2014 Paris Motor Show

October 31, 2014
My journey into the automotive trends space
Alexandre Vacante
Marketing and Communications Coordinator,
based in Landor Paris

The Paris Motor Show was first held in 1898. Today, it has become one of the world’s most prestigious motoring events, and brings together automakers from all around the world for two weeks of showcasing their latest releases. Because it occurs only every two years (unlike other major auto shows), it is often the site of important auto releases. 

The automotive sector has long been one of the most troubled industries in Europe, and is only now emerging from a painful time of restructuring. Nevertheless, European carmakers are hoping to impress with new models and prove that they have come out stronger from years of cost cutting.

Approximately 250 carmakers from 18 countries showcased over 100 new releases in their Parisian booths. Developments included those in safety, energy, and environments, as well as the latest concept cars, materials, and technology. The event had nearly 100,000 square meters of exhibition space spread over nine pavilions.

First thoughts

I spent a busy sunny Sunday morning zipping through the halls, checking out what’s new. Sometimes, it’s hard to find an overarching theme at these big shows, but this year, you could see a major trend emerging. The old ideas about static car types or fixed market segments have pretty much disappeared. Hatchback, sedan, off-roader, coupe, people-carrier. We now have cars that position themselves between these categories—market segmentation has been forever changed.

What’s nice about this show is that there was a car for every visitor: Sports car for the dreamer, hybrid and electric cars for the environmentally conscious, small urban cars for the city-dweller.

It's hard to think of Paris without thinking of fashion, especially when Fashion Week has just stormed through the city. So naturally enough, the Paris show tends to focus on the luxury and supercar segments. Auto shows are always good at highlighting the season's trendiest styles, and in Paris organizers took it a step further by dedicating an entire hall to automotive fashion: an exhibit showcasing more than 100 years of automotive history and design.

Talking about trends

Volvo is an interesting case to study. The brand bases a lot of its reputation on safety—a long-time driver of the segment. What’s new about its safety offering this year is that the renovated XC90 shows that the Swedish automaker fully intends to eliminate crash-related deaths in its cars by 2020. This SUV is said to be semiautonomous, and has an industry-first auto brake function that stops drivers from making risky left-hand turns.

After TV screen, computer screen, mobile screen, tablet screen and phablet screen, there’s a new screen coming up: the car screen—Tesla and Volvo showcased some pretty cool large-screen control units. Additionally, the new Honda Connect Head unit now works with an Android operating system that enables you to install apps and play Angry Birds while driving (not sure how this is safe). 

And then, my heart skipped a beat

The car that will feature prominently in my dreams—well, until the next iPhone comes out—is the mind-blowing Citroën Divine DS concept car. While the German automakers are locked in battle to see who can make the best sports car out of traditional family hatchbacks, DS is taking a different approach to the perfect luxury experience.

Citroen

Presented as an alternative to German luxury, the new Divine DS concept car is based on the DS3’s aggressive and masculine lines, combined with Swarovski gemstones and luxurious embroidery. In terms of design for the body, this intriguing car is curvy and sharp at the same time. The quirkiness of the exterior gives way to full-blown opulence once you've opened the doors, thanks to the bewildering array of customization options available. Three “dress codes” (French luxury, remember?) have been codified and designed for the dashboard and doors: Mâle, Parisian Chic, and Fatale Punk.

The Divine concept will, of course, never be built, but it comes with a lot of intriguing design details that could make their way onto the road. I don’t expect to see anytime soon those unhinged doors or the scalelike pattern that covers the rear window. But I wouldn’t be surprised if elements of this angular, reptilian look creep onto production cars, such as the multifaceted interior made up of small interlocking triangles—especially since DS plans to double its lineup from three to six models.

 

Category: Research & insights
GoPro is positioning itself as more than hardware.
Alexandre Vacante
Marketing and Communications Coordinator,
based in Landor Paris

GoPro

First, let’s start—as I like to do—with a quote.

Kevin Platshon, digital marketing manager of GoPro, said about his company, “We classify ourselves as a viral hardware company. Every time a piece of content is shared it’s inspiring someone, even if we don’t show the product at all.”

So basically, this guy markets his product without showing it? No wonder he made it to the finals at the first Cojones Awards, a worldwide competition that celebrates the most courageous marketers of our era.

GoPro is one of the most successful businesses of the decade. In 2014, it issued one of the largest consumer electronics IPOs ever witnessed by NASDAQ. Nicholas Woodman, 39, founded GoPro in 2004. Since then, the “world's hottest camera company”—as it is often called—has developed one strength after the other. Originally selling 35mm film cameras, Woodman ranks amongst the youngest of self-made billionaires in the world.

So what is so new about GoPro? First, the company pioneered offering miniaturized, robust, high-definition cameras, which enabled easy first-person point of view filming and promised a whole new experience. Then GoPro became synonymous with an invitation to “be a hero” and to share the GoPro experience with users from all around the world.

One of the company’s first groundbreaking ideas was to accept losing control of its marketing content, and instead let users take the lead on the brand story. In the first quarter of 2014, the company counted an average of 6,000 daily YouTube uploads and more than 1 billion views of videos with “GoPro” in the title, file name, tags, or description. Those guys know how to make things go viral, don’t they?

Beyond tech

Now that GoPro has proven the quality of its innovative cameras, the brand is trying to position itself as more than hardware.

A year ago, nearly all GoPro videos published on the brand’s channels were produced by its in-house GoPro Original Productions. Now, half of the videos are user generated and the firm expects that proportion to grow. Here’s the virtuous cycle on which GoPro is betting: (1) share user-generated material; (2) make it part of the marketing plan; (3) get new users to feed the conversation. Indeed, GoPro sees social media as a web of connections that can be filled with content that inspires customers to share it with others. 

GoPro positioned the brand to serve the customer from the get-go and allowed it to act as a platform. The company realized that users could really create magic. And that’s when the public’s imagination truly took ownership of the brand’s story.

As an incentive, users who contribute to the brand story are gifted with the latest GoPro cameras, which retail for $129 to $499, and accessories to shoot their videos. Of course, the actual filming is left to the user. GoPro makes final edits, including color correction and music, before distributing the video through its channels.

GoPro users might not all be reckless daredevils, performing a backflip on a bike over a 72-foot-high canyon, rescuing deer in hovercrafts on frozen lakes, nor riding great white sharks in the most remote lagoons of this world, but they do share one thing: the hope to live and share extraordinary experiences to pump up an ordinary life. This is the mission of GoPro, and this is why GoPro is so much more than a tech and content brand. GoPro is pounding on the door of the very private club of tech brands that went lifestyle, and the door is about to go ajar.

Since its June IPO, GoPro's stock has surged 279 percent.

Category: Digital & social media
Fall is in the air everywhere we turn.
Paige Strohmaier
Senior Designer,
based in Landor Cincinnati

Each new season deserves a celebration. The long-awaited and short-lived fall is no exception. With rich, vibrant colors, beaming sunlight, and crisp, cool breezes, fall awakens the senses. From expected seasonal offerings like beer and candles to less traditional soaps, fine fragrances, and décor, many brands are eager to get a piece of the pumpkin pie. 

TurnOverANewLeaf01

 

1. Bath & Body Works: Leaves 3-Wick Candle
2. Uinta: Punk’n Harvest Pumpkin Ale
3. Target: Threshold™ Set of 3 Decorative Fall Figurines—Gold
4. CB2: Metro Orange 20" pillow
5. Bath & Body Works: Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Fine Fragrance Mist
6. Nest: Pumpkin Chai Liquid Hand Soap

 

All images copyright of their respective authors. Permission being requested.

Category: Customer experience
Great design requires creativity and imagination, and creativity and imagination begin with perception.
Mary Zalla
Global President, Consumer Brands and Managing Director,
based in Landor Cincinnati

Effective packaging is a crucial part of the marketing mix for consumer packaged goods (CPG)  brands, and it is only becoming more so. Your package is one of the most fundamental aspects of your brand, second only to the product and product experience itself. So if package design is so important, then it must be important to leverage the best design for your brand. But where do you start? As with all things, you start with the fundamentals. 

This is the second post in a five-part series that identifies and details the five fundamentals of great package design.

In the first post, I wrote about the fundamental importance of insight. All great design is insight based. Great designers seek to know and understand for whom they are designing, and powerful insights drive great work. 

Perception is key to interpreting and understanding 

The second fundamental of great design is perception. Perception is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.” Why is perception so important to the business of design? Because great design requires creativity and imagination, and creativity and imagination begin with perception. Edward Prince said, “Perception lies at the root of all creativity, learning how to see is the start of creativity.”

But it’s important for designers and marketers to know that what you perceive is more than what your eyes and ears carry to your brain. It’s a product of your brain itself. Vision is not the same as perception. Vision is concrete. It observes. Perception is more abstract. Perception leaps beyond observation to judgment. We see what we see, but what we perceive is a combination of what we see, our past experience, and our particular point of view on a situation.

Perception and imagination are linked

According to Gregory Berns who wrote Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently, perception and imagination are linked because the brain uses the same neural circuits for both functions. Not only that, but experience modifies perception because it modifies neural connections. The more experience we have with something, the more efficient our brains become at processing the information or stimulus. According to Berns:

Neuroscientists have observed that while an entire network 
of neurons might process a stimulus initially, by about the sixth presentation, the heavy lifting is performed by only a subset of neurons. Because fewer neurons are being used, the network becomes more efficient at carrying out its function.

And from the standpoint of the brain, efficiency is a good thing. We are bombarded with so much information, so many stimuli, there is so much competing for our attention, we have to be able to decide what to efficiently process and what to pay a bit more attention to. Our brains naturally decide this for us, and it makes these decisions based on the frequency with which we’ve experienced the same thing before. It is why we are able to form whole perceptions from partial images.

Look at this picture. What do you see? 

Horse

Most of you undoubtedly see a horse. And you are right.

But did anybody look at this image and say, “Wow, that’s a two-legged horse!” I doubt it. Did anybody think, “Why doesn’t that horse have hooves?” or “That is a horse without a mouth!” Again, doubtful. You have seen so many horses and pictures of horses that your brain filled in (perceived) what you did not actually see in the photo. Your brain quickly went to past experience, filled in the hooves and nose and mouth and then determined, “This is a horse.”

This mental extrapolation is an important asset in life. Again, we are over served with information. We simply cannot ponder each and every thing. But designers and brand stewards must realize that our brains are constantly and efficiently working to fill in missing information. We need to realize that this filled-in information is a product of our mind, not necessarily a product of reality.

Habit is the enemy of creativity

So if our brains are incredibly efficient, and they become more efficient the more often they see the same thing, what effect does this have on marketers, designers, and innovators who must create new things, ideas, designs, and opportunities for a brand they may have been working on for the past year, two years, or 10 years? Our brains move into autopilot, we naturally fall into habitual thinking. And this is dangerous because habit is the enemy of creativity. 

To achieve great design, we must constantly challenge our perceptions. Yes, we may be looking at the same brand we’ve been working with for a period of time, but we must be able to see new things. As Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” 

When trying to come up with new ideas for an existing problem or opportunity, one with which we are very familiar, we must jolt our attentional systems and fight habit or efficiency with conscious inefficiency, a neural pause button if you will. Designers and marketers must be able to fight habit by consciously pausing and reflecting and considering new ways of thinking about something. In our business, we simply have to be able to see new things in existing landscapes, because most of the problems we face are not new. The challenge is to look at them in new ways. As Einstein said, “Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.”

Fresh perspective helps shift the category norm

This notion undoubtedly fueled our Landor team during the creative development and design of Dead Bolt from Pernod Ricard Winemakers. Dead Bolt was entering a crowded category of brands known for appealing to consumers with sophistication, often through associations with certain food tastes. We knew it had to be different and we made it so by challenging perceptions of what a fine wine can be. Dead Bolt established itself as a brand that pushes boundaries and breaks all the rules. It did just that with its name, identity, and packaging—complete with a deep matte-black label with a striking high-gloss, foil-stamped tattoo-inspired logo.

Deadbolt _108

Challenging perception leads to game-changing results

The Landor team that designed the award-winning cans for the Central Park Conservancy also challenged themselves to think differently as they approached this important project. 

Of course the team looked at the current state of trash and recycling receptacles, but they also considered the project as an audit, not phase one of a design project. To break themselves out of the conventional way of thinking about trash containers, the team got to know the park itself: the grounds, landscape, elevations, structures, and more. Doing this helped the team not only create receptacles that respected and fit into the space, but also helped them create unique and highly-functioning receptacles, inspired by the slats and handrails of a typical Central Park bench. 

CPBenches

These new cans have resulted in fewer collection vehicles on park paths—they are nearly impervious to pest infestation. Recycling in the park is up by 35 percent. And, the cans also won one of the first Product Design Lions at Cannes this year. Looking at other things in the park, not just the cans, helped our team gain a new perspective by viewing the project from a different angle.

Central _Park _3_835

And that is what designers and creators must do. Fight habit. Efficiency is the enemy of creativity. Help inspire original thought by challenging your perceptions, your closely held beliefs and opinions, your standard way of looking at things. Before you look at something and allow your brain to make the same old snap judgment, pause and reflect and consider at least one alternative way of viewing it. You will jump-start your imagination and find yourself with more original thoughts, more often.

In my next post, I will touch on the third fundamental of great design: ideas. Ideas are crucial to not only the development of great packaging for your brand, but are also pivotal in terms of your ability to sell that great package solution. Idea-based design is great design. Design without ideas? We call that graphic exploratory.

Until next time.

Category: Packaging design
What does Jeter bring to the field beyond athletic skill?
Allen Adamson
Chairman, North America,
based in Landor New York

Jeter

A class act right up to the very end. I’m not just talking about Derek Jeter’s game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 6-5 walk-off win against the Orioles, the last home game of his storied career. I’m also talking about the fact that Jeter, the five-time World Series champion, made it a point to wish the Orioles luck in the play-offs. “They deserve it,” he told the on-field postgame interviewer.

A couple days later, I watched Jeter’s last game with my son, just one of the many Yankees’ games we’ve watched together over the years. As I did, it occurred to me that like many professional athletes before him, Jeter has an incredible opportunity to cultivate his brand-name status. However, by this I don’t mean merely to use his name to cash in quickly with product endorsements, talking-head gigs, or car dealerships. But rather to transform his brand in such a way that 20 years from now, my son will be able to talk to his own kids about the Jeter brand in a whole new but equally substantial way.

As a brand professional, I’ve often been asked what to do if the thing a brand has been famous for is no longer relevant to the market. Jeter’s brand success has been based in good part on walk-off singles at critical moments, and this has served him well. But this chapter is over. He will no longer be able to deliver on this aspect of his claim to brand fame. Or, said in a more commercial way, he won’t be able to deliver on his once-relevant offering. This is the unifying challenge for all brands faced with the need to transform, whether it’s Radio Shack and the fact that radios and electronic components are a thing of the past or BlackBerry with a customer base no longer enthused by email-centric keyboards, or Kodak, which sadly totally missed the boat on picture taking in a digital world.

As Derek Jeter looks at his brand and starts to think about how to reinvent it in a meaningful way, he shouldn’t think short term, but long term. And in the off chance he wants my advice (not likely, but nice to think about), I’ll give him the same advice I’d give to any brand, in any category looking for a way to maintain leadership even after its original key offering becomes history. I’d tell him to look at his brand’s essential DNA to determine the values that already exist that can be recast. Not a new spin on the old story, but an entirely different way to use what’s there in a meaningful way. For example, IBM used to be a brand leader in PCs, punch cards, and printers until a bunch of PC clones came in and beat it at this game. Looking at its DNA, what IBM was inherently good at—information technology—evolved into a powerhouse of IT expertise and overall computing services.

A similar story in a completely different category is the National Geographic brand. First published in 1888, the magazine continued to be filled with stunning photographs of exotic locations, intriguing cultures, and glorious animals until the early 1990s when it knew the traditional publishing model was quickly eroding. The organization reinvented itself by drawing on its DNA as an expert in showcasing far-flung, fascinating people and places along with the magnificent flora and fauna of the world and expanding across a multitude of media platforms.

Jeter, unlike many star athletes before him, has more to his brand DNA than just baseball statistics. He was an outstanding team captain with all the leadership qualities inherent in this title. In my opinion, he has the opportunity to base the new Jeter brand offering on these leadership credentials. This might be in the form of a university curriculum or a summer camp, or even recreation centers for inner-city kids. Whatever it is should be built with an objective toward lasting value, a brand based on his expertise that is also meaningful for its time and place in the market.

Real brand reinvention is hard. It’s not a matter of tweaking a few product features, rearranging retail space, or developing a new ad campaign. These are tactical initiatives. The list of brands that have truly transformed themselves is pretty short. Sure IBM and National Geographic did it, as did Apple, which would have been dominated by Microsoft had it stuck with computing and not developed the iPod. Jeter had a magical career and is riding high with a magical brand image. The opportunity that lies ahead for him is not to squander this image with a few product endorsements or variations on this theme. As with any brand looking to transform itself, Derek Jeter should look at what he brings to the field beyond the thrilling bottom-of-the-ninth win. I want to hear my grandkids talking about Derek Jeter, not relative to his past glories, but his current ones. Given who he is, given his DNA, my bet is that it will happen. 

 

Originally published on Forbes.com.
Image of Derek Jeter courtesy of Flickr user Keith Allison.  

Category: Brand strategy & positioning
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