Design as a game-changer

August 27, 2014
Design can make a difference.
Lulu Raghavan
Managing Director,
based in Landor Mumbai

Design

Like many harried parents who have to deal with restless kids in a restaurant, I succumb to the only available magical solution: the iPad.  While its amazing kid-quieting capabilities continue to amaze me, my selfish motive continues to disturb me. Shouldn’t they be playing real games with real toys like I used to? Obviously, the founders of Tangible Play felt the same. They created Osmo, an amazing combination of iPad delight and real toys, giving you a reality game rather than a virtual reality one. Osmo uses a simple plastic stand, a mirror, and some building objects, but the engaging gaming experience it creates will make any parent want to kiss the creators’ feet.

Yes! The amazing world of design does it again.

“Design” used to be a sexy, shiny buzzword for all things bright and beautiful. It focused on aesthetics. It indicated an evolved lifestyle. Designers were iconic, as were their creations. Today design is all embracing. It wows us with possibilities. Design rules, predicts. While the West has always worn the crown for innovation and design, I am happy and proud to see that India too is not far behind.

Design is here to fulfil a need, or create one and then fulfill it. But can it make a big difference to the big issues of our time? Absolutely!  

Read Lulu‘s full post at Business-Standard.com.

Category: Identity & design
Allen Adamson is looking forward to September 9.
Allen Adamson
Chairman, North America,
based in Landor New York

5th Ave Hero

The rumor mills are at it. The Internet trolls are coming out from under their cyber-bridges. The social media sites are abuzz with opinion, positive and negative. September 9 is fast approaching. That’s the date, as rumor has it, that the Apple iPhone 6  will be released. Everyone wants to know whether this next generation Apple iPhone will prove that Apple still has what it takes to be the standard bearer in the category.

I vote yes. It’s a preemptive vote, but I have my reasons. I’ve always been an Apple guy, but my reasons for voting that this iPhone will be a winner are based more on my instincts as a branding professional.

Of course, you don’t have to be a branding professional to understand that smartphones have become mission critical to everyone’s lives. They’re no longer nice-to-have conveniences, a way to tell someone you’re stuck in traffic and will be late for dinner. Rather, they’re life lines. We shop with them. Pay bills with them. Document our kid’s first day of school with them. Check into airline flights with them. Jog to music with them. Find out alternate routes around traffic jams with them. There are no excuses or empty rationalizations required for wanting the best smartphone money can buy.

So, my reason one is as follows. Even though the iPhone 6 may be among the most expensive on the market, rumor has it (strongly supported rumor) that it will be made from materials that are scratch-resistant and far more rugged and durable than any other smartphone on the market. More than this, even though it will be more rugged and durable, it will also be lighter in weight than iPhones past. Plus, in addition to the standard 4.7 inch model, speculation has it that Apple will offer a model with a 5.5 inch screen. Much like Apple’s last new release with the iPhone 5, the iPhone 6 won’t be a total reinvention. But, like the iPhone 5, it will offer a few, very simple, very smart features meant to make life easier. People like very simple, very smart things that make life easier. And, I believe they’ll be willing to make the investment, especially the Apple loyalists.

This leads me to reason two. Apple’s game is not necessarily to get Samsung people to switch to Apple (although they’d be delighted if they did), but to hold onto their base. Give Apple enthusiasts more incentives to remain Apple enthusiasts, and they’ll be fine. Make their phones stronger and lighter. Give them a screen that’s bigger, but still fits nicely in hand. Shore up the battery life. Keep coming up with apps that make their phones even more indispensable. Not revolutionary. But evolutionary enough to keep the base justifiably satisfied with their decision to be Apple advocates. 

Reason three from a brander’s perspective? Among the things that Apple has that no other brand in the category has been able to touch is badge value. Much like the old American Express positioning when first launched, there are those who feel strongly that you “can’t leave home without it.” The Apple iPhone is a lifestyle choice that projects a style and character beyond its functionality. Those who carry it belong to a community of like-minded individuals who share a passion for the brand that goes beyond the rational. Apple has had a cool factor from day one. The momentum on the cool front is still in Apple’s favor.

So, yes. I think the Apple iPhone 6 will live up to the positive rumors, the hype, and the buzz. I believe that a few very smart and simple feature updates, a keen understanding of what will keep its loyal base loyal, and its status as a badge brand are reasons enough to enable this iconic brand to preserve its place at the top of the leaderboard. I feel pretty good about what I’ll be reading in the trades on September 10.


Originally published on Forbes.com. 
Image used courtesy of Apple. 

Category: Innovation & new concepts

Fruit Loops

August 22, 2014
Fruit-inspired apparel is in this summer.
Heather Ingram
Designer,
based in Landor Cincinnati

Fruit Loops -02

A popular summer trend is the use of bright, bold fruit patterns on clothing and accessories. Designers are often inspired by everyday items, and what’s more everyday than the bowl of fruit in the kitchen? Everyone from Stella McCartney, to Topshop, to Forever 21, is in on this year’s fruity trend.

1. Kate Spade:  Fine Feather Toucan purse
katespade.com 

2. Kate Spade:  Vita Riva wicker lemon
katespade.com

3. Stella McCartney lemon print dress, illustrated by Hanna Müller
agentandartists.com

4. Kate Spade:  Jade watermelon ballerina flats
katespade.com 

5. Refinery 29: Oranges
refinery29.com

Imagery permission requested.
Susan Bauer, senior client manager in the Cincinnati office of Landor, also contributed to this post.  

Category: Identity & design
Three things to keep in mind when expanding to China
Allen Adamson
Chairman, North America,
based in Landor New York

Introducing a new brand to the marketplace is a challenge. Introducing an existing brand to a new marketplace is a challenge. Introducing an existing brand to a marketplace whose culture is poles apart from that of its home turf is an even greater challenge, still. How do you take what you’ve learned from a successful brand launch in one country and adapt this information to meet the needs, tastes, and buying habits of another country? And, what if this country is China, an arena for business that is growing not incrementally, but exponentially? Suffice it to say, challenging.

Beijing

It was about this topic that I spoke to Lance Friedmann, senior vice president of Mondelēz International, and Fei Che, vice president of corporate and government affairs for Mondelēz China. For those who missed the trades a year or two back, Mondelēz International comprises the global snack and food brands of the former Kraft Foods. The name, adopted in 2012, came from the input of Kraft employees, Monde being French for world, and delēz to connote the notion of delicious. Among its products are Oreos, along with other long-standing favorites including Chips Ahoy, Cadbury chocolate, and Triscuit and Ritz crackers. The intent of my conversation with the team from Mondelēz International was to find out what those coming to China from the United States in a brand leadership role should consider to be critical factors in the quest for success. Here is a part of our discussion:

Allen Adamson: Lance, you’ve been at Mondelēz China for about eight months. What, in your opinion, is absolutely essential to keep in mind when building or managing a brand in China versus what you’ve experienced in the United States?

Lance Friedmann: There are three things that really jump out. To begin with, the rate of innovation expected by consumers in China is higher than in many other markets. They really are always looking for something new and they’re eager to check it out and give it a try. I was skeptical of this, at first, because you hear this being the case with many markets. But, having seen this in action, it’s true.

AA: Do you have any thoughts as to why China is more comfortable with rapid change, as opposed to say, America, where an automobile model may be altered by a mere feature or two from year to year? Do you think it might be because the gap between how your parents lived and how you live is not as dramatic in America as it is in China?

LF: Your point is a good one. The degree of change that people in China have seen, even those under thirty years old, is incredible. I believe this has acclimated them to seeing what is new, what is possible, and what is different. The reality that incomes are rising so rapidly also plays a critical role. People can afford things they never thought possible. Buying the next new thing has become an adventure, exciting and totally acceptable to them.

AA: Wherein our country something new is not necessarily assumed to be better; there are long-established traditions. Do you think that there is a sense by the Chinese consumer that new is, in fact, better?

LF: Quality still has to be an integral part of the equation. There is a respect for the fundamentals of good brand management, meaning innovation must still deliver fresh and desirable benefits. It’s just that there’s a greater appetite and willingness for trying new things.

AA: In addition to this desire for things that are new and innovative, what are the other two factors you consider to be different in the Chinese market than in the U.S. market?

LF: Without a doubt, one of them is localization. If you cut and paste a strategic plan, or assume just because consumers like something in one country they’ll like it in another, you’re bound to have issues. Finally, there’s the extraordinary weight of digital media in the Chinese peoples’ lives and, therefore, the need to incorporate this into marketing plans. It blew me away to see how connected to digital and, specifically social media, people of all ages are in China. It’s a way of life to hundreds of millions of people. The more you can plug into this dynamic, the more successful your brand will be. People in the U. S. may share things that delight them, and this is certainly a boon to marketers. When this happens in China, the scale is mind-blowing.

AA: Is there a story you can share that makes for a good example of all three of these factors, the rate of innovation, localization, and the absolute requirement for a digital strategy?

Fei Che: We did a wonderful campaign for Oreo called  Twist Open the Bonding Magic in 2013, tied to the idea of family bonding and sharing. It involved parents, especially the fathers, creating their own videos showing how their families connected because of Oreos. That, in essence, is what Oreos are all about—family connections. We partnered with one of China’s greatest film directors, Feng Xiaogang, to assist us with the initiative, which we called “ Oreo—Bonding Magic in China.” He worked with us to put together a micro movie that was distributed over the Internet, showing mostly fathers interacting with their children. The key insight for this campaign was that, in China, you see mothers taking children to classes or to playgrounds and shops over the weekend, and grandparents often take care of them during the week days, but you rarely see fathers in a bonding mode as they are often at work or off working in other cities.

LF: The power of this story was incredible. In terms of new experiences, this Oreo initiative opened up a completely new world, and a new way to look at how fathers and children are interacting. And, talk about digital scale, in other markets if you get 10,000 or 20,000 people sending in entries, you’d be happy. We got three and a half million stories. And of the six that were chosen for the online video, there were 143 million views.

AA: Because you showed such a deep understanding of the Chinese family and the inherent relationships, you were able to unlock this insight in a unique and powerful way. You gave families a way to express themselves, show their connectivity to each other.

FC: The insight and degree of focus on the fathers was fresh and touching, and highlighted the core emotion of how difficult it is for fathers who are working so hard to see their children. Many fathers have anxiety about the need to support their families and get their families to a better financial place, but they are also very loving to their children.

LF: Another important aspect of this story, and particularly relevant to the importance of localizing a product, is that when we initially launched Oreos in China in 1990s, we found that the taste was too sweet for the Chinese palate, and the price too high. This led to a reformulation of the ingredients, as well as new formats, including a cookie stick, versus a wafer. Understanding cultural differences and adapting products to meet them was critical to success.

AA: On a final note, marketing folks are used to looking at things in the rearview mirror. You look back and try to project the future. It’s a much trickier game now. You really have to be more agile, nimble, and responsive as a brand builder. But this notion of speed and agility is at a whole new level in China than in more mature markets.

LF: It’s a big deal. When people come to work in Asia, in China, they’re immediately struck by how volatile and how quickly demand patterns can change. It might be a cliché, but speed is the currency of doing business in the 21st century. And, if you can’t play at the speed that’s required in China, you’re going to miss out.

 

Orginally published on Forbes.com.
Image courtesy of Flickr and McKay Savage.  

 

Category: Brand strategy & positioning

Gems of Austin

August 06, 2014
Landor Cincinnati’s favorite places from a recent trip to Austin
Heather Ingram
Designer,
based in Landor Cincinnati

AUSTIN-01

Our team recently took a trip to Austin, Texas for a photoshoot with editorial and commercial photographer, Tosca Radigonda. Her photography is simply stunning. Through the use of breathtaking lightning, she captures the astonishment, joy, and tenderness of children, in both still photography and in motion.  You can view Tosca’s work at http://toscaradigonda.com. 

While in Austin, we were inspired by the life and the city itself. The incredible restaurants, the never-ending nightlife, and the friendliness of everyone we met really captured our attention. The culture in Austin is on the upswing, supported by the SXSW music festival and a vibrant art scene. There is art everywhere—on the side of buildings, in almost every restaurant, and in every shop you walk into. We’ve catalogued some of the most inspiring shops, restaurants, and dives we visited in our short time there:

AUSTIN-02

Lambert’s is an authentic upscale Texas BBQ restaurant set in a carefully restored historic building in the 2nd Street District of downtown Austin. We enjoyed our “fancy” BBQ that included brisket prepared with a brown sugar and coffee rub, brown butter Brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes with crème fraiche. Make sure you make a reservation—the wait can be very long on all nights of the week.

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Photo credit: Jody Horton

Across the street from Lambert’s, is La Condesa, a James Beard-nominated contemporary Mexican restaurant. It’s the perfect place to start the evening with craft cocktails and small plates, such as the guacamole sampler. Exotic ingredients such as agave nectar, cactus lemongrass-infused salt, and vanilla-infused brandy give the drinks a delightful twist. The atmosphere at La Condesa is whimsical and artful, with various sculptures and one-of-a-kind lighting that makes for the perfect dining experience.

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If you’re looking for something more casual with a great happy hour and inexpensive food, look no further than The Jackalope on Austin’s famous 6th Street. There’s a dive bar atmosphere and Texas-sized drinks and burgers that will satisfy your appetite, such as the buffalo blue cheeseburger and the Helldorado (a ridiculously large fruity martini). You’re sure to meet some interesting folks at this Austin institution, and you can get your picture taken with the giant Jackalope (but you must have a drink in your hand to do so)!

AUSTIN-05

Luxe Apothetique is a full service salon, spa, and boutique that’s carefully curated to provide the perfect shopping experience. Those looking for apparel can pick from brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs, Citizens of Humanity, and Spendid. The apothecary includes high-end skincare brands like Art of Shaving, Lollia, and Caudalie, as well as luxury fragrances from Library of Flowers, Toyko Milk, and many more. It’s the perfect place to find a unique gift, a great outfit, or a trend-inspired Texas souvenir.

 

Susan Bauer, senior client manager in the Cincinnati office of Landor, also contributed to this post. 

Category: Customer experience
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