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.

 

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!

For Illustrators, the iPad Pro Is (Almost) an Everyday Computer


Can an iPad Pro replace your laptop? Is it a computer or a tablet? A production machine or a toy? Those questions have been dogging the iPad Pro since it was introduced in autumn 2015. When the latest iPad Pro debuted in 2017, with a more robust version of iOS that included file management and improved multitasking, choosing either a MacBook or MacBook Pro or iPad Pro becameeven more difficult for mobile users because iPad Pro looked like it could (almost) do everything a laptop could.

iPad pro laptop or computer

iPad Pro user with Apple Pencil, multitasking, photograph copyright © 2018 Apple Inc.

So what exactly can iPad Pro do? Maybe a better question is What can’t it do? Apple’s commercial, What’s a computer shows how versatile the device is and by the end of the video, you might ask yourself if the word computer is relevant anymore. Yes, iPad Pro is capable of a lot and is a powerful tablet or laptop (or whatever) and by all accounts, it works like a computer. But if you’re an illustrator and you really want to see what it can do, take a look at how other illustrators are using it with the Procreate app.

iPad pro laptop or computer

Clovers by Nikolai Lockertsen, screen capture via Procreate Latest News

Hello, iPad Pro

When the original iPad debuted in 2010, it appeared to be a big toy, a grab-and-go device for browsing the web, reading, and playing games, as well as email and messaging. It’s gone through various iterations including the erstwhile iPad Air, as well as today’s iPad and iPad Mini—both of which MacRumors suggests not buying because updates might be coming soon. But when iPad Pro debuted in 2015, it looked a lot less like a toy.

iPad pro laptop or computer

Drawing on iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil, photograph copyright © 2018 Apple Inc.

Today’s iPad Pro comes with either a 12.9-inch or 10.5-inch diagonal display and that smaller model is larger than the standard iPad’s 9.7-inch diagonal display. The iPad Pro renders colors better and has a faster chip to power the heavy-lifting that graphics, paint, and video apps require. Compared to other iPad models, the iPad Pro is, simply put, just better—in all ways—especially when you couple it with add-ons. Pair an iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard and it’s a laptop. With an Apple Pencil you can draw and annotate, and digitally paint in apps.

iPad pro laptop or computer

iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Smart Keyboard, photograph copyright © 2018 Apple Inc.

One Device to (Almost) Run It All

iPad pro laptop or computer

Illustration by Emma Berger

Emma Berger, who is an artist at Laika and freelance illustrator, has been a loyal iPad Pro user, and was an early adopter in 2016. “I had been researching different types of mobile Cintiqs as well as one stationed to a desk. I was skeptical about the iPad Pro until I used the Procreate application, and then the choice was pretty clear.” Berger calls her work “relatively low maintenance” and in addition to the iPad Pro, she uses a MacBook for Photoshop since it offers some functions not available on the iPad Pro. She also uses a scanner. But for the most part, her work happens on the iPad Pro. “For colored drawings I’ll use the iPad almost 100%. The linework will be done by hand and scanned, the rest will be completed on an iPad.”

iPad pro laptop or computer

Emma Berger, initial drawing

iPad pro laptop or computer

Emma Berger, completed illustration in Procreate

Berger will import artwork into her iMac and back into the iPad because according to her, “there are certain things that an apple pencil can never replace.” This is especially true when it comes to inking by hand, which requires her to scan the work and use Photoshop to prep the file. Then it’s off to the iPad Pro for coloring and lighting. “If I were to only use the iPad Pro for everything (and sometimes I’m still able, but no all the time) I would loose some of what makes my illustration unique.”

iPad pro laptop or computer

iPad pro laptop or computer

iPad pro laptop or computer
Illustration sketching, coloring, development, by Emma Berger

Photoshop has been and continues to be the de facto art, photo, and illustration application. And then there’s Procreate, which Berger calls “the closest thing to Photoshop, no doubt.” For Berger and other illustrators, Procreate is a smart, cost-effective option compared to Photoshop—and it can do an awful lot.

iPad pro laptop or computer

Autumn Dance by Goro Fujita, screen capture via Procreate Latest News

According to Berger, “Photoshop is crazy expensive and there are a lot of people who don’t need all of it’s amenities. That being said, I don’t think Procreate has surpassed it, nor will it do so in the future, but it is the next best alternative. In general, I think working on an iPad is also the next best alternative to the 3,000 one would normally have to put into a full Photoshop Wacom work station.”

Unlike Berger, Trudi Castle, is still very loyal to Photoshop. “For me personally, Photoshop is so powerful, has so many options, and is completely what I’m used to.” Castle is a concept and game artist living in Vancouver, Canada working at Red Hook Games on Darkest Dungeon. She began using an iPad Pro at the end of 2016 and was impressed by how great it felt to draw on with an Apple Pencil. She uses the iPad Pro for “sketching and roughing ideas” but “nothing final, ever.” The drawings she’s done, some of which are on her Instagram, are more sketchy and fun, such as the drawing done in Procreate below.

iPad pro laptop or computer

Trudi Castle’s drawing done on an iPad Pro with Procreate

“I’m super comfy doing art at this level of development on there, and maybe over time I will start to do more rendered images. But for now, it’s more like my fun program for when I’m sitting on front of the TV and relaxing,” says Castle.

End-to-End Creation & Production

Other illustrators such as Castle use an iPad Pro more recreationally, whether it’s with Procreate or Clip Studio. For Berger, Procreate does what she needs and it works for her, and yet she’s quick to point out that that it might not work for everyone, especially if your work “requires more detail, file size, or a different interface.” Even for the work she’s done almost entirely on an iPad Pro, Berger has to move between Photoshop and Procreate, from MacBook to iPad. But if you’re a creative nomad and freelancer who’s out and about, and who needs to be mobile, the iPad Pro can work for end-to-end production, and be your dedicated device. Nicholas Kole has been using it for just that.

iPad pro laptop or computer

Ristorante Humberto, created in Procreate on the iPad Pro, a personal project by Nicholas Kole

Freelance character designer and illustrator Nicholas Kole—who’s designed for the likes of Disney—has used an iPad Pro as his onlydevice. He’s able to get what he needs accomplished without having to lug around a laptop. And for the most part, he doesn’t even need to use a desktop computer. Yes, Kole does have an iMac that he occasionally uses for invoicing, email, and type setting. But for the most part, it’s all iPad Pro all the time.

iPad pro laptop or computer

Jellybots, a personal comic and character design project by Nicholas Kole, now a Patreon project

Before committing to the iPad Pro, Kole looked at the Microsoft Surface, but he had his doubts because of his long-time loyalties. “I’m an Apple boy, and have been since childhood—so I’ll confess my bias there. iOS just makes sense to me, and the Windows equivalents always frustrate my sense of the flow of menus and apps.” The Surface also had some odd interface issues, according to Kole. “At the time I tried a Surface, the device ran full-featured desktop versions of the apps I wanted to use. The unchanged desktop UI of Photoshop felt cluttered and hard to navigate on the smaller screen, with gestures and the stylus feeling like afterthoughts.” Castle, who had a Surface Pro 2, found it to be “no way near as portable or light” as the iPad, and she found that the Surface “could get as hot as the sun!”

Kole does his art and illustration from end-to-end on an iPad Pro with Procreate, and calls himself a “huge Procreate user” who believes in the app wholeheartedly. “When I stepped into Procreate—which has a lot of powerful features hidden from immediate view, and accessible through simple gestures designed well for the touch screen—it was a big shift towards embracing what the iPad does best and leaving behind the idea that it had to function exactly like a laptop. I like the overt simplicity and the ways in which it functions, at first, more like a sketchbook than a laptop.”

iPad pro laptop or computer

A sample of settings, development art, by Nicholas Kole from the Wingfeather Saga book series for Shining Isle Production

iPad pro laptop or computer

Nia Igiby, one of the main characters of Wingfeather Saga, drawn by Nicholas Kole for the recently completed animated short

Well-Tooled

If you’re an illustrator who is thinking about getting an iPad Pro as a companion to your laptop or desktop, it can be an expensive companion if you max out storage, get an Apple Pencil & Smart Keyboard, as well as AppleCare+ and cellular connectivity. But iPad Pro is still a lot less expensive than a 512GB MacBook Pro, and iPad Pro might be the only device you need.

Plenty of illustrators and Apple loyalists have an iPad ProMacBook Pro, and an iMac (or iMac Pro). But if you want one device that’s portable, versatile, and powerful, the iPad Pro could be your one and only computer, that’s also a tablet, laptop, toy, sketchbook, and camera—and a whole lot more.

iPad Pro product photographs via Apple Newsroom Press Releases, copyright © 2018 Apple Inc.

Procreate 4 screen captures via Procreate Latest News

This article was originally published in How Design.


Join us on June 15 for the VMA Design Conference during AIGA’s SF Design Week for lots more resources and inspiration.

How the Old Testament can sometimes be as handy as the HBR when rallying teams around your vision of the promised land.

Parting the Waters

Little did I know, as an altar boy growing up in Colorado, that I would eventually find myself teaching corporations to love the Old Testament. But, as it happens, the Decalogue (aka The Ten Commandments) have worked their way into nearly every high-level strategic engagement we’ve had the pleasure of being part of lately. How? Well, it all started while we were working with a tech company in the communication and collaboration space (who shall remain nameless for the sake of our NDA). The brief: help us figure out how to do a better job of helping people understand each other.

See, we’d been workshopping our way toward a new vision for the brand — a new rallying cry that was meant to drive everything from hiring decisions to the product roadmap. But when we started hammering at that vision with a broader array of doers within the company, we found that after the head-nodding stopped, the hands went up. Everyone got the big idea, but no one could agree on how to act on it. Or rather, everyone had their own (domain-specific) idea of how they might be able to bring it to life.

What was missing was a clearer, more defined code of conduct that laddered up to the vision without adding undue complexity. Nobody wanted some elaborate decision tree to determine whether something was going to get them fired or promoted. They just wanted some simple rules of the road that everyone could get behind and act on. Basically, not The Book of Exodus per se. Something a little more…tweetable.


So, we broke up our workshop group into five teams of 6 and gave them fifteen minutes to talk amongst themselves. The aim: come up with your own ten commandments for operationalizing the vision. Of course, because literally no one in the room could actually remember all original ten, we had to scramble to dig them up on Wikipedia (does that mean we’re going to hell?). For the rest of the heathens out there, here they are:

I am the LORD thy God.
Thou shall have no other gods before Me.
Thou shall make no graven images or likenesses.
Thou shalt not take the LORD’s name in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
Honor thy father and thy mother.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness.
Thou shalt not covet.

Wait. That’s eleven, right? Interesting. And that first one isn’t really a commandment, is it? Plus, it sounds like someone might be overcompensating a bit with all the ALL CAPS. Also of note: not all the commandments are punative. Some are positive. Amidst all the thou shalt nots are a few thou shalls. As in: Honor thy father and mother and remember the Sabbath day. Both good. I’m still not totally sure about the ‘graven images or likenesses’ bit. I mean, no Michelangelo? Come on…

Anyway, after a quick stroll through Moses’ backstory, we got back to work. And it was fascinating to see how quickly people grokked it. Surprisingly, there were a ton of similarities bubbling up, table-to-table. Every single group kept it to ten. But when we when we gathered them all together, winnowed out the duplicates, and combined the super similar ones, we still netted out at around 15. Maybe this is where we should’ve brought out a certain clip from History of the World Part 1.

Again, in the interest of protecting our NDA, let’s just say they spanned everything from simplifying the user’s life, to creating more delightful experiences, to experimenting more. And, interestingly, none required all-caps. Good. And none were punitive. All were positive. But still there were way, way too many to keep in your head. And a lot of them were pretty high-level still. A bit too open for interpretation.

So, how to simplify? With those fifteen (and the reams and reams of notes from our earlier sessions that day), we went back to our studio. After killing a few Post-It Notes and going back-and-forth with our client lead, we ended up chiseling things down to ten. Then, five. Why five? Because, honestly, ten commandments is still way too many to hold onto (unless you’re a Rabbinical scholar). What were those super-pithy five?

People Before Technology.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. (with a strikethrough on the second two)
First Earn Trust.
Try, Fail, Repeat.
Get Better Together.

Combined with terse single-sentence explanations, experimental definitions (like ‘your silos should be invisible to me’) to clarify how customers would experience the commandment, and operational definitions (like ‘management is not your mama’) to codify how teams would act on it, people were off to the races — checking in periodically with management to make sure they were on the right track and, eventually, even going so far as to rewrite the way they test NPS to make sure they were nailing it for customers. Pretty soon, all the head nodding turned into actual, concerted doing.


So, what makes a good commandment? It should give an organization a clear benchmark — something to measure decisions against. Is this simplifying? Am I earning trust? Or am I just trying to get this feature out? It helps define a larger set of laws, not just a manager’s whim.

It should be applicable to the day-to-day — something that is meaningful to the rank-and-file in heat of the moment. Is this feature meeting a real human need? Or is it just technology for technology’s sake? Am I really risking failure if I greenlight this idea? Or am I playing it safe or phoning it it? It helps codify the vision in a personal, granular way.

And, lastly, it should rally people to a higher purpose — something that demonstrates a commitment to, well, goodess. Is this us being our better selves? Are we really in this for the right reasons? Or are we just reacting, doing whatever it takes to hit our numbers? It helps inspire action and fuel deep ownership of the outcome.

Which, truth be told, shouldn’t really feel like a miracle.

The Future of Birds in our National Parks

The birds you expect to see in your favorite National Park may be radically changing soon due to climate change. It’s been a joy and an honor to help the @audubonsociety with the visualizations in this new landmark study called “The Future of Birds in our National Parks,” which launched yesterday.

There are three main numbers we care about for the purposes of this study:

  1. How many bird species are in each park now?
  2. How many new bird species will potentially colonize this park when the climate changes?
  3. How many birds will potentially be driven out of the park when the climate changes?

Audubon’s study is exhaustive, covering every National Park and the hundreds of species of birds that live in them at various seasons. All in all it paints a portrait of a rapidly changing ecosystem in which National Parks serve as an increasingly critical sanctuary for birds seeking suitable places to live. GlacierDenaliGrand CanyonBadlandsEverglades, they’re all there.

A crucial element of all of this is the difference between summer and winter populations. On the whole, the Parks will lose more species in the summer than in the winter as things heat up. Just because the weather in these places will be suitable for bird populations doesn’t mean they’ll be able to get there safely, of course. But this is a good way for us to start to get a handle on the changes to our landscape & Parks that are coming, so we can start to figure out what to do about it.

The interfaces also allows for each park to be placed in context, so you can see where each location sits in relation to all the other National Parks in the study:

We’re delighted to be working with Audubon again. Our first project with them and our friends at Mule Design visualized bird range shifts over the whole US in“the broadest and most detailed study of its kind,” and it’s good to see the work continue in a big and public way.

The full report is online here.

Custom Packaging Reaches A New High With The Cannabis Industry

With the legalization of marijuana in many states in the U.S., the cannabis industry is becoming more and more mainstream across the country. This emerging market is seeing a huge explosion in sales of cannabis products. In 2017, the sales of cannabis products exceeded the liquor sales in the city of Aspen, Colorado. And those numbers will continue to rise throughout the next decade. According to Bloomberg, cannabis sales may surpass soda by 2030.

It’s hard to ignore the rise of the cannabis industry and it’s becoming even harder to stand out in a crowded marketplace. That’s why many companies are turning to custom packaging as a way to market their products.

Quill is one such company hoping to set themselves apart from their competitors. Quill’s flagship product is a vaporizer pen that is both sleek and discreet. With their packaging, the company has created a minimalistic box that suits the product.

 

Christopher Schiel of Quill says the company’s products aim to better people’s lives through cannabis. They develop brands and products that are safe, approachable, discreet, and consistent to normalize the plant and its active compounds.

“We think a lot about people who are new to cannabis or haven’t used in a long time,” Schiel says. “How can we make those folks comfortable enough to discover the benefits of cannabis for themselves with delivery devices that intuitively fit into their lifestyle? All of our packaging is developed with this mission in mind.”

Quill used Packlane to road test and refine some of their new designs for custom packaging because they were able to do small-runs on the fly. As Schiel explained, they’re moving forward on working on new case size options and limited edition mailer boxes for future products.

Quill’s current custom boxes are 5-pack wholesale cases for their flagship vaporizer pen. They deliver these boxes to stores with a closure sticker that indicates the strain of the pens inside. “Stores love our wholesale boxes because they’re instantly recognizable and elegantly branded from all angles,” Schiel says. “There’s no mistaking a Quill package amidst a sea of cannabis products, and they’re super easy to manage in every kind of stockroom situation especially considering the quirky specifics of Oregon regulations as live product typically needs to be transferred to a safe on a nightly basis. We’re also super proud that all of our Quill packaging is paper-based and recyclable.”

Stashbox brings the subscription model to cannabis enthusiasts. They design unique themes every month with a high importance on design. Their 420 Adventure Kit is a particular favorite. Using bright colors and custom illustrations, the box speaks to cannabis enthusiasts looking for an adventure.

Oregon’s Baba G has produced a DIY candy kit for the recreational cannabis market that is designed to be paired with cannabis concentrate. Customers add their favorite concentrate to the kit to create their own custom-potency edibles.

Joshua Markus, co-founder of Baba G, explained that they hoped their DIY sour candy kit would allow customers to take the guesswork out of making their own edibles at home. The kit provides an easy-to-follow recipe that makes the candy both delicious and just the right potency for the customer’s preference.

The company is very aware of the role their custom packaging has had on the business. “Since this is a unique product in the industry we knew we had to get creative with product information and packaging design,” Markus says. “We had specific box-size needs and a vision for what we wanted and got very excited when we discovered Packlane’s many options for customization.”

“We wanted to create something that would be eye-catching and instantly labeled as well-designed,” he adds. “Our designer, Kate Troedsson, understood that a quality product demands quality packaging. She created an amazing packaging experience for the customer and absolutely fulfilled beyond our expectations. When we settled on a final draft, Packlane did a wonderful job in translating her design to the physical box.”

As the marketplace grows for cannabis products, the need for high-end and premium custom packaging becomes a necessity. And while marijuana is commonly aligned with the industry, packaging needs to beyond simply slapping a pot leaf or joint on a box. Now, more than ever, it’s critical to catch the consumer’s eye as the cannabis landscape continues to evolve. The potential for packaging within the cannabis industry is infinite and will truly make the key players really stand out.


This editorial series brought to you by Packlane

packlane-blue-logo.png

 

Whiskey Series Takes Inspiration From Wild West

WHISKEYHEAD

Born in upstate New York but “like many freedom loving Americans before him,” Josh Jevons made the journey west. Now based in Denver CO, Jevons has used this as an inspiration for packaging for the Grand Teton Distillery that captures the spirit of the Wild West.

EXCLUSIVE MOCKUPS FOR BRANDING AND PACKAGING DESIGN

The series visualizes stories and myths of legendary pioneers, frontiersmen and adventurers of the wild American west. Says Jevons: “From Teddy Roosevelt’s dagger-clad bout with a puma to a bloodthirsty manhunt by Blackfoot tribesmen, these labels celebrate the western spirit of adventure, tenacity and grit.”

EXCLUSIVE MOCKUPS FOR BRANDING AND PACKAGING DESIGN

The labels feature custom diecuts and metallic ink, and feature custom illustrations and handcrafted type. Continues Jevons: “The aesthetic is intended to communicate the rugged nature of the stories as well as the place in which the whiskeys are made, the Teton mountains, while maintaining a modern feel.”

EXCLUSIVE MOCKUPS FOR BRANDING AND PACKAGING DESIGN

This article originally appeared in GDUSA.