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SXSW Day 4: Branded Cities, Tech for Tech's Sake and Creating a Purpose-Driven Brand by Design

Clemenger Group Australia and New Zealand's crack-team with another daily update from SXSW 2018 in Austin, Texas

SXSW Day 4: Branded Cities, Tech for Tech's Sake and Creating a Purpose-Driven Brand by Design

Branded Cities: Can we avoid an urban dystopia?

Cities are emerging as labs of innovation. Governments are struggling to manage the rapid pace of change, while brands push to play a greater role in developing urban environments. Branded cities are unavoidable, according to Trevor Hardy from The Future Laboratory.

The question is: where will our urban environments end up? A branded utopia or commercial dystopia? There are three ways developments could go: Preferred, Probable and Potential.

The Preferred City would see brands take over entire urban communities, like the Google Sidewalk Lab - the first neighbourhood developed from the internet up as a blueprint for other cities. Citizens could vote which brand is awarded part of their infrastructure, like the Nike Run App owning the morning school run. This transparent brand/citizen collaboration could also see the city rearrange overnight as it constantly optimises to provide a better service.

The Probable City result will be more of a trade-off between brands and citizens. Data would be exchanged for better services and resources. In this scenario brands will be in charge of the infrastructure, which could mean self-preference and the charging of other brands to be part of the experience.
 
In the Potential City scenario, the power is weighted towards the brand. Consumers may need to pay for favourable access, such as public space. Which could mean the socio-economic divide would widen.

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Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 12.06.16 pm.jpgThe Trade Hall: The good, the weird and the why?

The trade hall at SXSW is a hotbed of companies, start-ups, universities, cities and countries all trying to sit at the forefront of the cutting-edge. With over 300 exhibitors you could spend the whole festival trying to speak to them all. But it's a bit of a gamble whether your effort will be worth it.

Some of these booths create really interesting and compelling products and sales pitches. But a good portion of them miss the mark entirely. It's a mix of the fascinating, the new and the utterly useless. Some good examples included scalable VR gaming environments by Brazilian start-up Arkave and the new 3D printing technologies being developed at the University of Texas. However, some shonky lemons included a clunky,Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 12.06.36 pm.jpg wearable helicopter exoskeleton called Lunavity that's entire purpose was just to increase your vertical leap. Not to mention the twerking, grinding robotic arm that had a 40-inch LCD display at the top for no other reason than to display seductive anime eyes.

While there's a lot of "tech for tech's sake" in the SXSW Trade Hall, one of the best things about it is chatting with exhibitors about their local markets and their ambitious applications for their (occasionally misguided) tech. If you want to be confused, inspired and entertained all at the same time--or just want a weird talking point--it's a must see at SXSW.

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Animation in UX: the subconscious influence of motion
 
55% of what we understand in a conversation is from non-verbal cues, like body language. So, what happens when we can't rely on body language, like when we're engaging with others online?
 
Lead UX Strategist for Allstate Online Marketing, Katie Swindler, suggests that we can use motion to fill this gap. The argument is that, when online, animation subconsciously gives the user better understanding of the content, UI and brand personality. Swindler went on to clarify that a "Brand" is not just a logo or colours or type, but a decision-making tool. It is the promises we make to our users.  A promise we are responsible for delivering on, no matter how small the interaction.

Ok, so what do we need to do?
 
We need to:

•    Make the experience easy for the user,
•    Reduce clutter.
•    Make the experience (at least seem) fast through embracing the new "Optimistic UI" approach by assuming success. Oh, and don't make the user sit through a loading screen - it's just disrespectful to your consumers.
•    Tell a story - they are up to 22x more memorable than facts alone.
•    Celebrate progress.
 
Of course, this is all dependant on whether or not we stay with interface interactions. But whatever the case, if we're not leveraging interface animations, then we're missing a critical component of great UX design.
 
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Creating a purpose-driven brand by design
 
R/GA Chicago ECD AJ Hassan--the mind behind Throw Like a Girl--and Todd Kaplan, PepsiCo VP of Marketing spoke to us about purpose driven marketing in the context of launching "WTR", a new PepsiCo water product.
 
LIFEWTR's #ArtByAWoman campaign is a case study of how a global brand can execute a purpose-driven strategy in an authentic, organic way. The platform came from the insight that 51% of working visual artists today are women, but they only make up 5% of permanent collections. This campaign engaged, promoted, and integrated with the product - ensuring and creating a $200MIL brand in a $16BIL (domestic) bottled water category.

Clemenger BBDO Australia_SXSW 2018-WEB.jpgThis campaign, which included a Super Bowl commercial and New York City activation, forged a long-standing brand platform immediately. The US market may have scale on its side, but creating a $200 million brand in 12 months is no mean feat. Bravo.

Daily SXSW 2018 highlights are brought to you by, Sabrina Riedel, Emma Tait, Brendan (Bob) Forster, Fraser (Franklin) Nelson, and Ben Kidney pictured above.
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