Next Big Design

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Future Hunters COO on Preparing for Disruption

The pressure to connect consumers and brands is more meaningful than ever before. Those who can make the connection are thriving and those who cannot are fading away.

That’s why we sat down with Erica Orange, who will be speaking at the upcoming FUSE 2016 conference in Miami this spring. Orange talked to us about the consumer trend of immediacy, what it takes to be a leader who inspires creativity, and how to prepare for disruption.

Today, FUSE is the only event focused on design as a strategic force in your quest to build brands and businesses that connect beyond compare with consumers.

Here’s what Orange had to say:

IIR: We live in an always-on "now," where the priorities of this moment seem to be everything. What does this emphasis on immediacy mean to marketing and design?

Orange: In recent years, there has been considerable dialogue around attention. The ultimate “alternative currency,” attention is what everyone – marketers, teachers and parents, alike – is fighting for. Attention = greater chance for success. In business terms, attention = more money. Marketers, as sophisticated as they have become, are struggling with this because they simply cannot adapt quickly enough to keep pace with technology.

However, the focus is now shifting from attention to boredom. Boredom studies are a fast-growing, formal field of inquiry. Researchers suggest that boredom has serious consequences for health and productivity. Smartphones and other modern, digital technologies may also change the way consumers experience boredom. Mobile devices offer instant stimulation, but researchers speculate that may leave some even more bored when they are unplugged. As a result, “now” takes on an even greater importance. We will have to actively reimagine, reengineer and redesign both the learning and working environments of the future, as well as our marketing paradigms, to mitigate boredom.

IIR: What does it take to be a leader who inspires creativity and innovation?

Orange: I think it’s less about a leader who inspires creativity and innovation, and more about an environment that organically inspires a culture of innovation. If it’s a tone set from the top, many younger generations may view this as artificial. Rather, they will crave spaces that are designed to allow creativity and innovation to flourish. One way this can be accomplished is through spaces that encourage play. The need for play is a fundamental human instinct that never abandons us throughout our lifespans. New research indicates that whimsical play might be critical for healthy childhood development.

And, many neuroscientific studies have identified play as an adaptation that enabled early humans to become powerful learners and problem-solvers. One of the biggest marketing and design opportunities will be figuring out how to best harness concepts of experiential play. We will continue to see stores become more designed around playful experiences; we will continue to see brands engage young consumers with social media driven events that capitalize on this ethic of play; we will continue to see companies – particularly smaller, more entrepreneurial ones – more fundamentally embed elements of play in the workplace.

IIR: How do you prepare for disruption?

Orange: Change has always been a constant, but it is now happening faster than ever before. The pace of technological innovation around the world is increasing at an exponential rate. This is leading to a world of, what we in our shop call, templosion, in which very large things happen in increasingly compressed amounts of time. The impacts of this acceleration – and digital transformation – will be felt everywhere. Because of the rapid speed of change, preparing for disruption becomes ever more difficult.

Perhaps one of the first ways to prepare ourselves is by training our minds to see more clearly and more objectively. This is hard to do because we begin learning from the time we are born; and perhaps even before. And the older we get, the more knowledge we acquire, and the more mental baggage gets loaded into our consciousness. But all of this learning can make it hard to see objectively into the future, because we are so conditioned by what we already think we know. We call this educated incapacity: knowing so much about what we already know that we are the last to see the future for those fields in which we are the most knowledgeable.

We talk about the need to pretend we are children, or aliens from another planet, in order to see our world for the first time, objectively and with no educated incapacity. Only then can we get the future right. One aspect of educated incapacity is focusing on central/core/accepted assumptions and ignoring many relevant and true things that have been relegated to the background. We call this “figure/ground,” and we have seen remarkable truths and strategies emerge from switching out the two. So in a world where things move at an exponential pace, untrapping your mind can help you better prepare for constant disruption.

Want to hear more from Erica Orange? Join her at FUSE 2016 April 4-6 in Miami. She will be presenting a keynote session, “Are You Prepared for Disruption? To learn more or to register for the event, click here:

Friday, January 29, 2016

MUSE Newsletter: Lost in Thought with Allison Matthews

January 29 | Allison Matthewssocial links

lost in thought
with Allison Matthews

Service Designer, Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation

I’m inspired by the incredible dedicated care that I see people providing to our patients every day.

To me, brilliant is being able to articulate a thought in a way that inspires a team.

When I’m having a creative block I go for a walk with my sweet black lab.

My favorite color is always changing.

My dream project is one that has an enthusiastic team, an endless budget, a realistic timeline and an “impossible” problem to solve.

The best advice I ever received was “Think about it, then think again.  Then one more time.  Then act.”

The very next thing on my to-do list is get to the bottom of my endless email in-box.

My dream collaborator is my husband, Marc.

At least once, everyone should fly with an angry two year old. You will forever have patience for those in difficult situations that inconvenience you.
The best way to unwind after a long day is dancing and laughing with my kids.

If I had a one year sabbatical, I would research healthcare processes in Europe.

My tools of the trade change based on the project I’m on, no one size fits all.

The biggest thing that has changed since I started in the industry is that people understand the need to change.

I’m happiest when I meet people excited to try something new.

I lead by showing potential and inviting everyone to offer their ideas.
© 2016 IIR Holdings, LTD. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

FUSE Calls: Brand Authenticity

"Brand authenticity is the value of being who you are, not what you think consumers want you to be." - Rob Wallace

In our first edition of the “FUSE Calls" podcast series, Informa Creative Director Dan Madinabeitia sat down with Rob Wallace, Brand Advocate of Best of Breed Branding Consortium to talk about brand authenticity.   

FUSE Calls is a series of interviews where the FUSE team literally picks up the phone and calls disruptive design and brand strategy leaders across the globe - some of whom will be speaking at our upcoming FUSE 2016 Conference in Miami this spring. Dan will also be dialing in to speak with the very esteemed members of our FUSE community. Our goal is to share insight, promote design-thinking and hopefully inspire anyone interested in branding and design as it relates to strategic vision. 

In this session of FUSE Calls Rob Wallace shares what it means for a brand to be authentic and why’s that important. He gives examples of authentic brands versus brands that are perceived as being "marketed to" consumers. Rob and Dan also discuss whether being authentic is the same as being honest, and what happens if your brand does not really have an authentic and compelling story.

Rob gives key insights into brand authenticity as well. Highlights include:
  • "Today branding is more transparent; people no longer want to be “marketed to”; consumers don’t want products – they want to have an affinity with their brands"
  • "Now in order to be successful a brand must have a point of view."

  • “Be who you are rather than who you think your consumers want you to be.  Call out to your tribe and your tribe will come to you. If you tell the right story to the right people you’re going to have an affinity with your audience and that’s what the next generation of branding is going to be all about.”

To listen to the full podcast, click here.

To download the interview transcript, click here.  

Want to hear more from Rob?  Don’t miss his session, “Best of Breed Branding Consortium” at FUSE 2016 on Tuesday, April 5th at 3:05 PM in Miami, Florida.  For more information about the conference or to register, visit the website:

Interviewer Dan Madinabeitia is Creative Director and Brand Advisor at Informa, the Global Information Corporation responsible for facilitating business events such as FUSE 2016.
Related articles

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Importance of Brand Authenticity

By: Rob Wallace, Brand Advocate, Best of Breed Branding Consortium

A brand’s message needs to be relevant and authentic to cut through.  “Think different”, a hallmark of one of my favorite brands, encouraged me to change my point of view and gave me a kinship with Apple.  So much so that I still stand in hour long lines to buy their products as soon as they are released.   Literally the only brand that I’d ever do that for.

Authenticity without relevance does not speak.  I don’t care that Ivory was the first soap that floats or that Arm & Hammer has been around since the 1860s.  

Relevance without authenticity rings hollow.  We may all want ice cream from a European creamery but we all know it doesn’t come from Haagen Daz.

And yet when combined, relevant authenticity makes me care.  Check out this ad and tell me what they are selling?

Whatever it is, I’m buying.