HOW Design 2010 in review: Part two

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This is a continuation of HOW Design 2010 in review: Part one.

I am attending the HOW Design Conference 2010 in Denver, Colorado. Below is a quick overview of the four sessions I attended on Tuesday.

HOW Design Conference 2010

9:00 am-10:15 am – 19. Why We Brand, Why We BuyDebbie Millman
Dive deep into the influence branding has on our everyday lives as Sterling Brands’ Debbie Millman looks at branding’s role in the products we buy and the way we live. You’ll explore the five waves of modern branding, traits that help modern brands stand out, the connection between branding and our most basic instincts, and more.

  • A historical look at our relationship with brands.
  • Backlash branding/consumerism movements: No Logo, AdBusters, Buy Nothing Day, etc. But even these movements have logos and marketing.
  • Great Leap Forward.
  • Cultural universals: language, art, music, cooking, self-decoration. Toolmaking. These universals fall into two categories: Making and Marking.
  • Reuters the news service began with carrier pigeons that beat the railroad in delivery time. At the time there were no logos on anything.
  • The noun brand originated in 1010 AD in the epic Anglo Saxon poem Beowulf. Mark or destroy by a physical impression. Then hot-iron branding on livestock.
  • Brands as we know them originated in the late 19th century with the advent of packaged goods. The trademarks registration act went into effect on January 1, 1876; brands became legally recognized, kind of copyrighted. First registered trademark: Bass Ale.
  • There are over 100 brands of nationally advertised water and contact lenses.
  • 5 waves of modern brand evolution: each ushered in a new class of brands:
    • Wave 1 (1875-1920): Brands as guarantors of consistency no matter the location (meanwhile: Industrial Revolution apex; beginning of homogeny). Leaders were food brands: Campbell’s Soup, Quaker Oats, Coca-Cola. Convenience and efficiency.
    • Wave 2 (1920-1965): Brands as guarantors of quality. FDA act. Every device and label could not mislead or deceive. The consumer is legally entitled to buy brands that are honest and safe. Metaphor begins to show up in brands. Morton’s salt – humans enjoy figuring out puzzles. We feel good about ourselves when we figure it out.
    • Wave 3 (1965-1985): Brands as expressive statements. Cultural revolution: 1960s. Brands expresses a certain social cache. You expect that a brand will express a status: Levi’s, Marlboro, VW Beetle, etc. People wear brands to fit in.
    • Wave 4 (1985-2000): Brands signifying an experience. Expecting an emotional transformation: Nike, MTV. Brand zealots are first born; people who will only wear that brand.
      • Human needs: food, shelter, reproduction, survival. We have a collective tendency to organize ourselves in some kind of pack, like many animals. We feel safer and more secure in groups.
      • We use all sorts of things to signify that we belong to a group. Most pervasive pack organization of all is the family. Given the choice, a baby will choose the connection with their mother over food (attachment theory). Emotional attachment is a profound human need. Demographic change from married to single households.
      • The path to wave 5. Our brains have invented new frameworks to connect. New social networking communities. Brands and websites to create connections.
    • Wave 5 (2000 – present): limbic brands: brands as guarantors of connection.
  • Lifestraw: make dirty water drinkable anywhere.
  • Making and marking is simply an evolution or a trajectory of invention.

10:45 am-Noon – 22. How to Sell Your Ideas to Bosses, Clients and Other Decision-Makers REPEATSam Harrison
It’s not enough to have a great idea, if you can’t also sell that idea to your boss or a group of clients. Join Sam Harrison as he shares his time-tested methods for connecting with decision-makers, putting together winning pitches and sharpening your presentation skills.

  • This is not rocket science, this is rapport science. Develop a relationship with your decision makers and know them. A pitch is a story. And behind the story is energy.
  • “If they birthed it, they can’t kill it.” – when decision makers are involved, they begin to take ownership of the idea. It becomes their idea too.
  • What does the decision maker see when s/he looks at our ideas? What are their needs and wants? What is their life outside of business. The more you know about them, the more you can connect your ideas to their life and interests.
  • Buyer Bench: Are they unaware/aware of the concept you’re trying to present? Do they understand/accept? Are they ready to buy? Do they need education first before you make your pitch? Ask open-ended questions to get a feel for where they stand and what they’re thinking? Ask “how come” questions like an uninhibited kid.
  • The last question to ask before you leave a room is: What else should I be asking here? What did I forget to ask? And really listen.
  • Know your decision maker’s business. What’s important to them? What do they read?
  • Every presentation is a performance and a story. This comes with expectations from your audience. Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself. Have confidence and poise. Know the room, because it’s one less thing for you mind to have to go through. Practice your presentation until you know it so well that it sounds spontaneous. Never give handouts because they’re distracting, but do give comprehensive leave-behinds for people to take with them and sell their bosses with.
  • Five big secrets/tips, adapted from Winston Churchill:
    1. Have one theme (one big idea) and have it locked in your mind. What’s the payoff of the idea? What do you want to have happen? Be able to pitch it in two or three lines, because it will help you focus and give you confidence. A pitch is a story and a story has a beginning, a middle and an end and flows sequentially or linearly.
    2. Have a strong start. Get management in the moment by starting a pitch in one of six ways: tell a story, ask a question, cite a fact, use a quote, tie it into objectives, straight talk. Do not open with, “You’re going to LOVE this idea!”
    3. Use simple language. Not simple-minded, but concise. A decision-maker will never wish that you talked longer. Three R’s: Reduce, Round, Relate (to something else). Show charts in a fun, appealing, artistic way if you have to use them. Avoid bullet points! Don’t make them read your slide. Have a few takeaway/money lines/zingers that are memorable.
    4. Paint pictures. With your words and your supporting images. Does this plant images in your decision-maker’s mind? Example: MLK’s I Have a Dream speech. Help clients visualize your ideas as reality. Use personal stories. Make sure you have some emotion, some human qualities to your pitches.
    5. Add drama. Every pitch is a story and every story has drama/anticipation. Use appropriate drama. Appropriate drama works if: (1) DM appreciates drama, (2) Know DM’s wants and needs, (3) You have credibility
  • “First show them what they want. Then show them what you want them to have.” – Paul Arden
  • We’ve got another one that builds on your objectives and ideas.
  • Once you’ve sold something, shut up and get out of the room. Don’t buy it back.
  • Presentations are all about energy and energy is all matter and all matter is energy. If you people to understand you, get to understand them. If you want people to be nervous, be nervous around them. If you’re confident and passionate, you’re going somewhere.
  • Selling is a transfer of enthusiasm. Passion is not the quantity of emotion, but the quality/quantity of commitment.
  • If you have an idea, possess and own it both.

2:00 pm-3:15 pm – 30. Developing Personal StyleEleanor Grosch
It can be tough to keep track of your personal style—but doing so will make you a happier, more creative person. Eleanor Grosch will explain how she’s built her entire career around her personal style, and show you how to simplify your message and find a style that suits your strengths.

  • Her style: simple animals. Other people work this way. What do I bring to the style? There’s a thin line between inspiration and imitation.
  • See: Gigposters.com. Charley Harper, mid-century modern designer. Alexander Gerard. Paul Rand. Etsy. Grainedit.com. ohjoy.blogspot.com
  • What is personal style?
    • Visual elements: color, line, form, size, shading, etc. There is a limit to the elements; it’s how you combine them!
    • A mix of what you like and who you are.
    • Where did you start? Her: Miro, Celtic knotwork (abstracted and stylized animals), The Dark Ages (didn’t like Renaissance art), Habitat skateboard art (Alien Workshop skateboards too), animals, line vs. texture.
    • What did you like?
  • The Gigposters Era:
    • Examples: Methane Studios, The Heads of State, Jason Munn
    • Distilling a message down to the basics
    • Which ones draw you in?
  • Take something people are familiar with and do something unexpected with it.
    • Who’s work do you admire? Pay attention to what you love.
  • Her website: Just Eleanor

3:45 pm-5:00 pm – 32. Three. Word. Taglines. (And Other Horrible Branding Practices)Tate Linden
Join veteran brander Tate Linden as he debunks numerous traditional branding myths. You’ll learn why choosing what instinctively sounds or looks good is usually the wrong path, why consensus is irrelevant, and how even the most experienced branders abide by rules destined to make projects fail—and what you can do to improve your odds of success.

  • Three. Word. Taglines. And other horrid branding practices that are holding you back.
  • Stop the Suck
  • Act I: The Written Rules
    • “I deliver crappy work because that’s what the clients tell me they want.” Challenge it and you can add value.
    • My opinion, though interesting, is entirely irrelevant.
    • When you don’t rock the boat, you don’t learn what matters. We learn something when you reach. When you have a brand that hasn’t been tested and fought over, you don’t know what’s going to happen when you get it into the wild.
    • Instinct is a new connection between dots that already exist, not the creation of new dots.
    • Instinct […] is largely memory in disguise – Robert B. via @cameronmoll
  • Act II: The Unwritten Rules
    • Clients think they know, but they don’t know. We have to educate everybody. Clients get comfortable rather than effective.
    • The FAINTS System – helps a client understand what makes a strong brand
      1. Fidelity – depending on the deliverable, fidelity means that it fits you and should be exclusively you
      2. Availability – check Google and check culturally
      3. Intangibles – the artsy stuff; one of the least important aspects of your brand; how does it look on the page, how does it make me feel (the soft stuff); what sounds good; it feels right for your marketplace
      4. Need – the one thing you need, not just for the overall brand, but would make you fail if it misses (all clients complain about this)
      5. Tangibles – words, spelling, do I actually know what that is, length of tagline and name, etc.
      6. Strategy – differentiation in the marketplace; the Marketing Well, how many things can we do with this that matter
    • Poking brands with sticks, igniting brands
    • See Art & Copy movie.
    • Decider’s remorse – after you make a decision about your brand.
    • Tell clients where the process is going to be hard and they will respect you for it. Don’t hide the ugly parts of the process. Make going off the rails part of the process.
    • “I can live with that” and “If no one objects…” means you failed. That means no one cares about your brand. This is the sound of settling.
    • Consensus is the enemy of great brands. Only agree on where you need to reach, but not the process by which you get there.
    • The opposite of a brand that you love it not a brand that you hate, it’s a brand that you know about but don’t care.
  • Act III: The Suck
    • Acronyms: If you’re going to the effort of hiding your identity, I’ll give you the satisfaction of no one being able to find it. Acronyms do not work.
    • We need to know who the real decider is and get access to them; the people who actually know what is going on.
      1. Beauty is Easy (and has become a commodity).
      2. Meaning is Hard.
      3. Adding Value is Harder.
    • You can’t sell it without 2 and 3. Beautiful/cool goes out of style.
    • “It’s not your talent that’s holding your back. It’s your ability to influence my decisions.”
    • No one has ever won an award with a three-word tagline. They’re forgettable. (They’re only internally meaningful.) They’re shortcuts. They’re conceited. (Why should I care? I have no reason to be invested in that.) (A three-word tagline is an excellent reminder to everyone internally as to why we’re here.)
    • These work:
      • Just do it. – Nike
      • Faith. Works. Wonders. – Catholic Charities
  • Find Tate on Twitter: @Thingnamer and @Stokefire

Continue to HOW Design 2010 in review: Part three »

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