Most of the brands are looking for not only an online presence but also an omnichannel foray. How does holistic design and strategy firm capitalize on this landscape?
Technology enabled experiences have been one of the fastest growing parts of our business. When we look at it through the lens of a brand, and then we consider how every interaction with the brand can be optimized, we’ve almost gotten to the point where everything you can imagine , technology can enable that to happen.
Given that we can get data on customer behavior in every way, shape or form, it’s all too easy to assume that all you need is you take all that data and you turn it into a consumer experience .
But I think the danger with that is we’ve all got access to the same data. We will increasingly commoditize that experience. There would be nothing different and hence nothing memorable for the consumer.
We’ve been talking a lot lately about scannable brands, connected brands. And who knew it would take a pandemic to get everyone working on how to use QR codes? But when you think about it through the lens of a brand, you think about the opportunities to put QR codes on packaging and therefore, the opportunity to deliver a highly personalized experience to the consumer who is in the right mindset.
You think of a data base, a smart platform that can inform how each of your interactions can change and be personalized. It’s the kind of stuff that’s a little mind-blowing, and you start to realize that the principles remain the same. The mechanics will just keep changing at a rapid pace.
And in a world of connected brands. QR codes themselves are in danger of being commoditized…
We’re already experimenting with other ways in which you can identify and unlock the Gateway, turning it into an experience through sacred design assets such as the shape of a Coca Cola bottle. I imagine things like this will provide a way forward.
Consumers globally have now become used to scanning. I think we’ve barely touched the surface on providing a truly rich, vivid, dynamic, personalized experience. So that’s really exciting.
A few days ago a CMO pointed out the similarity in the boarding passes of the planes. There’s a lot of real estate, yet, not a single airline has managed to make a difference…
not yet. I am agree with you. What technology has allowed us to do in terms of serving the experience, I think the world is going to be a really different place even in a year from a brand perspective.
What would be your top predictions on how the world is going to be different?
Certainly, I’m seeing opportunities for scalable brand experiences. It is almost limitless. I think the opportunities that exist in that space are going to be a big game changer. One of the other things we’ve talked about lately, everybody’s talking about the Metaverse.
I think from a brand perspective, I think the metaverse, the pandemic, the rise of corporate empathy, there are a lot of factors that are going on, it shows that if brands are to fully embrace themselves including their vulnerability , then we’re going to see some interesting breakthroughs.
I think vulnerability as an equity is going to be interesting. And brands really embracing both their strengths and their weaknesses and being transparent and honest, I think that’s going to be another interesting development over the course of this year. And I also think maybe the last piece for us, which is great news for the world, is how much customers are really embracing sustainability and accessibility in their design choices.
We’ve put a lot of time and energy into really understanding the opportunities to make design a positive force, to help our customers embrace sustainability, to bring all consumers into one brand. These are the things that really matter to the team and really motivate the team. And I’ve certainly noticed a shift in recent months, that these things matter to customers as well. I think whatever data we see, consumers are demanding it, and the customers who are delivering it will win.
How is the whole game plan coming together on uniformity of experience across channels? Do brands leave much to be desired on this front?
I think there was a long period where the industry was striving for consistency, matching accessories, everything having to be the same, policing brands etc. I remember the manuals that had directions. It was all about sticking to them, don’t deviate. I think it’s all over. And I think what we’re trying to do with our customers is to achieve consistency and successfully modify brands according to the time in which you’re interacting with them.
So it’s really about what is the core of your brand. So you can modify it to suit the circumstances in which people come in contact with the brand. And it requires a great understanding of the customer journey and knowing who you are as a brand.
Do you think that while consumers are also talking about responsible data collection, the focus will soon shift to responsible design?
I don’t know if this is necessarily limited to design. I think it’s like the whole brand ecosystem. When you start seeing brands like Levi’s that encourage you to buy less and love your brand more, I think that’s the way the world is headed, one hundred percent. And brands that are becoming more responsible are being praised more. And I think we’re going to see a lot more of that.
From Levi’s point of view, is this also his strategy? It’s about killing two birds with one stone, isn’t it? You foster lifelong loyalty to a brand, and do it in a responsible way. And then you’re taking the fight in fast fashion.
If you want to be successful, you have to take a responsible position. It should not be just a matter of compliance. But now it is becoming a competitive advantage. The change in mindset is really starting to happen.
What are the big issues that global CEOs are raising in your interactions with them?
Big question. There are many buckets. Now we can give our customers certainty about brand decisions. So it’s definitely something that we talk about with a lot of our customers, we have a really strong brand performance team.
When I first started in this industry, we used to recommend stuff based on a very limited amount of data. Now, we can predictively model the outcome of any brand decision. So I think that gives a lot of comfort to our customers. Not only are we going to creatively bring a relevant and differentiated brand to them, but we will give them the assurance that the return on investment will be there. So I think there’s definitely going to be a bucket.
The other area is really about the opportunities that have arisen as a result of technology-led changes in the environment, a changed outlook as a result of the pandemic, all of these factors. What does it mean now to be competitive in the future?
We have also seen boutique design and consultancy agencies offering services at extremely competitive prices. How do big brands like yours stand out?
It would be ironic if we didn’t practice what we preach. I think we know who we are. Our gifting is about connecting business strategy with brand strategy and expressing that clearly through design. This is the core of who we are. We have an unusual mix of abilities. So in a sense, we don’t need to overclaim because there are very few companies that can get everything in one place.