Emotive Brand San Francisco brand strategy firm Thu, 17 Sep 2020 16:53:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 /wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-EB_SocialMediaIcon_03.10.17-45x45.png Emotive Brand 32 32 Health Care Brands: How to Strengthen your Brand While You Wait for Your Digital Transformation /healthcare-brands-digital-transformation/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss /healthcare-brands-digital-transformation/#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2020 13:00:15 +0000 /?p=38932

Room for Digital Transformation for Health Care Brands You’ve probably had a friend tell you about her amazing physician. But did you ever hear anyone brag about their health insurer? Unlikely. Overall, individuals are pretty happy about the quality of care. What they complain about is customer service. According to the Advisory Board, the top […]

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Room for Digital Transformation for Health Care Brands

You’ve probably had a friend tell you about her amazing physician. But did you ever hear anyone brag about their health insurer? Unlikely.

Overall, individuals are pretty happy about the quality of care. What they complain about is customer service. According to the Advisory Board, the top patient complaints include: communication (53%), long wait times (35%), medical practice staff (12%), and billing (2%).

Fortunately, powerful organizations—companies who see shortcomings in today’s system—recognize the room for improvement. The triumvirate of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase say they want to disrupt healthcare and we all eagerly await their solution.

Of course, the existing system operates at a disadvantage to the growing cohort of startups. These companies have no legacy technology baggage and are digital-first. Fitbit, Apple, and Omada Health offer individuals new ways to manage their overall fitness and health. Others focus on corporations and companies—the major healthcare payers – that watch the costs of care for their employees rise exponentially. For example, Collective Health helps self-insured companies manage their healthcare investment and support operations. Another, Lyra, helps companies and their employees connect directly to mental health providers.

Don’t Wait Around for Transformation, Start Strengthening Your Brand Now

Not all health care companies have the luxury of starting with an all digital approach. In fact, the biggest, most important players don’t. It’s why traditional healthcare providers, insurance companies, hospitals, and clinics are all in the midst of a digital transformation. This doesn’t mean, though, that they—or you—should wait until after a this transformation is complete before you start making changes to your brand.

Take the opportunity to strengthen your brand so your customers are still there when you make that transformation a reality. Here’s how.

1. Make the Process Feel Good

A great place to start when looking to build a better process is to think about how you want to make people feel. Maybe your customers now feel frustrated? Unconfident? Even anxious? How can you make them feel optimistic? Even calm and confident?

The midst of a transition is the perfect time to start thinking about this. Focus on building a more frictionless process and making quick changes across the board that make for a more positive experience.

Ask questions like: How can we make it easier for customers to access the information they need? How can we better understand how they can prevent illness? Get in touch with a doctor or nurse when they need? Or even pay a bill more quickly and easily? Can we communicate with less complicated, more human language? Can we better train our people to act with empathy and patience?

It’s these small changes that will help build the frictionless experience people now demand from the brands they pledge loyalty to. And making the experience feel good can sustain your brand and ensure you keep your customers while you’re in the midst of a digital transformation. They’ll be committed to you, and delighted when you do transform.

2. Behave Consistently

It’s great when a health care brand says they “care about their patients”. But when a customer calls and has to go through multitudes of layers just to get a terse answer to their question and can’t even understand the coverage they signed up for months before, the brand loses credibility.

So while you’re in this transition, ask yourself what promises you make your customers. Are you living up to those? How can you better behave at every touchpoint? How can you really act like you care?

People don’t want the health care brands they buy into to be unpredictable. And businesses in the middle of change tend to let all rules go to the wayside. Just because you’re in the middle of digital disruption, doesn’t mean you don’t need guidelines for the present. Behave in line with your core values and make sure your behavior at every touchpoint lives up to what you promise the people you want by your side when you do transform.

3. Employees – Activate Small Wins

As your company invests in cutting-edge technology, dedicates time and resources to innovation, and prepares itself for a digital transformation, it’s integral that employees know and understand what’s important right now.

Leaving employees behind for a future state that is yet to come is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. When you are clear and transparent with employees about what they should be focusing in on and why, they can activate small wins.

It’s easy to think that change comes in one fell swoop. But small, incremental changes can make worlds of difference—especially in struggling industries with low trust, low convenience, and low brand loyalty. Employees are the people who are going to build that trust, leverage that convenience, and help build loyalty. Look to them and communicate with them about what matters.

There’s Always Need for Improvement

Health care is ripe for disruption because people want something more. Whether it’s a frictionless experience, a more empathetic brand, or a clearer and easier way forward, you can start delivering people what they want while you’re in the midst of a digital transformation. Ask yourself what should happen while you wait. What can you do to make improvements today?

Consider how you can better behave, better connect, and better build meaning with the people most important to your business. And dedicate time, energy, and resources to making those changes. Small changes can bring big rewards. By focusing on what you can change now, you’ll be more ready for digital disruption later—with a better process, a better way of communication, a better strategy, and better people behind you.

If you need help creating and implementing strategic change, please reach out.

Other posts you may enjoy on the subject are Digital Health: A Future With Millennials, and Why Digital Health Brands Need a B2B2C Strategy

Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design agency in Oakland, California.

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How to Spot a Great Logo and the Impact of Superliminal Design /spotting-a-great-logo/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss /spotting-a-great-logo/#respond Thu, 10 Sep 2020 04:31:19 +0000 http://staging.emotivebrand.flywheelsites.com/?p=47619

Logo Spotting A great logo hits hard. It has a solid impact with the impression of an untouchable work of art that stays with you whether you like it or not. The best logos tickle your brain a little bit and that brain tickle is what we in the design biz call superliminal design. What […]

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Logo Spotting

A great logo hits hard. It has a solid impact with the impression of an untouchable work of art that stays with you whether you like it or not. The best logos tickle your brain a little bit and that brain tickle is what we in the design biz call superliminal design.

What Is Superliminal Design?

Superliminal design is something that brand designers specifically strive for in their work. It’s the distillation of an idea down to its most obvious form which might sound a little heady so let’s break down the philosophy behind superliminal design and explore it in the following visual examples.

From Subliminal to Superliminal

Logo

When interacting with a brand there are 3 different levels of awareness: subliminal, liminal, and superliminal. Each of them plays a very specific role in brand design and our waking consciousness.

Subliminal design comes into play with things like color choice.

Take a moment to view the swatches collection below.

How do you feel when you let your eyes relax on them? What connotations come up for you? Are there certain memories that are triggered? What about smells? Associations with people? Subliminal triggers lie beneath the surface of your awareness but still elicit a response within your mind.

Let’s bring this example into the liminal space—the space in the mind where it can sync the message and the awareness of the mind.

As we begin to name and codify entities, we bring awareness to them and our consciousness recognizes them as discrete and concrete associations. The introduction of text into a system can bring the subliminal message to the forefront of our waking consciousness, making it exist in the liminal space.

The thing about liminal space is that it’s very easy to manipulate, and it’s very obvious when the manipulation happens. Here is the same set of subliminal colors, but a different set of liminal classifications can alter the associations.

Ascending to the Superliminal

Human beings have a keen skill of employing abstraction when it comes to distilling complex ideas that take too long to explain in liminal space, and are too unwieldy to communicate subliminally. We have to work in the superliminal in order to get huge ideas across quickly and succinctly.

In contrast to the subliminal which exists below awareness, superliminal exists above awareness. It’s one of those things that are right in front of you, but you haven’t seen it yet. It’s like looking for your lost keys for an hour then realizing they’ve been in your hand the whole time. It’s the puzzle and the solution presented at the same time, but you still get that shot of dopamine when you solve it.

Brain

Humans have been doing this for over 40,000 years by creating abstract symbols that capture everything from spiritual philosophy, education systems, and scientific endeavors. However, it takes a highly skilled person to create something in the superliminal space that is cogent enough to be understood on all 3 levels of awareness.

Superliminal Logo: Moveworks

The Moveworks logo is constructed out of 1 geometric shape. This 1 shape is repeated and rotated until a form emerges that is specific in its message and becomes something in its own right. It’s the simplest and most concise distillation of the brand concept.

Consciousness

The logo contains 3 main messages from the superliminal:

  1. The combined triangle forms communicate the sense of fast-forward movement, a direct connection to the Moveworks name, and its goal as a brand: instantaneous resolution.
  2. It brings two sides of the conversation together—the top and bottom representing IT and users respectively.
  3. It contains the monogram of the company name—MW in a connected and cohesive shape.

Arriving at a logo that is this concise is rare and incredibly difficult to achieve. It’s the needle in the haystack to have multiple messages being delivered as well as containing the monogram letters in the form without being disruptive to the message.

Superliminal Logo: Material

In Material’s case, there is a dissection of a square to produce a right angle that is used to construct the 3D illusion via repetition.

logo design

The only properties that are modified to construct the logo are the lengths of the lines that create the angle. The lines are repeated to create a 3-dimensional infinite tunnel which references 3 main parts of Material’s solution:

  1. Radical resilience—the infinite tunnel shows the never-ending resilience and the angle that creates the 3D illusion represents the radical—it’s an entirely different solution than the rest of the market.
  2. Material secures from the inside-out. We are able to see the inside of the tunnel as well as the outside.
  3. Defense of depth is Material’s main tenant of security. Once one layer is breached there is another layer right after it ad infinitum.

Superliminal Logo: Genki

Genki is a symbol of passion. This mark for FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies pulls together individual sparks of passion from everyone involved in their organization to form something even stronger than what they are able to contribute individually.

logo

The individual spark is a simple rounded rectangle. Each spark is then distributed continuously around a perfect circle. Every other spark is rotated 45 degrees. This symbolizes 3 main things:

  1. The individuality of each contributor and that each contribution is adding to the whole.
  2. Each contribution is equally valuable. There is no hierarchy of ideas.
  3. The form is then modified to create the letter G to further drive the association with Genki 虚拟币合约平台_虚拟home.

Does Your Brand Need a Superliminal Logo?

No. Superliminal design is like enlightenment. If you force it, it’ll never arrive. Superliminal design comes as a result of emergent design and is something that naturally happens as a part of employing that methodology.

Below are some of the most famous brands in the world that do not employ superliminal design in their logos.

And here are some of the most famous brands that do in fact employ superliminal design in their logos.

Superliminal logos aren’t for every brand. They’re like puzzles that give your audience an additional little gift if they are open to it. The advantages of a superliminal logo are that it’s long-lasting, able to evolve over time and still retain the underlying concepts, easy to recognize and draw by hand, and lends itself to a systemic approach to the rest of the brand—ensuring a consistent thread through all components of a brand.

Not every brand needs a superliminal logo, but if it does happen take a moment to realize you’ve just seen a unicorn.

Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design agency in Oakland, California.

Take a glance at our larger body of work. 

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How to Prepare for Successful Business Transformations /how-to-prepare-for-successful-business-transformations/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss /how-to-prepare-for-successful-business-transformations/#respond Thu, 03 Sep 2020 01:39:54 +0000 http://staging.emotivebrand.flywheelsites.com/?p=47604

There’s a well-worn saying in business that the only certainty is change, and this year has proven that to be true by exponential levels. Entire industries found themselves faced with the need to plan and transform their businesses in the face of tremendous unknowns. Now, as we enter September of 2020, with the initial abrupt […]

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There’s a well-worn saying in business that the only certainty is change, and this year has proven that to be true by exponential levels. Entire industries found themselves faced with the need to plan and transform their businesses in the face of tremendous unknowns. Now, as we enter September of 2020, with the initial abrupt disruptions behind us, what does it mean to look ahead, and begin planning for the future?

Business transformation matters now more than ever and agility and forward-thinking scenario planning have never been more important.

Building a Roadmap for the Future in Times of Uncertainty

Taking steps to significantly shift—or transform—a company’s business can be either proactive or reactive. Ideally, it’s the former, but external events, whether created by competitors, shifts in customer needs, governmental regulations, or global events can cause the latter to be true. At a high level, the process for either is the same. Here’s the overview:

  • Begin with fact-based strategic planning, competitive research, and situational analysis to create the essential foundation of data about the status quo.
  • Next, based on this foundation of data, leaders need to identify and analyze potential future states for the business.
  • Based on this analysis, leadership aligns with the agreed future state and begins the work of determining the specific changes and sequencing that will be required.
  • Evaluate the brand and business—are they aligned with each other, or do they need to be recalibrated to make sure that the brand is supporting the new business direction?
  • Finally, it’s essential to keep employees informed as the process unfolds, not only so they are kept in the loop, but also as a source of feedback and information.

Let’s go into more detail on each step:

Set the Foundation

Successful transformations—or sometimes, evolutions—need to start with a clear-eyed understanding of both the current state of the business, as well as upcoming external forces that will have an impact. It’s good to approach this phase of the process with a structured set of internal and external research aimed at uncovering the business’s strengths and weaknesses, competitive threats, and unmet customer needs. In addition, it’s important to have a good understanding of known external impacts that can be anticipated—things such as regulatory changes and general business trends and market predictions.

Identify Your North Star

Armed with this foundational set of information, it’s now time for a business’s leadership team to identify potential paths forward. Oftentimes, these will exist along a continuum, starting with slight shifts to the existing business, then growing in ambition to encompass more ambitious pivots and expansions. Each potential direction is then analyzed to understand its implications: How will it impact revenue? Do we have the right talent to execute the direction? How will it change our customer base and competitive set? How does it impact our product roadmap? How will analysts and investors react? After assessing the options, the leadership team needs to discuss, align, and set a direction.

Create An Execution Plan

The next step is the planning phase: What changes need to be made in order to begin making the desired shifts? In what sequence do they need to occur? What are the potential ripple effects of those changes? It’s important to do this work in a cross-functional manner, giving all parts of the organization insights into the changes occurring. This helps to eliminate overlapping efforts and activities that could compete with or contradict each other, in addition to providing an integrated roadmap that ensures everyone knows how the change efforts fit together and combine to achieve the end result.

Align Your Brand

When making a shift, it’s essential to make sure that your brand is supporting and reinforcing your new business strategy. This starts with making sure that your brand positioning supports your chosen direction followed by your messaging and external expression of your brand: digital touchpoints (web, social, etc.), sales support materials, PR, AR, IR, and all external-facing communications. Don’t neglect the visual expression of your brand. Many companies, especially former startups entering their next phase of maturity, find that they have outgrown their previous look and feel and need to evolve into a more ‘mature’ level of design sensibility.

Bring People Along on the Journey

The most successful transformations are inclusive, and while it is important that leaders lead the process, it is equally important to involve perspectives and participation from across the organization. This includes involving different divisions, geographies, functions, and levels within the company as part of the planning process in order to get their input as plans are developed. This not only ensures that critical details aren’t overlooked but also builds engagement and buy-in to the process.

A Shared Understanding Speeds Execution

Ultimately, change is about disciplined execution and dedication to doing the work required to make change stick across multiple parts of the organization and ensuring that the people of the organization understand what the change is, how the business is going to adapt, and why it matters because organizations with a shared understanding about the reasons behind change are more likely to move forward with certainty, even in uncertain times.

Take a deep dive into our most recent B2B transformations: Coast, Snow Software, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies

Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design agency in Oakland, California.

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Navigating Between Good and Bad Failure /failure/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss /failure/#respond Tue, 25 Aug 2020 17:23:02 +0000 /?p=42968

Silicon Valley loves the idea of failure. In the world of tech startups, messing up is practically a religion. People wield that Samuel Beckett quote – try again, fail again, fail better – like it’s a Louisville Slugger. As Adrian Daub writes, “People take jobs and lose them, and go on to a new job. […]

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Silicon Valley loves the idea of failure. In the world of tech startups, messing up is practically a religion. People wield that Samuel Beckett quote – try again, fail again, fail better – like it’s a Louisville Slugger.

As Adrian Daub writes, “People take jobs and lose them, and go on to a new job. People create products that no one likes, and go on to create another product. People back companies that get investigated by the SEC, and go on to back other companies. In Silicon Valley, it seems, there is no such thing as a negative experience.”

But the thing is, not all types of failures are treated equal. A wholesale embrace of failure misses the point. From our point of view, there’s a big difference between good failure and bad failure.

Good Failure: Ideas and Experiments

As a brand strategy and design agency, we work in the business of ideas – and ideas fail all the time. That’s kind of the point. For us, failure is a necessary means of growth. We experiment with ideas, not always as perfect options, but to gauge, measure, provoke, challenge, and enlighten. Often, our favorite ideas don’t ring true right away for the client. But the bumpy road of hiccups, near-misses, and tangents only makes the end product that much stronger.

These types of errors – pushing a visual identity too far, leading with language that’s too bold – never feel like true failures, because they are all in greater service of the work. Each failure helps define the parameters a little more. It’s our job to push the imagination and expectations of a client. As it goes, you can always reign something in. The worst thing we could hear is, “This feels a little too safe.”

In brainstorms, in pitch meetings, and in workshops you need bad ideas to help shape what’s truly good. It’s almost like negative architecture or sculpture. Sometimes you build by taking away everything that doesn’t fit.

As Steve Portigal says in his great talk, “In design and in brainstorming, deliberately seeking out bad ideas is a powerful way to unlock creativity. Generating bad ideas can reveal our assumptions about the difference between bad and good, and often seemingly bad ideas turn out to be good ones.”

Establishing a culture where you feel free to fail is key. When you’re in generation mode, you need a loose enough space for jokes, puns, bad taglines, jingles, and wacky suggestions – because often the right idea is hiding just behind your strangest impulse. It’s the classic “no idea is a bad idea” maxim. Under the right conditions, it’s absolutely true.

Bad Failure: People and Processes

Where things fall apart is when people and processes fail: toxic cultures, breakdowns in communication, not looping in the right stakeholders, not operating with enough information about your target audience, your timeline, your budget. There is nothing charming or creative about a broken project schedule, unless your goal is to create stress. On paper, these are the easiest failures to avoid – and yet they are the most devastating.

When an idea fails, you head back to the drawing board. But as Dean Brenner points out, company-wide communication failures disrupt businesses on a fundamental level. It leads to a “lack of focus, failure of purpose, lack of innovation, drop in morale, and eventually, a loss of credibility.”

Contained Chaos

The best situation is when there is a clearly articulated and defined space for failure. Think of it as contained chaos, lightening in bottle. Here is the time for us to experiment and fail – and here is the system of consolidated feedback that will keep on us on track and aligned. How different would your ideation process be if instead of being asked to present one perfect PowerPoint presentation, your assignment was to come up with 10 experiments, knowing that you had adequate time to refine?

As Michael Chabon says, “Because I believe in failure; only failure rings true. Our greatest duty as artists and as humans is to pay attention to our failures, to break them down, study the tapes, conduct the postmortem, pore over the finds; to learn from our mistakes.”

Here’s to good failure, bad ideas, and all the mistakes in-between.

Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design agency in Oakland, California.

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Designing and Maintaining an Emergent Brand /emergent-brand/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss /emergent-brand/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2020 13:00:48 +0000 http://staging.emotivebrand.flywheelsites.com/?p=47356

When the Emotive Brand design team creates a brand system, we design it to last for many years. In order for a brand system to last that long, it needs to be consistent with a specific core idea, yet flexible enough to grow over time in order to accommodate changes in the landscape, growth into […]

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When the Emotive Brand design team creates a brand system, we design it to last for many years. In order for a brand system to last that long, it needs to be consistent with a specific core idea, yet flexible enough to grow over time in order to accommodate changes in the landscape, growth into new sectors, building out sub-brands, etc. Let’s explore two different methodologies in conducting brand design and the end result of each: modernist design and emergent design.

Modernist Design: One Solution

Modernist design methodology is built on the practice of digging to find the golden nugget of a single solution, then testing and polishing that nugget into something that is refined and workable for the specific problem at hand. The rules for the solution are codified and set in stone. The specific problem is continually solved using the same set of rules. However, this often leads to the same solution being applied to multiple different problems as a way of short cutting the design process. Why wouldn’t businesses be trying to use the same solution? It’s what they have in their toolkit – but they aren’t aware that this method is ill-fated from the start. It’s the classic “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” 

In contrast, emergent design strives to give you the raw steel to work with, so you can create hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, drills, any tool that will naturally solve the problem at hand yet still remain true to its core composition.

 

Emergent Design: A Step Further

Similar to modernist design, emergent design also strives to find that nugget, but goes a step deeper and inspects the atomic composition of the nugget, and uses that underlying structure to let the rest of the design system emerge naturally from its basis. 

Just as nature is able to adapt to its environment, emergent design adapts to an ever-changing business environment. Take the butterfly. Within the core of a butterfly is a systemic solution to a specific set of problems, but those problems can vary across the entire planet, yet the core of the butterfly is able to adapt. Circumstances were created to benefit an insect that drinks nectar and transfers pollen across plants. This in turn became beneficial to the larger ecosystem. The butterfly never receives education or is told specifically what to do in its role, but the structure of the creature itself lets its behavior emerge naturally. 

 

Designing To Let Your Brand Learn on Its Own

Emergent rulesets are cultivated naturally from the core of a brand in response to execution. We learn in the same way. Our core has a few properties that are true no matter what, then we are let loose to execute that core within the world. The results that we receive from our behaviors directly modify our core and lead us to change our next execution. A new rule has emerged.

Let’s say that you’re a naturally curious teenager. Your curiosity is your core and it naturally leads you to learn new things. So you pick up guitar and learn a few songs to show your friends. You get a positive reaction and a big rush of dopamine. A new ruleset has emerged. Learning new things at a deeper level facilitates your core curiosity in a beneficial way and so that emergent ruleset of deeper learning becomes interwoven with your core. This modification to the core will change your behavior to not only be curious about things, but to learn them on a deeper level in the future.

Adaptation and learning are innate characteristics to emergent design. Take Darwin’s finches below. They are of the same family (share the same core), but have adapted to their environments over time. Emergent brands do the same thing. The core is not prescriptive, but emergent. The core family of these birds did not restrict their adaptations, because if it did they wouldn’t be able to propagate as much as they have. Because the core was able to be modified from external factors, the core let an adaptation emerge in order to take advantage of a new food source. In business, this means your brand can flourish entering a new market and still represent the core of your company. 

An Emergent Brand Is Self-Maintaining

Emergent design leads to the opposite of a traditional brand guidelines document. Instead of specifying very specific instances where the system was designed to work, we instead specify the core concept and underlying structure of the brand and let the rules dictate themselves. An emergent system grows over time, it adapts to its environment, and as a result the rulesets change and grow over time as well. This eschews the typical PDF or printed guidelines document where everything is set in stone and ushers in a new era of digital-only guideline systems that are accessible and editable by your design team.

When a designer looks at an emergent brand, they should be able to take in the system from seeing just a few examples and be able to execute the system without drudging through 5 pages of what NOT to do with your logo. The componentry at work isn’t the thing that needs to be systematized. The most critical thing that a designer needs to understand about an emergent brand is what defines the core and what properties are being used to express the core.

When we consider the Embark example above, this is what the core of a brand looks like. Embedded into the geometry of the mark is a series of hexagons. This is all you need to design the rest of the Embark system.

But Emergent Design Depends on the Designer

The thing about emergent design systems is that you need really good designers to see them through thoughtfully. You can’t just plug any person into your design role and expect them to be able to execute on an emergent brand. They need to be able to see the underlying structure of your system and know where to push it to adapt to your business’s needs. Take Yamaha for example. Their core is “Sharing Passion & Performance.” They make products that range from dirt bikes to professional audio equipment. If they had a strict modernist brand, both of the products below would share the exact same design characteristics. However, they don’t. The dirt bike is light, stripped-down, colorful, and aggressive. To the right, the guitar amplifier is a solid and reliable heirloom that is beautiful enough to be passed down to your grandchildren. They still stuck to their core of “Sharing Passion & Performance,” but they adjusted the aesthetic values of the execution based on the emergent nature of the forms of the products themselves and the demographics of the people who would buy them.

How To Interview Designers for Your Emergent Brand

Here are some questions to gauge fluency in emergent design and the underlying intention behind design candidates.

What is your philosophy of design?

  • See if they have a specific idea of what they are trying to accomplish in their practice. If they are early on in their career, it might be fuzzier. Avoid people who just want to make “cool shit” without any conceptual thinking backing it up.

Where do you start in your design process?

  • Look for whether or not concepting is at the start of their process, or if it’s there at all. Concept underlies all emergent design.

Can you show us an example of something where you had to research a really complex topic in order to come to your design solution?

  • It’s critical for designers to have a cogent understanding of the topic they are designing for. They are making decisions that are directly impacting the communication of the business and they need to understand it thoroughly.

What is the underlying idea in a specific project and how was that idea brought to life in componentry?

  • See if the idea extends into typeface selection, color choice, graphic system. There should be an underlying idea that has informed the whole system and that idea should be woven throughout everything.

You wouldn’t use only a hammer to build a house. There’s a myriad of problems that you run into that require special tools suited to each individual job. Emergent design allows for multiple tools and solutions to naturally occur that all remain true to your original core element. It’s a flexible methodology for chaotic times and a philosophy proven by nature for 3.5 billion years.

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco-based brand strategy and design studio.

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How to Find the Right Product-Market Fit /product-market-fit/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss /product-market-fit/#respond Wed, 12 Aug 2020 16:10:07 +0000 /?p=41286

Since the dawn of man, every entrepreneur believes they have the magical product that is going to change the game, revolutionize the market, blaze the trail, and yes, make the world a better place. It’s the type of hyperbolic startup language we’ve come to quickly identify and dismiss because we know at the end of […]

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Since the dawn of man, every entrepreneur believes they have the magical product that is going to change the game, revolutionize the market, blaze the trail, and yes, make the world a better place. It’s the type of hyperbolic startup language we’ve come to quickly identify and dismiss because we know at the end of the day, venture capitalists don’t really back products – they back winning business models.

So, how do you skip the tech jargon and get straight to a hair-on-fire business model? There may be no better litmus test than that of the elusive “product-market fit.” Coined by Marc Andreessen, co-founder of influential Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, he defined it simply as “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”

Product-Market Fit Is Startup Nirvana

Sounds easy enough, but the little description belies its massive business implications. This is the sought-after point at which you have identified the best target industries, buyers, and use cases for your product. Sales and marketing strategies become easily repeatable and, more importantly, scalable. It’s the great chasm between the “10x” investment return companies and the ones you’ve never heard of.

These days, most startups don’t fail because of the strength of their idea. It’s because they burn through cash without carefully planning for the crucial moment when customers actually want what they are selling. Achieving product-market fit is nirvana, and there are no shortcuts to nirvana. Fortunately, thousands of companies have gone before us, and there’s something to learn from their trials and tribulations.

Research, Personas, and Segmentation

Everything, and we mean everything, begins with an effort to understand the market landscape and key pain points. In researching the various industry verticals and potential buyers, you are on the hunt for your target customers. After all, they ultimately decide how well a product meets their needs.

Call us old fashioned, but we’ve long believed that the best way of conducting market research is actually talking to your potential customers face-to-face. Sure, you’ll get more data if you use online surveys, but the quality of that data will always be diluted. Especially at the beginning of your journey, you need to hear how a real, emotive conversation about your product evolves in real time. If you put in the work, your customers will tell you exactly what would make their lives substantially better.

We’ve talked before about the importance of using research to develop personas and market segmentation. As a reminder, segmentation is the partitioning of the full market into digestible parts – hopefully with customers that share similar behaviors and needs. Defining the attributes and characteristics of various target users is a great way to make sure everyone on the product team understands exactly who they are designing, building, and sweating for.

These personas aren’t set in stone – they should be revised as you learn more and more. After forming and reiterating on these personas, the next step is understanding their underserved needs. If you can address customer pain that is not adequately being soothed, you’ve stumbled upon pay dirt. In terms of market opportunity, pain is gain. All of this information is driving toward the creation of your value proposition, or how your product will meet customer needs better than the alternatives.

Prototyping, Iterating, Optimizing

Equipped with this information, you should be ready to create what’s sometimes called a minimum viable product. With the help of prototyping tools such as inVision, it’s never been easier to show your customers an interactive, high-fidelity version of your product – without actually having to build the whole thing.

This is a safe space for experimentation, feedback, and a low-risk way to glean deeper insights. The biggest disservice you could do to your product team is asking leading or closed questions that trigger a yes or no response. Engage your sense of curiosity and ask open-ended questions to encourage insightful responses. Only then will you be able to identify genuine patterns and refine the initial prototype into something that is delightful and addresses customer concerns.

Take It to Market

As any creator knows, you can get stuck in the spin-cycle of revision forever. The only real way to validate your hypotheses is by eventually taking your product to market. That’s when the lessons come fast, hard, and uncensored. Suddenly, you’ll have access to conversion funnel metrics, marketing economics, product engagement levels, utilization rates, and lost customer churn.

It will feel like trying to repair a bicycle while currently riding it downhill – but rest easy knowing that you don’t have to fix everything at once. It’s just about optimizing what you can control to make your sales process repeatable and scalable in your established vertical.

Things to Remember

  • Seek insights from your employees, especially those out in the field. Your operations team sees all the problems with the product and hears all the complaints from your customers. Set yourself up for success early by creating a frictionless process to get those insights to senior management.
  • There will never be one way to determine product-market fit. You need to embrace the mentality of a scientist by testing, tinkering, and questioning every data point. Use A/B testing with messaging, try different price points, and push everything as far as your conversion rates will allow.
  • There are so many useful tools out there, like how to calculate your total addressable market size. David Skok, the venture capitalist at Matrix Partners, wrote a great blog on this topic as well. It includes a list of the key questions you need to be asking yourself along each step of the product-market fit process. In addition, it has a calculator template to see how you can score your product-market fit.
  • Trying to be everything to everyone will result in you being nothing to everyone. Especially for startups, who are often working with a limited budget, it’s always better to have a narrow focus to start. Then, you can go dive deep in that one vertical, making you the clear industry expert in your domain.

To learn more about how to find the right product-market fit, contact Founding Partner Tracy Lloyd at tracyl@vtrep.cn.

Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design firm in San Francisco.

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Innovation: You’re Thinking About It Wrong, Part II /innovation-youre-thinking-about-it-wrong-part-2/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss /innovation-youre-thinking-about-it-wrong-part-2/#respond Thu, 30 Jul 2020 13:00:16 +0000 http://staging.emotivebrand.flywheelsites.com/?p=47353

Let’s Reimagine How to Innovate: A Thought Piece by Robin Goldstein, Part 2 Robin Goldstein has been a part of some great teams learning and thinking about innovation and disruption at companies like Apple, Zoox, multiple startups, and now, the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign. In this continuing series, she offers her accumulated wisdom around […]

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Let’s Reimagine How to Innovate: A Thought Piece by Robin Goldstein, Part 2

Robin Goldstein has been a part of some great teams learning and thinking about innovation and disruption at companies like Apple, Zoox, multiple startups, and now, the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign. In this continuing series, she offers her accumulated wisdom around how to reimagine innovation, shift your mindset from ‘what and how’ to ‘why and who’, build the right team, and create a future that isn’t simply the past with fewer bugs. This week is the second installment in her feature. Please keep posted each week for new sagacity from Robin. If you missed last week’s, you can read it here.

Be Wrong and Be Ok

I believe that founders in particular, and great leaders in general, need to develop a clear and precise vision of how they believe the world can and should look and behave, and then be able to articulate that vision to their organization. In other words, like it or not, if you want to be a founder, some part of you has to be a futurist, or at least play one on TV, with a well-defined POV. (And no, ‘wouldn’t it be cool?’ doesn’t qualify as a point of view. The only truly cool things are flying cars, talking dogs, and chocolate donuts that cure disease and make you better looking!)

You also have to be comfortable with being completely wrong. Many of the greatest were: Edison… Einstein… Steve Jobs was famously wrong about a bunch of things (not having more than one button on a mouse and not allowing third-party apps on the original iPhone). But being wrong isn’t a problem if you’re paying attention, testing your plotted course against the prevailing winds, and taking decisive action when the need to pivot arises.

I often ask teams, “If we went bankrupt today and a new party was able to purchase all our assets and talent for pennies on the dollar, would they simply pick up where we left off, doing exactly what we’re doing or, knowing what we know now, take a different approach or head in a different direction?” Because if the answer is “different”, then my second question is, “Do we have to fail for someone else to be successful, or can we pivot and be the beneficiary of our own experience?”

The cautionary tales of Silicon Valley frequently involve bright people with the best intentions plowing forward, heads down, not recognizing or acknowledging that change is happening all around them. The nimble pay attention, embrace truth, and find the ability not to be attached to a specific outcome. I believe it was Tennyson who said, “Tis’ better to have a vision for how the world will change, be wrong, and incorporate that knowledge into a new vision, than to simply ‘try stuff and see what happens.’ ”

Think Full Stack

This is another element of the ‘but I only want to work on the cool things’ challenge many teams face. Real change, the kind that doesn’t simply make existing systems better, but makes them obsolete (Buckminster Fuller’s definition of disruption) often requires reimagining large parts of an ecosystem. But only considering the part that’s interesting to you, and relying on someone else to ‘magically’ take care of everything else and lay the foundation for your success, rarely works. I’ve seen this at play in a wide range of spaces, including healthcare, transportation, and education.

I liken it to developing an amazing new seed, one where a single plant could feed 100 people for a month. But that seed has very specific and unique soil requirements, different than any soil that exists today. And you, as the seed developer say, “Seeds are cool…Soil is boring…I’ll show the world my cool seed and someone else will figure out how to make sure there’s suitable soil for it to grow.” Why would you ever put your success into someone else’s hands? You have to think full stack, even if you’re only going to be working on a small part. Expand your view to understand as much of the landscape necessary for your success as possible, even if you’re only interested or able to focus on a very small piece.

To be clear, you don’t have to take responsibility for all the elements, but you do have to consider all the components necessary for your success and find ways to tell the whole story of the experience you want to enable. That moves the conversation from ‘what’ to ‘so what’, and in turn gets others excited, too. This results in sparking interest and innovation from those who want to work on a different section of the puzzle (the soil geeks), in turn providing incentives for the creation of a more robust ecosystem and the development of community, multiple stakeholders, and ultimately larger, more transformational wins.

Keep posted for more insight on innovation from Robin next week in Part 3.

Emotive Brand is an Oakland based brand strategy and design agency.

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From Failure to a Future: Bella Banbury on Our Agency’s Plan For Equality and Representation /equality-and-representation/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss /equality-and-representation/#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2020 18:00:42 +0000 http://staging.emotivebrand.flywheelsites.com/?p=47046

A Note From Bella Banbury, Co-Founder, On Equality and Representation. Six weeks ago, following a weekend of protest and unrest in response to the murder of George Floyd in the hands of the police, I facilitated our weekly Monday morning team meeting. I did a terrible job.

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A Note From Bella Banbury, Co-Founder, On Equality and Representation.

Six weeks ago, following a weekend of protest and unrest in response to the murder of George Floyd in the hands of the police, I facilitated our weekly Monday morning team meeting. I did a terrible job.

Aiming to facilitate a meaningful dialogue around what action we should take, I stumbled through the conversation not finding the right words or actions to address our team. The meeting ended, we agreed to make a donation to the BLM movement, and simply proceeded with business as usual. That was a failure.

As I look back, I am grateful to the people on my team who stood up and demanded something better from me and asked our company to do more than talk, donate, and move on. Their demands forced the discomfort of addressing the topic of race in the workplace, in our industry, and in our own company. These conversations are not easy. We will continue to make mistakes, but the important thing we know now is that business as usual is not enough. Business as usual does not make change happen. And so we have begun.

We’ve asked ourselves what will we do to make an impact, not just today, but for the future? This question directed our focus towards the youth and looking for ways to raise awareness of our industry among BIPOC students, starting with middle schoolers. We will develop a grassroots program that introduces design and branding to students, with a focus on Oakland schools, as well as establishing an annual fund/donation for Black high school students with an interest in design.

In our own studio, we are looking for ways to actively promote more inclusive content through our thought leadership channels that’s more engaging to all people, to help attract more diverse talent into our team, connect us to our greater community, and link us up with like-minded organizations and teams.

We know change will take time, but if we can make even a small impact on our industry by making it more equitable and representative of all races, that makes for a better future and better work.

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The Case for Supreme Honesty as a Precursor to Killer Brand Strategy /radical-honesty/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss /radical-honesty/#respond Tue, 14 Jul 2020 13:00:32 +0000 http://staging.emotivebrand.flywheelsites.com/?p=46843

There is one client engagement in particular that I will never forget...and not for the right reasons. Let me explain.

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Like anybody who’s worked in the industry for longer than two decades, I’ve enjoyed my share of deeply satisfying client engagements across multiple industries. There is one engagement in particular, however, that I will never forget, and not for the right reasons. It will actually go down in the books as one of my worst professional experiences. And this is why. We got fired for being dishonest. Let me explain.

I was working for a large branding firm at the time. The kind of branding firm that everyone in the business knows and respects. Not one that often gets fired. We engaged with a large technology firm and began our work, meeting with multiple stakeholders, trekking back and forth for meetings, workshops, and presentations. As the engagement progressed, a pattern began to emerge. We would present strategy and our clients would ponder our recommendations, then chip away at them, slightly watering them down, innocuously at first, more insidiously as time went on. We knew it wasn’t right but the client was fairly insistent and for some reason (fear? intimidation?) we let it go. Until it was too late and the final brand strategy was so incongruous, so off-point, and so entirely useless that the client was left with no choice but to fire us for a poor outcome. Ugh.

The culprit here? No one particular individual, no one particular meeting, but a bad case of dishonesty between our team and the client that prevented us from saying “No, we don’t agree with what you’re saying, we think you’re making some poor choices, and this is why.” This dishonesty cost us the assignment.

The best brand strategies are a reflection of the most honest client/agency relationships.

Honesty in branding is critical. Not just because honesty is the common basis for relationship-building and the development of trust, but because honesty gives agencies the runway they need to develop the most trenchant and compelling brand solutions. Being honest shows up in a variety of instances and includes asking tough questions, pushing back on embedded assumptions, challenging executive consensus, and saying no more often than you may be accustomed to doing.

Allow me to tell a modern-day success story to demonstrate this point. We recently engaged with another technology client. At our kickoff meeting and subsequent briefings, our client regaled us with stories about how much better they are than the competition because they provide a better and fairer solution for their customers. We investigated more deeply, conducting interviews with some of these customers, and what we learned caused us to suspect that this company was not necessarily providing a better solution, but perhaps a different solution to a persistent problem. Emboldened by the belief that honesty was our best policy, we ran a workshop with our client and told them exactly what we thought was going on. We presented several opportunities to truly change the paradigm in their industry and to help them to stand out from the competition in a meaningful and groundbreaking way. In our client’s words: “Emotive Brand brought us a not terribly flattering series of findings and challenged us to think more deeply about our brand. We discovered a disconnect between how we saw ourselves and how our clients and prospects believed we delivered on our promises. [Emotive Brand’s] unique combination of strategy and creative pushed us in a direction that was truly bold.”

Not only did we not get fired for disagreeing with their point of view, but our clients were delighted that we had shed new light on their business and the opportunities it could afford. We knew we had done something right when after making our case, the company’s founder started a slow round of applause that took hold across the full client team. Definitely a proud moment. And a personal vindication for the travesty that had occurred earlier in my career!

Perception vs. Reality: Honesty Wins

There is a weird perception in the client service industry that in order to satisfy the client, the “service provider” must do what they’re told at every turn. The truth that both parties need to keep top of mind is that while the client holds the purse strings, they are hiring not a “service provider” but a consulting body that can provide valuable expertise and experience that the client lacks. To simply “do as one’s told” is undermining the basis of the relationship.

I’ll end with some key things to consider before hiring an agency to transform and elevate your brand.

1. Identify why you (really) need an agency.

Are you looking for a team to execute the vision you already have, or are you hoping to uncover new thinking that may challenge you and your team’s existing thinking?

2. Determine your and your extended team’s “tolerance” for honesty.

Not everyone is on board for honesty. Will your team be uncomfortable or delighted by honest input from an outside body?

3. Let your agency know where you stand on the honesty spectrum.

Before you hire an agency, let them know where you stand and what you would expect from them. They should be allowed to enter the relationship with their eyes wide open.

4. Stick to the plan.

If you say you want honesty, be prepared to hear the truth. It may make you uncomfortable as you work through notions that you previously held sacred …but it will be so worthwhile.

5. Expect the appropriate results.

There is a positive correlation between the degree of honesty that you invite into the process and the incisiveness of the brand strategy that you can expect to see at the end. Decide what you want the results to look like and proceed accordingly.

Please feel free to get in touch with us for some honest conversation.

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A Black Perspective On Discomfort, Design, and Doing Something /a-black-perspective/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss /a-black-perspective/#respond Tue, 07 Jul 2020 13:00:44 +0000 http://staging.emotivebrand.flywheelsites.com/?p=46804

A Thought Piece from Keyoni Scott, Designer at Emotive Brand. Demanding Change Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, the list goes on and on. The murder of George Floyd has been a trigger for a lot of people to finally stand up and demand change. People are flooding the streets and protesting. Signing […]

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A Thought Piece from Keyoni Scott, Designer at Emotive Brand.

Demanding Change

Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, the list goes on and on. The murder of George Floyd has been a trigger for a lot of people to finally stand up and demand change. People are flooding the streets and protesting. Signing petitions and sending emails to government officials. Sparking conversations they used to avoid. Donating money to Black Lives Matter and other impactful groups like Campaign Zero, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the ACLU, Black Visions Collective. Racial aggressions are being brought to the surface. White leaders are resigning. The weight of discriminative and racist cultures is being felt—finally. And I’ve thought a lot about why this murder? Why now? And what can I do–as a Black man working in a predominantly white community? What can my community do better?

I wanted to write this piece for many reasons, some said and some unsaid. One, I want to hold my friends, my colleagues, and my peers accountable. Two, I’ve been inspired by Black voices during this time and I want to inspire other Black peers to share what they are thinking, doing, and feeling. Three, I want to better connect my workplace and our skills with groups, organizations, and schools in Oakland. We all need to begin somewhere to spark change in the world. I’m starting here.

My Perspective on Discomfort

We live in a world where systemic racism is by design. Many Blacks have been living this reality for hundreds of years. I live in a pretty diverse community in Oakland, but yet find myself surrounded predominantly by white coworkers. Being one of the only Black people surrounded by white people, it can be hard to speak out or let your voice be heard. I have no problem having those uncomfortable conversations about race with my Black peers. But that same conversation with a white person quickly turns into an uncomfortable situation that turns into silence.

The murder of George Floyd and the events that have happened have forced these conversations, dialogs, and uncomfortable situations where non-Blacks can truly grow to better understand what it means to be Black in America. I love and embrace that discomfort.

This is a moment for white people to accept the conversation, accept that they don’t know, and accept being uncomfortable—like we’ve felt for so long. And it’s through these conversations that I’ve discovered that most all of the people around me do care. They are on my side. They do want to step up, listen, learn, and do better. They do want change.

Inspired By

Seeing my peers and fellow Blacks stand up inspired me to do what I can. To question: what’s the thing that I can do to change the world? For some, bringing about change means marching at the protest frontlines. For others, it’s running for office and bringing a change to the system from within. I think it’s important to say that action is meaningful—period. No action is less meaningful than the next. Action is the thing that matters. For me, it was important to accept that. To not be discouraged by the small things. Small things matter. A million small actions together can create collective change. Think about the ripple out effect of one conversation. How those people in dialog at work bring that conversation back to their 虚拟币合约平台_虚拟homes, their friends, their neighbors, their kids. So how did I start? How did I inspire myself? I asked myself: what can I realistically do? What am I good at? That’s how I will make my mark.

Supported By

I’m fortunate to work in an environment where these conversations can take place. These past few weeks, more than anything, have proved that dialog between your peers can spark change. We’ve had difficult, uncomfortable conversations at Emotive Brand—hard but important dialogs. But, I have felt invited to speak my mind in a culture where everyone can speak their mind. We’re calling each other out more, talking about what content is important right now. We’re dividing and conquering, we’re figuring out how we can do better. We’ve got work to do but we are doing work.

Where Are the Black Designers?

Being Black in America for me has always meant I was one step behind. Always playing catch up in a system that wasn’t built for me. I was 22-years-old when I got my first Mac and started to explore the creative possibilities in the Adobe Suite. As someone who has worked twice as hard to learn and grow in my field, I see the lack of equity and representation in the design world as a deeper, larger issue than recruitment.

So, when I thought about my profession and where I can realistically help, the place for impact was obvious to me: schools. It makes sense to try to focus my efforts in the Oakland community where kids of color might not have the same opportunities as others. I want to give back to the youth of Oakland and give them a chance that I didn’t have when I was younger. To show the world of design to them and inspire them to pursue that as a career if it interests them. To even the playing field as best I can. So they won’t have to play catchup like I did. And so that they can look around at the desks next to them and see more black and brown faces than I do today. This inspired the action we have decided to take as a Studio.

Here’s What We Plan on Doing as an Agency

We’re thinking long-term. Short-term actions are great, but that’s the bare minimum. How can we create a sustainable plan for the next 10 plus years? Here’s our roadmap thus far. We will update our plan as it evolves as we are actively shaping it. We’ve created four Equality and Representation committees that will lead the following initiatives both internally and externally.

1. Establish a grassroots program in schools.

We will create a grassroots program that introduces design and branding to middle-school-aged kids, with a focus on Oakland schools.

2. Establish a gift.

We will fund a scholarship for Black high school students in Oakland looking to pursue a college degree in a graphic design-based program.

3. Create a more inclusive dialog.

We will look for ways to actively promote content through our thought leadership channels that is more inclusive and engaging to all people.

4. Increase diversity in our team.

We will actively look for and encourage BIPOC to join our team by opening up different channels for seeking out and appealing to top talent.

Again, this is just the start. Let’s work together. Please reach out if you want to talk, connect, or are looking for greater support or partnership. Emotive Brand and I stand with our Oakland community.

keyonis@vtrep.cn

 

Photo Credit Image 1

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