Next Big Design

Friday, March 27, 2015

Word: Brand: Branding Should Not Be Painful

A few years ago I spoke to a troupe of Girl Scouts as part of a series on careers. In doing so, the first question I posed to the group of wide-eyed young women was, “What is a brand?” Several answers were offered up including, “It’s what they used to do to cows on the ranch.”

Well, I didn’t expect Brand to be our first word studied in this series but, serendipity hit me with a baseball bat on this one. In the process of writing our next book, "The Physics of Brand", the slightly dusty adage of comparing "branding" to the western cowboy method of marking cattle was dusted off. And, upon a quick search, this site describing "How to Design a Brand" was discovered. It’s a great find.

The TSCRA dates back to 1877, when a group of Texas ranchers formed an association to deal with livestock theft. How better to establish ownership than to stamp your mark for all to see? In doing so, not only is ownership established but also reputation for each rancher in relation to quality and quantity of herd. I went deep into this site. The branding language is chock full of meaning. It is a language in and of itself including letters, numbers, lines and symbols. But after reviewing the complexity of the hieroglyphic-like language, I learned these early language designers established simplicity as “the Bull”.

Our first book, “Design Matters // Logos” discusses what makes great identity design. As our clients have experienced, the Capsule philosophy believes in simplicity as a primary criteria. So I chuckled a bit as I learned the early practice of branding recognized that not only are simple branding marks easier to read but also less painful for the cattle. Designers please don’t take offense to being compared to cattle but we certainly understand pain when trying to work with a poorly designed and cumbersome mark. 

My thoughts here are pretty simple, no pun intended. Our world is complex. We chase life at a pace much too fast for anyone’s liking. So, as stewards of many of our world’s largest and most powerful brands gather for another FUSE conference, let’s think about the origin of Branding and the importance of simplicity.

Take a look at your brand. Does it cause you pain? I hope not. Does it tell your story? Does it inspire and make you proud? I hope so.

For more intriguing conversations and content, attend FUSE in April.

MUSE Newsletter: Lost in Thought with Sean Hughes

March 27, 2015 | Sean Hughessocial links

lost in thought
with Sean Hughes

Chief Design Officer, Philips Design Healthcare

I’m inspired by clever, dynamic and motivated people.

To me, brilliant is taking the biggest challenges and finding simple and effective solutions.

My favorite app is The Times of London.

When I’m having a creative block I take a walk.

My favorite brand is Ralph Lauren as he provides most of my clothes.

My favorite color is any shade of blue.

My dream project is the next one.

The best advice I ever received was go back to school.

The very next thing on my to-do list is to complete this list.

My dream collaborator is Richard Branson. He seems like an interesting person.

I think the Kardashians are irrelevant.

At least once, everyone should coach less than nine girls in soccer.

The best way to unwind after a long day is to have a cup of tea!
If I had a one year sabbatical, I would sail around the Caribbean.

The most overused word in meetings today is “design thinking."

At FUSE 2015, I can’t wait to meet many old friends.

At the moment, I’m obsessed with my heating system - hoping it can last the winter.

As of now, I’m totally over design thinking. I prefer design doing, which of course contains an awful lot of the latter and always has!

I’d define my personal style as pragmatic.

My tools of the trade are PPT and my vocabulary.

The biggest thing that has changed since I started in the industry is computers instead of pens and pencils.

I’m happiest when I’m skiing down a mountain with my three girls,

I lead by example.

I wish I could play the piano.

I’m proud that my design team won 27 international design awards last year!

My playlist is very wide and I love Spotify and iTunes radio.

You can usually find me behind my MacBook air.

The last stamp on my passport is immigration at Logan.

The next stamp on my passport is exit immigration at Logan.

When I look back on my career I still think I have a lot to learn.

I still hope to transform healthcare one project at a time.
Find out more about his participation in FUSE 2015 arrow © 2015 IIR Holdings, LTD. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Simon Doonan – Making Taboos Fashionable

In any aspect of life, if you are confronted with the question have you worked as either ‘an organic pickle maker, or a fluffer in a strip club,’ you know you are in for an interesting talk. World renowned window dresser Simon Doonan who is the Creative Ambassador for Barney's started his presentation at FUSE 2014 in just that fashion.

Simon Doonan’s presentation at last year’s FUSE event gave the audience insights on finding unique niche roles, Doonan’s examples being ‘a transgender ventriloquest’ or ‘a sustainable goat herder’, and re-inventing and changing the rules in such professions. There are fundamental elements that came from the presentation that can be utilized across many if not all professions. Strategies such as taking an industry norm and flipping it on its head or simply injecting humor into an advertising strategy can grab the attention of consumers and really engage with them, which at the end of the day is vital for sales.

The window dresser from England, who also has penned a number of books and writes a column on style for Slate, often uses taboos or up to date talking points and made them into public displays. He stressed the idea of when starting out in a new job that may have certain norms surrounding it, to do the exact opposite of what everyone else is doing. For example certain displays of his that went completely against the rules of window dressing, were one where a coyote was depicted stealing a baby and another famously Margaret Thatcher dressed as a dominatrix.

These unconventional displays gathered a lot of attention when other shops may have had a tidy display, with pristine white floors showing manikins standing in an orderly fashion showing the garments. By harnessing current trends, popular public figures and injecting a little less seriousness into designs really engaged with consumers. Doonan also regarded text within his designs as important for drawing in customers as they would be inclined to want to know what was being said within the displays, thus heightening the consumer interest.

By interacting and engaging with audiences, the multifaceted designs were able to able to draw in customers and give them something extra to think about as opposed to safer, more conventional displays. Doonan’s presentation stressed the need not to conform to the expected way of doing things in your industry no matter what it is. Humor and striking ideas can create engagement for the consumers and can reinvent industry norms. One of the best points that I got from the talk was that creative satisfaction may lurk in the most unexpected of places so don’t be afraid of taking a new profession in an unexpected direction as it may be the key to success.

Check out Simon’s full presentation below:

Simon Doonan FUSE 2014 Presentation from IIR USA on Vimeo.

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Top 10 Reasons We Are Excited About FUSE 2015

It's absolutely freezing and all we can think about is - when will spring be here?! And with spring, comes FUSE, our favorite place to go for inspiration.  Here are the top 10 things we just can't wait for (outside of not putting on 5 plus layers just to walk out the door): 

1.      Keyu Jin. Know her? You should.  The world's foremost authority on what's coming next in the China economy with an uncanny ability to connect those macro-economic trends to what that means for both US based and global brands:

2.      Stories from the top brand and design leaders from every major company around like Samsung, General Mills, Kraft, Nestle, Kellogg's, Amazon, Allstate, Yahoo, Newell Rubbermaid, 3M and more:

3.     But it's not all go big or go home. Today, whether you work at a startup or not, there's huge value in learning to think like one.  Hear from two of the hottest newest comers - Goddess Garden and Kano Computer Kit. Lessons on Kickstarter and farmer's markets that can be even more effective than the traditional boardroom pitch:

4.      FUSE Salons FINALLY connect you productively through conversation.  Each day collaborate with fellow FUSEsters to identify key themes from the morning keynotes and translate them back to YOUR business and what matters most to you:

5.      Get OUT of the hotel to learn and network. Check out the remarkable new Kraft HQ, spend an afternoon with a burgeoning group of designers at one of Chicago's most cutting edge public schools, or get a behind the scenes tour led by the brand execs behind Mario Batali's Chicago hot spot Eataly. Prefer to stay on property? Log a few hours with a monk and learn to unlock practical mindfulness admits the daily insanity to increase productivity and creativity:

6.     Nothing beats a great story. FUSE is calling for 10 brave FUSEsters to join us on the FUSE Story Stage to share a story of a fortunate mistake. Hosted by SC Johnson, revel in a curated collection of silver linings, failures that opened entirely new doors and that one time when, though you were down, you were definitely not out:

7.     Learn from brands in transition and brands at the top. Kodak's newly appointed CMO has big plans for a comeback.  At some point all of us we will be at the helm of a brand that needs to reinvent or die, learn how at FUSE:

8.     Hear from the creator of Supersize Me - arguably one of the most influential and provocative documentaries of the last decade, Morgan Spurlock.  Now the Host of CNN's Inside Man, Morgan will share lessons in originality, storytelling and doing good:

9.     A full 3 day agenda loaded with provocative keynotes, ground breaking case studies, curated collaboration sessions and tons of opportunities to meet the very best in the brand and design industry.  Love a good party? We have that too - one every night:

10.   FUSE believes in education for all. A part of your investment in your own continuing education will go directly to building a school in Kenya through our annual support of Change Heroes - a groundbreaking effort to build schools in the world's neediest areas.  Hear the story and get a progress report on the FUSE school here:

Are you with us? We sure hope so. Need some more inspiration?  Feel FUSE here in this exclusive video preview:

FUSE 2015
Brand Strategy & Design, One Collective Voice
Ignite Inspiration
April 13-15, 2015
Loews Chicago Hotel

Want it all? Download the NEW brochure for full details:

Use code FUSE15BL for $100 off the current rate. Register today:

The FUSE Team