Five lessons from the Uber brand experience

Many of my clients are exciting startups intent on changing their market and, in some cases, changing the world too. But in the post-‘Zero To One’ business landscape every company is a startup. Every business needs to keep learning and every brand needs to keep evolving otherwise you risk becoming irrelevant. A fascinating long read on the history, failings and ‘uberise’ of Uber in London (you can read it here) led me to an in-depth look at the rise and rise of the Uber brand experience. And of course ‘uberize’ has become a verb meaning to change a market or economic model by the introduction of a cheap and efficient alternative.

1. Your brand needs to evolve

If you live in a city, Uber makes it very easy to not own a car. In fact it makes it cool not to own one, as co-founder Travis Kalanick explains: ‘Uber started out as everyone’s private driver. Today we aspire to make transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere and for everyone.’

Where it was once ‘everyone’s private driver’ now the essence of the Uber brand and the product that it sells is movement itself. As Kalanick told Wired, “The early app was an attempt at something luxury. That’s where we came from, but it’s not where we are today.”

The lesson for every business is that continuous brand evolution has played a huge part in Uber’s growth.

No one can accuse Uber of not thinking big: ‘Today we aspire to make transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere and for everyone.’

The lesson for every business is that continuous brand evolution has played a huge part in Uber’s growth. If your brand is static you get overtaken. It you don’t move, you get run over. Read more

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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Total product experience – why everything matters

Everything that surrounds your service and your product is part of your total product experience. Your website, the totality of your digital presence, including all your social media accounts, are all essential parts of your brand experience. This has implications for business owners of all types and brand managers in all business sectors, as there are some that haven’t quite got the message yet.

If you’re selling a car, a new flavour of cupcake, building materials, a cleaning service, or a digital app that will revolutionise the healthcare sector, in short almost anything digital or analogue, your customers will evaluate the digital experience you give them, as that’s how they first experiencing your brand.

Everything you do is part of your total product experience

Today the digital expression of your product is almost as important as the design of the product itself and the packaging and delivery method you use to get it to your customer. To be a successful twenty-first century brand, everything you do is important. A large percentage of your customers are already online looking for value and not only value in terms of being cheaper than your competitor. They’re looking for value in brands that can deliver more of their needs, more of the things that they want in a product or service, than they’re already getting.

Successful twenty-first century brands need to keep seeking ways to innovate their products and offer extra value that their customers and their competitors haven’t even thought of yet. To do this you need to put your customer first, while not being afraid to make sure that what you offer is not just forward thinking, but profitable and worthwhile for your business.

BeOutstanding710_3 Everything you do is important


As Forrester analyst James McQuivey says: ‘(We’re) not suggesting innovation for innovation’s sake, but that you’re innovating in the interests of your customer while explicitly tying those interests of the company.’ (Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation, 2013)

If you want to see some total product experience in action have a look at what are doing. It’s interesting to see how companies are using technology to change the way brands and customers interact with each other to enrich their online experience and make buying decisions.

Social media in service of a product experience is not just media, it’s the experience of the product itself

What does this mean for you? It means that your website and your social media are part of the product and the service you offer. They are not some optional extras but an integral part of your brand experience.

Here’s something to make you think: ‘…social media in service of a product experience is not just media, it’s the experience of the product itself,’ James McQuivey, as above.

So what about you? How proud are you of your design and digital presence in every area of your brand communication? When customers search for you and your product are you sure you’re completely in control of the total product experience they’re getting? There’s always room for improvement.

Brangento is the tool we’ve developed to help you better manage and control your brand

Brangento is the tool we’ve developed that helps you to better manage and control your brand, then use your brand to grow your business.

Based on the concept of continuous branding and total brand experience it lets you see you brand all in one place. It helps you grow your brand and grow your business. Try it for yourself at and watch the video below.

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




Get what you want – the art of online persuasion

It’s really quite simple. In business you get what you want by persuading people to do what you want them to do. There’s nothing easier, right? We all know that persuasion is hard at the best of times, but in the online world it’s an even harder task.

There are several things that can help a business owner and her/his designer get what they want in terms of getting your user, your potential customer after all, to do what you want and help you grow your business.

In the online world getting what you want means knowing something about how the unconscious mind works. It comes down to an examination of free will.

In her recent book Webs Of Influence – The Psychology Of Online Persuasion, Nathalie Nahai outlines the most recent research in the psychology of human decision-making.

‘Our conscious experience of free will happens only after the neural events that caused it… put simply, your brain knows what you are going to do before you do.’

It turns out that most of our decision-making processes occur in parallel, without our conscious awareness.

Business owners, marketing professionals and interactive designers can learn a lot from a more than superficial study of the science of human psychological behaviour.

‘We are not rational beings, as classical economists would have you believe. In fact, the reality is that we are malleable, impressionable creatures, whose behaviours can be heavily influenced by our situations and surroundings, without us even being aware of it.’

Leaving aside the spiritual and philosophical implications of this view, it’s clear that business owners, marketing professionals and interactive designers can learn a lot from a more than superficial study of the science of human psychological behaviour.

It can tell us all a lot about how we can achieve what we want to achieve, and because we are essentially measuring online human behaviours, it gives us data that we can measure and act upon to fine-tune and re-target our approach.

‘Our emotions exert a great influence on our thoughts… beyond making us feel good or bad, emotions play a vital role in how we make decisions.

Emotions play a part as well as intellect when it comes to our on-line decision-making processes.

‘Our emotions exert a great influence on our thoughts… beyond making us feel good or bad, emotions play a vital role in how we make decisions.’

Here is where creativity, ideas and design intuition can play a major part in the online design process and help you to get want you want. Design and creativity, based on a solid grasp of recent psychological research, can help any online business get where it needs to go faster and more efficiently. This approach can integrate well with any off-line and related social media campaigns that you may want to run at the same time.

In the online world, creativity and good design thinking are not only scientific but also measurable in terns of the results and the targets they achieve.

If you know what your customers are trying to achieve, then it’s easier for you to help get them there.

So what do you want to achieve for yourself and for your business? And what approaches are you using to help get you there?

‘The ability to manufacture persuasion is a powerful one and its success hinges on the accuracy of your demographic data.’

In a later post I’ll go on to look at these demographic, social and cultural factors that help colour your approach to influencing your online customers. But to sum up, if you know what your customers are trying to achieve, then it’s easier for you to help get them there.

We know that our customers want us to help them achieve their goals through the intelligent use of technology, social media and design. We know that because we asked them. But what do your customers really want? Perhaps we can help you find out.

Eugene Burns


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