How do you Know if Your Idea Sucks?

As designers, we face this challenge on every project. We fear going into presentations, because the ideas we gave birth to will face judgement. Somedays you feel like you’ve found a diamond in the rough. “I am a genius!”While other days, your ideas feel like garbage. “Why can’t I figure this out?”

 

Put it to the test

After working in the design industry for over a decade, I’ve come up with a formula to evaluate my own ideas. I ask myself these 3 questions at every stage in the design process.

Does it achieve the goal?
Is the information and story clear?
Is it interesting?

From the initial pitch, up to delivery day. I use this formula to test, filter, and refine my ideas. It gives me confidence that I’m delivering something of value to my clients, and the intended audience.

 

1. Does it achieve the goal?

At the beginning of the project, you established a clear goal. What this needs to do. Who it’s for. What they need to walk away with. This is the problem you’re trying to solve.

If you’re lacking clarity on what the goal is, stop designing. Go back to your client and diagnose the real problem. Dig in deep and ask clarifying questions. Surface the challenges getting in the way from your clients being able to achieve their goals.

You, as well as your client, will use this as a primary metric to evaluate your ideas. Your ideas aren’t viable solutions until they pass this first key test.

 

2. Is the Information and Story Clear?

Is the message coming through? Is the hierarchy of information in the right order? Does this make the audience feel something?

A great way to test this is to show your work to an outsider. Someone similar to your target audience. Without explaining much (other than context), what did they think your work was about? What did they read first, second, third? How did it make them feel?

If your audience isn’t getting what you intended, chances are your you’re trying to say too many things or your message is buried too deep. Go back to your goal. Edit and simplify. Make sure your fundamental message resonates. If it doesn’t pass this second test, whatever you’re designing will be ineffective.

 

3. Is it interesting?

Does it prompt you to think? Does it challenge you? Are you connecting two disparate ideas to create a new meaning?

If you’ve passed the first two tests, your idea has addressed the challenge. For conservative projects, that’s all it needs to do. Congrats! But in the field of design, marketing, and advertising, we’re challenged to do more. To cut through the noise and grab attention. To instill desire and build intent. To recruit our audiences to act.

What I’ve come to learn is that the most creative ideas are the ones that surprise you. In Chris Do’s article, “Can Creativity be Taught?”, he sums it up nicely:

“To me, creativity is the ability to connect two or more disparate ideas to create new meaning. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

Here are a few great examples that demonstrate this idea:

 

The next time you’re on the fence about your ideas, test it with these 3 questions. It should save you time, cut through the fat, and help your course-correct when you’re lost.

 

About the Author

Matthew Encina is a creative director at Blind, focusing on brand strategy and video content. He also authors content on pitching, design, and animation forThe Futur Network.

Follow him everywhere @matthewencina

This article was originally posted on Medium.

For those of you who have to pitch creative ideas to win business, but are struggling to land these opportunities, check out The Pitch Kit. I created this for those seeking clarity and structure in their design and pitch process.

8 Social Media Predictions for 2018

Forecasting an Ever-Changing Industry

By Cyndi Pérez

As 2017 comes to a close, here are our forecasts for social media trends in the next year.

  1. IoT Integration
    Alexa, search ___ on Facebook.” Stalk your ex through Alexa, Google Home, or Echo. Just kidding! We predict social integrations — regardless of Amazon, Google, and Facebook being competitors.
  2. Personalized Automation
    Everyone can bot, but personalizing the automation is key. It can range from product recommendations based on past purchases, or personalizing the customer journey. Our advice: analyze the customer journey and use data to curate your customer’s experience on social.
  3. Actionable Data
    Leveraging social insights to create more effective campaigns. Find out how we helped Stockpile beat benchmarks in fintech by leveraging social insights here.
  4. More Paid Social
    Facebook earned over $9 billion in ad revenue in by Q2 this year alone. Social media ad spend has increased 23.2% since 2013. In the US alone, it’s expected to increase to 17.3B by 2019. Most brands from Proctor & Gamble™ to Adidas are on social and utilizing the sophisticated targeting options to develop relationships with their customer base or increase brand affinity. If brands aren’t already investing on social, 2018 will be the year they do so (before costs rise even further!).
  5. Artificial Intelligence
    More brands are experimenting with bots than ever, from Whole Foods and Sephora to Lyft and Starbucks. With the rise of more user-friendly software, some social platforms don’t necessarily require developers to create the automated bots. We expect this to continue.
  6. Algorithmic Changes
    How many times did Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram alter their algorithms this year alone? Prepare for more algorithmic changes to Facebook’s and Instagram’s Newsfeeds.
  7. Influencer Crackdown
    We will see a rise of #ad transparency among any influencers on social. Competent influencers (read: the ones to work with) will demonstrate working knowledge of FCC guidelines.
  8. Platform Evolution
    Platforms will learn (see: AI and Algorithmic Changes) and evolve to keep their user bases engaged. Snapchat should continue to test new features, though Spectacles — their wireless camera sunglasses — was a bust. Facebook Workplace is competing with Slack. Pinterest introduced SEO best practices for pins. The common denominator: all platforms are experimenting with an “explore” feature that allows users to find more interesting, relevant content (and algorithms to learn more about its user base). Consequently, brands will need to adapt.

This post originally appeared as a blog with Zooka Creative.

Hear from Steve Decker, Zooka’s head honcho at the VMA Design Conference, June 15, as part of AIGA’s SF Design Week.

Hack. Hustle. Design.

Zooka Creative Gives Back

By Jeffrey Heid

Hack. Hustle. Design. Streetcode Academy believes these are the key components for a wider, better future. A future that doesn’t just include the rich, fortunate, digital native, uber-educated, English speaker, or people of specific color born in certain places.

These components are meant to invite every person to seek a greater future.

That’s why on July 21st, we invited Streetcode to bring their students to Zooka and learn the what’s, why’s and how’s of an ad agency in the 21st Century.

Streetcode Academy recognizes, diagnoses, and occupies the distinct lack of accessible high-tech training for youth and young adults in communities of color. They combat this by offering free, high-quality tech education classes in coding, entrepreneurship, and creativity.

Hack. Hustle. Design.

We wished to give back to those communities and help Steetcode in their mission.

From young children to ESL adults, dozens of eager faces attended several mini-classes created by our different departments.

Our designers, led by Art Director Sean Lopez, gave quick lessons on design principles, walking students through the design process of a sample logo we created just for them.

This process includes the often painful step of eliminating weaker ideas to discover what’s strongest.

Our virtual reality team described the unique potential of VR, giving everyone the chance to walk the virtual plank of our mixed reality experience.

Over the course of the afternoon, our visitors learned about everything from design and VR, to content and social media, to branding and web development.

Many asked smart, thoughtful questions about our processes and strategy. Some told stories about their struggles with the quickly and ceaselessly changing landscape of technology.

But everyone left with smiles and the hope for a better, brighter future.

 

This post originally appeared as a blog with Zooka Creative.

Hear from Steve Decker, Zooka’s head honcho at the VMA Design Conference, June 15, as part of AIGA’s SF Design Week.

Cooper Hewitt Names Ten Winners Across Disciplines in National Design Awards

HEWITTHEAD

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has named the winners of the 2018 National Design Awards, recognizing design excellence and innovation in 10 categories. The annual program promotes design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world and is accompanied by extensive educational programs in cities nationwide. “All ten of this year’s winners present a powerful design perspective and body of work that is at once inclusive and deeply personal, accompanied by great achievement, humanity and social impact,” said Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt.

School of Visual Arts posters for the New York City subway, designed using a quote supplied by the collegeís executive vice president, Anthony P. Rhodes, to celebrate President Obamaís call to greatness (New York, New York, 2009). Project partner: Terry Allen (illustrator). Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson
School of Visual Arts posters for the New York City subway, designed using a quote supplied by the college’s executive vice president, Anthony P. Rhodes, to celebrate President Obama’s call to greatness (New York, New York, 2009). Project partner: Terry Allen (illustrator). Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson

 

Anderson has coauthored thirteen books with design historian Steven Heller, including Type Tells Tales, The Graphic Design Idea Book, New Vintage Type, and the upcoming Type Speaks. Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson
Anderson has coauthored thirteen books with design historian Steven Heller, including Type Tells Tales, The Graphic Design Idea Book, New Vintage Type, and the upcoming Type Speaks. Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson

Of particular note to the graphic design community, Gail Anderson is recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Currently creative director at Visual Arts Press, SVA’s inhouse design studio, and a partner at Anderson Newton Design, Anderson has excelled as a designer, writer and educator, co-authored 14 books on design and popular culture, lectured internationally, and received numerous awards from the likes of AIGA, Society of Illustrators, Society of Publication Designers, Type Directors Club, Art Directors Club, Graphis, and Communication Arts. In addition, her work is included in the permanent collections of the Cooper Hewitt, Library of Congress, and the Milton Glaser Design Archives at SVA. She has been featured in magazines that include Computer Arts (UK), designNET (Korea), kAk (Russia), and on the January 2010 cover of GDUSA.

United States Postal Service postage stamp, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The final stamp was laid out at Americaís oldest working letterpress, Hatch Show Print, using period-appropriate typefaces (2013). Project partners: Antonio Alcal· (art director); Jim Sherraden (printer). Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson
United States Postal Service postage stamp, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The final stamp was laid out at Americaís oldest working letterpress, Hatch Show Print, using period-appropriate typefaces (2013). Project partners: Antonio Alcal· (art director); Jim Sherraden (printer). Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson

 

Spread from Cash, a book designed by Andersonís team at SpotCo for Jason Fine at Rolling Stone shortly after Johnny Cashís passing. Project partners: the Cash family, Sam Eckersley, Bashan Aquart, Darren Cox, Jessica Disbrow, editors and writers from Rolling Stone. Published by Crown Publishers (2004).
Spread from Cash, a book designed by Andersonís team at SpotCo for Jason Fine at Rolling Stone shortly after Johnny Cashís passing. Project partners: the Cash family, Sam Eckersley, Bashan Aquart, Darren Cox, Jessica Disbrow, editors and writers from Rolling Stone. Published by Crown Publishers (2004).

Pictured Top: Spread from Rolling Stone celebrating a young Chris Rock in full Jimi Hendrix mode, one of close to 500 feature stories and 300 covers Anderson worked on during her 14 years at the magazine under art director Fred Woodward (October 2, 1997). Project partner: Mark Seliger (photographer). Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson

In addition to Anderson, the National Design Awards winners are:

Communication Design: Civilization

Civilization was founded by Michael Ellsworth, Corey Gutch and Gabriel Stromberg in Seattle. Since the studio’s inception in 2007, it has built identity systems, digital experiences, printed materials, environmental graphics and exhibitions that are engaging , empathetic, sustainable and create meaningful connection.

Take Action poster series wheatpasted around cities nationwide. Available for download from the Shout Your Abortion website (2016). Photo: Courtesy of Civilization
Take Action poster series wheatpasted around cities nationwide. Available for download from the Shout Your Abortion website (2016). Photo: Courtesy of Civilization

 

Social Medium exhibition identity at the Frye Museum (Seattle, Washington, 2014). Photo: Courtesy of Civilization
Social Medium exhibition identity at the Frye Museum (Seattle, Washington, 2014). Photo: Courtesy of Civilization

Design Mind: Anne Whiston Spirn

Spirn is an award-winning author, landscape architect, photographer and the Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at MIT in Cambridge MA. Her writings and action research provoke the integration of city and nature, advancing design theory and practice, and transforming how people see and act.

The Granite Garden, a book that ìtouched off the ecological urbanism movement,î according to the American Planning Association, which lists it as one of the most important books of the past century. The book presents, synthesizes, and applies knowledge from many disciplines to show how cities are part of the natural world and to demonstrate how they can be planned and designed in concert with natural processes rather than in conflict (1984, Basic Books; e-version, expected 2019).
The Granite Garden, a book that touched off the ecological urbanism movement, according to the American Planning Association, which lists it as one of the most important books of the past century. The book presents, synthesizes, and applies knowledge from many disciplines to show how cities are part of the natural world and to demonstrate how they can be planned and designed in concert with natural processes rather than in conflict (1984, Basic Books; e-version, expected 2019).

 

Stills from Buried River, Opened Lives: Reflections on People, Place, and Practice, a series of short multimedia videos where Spirn served as the director and in which participants in the West Philadelphia Landscape Project tell their own stories: reflecting on then and now, and on the impact the project has had on their lives (2013-2014). Photo: Courtesy of Anne Whiston Spirn
Stills from Buried River, Opened Lives: Reflections on People, Place, and Practice, a series of short multimedia videos where Spirn served as the director and in which participants in the West Philadelphia Landscape Project tell their own stories: reflecting on then and now, and on the impact the project has had on their lives (2013-2014). Photo: Courtesy of Anne Whiston Spirn

 

Architecture Design: Weiss/Manfredi

Founded by Marion Weiss and Michael A. Manfredi, the firm seeks to expand the territory of architecture by connecting landscape, art, infrastructure and architecture. The firm’s projects, including the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Visitor Center, Penn’s Nanotechnology Center, Cornell Tech’s Tata Innovation and the US Embassy in New Delhi, fuse architecture and nature.

Seattle Art Museum: Olympic Sculpture Park integrates art, architecture, infrastructure, and ecology in a new model for urban sculpture park. The continuous landform connects a museum pavilion, two bridges, site specific collaborations with world renowned artists, and a waterfront beach with a restored salmon habitat (Seattle, Washington, 2007). Photo: Benjamin Benschneider
Seattle Art Museum: Olympic Sculpture Park integrates art, architecture, infrastructure, and ecology in a new model for urban sculpture park. The continuous landform connects a museum pavilion, two bridges, site specific collaborations with world renowned artists, and a waterfront beach with a restored salmon habitat (Seattle, Washington, 2007). Photo: Benjamin Benschneider

 

Barnard College Diana Center, a creative arts building that links a series of diagonally interconnected double-height public spaces. Extending the campus lawn upward through the building, the Diana Center creates a luminous lens on the campus and the city (New York, New York, 2010). Photo: Albert Ve?erka/Esto
Barnard College Diana Center, a creative arts building that links a series of diagonally interconnected double-height public spaces. Extending the campus lawn upward through the building, the Diana Center creates a luminous lens on the campus and the city (New York, New York, 2010). Photo: Albert Ve?erka/Esto

Fashion Design: Christina Kim

Kim is the co-founder and designer of dosa, an LA-based clothing, accessories and housewares company with a focus on rethinking conventional fashion-industry production and sustaining artisan cultures. In-house production enables an evolving system for efficient use of natural resources, recycling and creative reuse. Kim draws on traditional handwork techniques, particularly in India, Mexico and Colombia, engaging local artisans and communities in long-term collaborations.

dosa x We Kiss, an installation of We Kiss shawls and handmade pieces in a range of pinks at Tiina the Store (Amagansett, New York, 2017). Project partners: Tiina Laakkonen; Kathy Klein. Photo: Tiina Laakonen
dosa x We Kiss, an installation of We Kiss shawls and handmade pieces in a range of pinks at Tiina the Store (Amagansett, New York, 2017). Project partners: Tiina Laakkonen; Kathy Klein. Photo: Tiina Laakonen

 

Life of Jamdani, 5% waste Indian muslin textile making (India and Los Angeles, California, 2003ñongoing). Project partners: Rajka Designs; Devi Export. Photo: Mark Schooley
Life of Jamdani, 5% waste Indian muslin textile making (India and Los Angeles, California, 2003–ongoing). Project partners: Rajka Designs; Devi Export. Photo: Mark Schooley

Interaction Design: Neri Oxman

Oxman is an architect, designer, inventor and professor at MIT, where she is the founding director of The Mediated Matter Group, an experimental design practice. The group combines commissioned work with scientific research, exploring ways in which digital design and production techniques can enhance the relationship between built and natural environments, operating at the intersection of computational design, robotic fabrication, materials engineering and synthetic biology.

Fiber Pavilion, a prototype structure autonomously fabricated by 16 fiber winding robots over the course of two days at the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2017). In collaboration with The Mediated Matter Group, MIT Media Lab. Photo: Courtesy of Neri Oxman and The Mediated Matter Group
Fiber Pavilion, a prototype structure autonomously fabricated by 16 fiber winding robots over the course of two days at the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2017). In collaboration with The Mediated Matter Group, MIT Media Lab. Photo: Courtesy of Neri Oxman and The Mediated Matter Group

 

Mushtari, a 3D printed wearable that can change color, create food, and produce biological tissues, such as insulation for the body, designed to enable human survival on distant planets and environments. Part of the Wanderers series, the wearable skin combines a continuous internal network of biocompatible fluidic channels with variable optical transparency through the use of bitmap-based multi-material additive manufacturing (2015). Project partners: The Mediated Matter Group, MIT Media Lab; Stratasys, Ltd. Photo: Yoram Reshef. Courtesy of Neri Oxman and The Mediated Matter Group
Mushtari, a 3D printed wearable that can change color, create food, and produce biological tissues, such as insulation for the body, designed to enable human survival on distant planets and environments. Part of the Wanderers series, the wearable skin combines a continuous internal network of biocompatible fluidic channels with variable optical transparency through the use of bitmap-based multi-material additive manufacturing (2015). Project partners: The Mediated Matter Group, MIT Media Lab; Stratasys, Ltd. Photo: Yoram Reshef. Courtesy of Neri Oxman and The Mediated Matter Group

Interior Design: Oppenheim Architecture + Design

Founded in 1999 by Chad Oppenheim, Oppenheim Architecture + Design is an architecture, planning and interior design firm specializing in hospitality, commercial and mixed-use, retail and residential buildings worldwide. The firm creates spaces that evoke the senses, catering to both pleasure and performance. Inspiration is drawn from vernacular styles and local resources are asserted with minimal gesture.

ENEA Headquarters, designed to demonstrate respect towards the elements of nature at the site (Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland, 2010). Photo: Martin R¸tschi
ENEA Headquarters, designed to demonstrate respect towards the elements of nature at the site (Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland, 2010). Photo: Martin R¸tschi

 

La Muna, a private residence with minimal impact on natural resources that effortlessly merges with its surroundings (Aspen, Colorado, 2011). Photo: Laziz Hamani
La Muna, a private residence with minimal impact on natural resources that effortlessly merges with its surroundings (Aspen, Colorado, 2011). Photo: Laziz Hamani

Landscape Architecture: Mikyoung Kim Design

Kim is the founding principal of Mikyoung Kim Design, an international landscape architecture and urban design firm. Over the past two decades, the firm has crafted an award-winning body of work that redefines the discipline of landscape architecture and inhabits the intersection of art and science. Its projects solve challenging urban resiliency issues while always considering the unique character of place making.

Farrar Pond Garden, situated within a three-acre native hardwood forest overlooking Farrar Pond. The design seeks to harmonize contemporary materials and design elements with a native plant palette and natural kettle and kame geology. The sculptural Cor-Ten fence flows through openings in the forest, both defining and blurring boundaries (Lincoln, Massachusetts, 2009). Project partner: Schwartz Silver Architects. Photo: Christopher Baker
Farrar Pond Garden, situated within a three-acre native hardwood forest overlooking Farrar Pond. The design seeks to harmonize contemporary materials and design elements with a native plant palette and natural kettle and kame geology. The sculptural Cor-Ten fence flows through openings in the forest, both defining and blurring boundaries (Lincoln, Massachusetts, 2009). Project partner: Schwartz Silver Architects. Photo: Christopher Baker

 

ChonGae River Restoration Project, a regenerative, seven-mile green corridor provides resiliency to the hydrological systems of the city. The river source point is a symbolic cultural representation of the future reunification of North and South Korea within a highly active public plaza, framed by local stone from each of the nine provinces of North and South Korea (Seoul, Korea, 2009). Project partner: SeoAhn Total Landscape. Photo: Robert Such
ChonGae River Restoration Project, a regenerative, seven-mile green corridor provides resiliency to the hydrological systems of the city. The river source point is a symbolic cultural representation of the future reunification of North and South Korea within a highly active public plaza, framed by local stone from each of the nine provinces of North and South Korea (Seoul, Korea, 2009). Project partner: SeoAhn Total Landscape. Photo: Robert Such

Product Design: Blu Dot

Blu Dot was founded in 1997 by friends John Christakos, Maruice Blanks and Charlie Lazor. Their mission is to design and manufacture furniture that is useful, affordable and brings good design to as many people as possible. Recognized for its inventive use of materials, fabrication technology and assembly methods, Blu Dot produces furniture that is determined by an economy of means while maintaining a playful sensibility.

Dang Collection, contemporary consoles and media stands featuring perforated steel door fronts that enable the use of remotes without compromising the design (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2011). Photo: Dan Monick
Dang Collection, contemporary consoles and media stands featuring perforated steel door fronts that enable the use of remotes without compromising the design (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2011). Photo: Dan Monick

 

Hot Mesh Chair, featuring powder-coated steel that creates a bold graphic pattern inspired by handwoven rattan and a simple, stackable tubular frame that maintains the clarity of form (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2012). Photo: Dan Monick
Hot Mesh Chair, featuring powder-coated steel that creates a bold graphic pattern inspired by handwoven rattan and a simple, stackable tubular frame that maintains the clarity of form (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2012). Photo: Dan Monick

Corporate & Institutional Achievement: Design for America

Design for America is a national network of innovators working together to improve their local communities through design. Begun as the brainchild of Northwestern University faculty member Liz Gerber, Gerber saw how design could be used to bring new solutions to seemingly intractable social issues. The network has tackled hundreds of challenges, ranging from accessible health care to drinkable water, and has inspired students, educators and design professionals across the country.

Jerry the Bear, an interactive companion to help children with type 1 diabetes understand how to take ownership of a complex disease. The idea was developed by Aaron Horowitz and Hannah Chung while students in Design for America at Northwestern in response to a DFA project focused on children with type 1 diabetes. Jerry comes with eight injection sites, a sticker to attach a virtual insulin pump, and educational augmented reality games to play on a free mobile application (2009–present). Project partner: Sproutel. Photo: Courtesy of Sproutel
Jerry the Bear, an interactive companion to help children with type 1 diabetes understand how to take ownership of a complex disease. The idea was developed by Aaron Horowitz and Hannah Chung while students in Design for America at Northwestern in response to a DFA project focused on children with type 1 diabetes. Jerry comes with eight injection sites, a sticker to attach a virtual insulin pump, and educational augmented reality games to play on a free mobile application (2009–present). Project partner: Sproutel. Photo: Courtesy of Sproutel

 

Illumiloon, a low-tech, floating communication device that shows a signal for help without power or the Internet. The project was designed by students in the Design for America studio at Yale in response to Hurricane Sandy and Blizzard Nemo to address the social challenges around natural disasters (New Haven, Connecticut, 2014ñpresent). Project partners: Federal Emergency Management Agency; Field Innovation Team. Photo: Courtesy of Illumiloon
Illumiloon, a low-tech, floating communication device that shows a signal for help without power or the Internet. The project was designed by students in the Design for America studio at Yale in response to Hurricane Sandy and Blizzard Nemo to address the social challenges around natural disasters (New Haven, Connecticut, 2014ñpresent). Project partners: Federal Emergency Management Agency; Field Innovation Team. Photo: Courtesy of Illumiloon.

This article originally appeared in GDUSA.

“Neo mint” will be the color of 2020 says forecasters

Trend forecasting service WGSN has revealed that a pastel shade of green, coined “neo mint”, will dominate the worlds of fashion and interiors in 2020.According to the trend forecaster, which is headquartered in London, neo mint is a gender-neutral color with “an oxygenating, fresh tone that aligns science and technology with nature”.

Neo mint is a tone of green, similar to the one used in this Japanese acupuncture clinic by id inc in Tokyo. Photograph is by id inc

The color was picked by WGSN‘s team of forecasters following extensive research that included observing street fashion, big data, current affairs and social media.

“What is becoming clear is the importance of neo mint – a shade that succinctly aligns futuristic development with nature,” WGSN’s color director Jane Monnington Boddy told Dezeen.

Events slated to take place in 2020 – including the completion of the world’s tallest building in Saudi Arabia; the start of NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover mission; and the introduction of Uber’s flying taxis – helped the team to pinpoint neo mint as an important color for the dawn of the next decade.

Perforated cladding in a neo mint shade wraps this university science institute by Cláudio VilarinhoPhotography is by Joao Morgado

Telling Dezeen about the process of composing a color forecast, Monnington Boddy explained how data harvested from online retailers is used in tandem with images posted on social media.

“Our retail analytics division, WGSN Instock, can track the sales of online retailers and analyze which colors are selling well,” she explained to Dezeen.

“We’re also trying to use social media as a vehicle to find out what’s happening in colour. In the past we used to go out on the street and look at what people are wearing, which we still do, but now we also look at influencers on Instagram.”

WGSN tracks the evolution of color trends

Color trends, Monnington Boddy said, have a trickle-down effect. What is seen at an interior during the Salone del Mobile in Milan, or on the catwalk during global fashion weeks may not hit the high street for another couple of years.

Similarly, WGSN believes that the current political climate and images seen on the news can influence the colors we wear, with the popularity of the color red on the autumn and winter catwalks in 2017 a result of the 2017 Women’s March.

“I’ve already seen neo mint popping up in younger fashion-forward brands, and in a few more years time it will start to filter into high street stores. Like all trends, it will evolve and grow,” she continued.

 

Five Metrics That Prove Social Media Is Working For Your Business

by Matthew Goulart. Founder of Ignite Digitial, an experience-driven digital agency.

If you aren’t using social media for your business, you’re doing something wrong. To put it into perspective, Statista reported that of the 3.17 billion people using the internet, 2.3 billion are active social media users. In other words, if your business isn’t using social media as a marketing tactic, you’re limiting your potential reach.

However, simply creating an account on the most popular social media platforms won’t instantly move you out of the fools’ category. Social media marketing takes strategy, persistence, time, effort and measurement. To ensure your social media efforts are paying off, and more importantly, to determine which tactics work and bring the highest ROI, here are five key metrics to watch closely.

Conversions

Every company wants to see conversions. Whether it’s direct marketing or social media marketing, if it doesn’t convert, it has no purpose. While this point can be argued when it comes to social media, there is no denying that conversions are still a top priority. Conversions show the number of people who took the extra step and entered your sales funnel via your social media page. This can be gauged by tracking website traffic, online sales, registrations completed, subscription forms submitted, etc.

To convert, you must first have effective calls-to-action to entice your audience and get them engaged with your content. Then you need to use an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics to track and monitor their engagement. Once integrated into your website, you can see how many people reached your website via your social media and what kind of social media content is bringing in the highest conversions.

Search Volume

What better way to determine if your social media marketing strategy is working than using search volume metrics? Search volume allows you to see how many people are searching for your company on search engines. This is an important tactic because you’ll be creating an online presence, and as a result, consumers will be searching for your company online. Search Engine Land reported that 85% of consumers have used the internet to find local businesses. Therefore, if you aren’t seeing a spike in searches for your company, your social media marketing strategy needs to be revised.

There are various tools you can use to track search volume, with Google offering some of the best. Google Analytics and Google Trends are two tools that can monitor the changes in search volumes. These tools can provide you with valuable knowledge on how to engage customers better, as they also analyze your direct competitors and compare their results with yours.

Brand Presence, Image And Engagement

We can’t say it enough: Simply having a social media account won’t get you the results you’re after. In order to capitalize on these modern-day marketing tools, you need to learn how to use them to build a strong online presence in order to further engage with your customers. The secret to social media is to connect with your consumers on a personal level. By doing so, you can build trust and loyalty, brand your company’s image, and ultimately, increase engagement.

Furthermore, not all interactions are positive and you need a strategy to address negative feedback. In order to do that, you need to have a tool to track the remarks, comments and statuses on social media that could tarnish your brand. Tools such as Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Google’s Me on the Web Tool, and Social Mention allow you to monitor your online reputation in seconds. Some will also send you notifications when a certain keyword is associated with your company, such as scam or fraud.

Followers And Likes

One of the easiest ways to keep track of your social media marketing is by checking your number of followers and likes. If you have a high number of followers and they’re consistently growing, your social media campaign is essentially working. However, it’s just as important to monitor the number of likes your content garners to ensure your followers are also interacting with your brand.

Scanning through every single one of your social media posts on a regular basis just to measure likes can be a daunting task. Instead, there are analytic tools provided by the platforms that do this for you. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all offer analytics right on each platform. However, you can also use third-party tools such as the Epoxy app, Klout widget or Social Blue Book website to track your followers, likes and social media presence as a whole.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

Return On Investment

The best thing about social media marketing is that you don’t have to spend a dime to see a return on investment. It’ll take time and effort, but it can be a cost-efficient marketing tool. You can complement your time and effort with paid advertisements or by hiring a social media marketer to capitalize using your social media strategy. Either way, whether time or money spent, you want to make sure it’s worth it.

Tools such as Kissmetrics, Google Analytics and the analytics tools provided by social media platforms are excellent for monitoring ROI. These systems will show you data such as which social media campaigns are the most profitable, which social media ads perform best, which individuals or group of individuals convert, and much more. As such, you’ll be able to invest your time and/or money more strategically moving forward.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn – there certainly is not a shortage of social media platforms to choose from. As a rule of thumb, pick from the most popular and the ones specific to your niche. If your business is highly visual, use visual-focused platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. If your content is based on text, Facebook and Twitter may be the better option. Then implement a strategy that incorporates these five key metrics to ensure your social media tactics are as powerful as they can be.

PR, media strategy, creative & advertising execs share trends & tips Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

The Era Of Creative Work Is Just In The Beginning

It iPhoto by kychan on Unsplash

It is slowly becoming a feasible option to make a living from creative work.

According to a UN study, the ‘creative economy’ — that is the part of the economy, which trades in any kind of goods and services that are of creative nature — was a $547 billion industry in 2012.

The study concludes that the creative industry has been growing by an average of 8.6 percent per year between 2003 to 2012 and continues to do so, “despite the economic deceleration of the world economy”.

In the few years since then, a lot has changed.

Companies like Patreon, which allow creators to monetize their work on a membership basis, have been launched. Services like Amazon CreateSpaceare becoming more and more of a viable alternative to traditional publishers.

Youtube now provides a full-time income for thousands of video producers worldwide. Anybody can now sell their music anytime, using services like Spotify, iTunes, Google Play or Amazon.

Painters can auction their artworks through a large variety of online services. Any kind of creator can sell merchandise to their fans through services like Teespring or Redbubble.

In short, new ways of monetizing our work keep popping up every single day.

And, more importantly, competition among such service providers, becomes more and more fierce, every single day.

This is good news for us. The more service providers are competing for creators to use their services, the more beneficial the conditions for creatives, are going to become.


But let’s go a little bit back in time…

As Jack Conte, CEO of Patreon, has said in his TED Talk:

“The whole machine in 2013 that took art online and outputted money, was totally non-functional. It didn’t matter if you were a newspaper, or an institution, or an independent creator. A web comic with 20,000 monthly readers, would get paid a couple of hundred bucks in ad revenue”.

His argument was that until a few years ago, most companies were focused on providing the infrastructure to store different kinds of arts, and distribute it in various different ways.

These were companies like shipping businesses, marketing firms, record labels, book publishers and so on and so forth.

But then, platforms started to develop, which made it possible for creators to directly share their work with their fans. No longer was it necessary for any kinds of creators to make use of a middleman, who would take care of marketing and distribution.

Within a few years, this whole distribution infrastructure that existed for a long time, was completely bypassed.

Since then, there simply was not enough time for a new system to develop, which provides a reliable way of monetizing creative work.

While new service providers are slowly showing up in every single industry, they simply didn’t have enough time to evolve to the point, where they can provide for a decent living for masses of creative people.

Right now, only the top few percent of creatives on these platforms, are truly earning a decent living.

Soon, a large percentage of these creatives, will.


When doing creative work becomes a ‘normal’ career choice….

Today, most people are still shocked, when their children announce to them, that they want to be an artist. The fear of their children ending up poor, is simply too strong.

Being an artist, regardless of what kind of art it is, is simply not considered to be a stable and secure career choice.

Jack Conte believes, that our generation will be the first to witness a change in this situation.

And I want to believe it with him.

I don’t know if it is going to be Patreon, which is going to make the change. But I believe that the competition among all those service providers, will get the infrastructure to the point, where most artists (if they are really hardworking and keep pushing forward) can live off their work.

With that, I don’t mean becoming rich.

I think that if becoming rich is one’s goal, then becoming an artist is the wrong career choice, in the first place. All I am talking about is being able to make a living, to the point, where we don’t have to worry much about money.

The ability to make a living, by doing the thing we love the most.


Our responsibility

Having said that, I also believe that all of us, who want to turn our passion into a career, have a responsibility.

We can not just rely on other parties to make it possible for us, to make a living off our art.

That would make us dependent.

That would make us depend on being children of the right circumstances.

Once we are in that mentality, we have already lost. It is only when we recognize that it is us, who have to take control over our own destinies, that we have a chance of ever getting anywhere.

As Benjamin Disraeli famously said:

Circumstances are beyond human control, but our conduct is in our own power.

I think that you and me have as much responsibility to contribute to the infrastructure of making it possible to make a living from our art, as anybody else does.

That doesn’t mean that you need to become the CEO of one of these service companies.

All it means is that you need to step up in a way that is within your possibilities, and that make sense for you as a an individual.

Let me give you a very simple example.

Casey Neistat is one of the world’s most successful vloggers. Until recently, he has mostly been busy building his own vlog, while at the same time also running a media company.

Now, he has decided to start a new project called ‘368’. He has basically rented a massively huge office space in New York. There, he wants to build the necessary infrastructure, to bring on many smaller Youtubers, who can use the space to create their art.

So, he is building video production studios. Music production studios. And everything else that a creative space needs — sports facilities, relaxation areas, quiet work spaces and so on and so forth.

He wants to make it possible for these smaller video creators, to focus full-time on the process of creation, without being worried about money.

Now, he is inviting different people from different aspects of life to join him on this journey. Jack Conte, for example, has famously pitched Casey via a viral video, and basically offered for Patreon to somehow sponsor these smaller creators, in one way or another.

At the same time, Casey has now somehow convinced one of the founders of Reddit, to provide the necessary technical support to turn that project into reality.

Casey Neistat with Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian

Of course, these are all big names.

Most of us simply don’t have the resources to do something similar. But still, we all can do something, that is within the realm of our own power.

We all can step up and take responsibility for helping the community of creators. We all can take little steps, which will make it a tiny bit easier for artists to make a living off their art.

The question is: what little steps can YOU take, in order to help the community?

I’m not talking about something large here. I’m not asking you to invest a lot of your time and resources into something, in a way that will seriously disturb the work on your craft.

Especially, if you are still struggling to make a living yourself.

All I am saying is that if you want the infrastructure for creators to move forward, then you can not simply rely on other people, to do all the work for you.

You yourself have as much responsibility in this matter, as everybody else does. In the end, it is a task that we all need to tackle together. We, as creators, are responsible for turning our profession, into a real career choice.

We shouldn’t be dependent on anybody else.

As creators, we should also be the creators of our own fate.

After all, this is what we do best, isn’t it? Using creativity to solve difficult problems.


Conclusion:

First of all, let me say this: no matter what kind of art you are passionate about, you will make a living off your art one day (if that’s what you want).

We are part of the first generation, which is in the privileged position, that every single artist can reach people directly through a gazillion of different means, and therefore build their very own tribe.

But this is the mindset of dependency.

In the end, only you yourself can create your own destiny.

Michelangelo lived in the 15th century. At the time, artists were among the lowest classes of all. They were mostly looked down upon. Basically, they were used as tools by rich patrons, to show off how much ‘good taste’ they had for things of beauty.

What many people don’t know is that Michelangelo came from an aristocratic family, that had lost pretty much everything.

Michelangelo decided that he would restore the family honor. But since he couldn’t do that by re-entering the political arena, he did it by turning the whole artistic profession around.

He decided that he would not be treated as a ‘pet’ by powerful men. He even resisted the calls of the most powerful man of the time — the pope himself.

That was something unheard of at the time.

In the end, he had achieved much more than he ever set out to do. He became one of the most respected (and richest) men of his time. He became the creator of his own destiny, through sheer willpower and determination.

He was a man of action.

A man who would fight for his goals every single day.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming…” — Theodore Roosevelt

Let’s all take responsibility for our own destiny.

And together create a future, in which being a creative, is a desirable career option, for anybody who wants to pursue it.


Call to action:

Jordan Gross and me have just recently started to create a community called struggling forward. We are a community for creators, who are helping each other through the process of going through the struggle, on the way towards our dreams.

Feel free to send an e-mail to rettigtim@gmail.com, in case you’re interested to participate in the community.

This article originally appeared in Art + Marketing.

How ridiculous is it to call yourself the CEO when your start-up is tiny?

Brett Fox

When I started raising money, and it was just me and my cofounders, I had business cards that I gave to prospective investors and employees. My title was CEO.

No one looked at me funny.

No one pointed at me and laughed.

And no one thought I was nuts.

Here in the United States, the leader is called the CEO regardless of the size of your company.

It’s actually a really simple question when you think about calling yourself the CEO. You’re the leader of the company, aren’t you?

I’ve seen CEOs get in trouble when they are afraid to call themselves the CEO because they are afraid to upset their other cofounders. Don’t be.

For example, maybe you’ve heard something like, “We’re a team of equals. We don’t have a CEO.” Good luck with that one.

Your team is expecting you to take control.

Every team needs a leader. You will have problems with your team if you don’t take control. Now, I’m not suggesting that you become some sort of crazed egomaniac.

I am suggesting that you assume the role of the leader. And part of assuming the leadership role is calling yourself the CEO.

You will find your fears about looking foolish will go away over time.

You are the CEO! What else would you call yourself but CEO?

Any other title is going to make you look weak. The more you act like a CEO, talk like a CEO, and tell people you are the CEO, the easier and more comfortable you will become with being CEO.

Never feel guilty or ashamed that you are the CEO of a small company. Every successful founder CEO started out that way.

This story originally appeared on Quora.

Best Buy Unveils Rebranding That Was a Year in The Making

 

Best Buy is tapping its own 100,000 blue-shirted employees as the stars of its new marketing campaign, a rebranding effort designed to highlight the retailer’s personalized customer service. On Wednesday, the Minneapolis-based electronics chain is rolling out a new website and logo, and will air TV spots later this week.

Best Buy puts the tag outside in new logo.
Best Buy puts the tag outside in new logo. Credit: Best Buy

“It’s really about building more aggressively toward serving customers and helping change lives with technology,” says Whit Alexander, a three-year veteran of Best Buy who was promoted to chief marketing officer last year. “We needed a way to tell the story a little differently through how we interact with customers.” Alexander says the new work, which has a “rallying cry” of “Let’s talk about what’s possible,” positions Best Buy as an inspiring friend that can help consumers achieve their goals.

Work on the campaign started roughly a year ago. The “big thrust” of the new work was done internally, notes Alexander, adding that Best Buy still works with a number of agencies including Redscout, Grey and Wunderman on creative strategy. Grey recently created Best Buy’s holiday campaign. Starcom handles media duties for the retailer.

Best Buy debuts new out-of-home ads.
Best Buy debuts new out-of-home ads. Credit: Best Buy

A year after consolidating its marketing department and eliminating the role of chief creative officer, Best Buy is back to bulking up its in-house creative team. In November, the company hired Bruce Bildsten, who spent two decades at agency Fallon, as executive creative director. The brand is in the process of hiring dozens more for the creative team.

“We’re proud of the internal team we’re assembling here,” says Alexander.

In a 30-second TV spot “Talk the talk,” Best Buy employees counsel customers. Everything in the video is black and white, save the bright blue shirts of the staffers. A 60-second version will air digitally, while 15-second clips will also debut on TV. Academy Award winner Errol Morris directed the videos.

The retailer has also debuted a new logo, after some 30 years. The Best Buy name, still in black letters, is outside of the yellow price tag, which retains a diminished location in the bottom right corner.

Best Buy representatives declined to specify the budget of the new push. Last year, the retailer spent $139.3 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.

Despite the crushing omnipresence of Amazon, Best Buy has been holding its own with consumers, thanks to a customer-experience-focused strategy that positions stores as showrooms. CEO Hubert Joly is credited with the plan, which he unveiled six years ago in an effort to transform the company for the modern age.

In the fourth quarter, Best Buy posted revenue of $15.4 billion, a nine percent rise over the year-earlier period. Online comparable sales, which represent 20 percent of U.S. sales, were up 18 percent for the period. Net income was $364 million for the quarter. It reports first-quarter earnings later this month.

Getting to the top is hard, staying there is even harder.

Open Table Case Study by Sequitur

Everybody knows OpenTable. Even our moms. Which is cool, because they never seem to understand what we do. Anyway, when the folks on the restaurant side of the company reached out to us with a tasty, challenging problem to solve, we leapt at the chance. Basically, they were the first-mover in the market with the biggest customer base and the largest network of diners, but they weren’t sure how to convince new and existing customers to try their brand new, cloud-based product. While many OpenTable employees came from the restaurant industry, there wasn’t a deep cultural understanding of what their customers really valued. And having spent the past 18 years adding innumerable features, OpenTable had kind of lost sight of how big the idea of hospitality actually is in the industry. And that was causing them to miss a slew of great product and marketing opportunities. So, we brought the customer’s voice back inside the company, holding a series of workshops and office hours (more on that later), and producing some authentic, documentary-style videos to realign the team around what they always sensed was their true mission: helping restaurants create memorable moments for diners.

Tall order, up!

WHAT WE DID

  • Creative
  • Prototyping
  • Research
  • Strategy
  • Teaching
  • Video Production
  • Workshopping

OpenTable

The Whole Story

THE PROBLEM

Getting to the top is hard, staying there is even harder.

OpenTable is far and away the most dominant player in the online reservations space. They’d been first-to-market with a hardware and software solution that could replace the traditional reservations book. And after spending 18 years innovating incrementally, their offering on the restaurant side was starting to feel a bit tired, overpriced (even though their fee structure hadn’t gone up in nearly two decades), and not particularly in tune with the evolving needs of restaurateurs—even though the network of diners using OpenTable to book reservations had grown to 23+ million people a month. Having defined the category and built the business around a leased hardware solution (basically outdated terminals), the company was trying to pivot to a cloud-based solution redesigned from the ground up to deliver greater mobility, actionable insights, and a simpler UX. With a whole host of nimble competitors—from Resy and Reserve to Yelp—nipping at their heels and stealing away frustrated customers, it was time to pause, do some digging, and figure out to promise (and deliver) real value again.

THE RESEARCH

Help us get back in touch with what made us great to begin with–knowing our customers and serving their needs.

We kicked off our engagement by getting to know people within the company—across the entire organization, from Sales and Marketing to Product, Engineering, Support, and Brand. Not surprisingly, everyone knew there were some big issues that needed fixing. There was a clear sense internally that OpenTable was seen as the most complete, but also most expensive and (possibly) least innovative player in a market full of upstart rivals. Management copped to having built an untidy product line that had grown in an ad-hoc fashion over nearly two decades. And the Product team was antsy about having a large cohort up and running on a legacy product that was about to go bye-bye. Sales was looking for an edge to differentiate themselves from growing competition. And there was increasing pressure to scale the business globally. Change was always afoot, but also fleeting. And, even though no one saw their dominant position going away anytime soon, everyone seemed to be struggling to identify a compelling, credible, new promise that they could hang their hat on.

-OpenTable_Portfolio_08

Which pretty much bore out when we went out and talked to restaurateurs around the country. To a person, everyone agreed that OpenTable works. It feels expensive, but it delivers real value—mostly because having tens of millions of people walking around with your restaurant in their pocket is too tantalizing to resist. That’s how people are making reservations nowadays, right? But here’s the thing: no one we talked to really felt like OpenTable ‘got’ them. They didn’t feel like the folks at HQ understood the challenges of running a restaurant in today’s environment.

Complicating matters further was the fact that restaurants are maddeningly hard to segment. There are fast food, fast casual, fine casual, casual chains, fine groups, and every other combination and dining innovation that might give someone an edge. How could any one product appeal to such a wide range of needs?

THE INSIGHT

Would you like sparkling or still?

It didn’t dawn on us until we were about halfway through our discovery interviews—somewhere in Denver (which, BTW, is an insane foodie mecca all of a sudden)—that this gig wasn’t going to be like any other one we’d ever done. Normally, the people we interview out in the world start off seeming a bit put out by having to take time out of their busy schedules to talk to stupid old us. But here, things were different. Every time we sat down, the first question that came our way was: ‘Would you guys like some water? Sparkling or still?’ Seriously. Every single time. Which makes sense, in retrospect. These people are hardwired to serve. They were there to take care, to comfort, to look after the needs of others—to be hospitable.

There is definitely a “tribe” of restaurant people. Everyone knows everyone. People jump from resto to resto. And they just didn’t feel like OpenTable was in the tribe. More than anything else, restaurant folk live and breathe hospitality. For them, the sometimes soul-crushing, inevitably low-margin grind of running a restaurant was worthwhile solely because of those little moments of delight—those eye-poppingly beautiful, delicious experiences only they could create. And, to them, OpenTable just didn’t seem to be cut from the same cloth. They seemed like a big tech company that just happened to be in the hospitality industry. But they weren’t happy about it. They wanted OpenTable to treat them like they treat their customers. They wanted to be served, to be heard, to feel like OpenTable had their back. Funny thing, that’s exactly what OpenTable wanted, too. It’s why they were cooking up GuestCenter. It’s why they hired us. It’s why they were so hungry to get to know their customers better.

Bottom line, the restaurateurs we talked to didn’t feel like OpenTable saw the world with the same service-oriented eyes they did. The product was basically a good fit, but the attitude, over the years (especially at the top of the company) felt off. And in a world where relationships really matter, some serious counseling was in order. Because the growing rift was leading to all sorts of (negative) magical thinking. Long-time customers were starting to convince themselves that if they just turned off OpenTable, nothing bad would happen. People would keep coming. Things would be fine. Right?

Not so great a mindset to let fester, especially with competitors knocking at the door. Time to square up some tension and kickstart the sort of hospitality-driven innovation that OpenTable was great at, back in the day.

OpenTable_Portfolio_33

THE ANSWER

Practicing hospitality.

Like any chef, maitre-d’, general manager, or hostess will tell you, you can’t really fake this stuff. Running a restaurant is like putting on a show. It’s like theatre, like dance. You need to make the near impossible seem effortless. Every little moment needs to be considered, choreographed—even or especially when it’s scorchingly, blisteringly difficult to pull off. And when you’re part of that world, that mindset, everyone you deal with holds you to a higher standard. And that that’s where OpenTable had been falling down. Sure, they’d built this amazing crew of Restaurant Relations people who would go over and above for their customers. But that same work ethic, that same relentless focus on hospitality, wasn’t really coming through—even though it was actually pretty deeply ingrained in the field and at HQ. That’s where we focused our efforts during our first off-site workshops with folks from across the company.

OpenTable needed to operationalize their approach to hospitality. They needed to relearn how to treat their customers like their customers treat their diners. And we helped them begin to figure out what that would take from the Product, Engineering, Sales, and Marketing teams. What would it look like if the entire company hit the reset button and started thinking differently about how they go about their day-to-day?

“To entertain a guest is to be answerable for their happiness so long as they are beneath your roof.”

ANTHELME BRILLAT-SAVARIN

1825

Leaning into this notion of taking responsibility for the wellbeing of your guests, your customers, we worked with folks on the inside to develop a pithy, memorable set of five simple commandments—from ‘Know thy customer and anticipate their needs’ to ‘Empower thy customer and give them control’—that could help shape decision making across the entire organization. Over the course of two day-long workshops, we formalized a methodology for making good on big promises (about the power of the network to enhance hospitality, operations and marketing) in tangible, meaningful ways. Discussing, formulating, and agreeing upon these simple yet profound principles aligned this group of influential managers—giving them purpose, energy, and permission to start making meaningful change.

Then, we shifted gears to segmentation—something everyone within the company told us would never, ever be possible. For some reason, the prevailing notion in the halls of OpenTable was that every restaurant was a completely unique, wholly distinct snowflake. Their needs, their goals, their ways of looking at the world were all wildly different. Which, in some ways, of course, is true. But when we started parsing through the hardcore quant work that had started the quarter before we were hired, we realized that (regardless the size of the restaurant, the focus of the cuisine, the concept, the menu, or the particulars of the scene in which the restaurant operated) the basic, fundamental emotional drivers of the decision makers within the restaurant were easily categorized.

The more we looked at it, and the more we unpacked the data, the more we realized that you could build simple, clear emotional segmentation around five distinct ‘types’—all of whom have different needs that OpenTable was uniquely well-suited to meet. And, as we started socializing this new approach to understanding (and engaging with) customers, things suddenly started taking on a ton of momentum. Where previously, the company had taken a one-size-fits all approach to product and communications, now everything from feature prioritization, email marketing, and customer support comms could be custom-crafted based on a clear understanding of a specific customer and segment need. Seriously, it was like a bunch of bare filament Edison bulbs (of course) going off every time we walked out of a conference room after a meeting. And while there’s still work to be done, it has been super-gratifying to see our approach to segmentation start to take hold.

“Rudi and Ed have an insatiable curiosity, and the ability to home in on the most important details. The work we did together was both effective and fun. It led to concrete deliverables like customer segmentation, new websites, and product marketing videos. And it contributed to a renewed sense of purpose across the organization.”

ALISA WEINER

Vice President of Restaurant Marketing
OpenTable

THE WORK

Getting the story straight.

With insights in hand, segmentation sorted, and a high level messaging framework at the ready, we shifted gears to execution. The immediate problem became: how do we get 600 people on four continents on board and firing away with these new tools?

Of course, time was of the essence—as the battle for hearts and minds in the restaurant space had started heating up and GuestCenter was finally ready for prime time. To speed up the process, we embedded ourselves within the company for several months of our engagement—spending what our client ingeniously dubbed ‘Office Hours’ every Tuesday and Thursday from 12:00-5:00 at their San Francisco headquarters. During that time, we took what we learned from our insights and workshops and helped the rank and file understand it and execute on it. And, together, we and our host of collaborators set about crafting new ways to tell the OpenTable story in an audience-informed fashion. With a relatively pithy and pointed messaging framework in-hand, we hammered out everything from site messaging and direct response campaigns, to strategic frameworks for content marketing and industry events—all the while, serving as a sounding board for folks on the Product team as they explored new features and functionality targeted at solving the particular needs of each of our segments.

The most public manifestation of OpenTable’s new vision was their restaurant-facing websites (starting in the US, and also launched in the UK, Australia, Germany and Japan). They needed a simple and compelling way of signaling the real value of GuestCenter, the company’s all new, cloud-based product offering. Working closely with the Opentable marketing team, and the smart, hard-driving crew at Fantasy Digital, we evolved the value proposition, brand voice, imagery, and site architecture. The existing versions were a convoluted patchwork of buzzword-heavy, feature-centric, me-me-me marketing messaging–all hidden behind a intimidating lead-gen forms. Not the best user experience, to say the least. And not the best way to shine a bright light on the groundbreaking innovation already well underway within the company.

Lastly, to bring things around full circle (and show the wider world that OpenTable actually does understand the dish-shattering pace of real restaurants), we brought in our pals Danny NiederJesse Dana, and Donavan Sell to shoot a series of short-form documentaries about folks in hospitality biz using GuestCenter to delight their guests, streamline their operations, and reach more diners. They told true stories in an honest way that reflected OpenTable’s renewed commitment to delivering unique value to restaurateurs, while at the same time highlighting the benefits of exclusive new features only available on the cloud-based product offering.

 

THE ENDING

Just an amuse-bouche.

Having gone so deep with our pals at OpenTable (and having built up so much shared history with our compatriots and drinking buddies within the company), it was a bit tough to step away from this one. Sure, there were plenty of speed bumps along the way—so many moments of ‘Holy shit, how the hell are we going to pull this off?’ But we can’t say enough about how gutsy they were—staring down the challenge of transforming an 18-year-old incumbent into a nimble, attentive, user-led organization striving to build tools to help restaurateurs delight their diners and grow their businesses. Like any good story, this one is still very much a (very satisfying) work in progress.

Can’t wait to see what’s for dessert…

We picked this up from Sequitur’s website to give you a taste of what they will discuss at the VMA Design Conference of June 15, part of AIGA’s SF Design Week. Join us!