problems rather than presenting a flashily packaged product.

IOS7_2However the new Apple design philosophy is not just about making things easier ‘it also puts a premium on genuinely thoughtful design.’ The emphasis is less on design for its own sake but on design that’s thoughtfully and effectively applied to solve a problem and delight the user. In this we can see the influence of Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, Jony Ive.

As Ive himself says, ‘In many ways, we have tried to create an interface that is unobtrusive and deferential. One where the design recedes, and in doing so, elevates your content.’

With iOS 7, the Apple design interface has grown up, taken control and points towards the challenges of tomorrow and beyond.

This is the core of Apple design philosophy; a digital first design approach for a world where most of us are now just as much at home with our mobile technology as we ever were with the more analogue interfaces that preceded them. Like all good design, it’s a design that speaks to the user’s intelligence; rather then trying to fool them into thinking they’re in a more tactile, but less real, world.

With iOS 7, the Apple design interface has grown up, taken control and points towards the challenges of tomorrow and beyond.

So what does this mean for you as a professional marketer and business owner? It means when you’re designing products, or services, or even just your new web interface, you and your design and marketing teams, need to take this new technological maturity on board, and be prepared that, subliminally perhaps, your customers and your users will intuitively grasp the Apple philosophy and expect simple design and innovation that doesn’t get in the way of what they want to do.

It needs good design thinking and technological insights to be able to follow where Apple and others are going. Are you ready for the future?

Eugene Burns

 

Be outstanding

What makes a company different from another? What makes a person different from any other person? And while we’re at it, what makes a design agency different from all the other agencies out there too?

The difference for companies is branding. It’s your brand the makes your business different from any other and sets you apart from the competition. Branding also makes it easier for you to get your messages across to your target audiences and helps your customers find you in the clutter and chatter of the web and social media.

Branding can make you stand out.

In the always on, always connected, always accessible world – everything matters.

If you think branding is all about your logo and the colours that you use, then it really time for you to think again. Branding is your logo, typefaces, imagery and the visual language that you use to communicate your brand. But branding is so much more than that.

Branding is the essence of who you are and what you stand for. Branding is how you talk, and the tone of voice you use, as well as the content of all your communication. In short – branding is everything.

Everything you do is an important part of your brand and product experience. Your brand is how you speak and interact with your users and your customers. It’s everything you do. That’s why in the always on, always connected, always accessible world – everything matters.

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This can of course pose a bit of a challenge for business owners and marketing professionals. You can’t simply turn your brand on and off when you feel like it. You have to be flexible and think in fresh, evolving, often disruptive ways if you want to become, and continue to be, the best in your market, the best in your world.

Your branding helps you to connect better with your target audiences, helps you to listen to them and, whenever possible, anticipate their needs. And because you can learn from what your customers are thinking and saying about you, your products and services, you can try to make your brand that little bit better every day and make your communication better too.

Branding helps you learn more about your customer and ultimately about yourself.

It’s not enough to have a pretty logo and use it in the right way every time. It’s not enough to have fabulous integrated advertising campaigns if they don’t drive your brand communication and help you learn more about your customer and ultimately about yourself – and find yourself and your business anew every day.

Branding today is not static. It continually evolves. It’s about imagery and content. It’s also about having a web site that learns how users interact with it, then uses that information to make better connections and experiences for the next user and the next.

Branding, design and technology have the power to transform your life and your business. Branding is about being outstanding. Don’t you want to be outstanding too?

Eugene Burns

 

 

Every great brand tells a great story.

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