Chrissie Hanson is our Chief Strategy Officer, OMD Worldwide
SXSW is one of OMD’s sources of signals that our teams use to inform how we make Better decisions, faster on behalf of our clients. This year, a team of OMD strategists from around the world descended upon Austin to be inspired, excited and surprised. We each took a different track to make sure we covered as much as possible and with the mission to write about our learnings to share with our teams and our clients.
The three insights from my Day 1 were:
- Consumers have a more fluid and nuanced view when it comes to value; increasingly, they will trade convenience in favor of quality content and curation
- There is a rising need for authentic experiences and a rejection of brands and individuals who jump on the bandwagon of meaningful moments for the sake of a selfie
- The value of Design on the bottom line has been proven but the path to implement design principles is lacking at many organizations
My 4th SXSW experience began with the fascinating panel: The Next Form of Storytelling: The Future of Technology-Enabled Entertainment from the storyteller Jeffrey Katzenberg and analyst Meg Whitman. They shared their vision for bringing together the best of Silicon Valley and Hollywood to disrupt the current form of storytelling to create an entirely new category of short form content.
Their goal is to reach people between 7am to 7pm and steal 50% of the 40 mins that Americans currently spend on their mobile devices consuming average quality content. The reason they believe they can take this large share of time is the point of differentiation of their service Quibi; it delivers premium quality content. When you consider that the average YouTube creator earns $3,000 per minute versus Hollywood Directors who might earn up to $100,000 per minute, the output from the latter will inevitably be of a superior quality. And people are willing to pay for that. Whitman explained that there’s a rising preference for people to pay for what they want, rather than be locked in expensive bundled offers, to the point where they’ll sign up to 6 different subscription services to craft their own viewing experiences. With the advent of 5G, this sector is expected to grow.
The implication for marketers is that consumers are prepared to trade convenience for curation. As the ecosystem for quality content widens, so the incentive for consumers to be more deliberate in their choices rises, and the value equation becomes more nuanced. Disruption to business models happens fast, within ‘a matter of seconds’ according to Whitman, and we need to be prepared to make better decisions, faster.
Next up was Pop Ups: Designing for Emotional Experiences, a panel which brought together the organizers of Burning Man, Color Factory, and the Brooklyn Museum. They agreed that the desire for real and shared human connection is more urgent than ever. Brands and organizations that create spaces where meaningful, quality experiences can occur will be the ones that become points of inspiration and destination. However, they cautioned the role of social media and how, while used as a record of these experiences, that the act of recording should not be the goal. With US National Parks now facing an over-crowding crisis caused by people making the trip for the selfie rather than enjoying nature and camp under the stars, perhaps brands can do more to be advocates for real, authentic experiences. To become trusted curators of moments of meaning, rather than contributors to broader bucket list mentality propagated by Instagram? The casual share has more ramifications that we initially realized. The fact notion that we need to be more aware and purposeful in our actions is a theme that later panels would echo.
Moving over to The Business Value of Design: A New Global Study, we heard from McKinsey on the results of a 5-year study they have conducted on over 300 publicly listed companies, using over 100 design actions and 2 million pieces of financial data. As you might expect, companies that make design a true strategic priority outperform their competitors from a revenue perspective.
The four factors which must all be present for success were laid as out follows:
- Design must be more than a feeling: it’s analytical leadership
- Design is more than a department: it’s cross-functional talent
- Design is more than a phase: it’s continuous iteration
- Design is more than a product: it’s a seamless experience
Whilst we have implicitly known about the importance of design, there are now data points to back it up. What’s challenging for companies though is that 95% of leaders feel they can’t make objective business on design. Without having a process for sharing prototypes with end users, or not involving users prior to the launch of new products, the inputs that would guide those decisions are lacking and organizations do need to consider their process for putting more objectivity into the decision-making process, so that better business outcomes can be achieved.
As I reflected upon OMD’s end-to-end process which takes inspiration from Design Thinking, where we’re committed to the practice of empathy and make rapid prototyping part of the way we work, this session served as a helpful affirmation of our efforts in this space.
By Nil Thyrion, International Design Manager and Daniel Goy, International Designer, OMD EMEA
As a world renowned showcase of the latest in innovative design, D&AD Festival is the culmination of a year in design, advertising and communications. We were therefore very excited and fortunate to attend the three-day festival discovering amazing work and creative talks that are crucial in making sure we’re at the forefront of creativity and design for our clients.
The D&AD festival is made up of judging sessions during which over 220 creative professionals analyse thousands of designs and ultimately award the best creative work of the year. The designs were judged in various categories such as; outdoor advertising, digital design, branding and book design.
Walking around the venue, the Old Truman Brewery, we were surrounded by the most creative, thought provoking, innovative and beautiful work. However what became most clear was that the creative process remains an obsession in the industry, from new to internationally recognised designers. How do we make ideas come to life, how do we get out of routine, and how do we act with a brief? This therefore was a fascinating event, giving us not just an outlook on the work but at the process behind creative excellence.
So why for designers does nothing matter more than the creative process?
If you weren’t able to make the festival we’ve rounded up our five key highlights.
- The Mood Tree – Digital Experience
Created by Kerve (a company known for their impressive activations) The Mood Tree was one of the most innovative digital experiences at the festival this year. It certainly created a buzz, people of all ages were engaging in the experience, discussing and tweeting to change the tree’s colours.
The Mood Tree enabled live data to be displayed visually, to an audience that were excited to get involved. The process behind creating such a visual experience relied upon how individuals already engage and communicate through social. These platforms are still being explored in their capabilities, and can push the creative process to develop as the way in which they are used does simultaneously.
The Mood tree that captivated everyones attention
- Sir Paul Smith – My creative process
Evolving from a 3×3 metre shop to the design icon he is today, Paul Smith spoke with great humour about his career whilst unveiling his creative process and inspirations.
For him, “You can find inspiration in everything. If you can’t, then you are not looking properly.” What he means is that ideas don’t only come when you are in your office, but during your daily journey to work, throughout the weekend or during your holidays. In a world where many are fishing for the same business, in fashion or marketing, the key to business results is creativity and the ability to surprise and delight people.
- Annie Atkins – Designing For films
Annie decided to work within the movie industry after watching Mary Poppins. Taking us through her amazing design work for film she also spoke about the importance of a strict schedule matching with the shooting, the highly detailed pieces of work, and her relation with Wes Anderson when working on The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Annie’s role is crucial in the success of a film as she needs to beautifully articulate the director’s story whilst using observations and solid research (paperwork, signage, historic posters,…) to make the story accurate and relevant. One of the most touching points in her creative process is that she purposefully includes mistakes (like a random letter spacing) because she realises that mistakes are a part of reality.
Two pieces of work created by Annie Atkins created for The Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Boxtrolls
- Ali Ali – 10 Stupid things I learnt in Advertising
Within every work situation we are presented with a risky or a safe path. Director Ali Ali doesn’t seem to take either, instead he goes with what creatively captures him, which takes him beyond the norm and ensures his idea is not tampered with.
During this talk Ali shared his belief in all he creates, drawing from past experiences and applies this to his films. This belief led him to even say no to a client, one in particular who hated an advert he had created, yet Ali was adamant about keeping it the same and this passion caused the client to reconsider. You can find below examples of where Ali has pushed the limits and created something truly spectacular.
Too Silly Too Insulting Too Informative Too Complicated
- YouTube and the Entertainment Revolution
YouTube’s global Head of Culture and Trends Kevin Alloca took centre stage to present a showreel of YouTubers creating content specifically for the platform.
The platform’s early adopters are now rewarded for creating and sharing their videos, however Kevin was keen to stress on the importance and influence that raw and real life has. Last month’s most successful YouTube channel was the Hydraulic Press, gaining 44,000 subscribers in just one month. Largely due to the increasingly weekly engagement from subscribers providing ideas for future content – commenting on the objects they want to see squashed.
The creative obsession
To conclude, it is clear that no matter how different, the creative process plays a role within the production of great design, what is imperative is that it remains an obsession by those who use it to create.
The D&AD festival enabled us access to the creative processes behind the most ground-breaking ideas and practices produced by some of the most talented designers in the world. Providing perspectives from various different genres, experiences and backgrounds.
By watching and sharing in their processes, what has become obvious is we must innovate and adapt at the rate of emerging tech and trends, while equally understanding how to push the boundaries and break norms so that our audiences are continually surprised and inspired.
Moving forwards, we are inspired to take these processes into our own day to day work, remembering that it is the key to take someone on an engaging and relative journey with the design we produce. Either way it is likely our processes will continue to be an obsession for much of our creative careers to come.
Based in Austin, Texas the SXSW interactive conference, much like the city, has a very human-centred design focus. Many presentations focused on how technology is changing our brains rather than the importance of machine learning. The content covered felt like a call for a more mindful approach to building technology and the experiences it drives, although this might be symptomatic of the way presentations are chosen for SXSW with creativity and goodness as two main criteria. There is a need to move the creation of experiences away from a traditional marketing approach, where we look to our businesses and brands for development, to a more human-centred approach which involves consumers in the design.
This shift involves understanding how technology is changing our neurology, as well as our value systems (what had meaning before, no longer has meaning now). With so much at our fingertips, we expect much less friction (think Uber and Tinder) which is changing the hierarchy of our needs and ultimately the reprogramming our brains. Brian Solis refers to this phenomenon as consumers becoming ‘accidentally narcissistic’.
Experience architecture is the future of advertising. You have to be relevant and making a difference in consumers’ lives.
As we strive to make technology more fluid and frictionless, Steve Selzer, Experience Design Manager at AirBnB, stresses the importance for designers to become ‘the friction’ in the design. It is based on the premise that the desire and expectation for a frictionless digital experience is leading to a community of people who no longer have personal experiences in which they encounter friction. Selzer states that it is friction that allows for self-reflection, self-discovery and therefore, growth.
We must encourage people to reflect and learn through behaviour, which could be both physical and digital, and Selzer described 4 ways to doing just that in his ‘Human-Centre Design: Why Empathy is Not Enough’ presentation:
- Design for skill building: Hello Fresh makes the experience of ordering ingredients as easy as possible; however their key focus is getting people to cook and try new recipes.
- Design for Collisions: Lyft, a direct competitor to Uber, differentiates itself through ‘collisions’ by profiling their customers and encouraging them to share rides. This principle brings people together, creating situations where circumstantial neighbours can come together.
- Design for Confrontation: AirBnB encourages hosts to answer any customer service issues themselves. Selzer describes the implementation of this process as forcing people to come out from behind the wall of technology to have conversations with each other. It is the next step beyond collision, which focuses on people resolving their own friction. As a result, the company has seen a direct correlation in the satisfaction scores from hosts and guests who have resolved their own issues without AirBnB intervening.
When it comes to design – think about your back-end as frictionless and your front-end as creating those experiences, which are carefully designed as friction.
The theme around the convergence of frictionless technology with human-centred design climaxed when Jayse Hansen, creator of the Iron Man Interface, got on stage with Meron Grebetz, creator of Meta 2 development Kit, in their curiously titled Iron Man Interfaces: The Next Generation UX presentation. Hansen, unable to build on existing OS due to licence restrictions, has teamed up with Grebetz to test the capabilities of Augmented Reality. The result of their partnership is a headset, which Grebetz demonstrated on stage. Using the headset, he was able to manipulate a 3D brain to millimetre precision, as well as dial in his CTO, who appeared in front of him as a hologram, to collaborate on the manipulation of the brain together. To finish the presentation, Grebetz promised that by SXSW 2017 he will have removed all computer monitors from his office, which he believes diminishes collaboration.
Although the last example is still far away for most of us, we can start to think about how we create human-centred experiences which involve a frictionless back-end and a carefully crafted front-end that creates experiences through friction.
Have questions or want more information, contact us at [email protected].