1. Digital is not a medium; it is the age we are living in.
Digital-first brands are intentionally designing to be distinctive, relevant and active. Distinctive in their approach to storytelling, relevant by becoming personal and meaningful, and active by understanding social media has changed the frequency of interaction to real-time. As such, consumers now expect responsiveness from brands and digital is one of the only mediums to allow for this. Facebook recognised the importance that storytelling will play in a brand’s online identity. The new timeline feature will force brands to look not only at their past but also tell a ‘tell a story’ through the conversations on their page. Even through other brands that they ‘like’.
Digital-first brands recognise that technology can help them tell a better story, allowing their brand to exists within that experience. These brands play with interaction and engagement. They don’t do this by sprinkling some ‘social salt’ on top of a TV campaign or adding some ‘digital spend’ to tick a box. They understanding their customers behavior online and using multiple channels, technologies and interfaces to tell a better story, providing value of some sort.
2. Maybe, “ad-agency” is a dirty word.
There is no question where the innovation in technology is coming from. Brands when striving for innovation seem to always be on the back foot and agencies are simply not re-creating and re-inventing themselves enough to lead innovation. By lifting my head up from my clients business and immersing myself in the hungry start-ups world, I learnt that in comparison, these young, resourceful fearless entrepreneurs are quick to adapt and learn. They are about building for the long-term and for their own idea’s investment. They take serious risks in a sea of uncertainty and maybe as a result, with learnings applied over and over again, their ideas can shift the World to a new way of thinking, doing or ‘playing’. As an agency, we need to not be afraid to fail, measure our mistakes, build and learn from them.
3. We need a new agency structure.
What happens when you put a technologist, a developer and a creative in a room?
I believe at the very least you will drive debate and foster an approach that does not live and die by a TV, outdoor or online idea. We will develop more rounded multi-platform ideas based on user experience and behavior; ideas that integrate open source, real-time data, new technologies, platforms and story telling. These are the ideas that change the game. Ideas that can be useful, entertaining and insightful.
Technology and our love for it are simply moving too fast for the old-World agency structure to yield new-World ideas. Designers are strategic, engineers innovative and as such, traditional creatives need to understand platforms, limitations of code and APIs. As Rei Inamoto said at SXSW, agencies need to encourage a structure where there is a hacker, hustler and hipster all working on a brief. Where the process is no longer linear and strategy, storytelling and software can integrate and collaborate.
4. Test, test and test again. Then quantify feedback and test again.
Design for interaction is about being iterative. A brand has the opportunity to live in the interface between brand and consumer not just on it. To do this, a brand must understand behavior, become responsive and test for every eventuality. Only then can the resulting solution be rooted in the needs and desires of the target audience or community. Eric Ries’ celebrated “Lean Start-Up” method talks of releasing a interactive design product before its ready. The product is built to think but launched to learn. Initial feedback on the product is viewed as only one source of information, so can only allow for only one design solution. So Ries adapted the product to the opposite of that requested in feedback for the next round of testing. Just like Obama’s UX designers tested web button copy and positioning during his electoral campaign, Ries promotes running behavioral experiments on your audience, focusing on the data of behavioral results. With data based on a scientific approach to interactive design, your success will be determined on your ability to listen to multiple sources of feedback and turn this around quickly and effectively.
5. How iconic brands tell stories.
If a brand exists within the experience, then storytelling should play a key role in enhancing that experience. Clever and iconic brands understand this through not only playing out different chapters in different media channels but also reconciling the tension within the story. Nike tell their story through the experience and identity of sporting heroes, moments and events. They understand a great story cannot be sustainable if constantly shrouded in tension. Sometimes, with Nike you don’t win silver, you lose gold and as such, audiences want to see what will happen next. Amazon is another great example, though not so much telling it’s own story, it allows the stories of it’s customers in the form of reviews to create the experience. As content begins to play to play more of a role within the strategies of brands, it will be interesting to see brands and their custodians design stories that can offer real value to their audience.
6. Data is beautiful…
Good data visualisation enables you to take information very quickly and process it. You can architect pause for thought by controlling the speed to which the viewer digests the story. As data becomes real-time and open-source platforms allow for mash-ups to answer any need or desire, data visualisation offers brands another opportunity to tell their story. Whether it’s using circulation data from the Harvard library over the past 100 years http://librarylab.law.harvard.edu or the incredible stories that Scandinavian-based production house Miuta create using data http://vimeo.com/miuta brands have the opportunity to harvest another channel for storytelling. Data that is relevant, useful and or entertaining will allow for a deeper, richer brand experience.
via Alexa @Mediacomlabs