Are we about to see a new wave of transparent technology?

You understand technology and you know what it can do. But at the same time you want to get quickly to the benefits of technology, and find out how it brings your users and customers closer and how it makes your goals in life, and in business easier to achieve.

Like it or not, the Apple Watch could be the start of a powerful new wave of transparent technology. A gesture or a glance could soon be all you need to control your life, your business and your brand.

If you’re a business owner or a brand manager you dismiss the latest Apple device at your peril. The Apple Watch is all about what Apple call ‘lightweight interactions’. These are more transparent kinds of interactions, based on a view that wants technology that gets out of the way and lets you use it in simpler, natural ways. Using a computer will become as easy as looking at your watch.

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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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Continuous branding can help startups and all companies grow their business

Most startups and companies use their brand at about twenty percent of full power. Don’t take my word for it, look around you and look at your own business. Have you considered that absolutely everything you do is an important part of your brand and product experience?

That tweet you posted doesn’t simply represent your business and your brand – it’s part of your brand experience so it’s an essential part of your brand.

‘Social media in service of a product experience is not just media – it’s the experience of the product itself,’ says Forrester analyst James McQuivey in his book Digital Disruption, Unleashing The Next Wave Of Innovation. That’s quite a statement if you think about it.

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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

This must be the place – how creative ideas are creating a new wave in business thinking

There’s a new wave of creativity sweeping the land. Virtually overnight creativity and creative ideas seem to have become much sought after commodities in forward-thinking businesses. To take our own business as an example, Brandlogik has been picking up new projects in Derry, Dublin and Tokyo and even in hitherto dark creative backwaters such as London. 

Becoming the number one ranked design agency site on Google helps, but that position has very little to do with SEO and everything to do with good content and a hard-earned reputation for understanding business and the role creative ideas play in business growth.

Bland is in danger of being beaten into retreat.

There’s a new wave of creativity in the arts too, which, in my view, has played a not insignificant part in the emergence of fresh thinking in businesses. Even the Oscars judges, who perennially celebrate the bland, gave Italian director Paulo Sorrentino an award for The Great Beauty, a film that’s arguably one of the most innovative, finely tuned and masterfully directed of the century so far. Read more

The Everything Store – inside the digital disruption mindset

A few days ago my wife and I decided we needed to add an extra oven to our kitchen. No big deal – with the festive season and Chinese New Year approaching we needed to have some more cooking options.

This is the sort of purchase that would normally make couples take a trip to their local electrical or department store, try out the options and decide and maybe have an argument or two.

With both of us busy, my wife’s first reaction was to forward me a few options from Amazon and, as I’m the main cook, help her decide which one was best for us. We made a decision based on a few simple criteria, agreed on the one we wanted and bought it.

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Cinematic – take a filmmaker’s approach to improve your branding and design

If you’ve been on a film set there’s a lot of intense focus on what happens in front of and behind the camera. When a shoot is in full flow, there’s a lot of concentration on getting every detail, every nuance of the visuals and the performances right. There’s a feeling that everything you do is important.

A good film director uses the insights and skills of others to help bring their own individual and unique viewpoint to the screen and engage with the audience in meaningful ways though images, words and technology.

Many businesses and brands would be improved by bringing the intensity that a filmmaker brings to a new movie production to their business branding and design projects.

If everything is important in creating a film that has lasting value, then everything you do in your business is an important part of your brand and product experience.

One of the secrets of great filmmaking is great planning. Relatively few commercial films are shot in sequence, so great care has to be taken in pre-production to make sure timings and locations are in synch and actors and crew are in place.

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As with film production one of the secrets of great branding and design is great planning. Think though what you want to achieve from your brand and the design and technologies you use, to get the best results and reach your goals. Don’t be afraid to have high production values and to question and refine every detail of your brand management process.

Take a cinematic approach to create a feeling, create an emotion, create a desire, and create a brand. Think about the context, the economic and social theatre in which your brand will appear.

Does you brand stand out or fade into the background with other similar brands and businesses that make similar promises and have similar visual languages? Do your branding and design tell a unique and memorable story that the people you want to interact and buy from you can relate to? Have you thought about what your customers are looking for and what you can offer that will have meaning and value for their business and their lives?

Like a cinematic success a great brand, a great business, will make people sit up and take notice and become part of their lives. A great film director will be able to tell stories and describe emotions through use of visual language as well as colour, sound, music, lighting and dialogue.

A successful director uses every tool that’s available to get the best results for the finished production. As a business owner or marketing professional you should be thinking the same way. And if you work with a team that takes a Big Data approach to branding, you can even have a 3D view of your brand that can give your business objectives more chance of box office and critical success.

As every great filmmaker knows, it’s important to be original and authentic, rather than string together sequences from someone else’s movies if you want to create something that is unique to you and your business. An authentic approach to design creates authentic brands – brands that don’t need to borrow everything from somewhere else as they have a point of view they want people to know about and unique values they are confident in expressing.

Everything that surrounds your branding and design should be an event – like a cinematic success that ultimately helps you stand apart from your competitors and gives you a long-lasting business advantage.

Eugene Burns



Digital disruption – let your future find you

If you’re like me you probably spend quite a lot of your time not simply running a business, but finding new ways to grow and in developing new products and partnerships. I spend a lot of time working with business owners to help them use new delivery channels more effectively, helping them find new markets through design and transparent technology.

I’ve written before on how major companies like Amazon and Apple use digital disruption and incisive thinking to create new territories where none existed before and develop new markets that their technology made available to them where others feared to tread.

So what does this mean for you and me? I’ve long stopped being a traditional designer/creative director who designs projects for others and goes away again. Brandlogik operates as a technology-driven virtual agency. That not only works for our clients but also develops and builds our own customer-facing projects with new spin-off brands and services.

You can’t predict the future for your business, but start with the next possible thing your customer needs and let your future find you.

In the same way that Google revolutionized the advertising industry with Google AdSense, a new breed of design agencies are changing how they work and are finding new ways of doing business powered by technology. There’s a lot in this digitally disruptive approach for you to apply to your own business, no matter where you are, or what markets you operate in.

It helps to start with an attitude where you are open to new thinking and this is not as easy as it sounds if your business has lots of stakeholders who may justifiably have cautious viewpoints. But you do need a different mindset if you want to be part of the new business evolution. You have to be ready to keep asking questions such as who are my customers, what do they need now that I can offer them that I’m not already, and what are they likely to need in the future that I can start giving them now?

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If you want to see this evolution in action have a look at – a company that started out making premium Bluetooth headsets, then developed their range into mobile audio devices and have now entered the health and lifestyle market with an integrated wristband and app system called UP. ‘What Jawbone does – and what you need to do – is to innovate the adjacent possible.’ (See Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation by James McQuivey).

For Jawbone and other creative brands, business really is an evolutionary process: ‘today birds can fly and (humans) can see because nature invented the adjacent possible.’ (Digital Disruption as above, page 76).

This means that we cannot predict the future for our business or our product, but ‘we start with the next possible thing our customer needs and let the future find us.’

The idea of letting the future find you may sound a little passive, a little laid back maybe, but it needs a positive and creative attitude and the constant questioning of what your customer wants, not just now but in the future, to really be successful. Good design, incisive thinking and an understanding of how to use transparent and nearly free technologies can help you change your market.

Many companies are finding that the juiciest areas of innovation and growth for their business are at the intersection of the physical and digital worlds. Tesco and Converse for example are finding new and disruptive business models through merging their traditional offerings with new information technology capabilities to improve the customer experience.

Is your business and your brand ready for the future? You may find it easier to let your future find you if you have someone who has been through the digital disruption process to help take you though your next steps.

Eugene Burns




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