We were more than overbooked for the second event on the Brand Perfect Tour – and when I took a look around the fully occupied rows, it seemed that everyone managed to make it!
Alexander Schröder from Landor Associates opened the event by talking about brand strategies for digital media. Today the communication of brands is a public affair that’s no longer under the control of the owner of the trademark. Holistic brand management means to manage the brand experience in terms of communication, structure and behavior which demands corporate engagement from the top down and engineering throughout the organization, not just in the marketing department. Read more from Alexander at his blog.
Phillip Clement from bemoko (multi-platform software and Web development) then took the platform to talk about the challenges of fragmentation where brands only function on certain devices. He mentioned the Financial Times app which works just fine on the iPad® device but not on the iPhone® device. Twenty percent of customers are okay with that, but most aren’t, so the brand experience is damaged. We learn that “dead ends,” which are rarely found on the Web, are still normal in the mobile domain. Although there is a focus on the iOS® and the Android™ operating system, in addition to a few other major platforms, we’re unable to control to which extent operating systems and appliances penetrate the market. It’s always a moving target. Also the number of browsers is increasing…
Nadine Chahine’s talk about type and usability in new media started with a focus on brand interaction which is essential for the user and therefore essential for the brand’s reach. Superbrands or “love marks” work on an emotional level, but how do you get there? Apple, for instance, stimulates the same part of its “disciples’” brains as religious images do in the brains of their believers. The answer is through distinctiveness, unity, simplicity, design, authenticity and being the fastest to get attention.
And what role does typography play in all of this? Typography is the voice with which everything is being communicated. If you mess this up, you risk rupture between what you’re trying to say and the way you’re saying it. In the worst case, bad typography can give you a headache…The consistency of a brand’s personality is exuded through typographic consistency…“You don’t change horses in the middle of the race!” says Nadine. Every typeface has a personality, and you should choose the personality which fits best to the brand.
Johannes Schardt, Dan Reynolds, Louisa Heinrich and Alexander Schröder took part in the panel debate.
How important is interaction in the brand’s theme?
Alexander Schröder: – “BMW is a good example – the average driver of the BMW 7-Series is suddenly no longer 70 but 49 years old – the original target group was lost as it was now only buying Mercedes! Ergo: You can no longer rest on what you used to know; you continuously have to adapt your brand to the present circumstances.”
The lion’s share of a brand identity consists of its color and type. If these remain consistent, they help the brand become very familiar. But a brand is an experience. A cool logo doesn’t help when a company appears to be, for example, unethical.
“The graphic game with the personality of the brand plays an important role but it isn’t everything,” says Dan Reynolds. After that came the heretical question, whether a logo in the Verdana® typeface would then be okay: “The question isn’t whether Verdana is good or bad but whether we still need it today or whether we want to focus our attention on other typefaces,” says Dan.
The conclusion is: It’s important to question your brand’s (digital) presentation constantly for appropriateness every day.
Louisa Heinrich from Fjord then delivered her take on “where the brand breaks.”
“Today the brand has come home via mobile appliances and is no longer controllable, thanks to Facebook and Co. Stop stressing out about consistency – start thinking about context around your brand, because only 10 percent of a conversation is coming from what I say. The other 90 percent are coming from my body language or the color of my eyes. So for me personally, context is also the business of my friends to which I’m linked, the place I’m at, what I need, where I’ll be going. Technologically speaking, it’s the appliance, the operating system, the access point…”
People want to have control; there’s a lot of static noise in the world. All day long, we’re considering which content seems relevant to us. And we no longer read everything. Whatever we find exciting, we share with our network. If you’re doing it right as a brand, you’re supporting this current phenomenon. But many brands which are using, for example, Facebook, are the equivalent to the so-called “party buggers” who are eavesdropping on the door and then come in yelling “but that’s not right!” It’s also important that the digital brand experience goes with the brand: If a brand like BMW, which is associated with fast cars does something digitally slow, the brand loses its authenticity.
Louisa’s conclusion is: 1. design for context; 2. design for a brand in action; 3. design digital DNA.
After lunch delegates joined three master classes.
Working in small groups in a workshop, “strategies for multiscreen interaction,” led by the Hamburg design studio, precious, the delegates got involved in designing a customer Journey for the family Reifberger. How were they going to organize their holiday? What inspires them? What needs do they have when being on holiday and what is happening after the holiday?
Subsequently, delegates developed a new digital travel service together called the “Travel Butler.” The Travel Butler is discreet, always there when you need it, competent, elegant and sophisticated. Which applications and features does the Travel Butler offer? How can you integrate at least three different devices in a holiday cycle? What makes sense on a smartphone, on a personal computer, on a tray or on TV? Which needs are being met with the application, which problems are being solved with it? And how does the application work? What could the interface look like?
Dan Reynolds explained the different challenges we face using type on the Web and the practical considerations for applying typography in different environments. Using a tool to quickly show how selecting a different typeface can completely change the balance and tone of a Web page, delegates experienced Web fonts first hand. You can try too at www.webfontspreview.com.
The final class was “Times New Romance” – typo diversity in the Web. Alexander Polzin and Frank Gruber of Fork Unstable Media asked the question, “Do you only want to watch or program with us?” (The answer was watching…) was a trip into the world of Web fonts that illustrated the clear advantages of applying fine typography to communications and the challenges different rendering environments pose.
On to New York City next…