I attended the first ever Impact Conference by Computer Arts yesterday - a day full of presentations, panel sessions and conversation. Whilst the conference sits under the branding umbrella, speakers took to talk more about brand in terms of collaboration – the theme for the conference this year.
The first speaker Clive Grinyer, originally a product designer but now in charge of customer experience at Barclays, spoke about the brand as an experience. He showed us through his experiences at Orange that design can inform every part of the customer’s journey with a brand, and that to truly find out a successful brand is to test the smallest touch point the customer has with it.
A session loosely about the FMCG sector included design writer John Simmons and designer at Tesco, Sunita Yeomans. Sunita talked about how she overcame her challenges of collaboration with external agencies and within the in-house studio at Tesco, through a witty illustrational presentation style. John Simmons who although now independent had worked a long stint at Interbrand, gave some insight into how a writer should collaborate with other creatives right from the beginning of the branding process. He gave us some useful tips about writing; play more adventurously with words, use questions to engage with the audience, and how tone of voice should vary for internal and external audiences. (Also it was claimed he was the first to coign the term “tone of voice”?!)
There were some great presentations from Michael Johnson, Louise Kyme of the British Heart Foundation and Deborah Szebeko from ThinkPublic, in the session “Design for Good”. Michael presented some fantastic work and debunked five myths about working within the charity sector, causing some heated debate about the issue of fees, while Louise proved that design really can save lives (who remembers Vinny and stayin’ alive?). Deborah talked a lot about collaboration with your audience and emphasised the importance of conversation in the design process. An interesting stat: 90% of people surveyed want brands to share with them.
Michael Wolff’s discussion about his experiences working with Russian banks through up some great quotes:
- "A much better question than ‘How are you?’ is ‘What is the point of you?’"
- On client relationships: “I don’t do presentations. I have conversations. We have relationships”
- "Brands are about behaviour"
Tom Savigar from The Future Lab gave some insight into what future holds within the luxury sector: how single, millennials (23-35 year olds) will dominate in the next 20 years overtaking boomers, how Chanel struggle with digital and mentioned something called “Netstalgia” where teens are now discovering the beginnings of the internet.
The afternoon session around the drinks industry involved a succinct but inspiring presentation by Glenn Tutssel from Brand Union. Talking about the importance of a well-written brief (ideally co-written between client and agency), he juxtaposed his project for Peroni with the painting of the Sistine Chapel! Following Glenn was a joint presentation about the joys of a successful collaboration from Spencer Buck at Taxi Studio and Jessica Felby at Carlsberg. One little tip I took away from the guys was because a brand is so much more than just a logo; first try to design a brand without a mark.
To finish the day Dee Cooper talked about the brand experience through her work at Virgin Atlantic and for London 2012, and how all parts of the brand experience need to work together to create a cohesive customer experience.
Everyone spoke within the theme of brand and collaboration, but what stood out was the fact that creatives should always consider the audience – context is key. Creating a brand community through conversation helps a customer buy into that brand and enhances the customer’s experience. And of course this is all achieved through all parts of a business, in-house and external agencies, designers and writers all working together, collaborating.