Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Using humor in a marketing campaign is something a lot of companies want to do, but few can actually pull off. Done smartly, you can end up with Kmart’s viral ‘Ship My Pants‘ commercial. Miss the mark and risk widespread criticism and a spot on various news blogs’ “Worst Campaign Ads of the Year” lists.
Our friend Baratunde Thurston, former digital director of The Onion, comedian, and New York Times Best Selling Author, knows a lot about this. He’s the co-found of Cultivated Wit, a company that combines comedy, tech, media, and strategy to “make the tech space more creative and the creative world more innovative.”
Baratunde tackled the topic of humor in marketing in a recent blog post on the Cultivated Wit Blog titled, “PBS’s Embrace Of Comedy In Marketing Proves We Know Everything“.
In the post, Baratunde explores the hesitation business leaders have when deciding to use humor in their own marketing, and the insights he’s learned from his own experiences. Baratunde draws directly from this past SXSW, when he teamed up with Method’s Paul Valerio to discuss what people charged with “innovation” can learn from standup comedy. The principles Baratunde outlines are directly influenced by Paul’s original 10×10 piece. Read the full blog post at Cultivated Wit!
Read the original 10×10 piece that inspired the SXSW event, “What’s so funny about innovation?“
Recently, Behance Network held their two-day annual conference, the 99U. The entire mission of the conference is to focus on bringing ideas to life through action – as Thomas Edison is famously quoted: “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”
Method held the kick-off studio session for the conference with a workshop that aimed to get attendees taking ideas to action. We led participants through a 90-minute Lightning Brand Hackathon, working through potential design opportunities for IKEA and Airbnb.
We quickly broke attendees up into groups of 7-8 to dive deep into their assigned brand. The goal was to develop uniquely branded product and service experiences that engage users in ways that are authentic to the brand and true to the core brand values. Teams were assigned either IKEA or Airbnb to explore. The final deliverable was a one-minute elevator pitch for that product or service that the team might deliver to the CEO.
The first part of the workshop focused on articulating attributes using various stimuli to generate both literal and abstract ways of expressing the brand. Then, each team built on specific product or service extension opportunities and evaluated them against the brand attributes to determine if the proposed solution was on point with the brand.
The selected solution was storyboarded and then summarized for each group to present. In 90 minutes, teams generated product or service solutions around bespoke furniture and food offerings such as the official IKEA furniture hacking community, IKEAhacks.org, an interactive diary of a Airbnb host that gives visitors “keys to my life,” and a network of “local chefs” that invite traveling guests for authentic, homemade meals.
After the kick-off workshop at Method, myself and our attendees headed over to the conference, held at the Lincoln Center. Throughout the duration of the two days, the conference maintained an incredible energy with thought-provoking discussions around how to become more action-oriented and persevere through the creative process. Experts from all walks of life shared their experiences: social/behavioral psychologists, startup founders, brand gurus, authors, educators, and designers.
After it was all over, three major takeaways emerged that resonated strongly with me.
1: Feedback is important for more than just building a good product. It helps you persevere through the darkest times.
For many speakers what kept them motivated during challenging times wasn’t a blind passion, but a constant remainder that their work was having some, big or small, impact in the world. And the best way to see that was by getting feedback from users.
Jane ni Dhulchaointigh, the founder and inventor of sugru, talked about staying motivated through a rough patch by sending samples to her friends and family and requesting that they send in a photo of themselves using the product. Seeing her product in action gave her a sense of pride, joy and responsibility to get the final product out to the world.
2: It’s not about building awesome products, but building products that help people be more awesome.
Every product idea is born out of a need, superficial or deep. But sometimes the vision for addressing that need can get blurred by the pursuit of perfection during the creative process. The result is a product that makes sense to the one who created it, but not to those who would benefit the most by using it.
For example, Ramit Sethi, author of a NY Times bestseller and a dedicated personal finance blog, talked about a personal investment guide offered by the Wall Street Journal. Although written by investing experts, the guide was way too complex to the average American. Because there was a mismatch between what the creator considered as an “awesome product” and what the user needed to become more awesome in managing their money, the product became irrelevant for many.
3: Being action-oriented is less about tactics, and more about the mindset.
The topic of fear came up consistently throughout the conference. Mainly, creators talking about the importance of looking beyond users’ needs to gain a deep understanding of their fears and concerns.
For example, Josh Reich, CEO and co-founder of Simple, an intuitive digital personal banking solution, had observed that people think they need complexity in tools that help manage their finances. But after digging deeper into the users’ minds, he realized that their fears boil down to simpler things like carelessly spending way more than they can afford. To address the latter, Simple incorporated a feature that tells the user how much money it is “safe” for them to spend at a given point in time.
The 99U Conference was a valuable escape from everyday life to get fully immersed in thoughts that inspire reflection and realization. I left both inspired and ready to bring these learnings to practice at Method.
A few weeks ago, we congratulated our friends at Whole Foods Market for their James Beard Foundation Awards nomination. Dark Rye, their new online magazine, had been nominated as a 2013 Best Group Food Blog, alongside long-running food blogs, Easter National and Grub Street New York.
This week we’re happy to announce that Dark Rye is the 2013 winner for Best Group Food Blog!
Established in 1990, the James Beard Foundation Awards is one of the preeminent recognitions, awarding culinary professionals for excellence in their fields. To win a James Beard Award is an enormous achievement and honor for any culinary professional, and we couldn’t be happier for Dark Rye!
Martin Venezky is a creative force. Best known for his collages and experimental typography, his work has appeared in Wired and The New York Times, as well as countless books. In 1997, he was listed among ID magazine’s “ID40″ list of influential designers, and in 2001, an exhibit of his collected design work was held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Additionally, Martin is an Associate Professor at CCA in the Graduate Design and Graphic design programs.
He’s also the mastermind behind Appetite Engineers, an internationally recognized design firm, which just happens to be located a few blocks from Method’s San Francisco studio!
A small group of us had the pleasure of visiting Martin in his studio, which is less of a typical workspace and more of a mini wonderland for discovery and play. Every inch of wall space is covered by photo collages. Children’s toys line the book shelves and scraps of paper are everywhere. Martin explains that he likes his materials on hand should inspiration strike. As he took us through his work, his unique process, which centers around deeply engaging with the content as a means to guide design, inspired our group at every turn.
“Hearing Martin talk about his process is always so inspiring for me. His work reminds me that play is an important part of the design process. He has a unique combination of rigor and openness to chance that, in my opinion, lends itself to discovering solutions that otherwise would have gone uncovered.” – Melissa Martin, Lead Interaction Designer
“Getting the walkthrough of Martin’s painstakingly detailed and manual creation process was a breath of fresh air, to know that powerful designs can be created with everyday objects like cutouts from The Yellow Pages and regular old tape. It was also inspiring to get Martin’s POV around creativity and art, that it’s less about accuracy and perfection and more about decision and mark making, which everyone is capable of doing.” – James Lee, Insights
“It was really interesting to see someone applying traditional cut and paste graphic design while intentionally limiting the involvement of software in his process. The clusters of toys and collectables in Martin’s studio came together to create the entire space as curated collection of ephemera. This idea mirrored his work in the way that small groupings of type and graphical elements created the sum of the entire design in his work pieces.” – Mark Roudebush, Interaction Design Lead
“Martin’s work (and studio) was amazing! From super detailed book design and typography to giant posters to hand cut paper sculptures to photo collages, he does everything. And does it well. And has fun doing it! Tons of fun and food for creative thought.” – Ryan Gates, Design Technologist
[image: Dark Rye, issue 9]
Congrats to our friends at Whole Foods Market for a James Beard Foundation Awards nomination! Dark Rye, a new online magazine that explores food, art, health, and sustainable living has been nominated for the 2013 James Beard Foundation Award for “Best Group Food Blog” alongside long-running food blogs Eater National and Grub Street New York.
Launched in 2012, Dark Rye brings together stories and people to jump-start the imagination and inspire people to try something new. Method worked with Whole Foods Market to help realize their vision for the online magazine, and with each issue, Dark Rye brings together pioneers of unconventional ideas to explore the edges of the creative life. Thoughtfully curated articles and recipes run alongside engaging videos and gorgeous illustration and photography to create a compelling story revolving around that issue’s particular theme.
This month, Dark Rye released issue 9 based on the theme of the “Future.” The issue explores transportation, small living, urban agriculture, and energy, while featuring futuristic concept art.
Established in 1990, the James Beard Foundation Awards is one of the preeminent recognitions in the culinary industry, awarding culinary professionals for excellence in their fields. The foundation’s mission is to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity.
The winners of the James Beard Awards will be announced this May in New York City. It’s a tremendous honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America, and we are looking forward to the results of the award!
Check out Dark Rye: www.darkrye.com
As things heat up in March Madness and we approach the Final Four games, viewership across channels for games have already exploded as March Madness On Demand continues to provide fans across the US with exceptional anytime, anywhere access to the tournament!
Method is proud to have worked with Turner Sports to create the NCAA March Madness On Demand suite of products for the much loved tournament. Last week, Turner reported the app has set all-time marks across online and mobile platforms by garnering 36.6 million live video streams and more than 10 million hours of live video consumed during the opening week of the NCAA Tournament.
Also, the app ranked #1 as the top sports app in the App Store and Google Play during the first week of the tournament. It was also the #1 free app across all categories in the App Store during the opening weekend of the tournament.
This week, the app continues to generate record-setting video streams and engagement! Across online and mobile (tablets and smart phones) platforms, NCAA March Madness Live has reached 45 million live video streams and more than 12.6 million hours of live video consumed across digital properties over the first two weeks of the tournament.
[images from: vacationcarecenter.hilton.com]
As if we didn’t have enough reasons to the love The Onion, our favorite satirical news site recently teamed up with Hilton Hotels and Resorts to address a very serious issue near and dear to the Method teams’ hearts: Vacation.
Together, Hilton and Onion Labs created vacationcarecenter.hilton.com, a site full of cartoons themed around the “14 Symptoms of Vacationitis.” These terrible afflictions include “Commuteritis: Suffering from an excessive number of hours spent daily commuting to work or between meetings” and “Cubiclophobia: The fear of cubicles”. On the site, you can diagnose your own symptoms and get your vacation diagnosis, which involves a visit to a Hilton hotel, naturally.
This week, The New York Times covered this sharp and funny approach to marketing and Method’s own Paul Valerio was quoted in the piece:
“Paul Valerio, a San Francisco-based principal of Method, a brand and design consulting company, also said the vacationitis concept ‘taps into something that’s been seen before.’ But he called Hilton’s use of Onion Labs ‘unexpected, in a positive way, coming from a brand that’s been around that long.’” Read about The Onion partnership with Hilton Hotels on The New York Times.
Catch Paul Valerio and Baratunde Thurston, founder of Cultivated Wit and former Director of Digital at The Onion, at SXSW Interactive for a Q&A on the parallels between innovation and comedy!
Established in 2006, The Pixel Awards annually honors apps and sites for excellence in design and development. The best from the web and mobile are submitted in 24 diverse categories, and 24 exceptional sites win. Over the years, Method has been the proud recipient of seven Pixel awards (out of 12 nominations), including:
This year, we’re thrilled to announce our projects with Viggle and Heath Ceramics have been nominated!
In addition to the 24 category winners, each year The Pixel Awards announces 24 People’s Champ winners – one in every category. The web community votes for the People’s Champ.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is at the forefront of the government’s health IT efforts. As a resource to the entire healthcare system, the ONC supports the adoption of health information technology and promotion of nationwide health information exchange to improve health care.
In October, the ONC and the the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) challenged designers to take on the Blue Button medical record. Originally developed by the VA in order to give veterans and their families access to their health records, the current Blue Button is plain-text, which looks like a receipt. Aside from feeling impersonal, if a patient has a lot of medical information, the current system can quickly look confusing and become difficult to decipher.
Designers everywhere were challenged to design a digital version that is more usable and meaningful to patients, their families, and others who take care of them.
A small team of Method designers and strategists took the challenge! Together, they re-imagined the Blue Button:
Our approach has been guided by a belief that information is only powerful when it is accessible, both in how it is presented and received. This is why we chose to explore the design from a multi-platform perspective starting with mobile then extending it out to tablet and web. The visual design is characterized by a minimal, high-contrast color palate making the content come forward. A restrained use of symbols and other graphics lets typography and scale determine hierarchy reducing clutter and making information easier on the eye.
To see more images, visit the Method team’s Blue Button page.
As the Project Lead and Interaction Design Lead on the project, Melissa Martin, explains why she wanted to get involved with the Blue Button challenge:
“I have a personal interest in design for healthcare and wellness,” she said. “Design has been the driving force behind many products and services that have effectively changed how we interact with each other and the world at large. I think it’s extremely important that the same level of thinking, creativity and deep consideration be given to other sectors of our society, particularly healthcare, energy management and social services. However, many non-profits and social service organizations simply to not have access to quality design services because of budget constraints and/or location. That is why initiatives like Challenge.gov are so exciting, because they help remove those barriers – opening the door for innovative, ingenious and creative solutions that are needed for a healthy, productive and sustainable society.”
Visit the Method team’s Blue Button page. Leave a comment and let the team know what you think of their submission!
Earlier this year, Method Principal, Marc Shillum, introduced the 10×10 piece, Brands as Patterns. ‘Patterns’ focused on the idea that brands are no longer definitive. They exist in multiple mediums, and adherence to a big idea and endless repetition of centralized, fixed rules can make a brand seem unresponsive, inhuman, and out of step with its audience.
Marc’s message, that brands must maintain relevancy through change, was picked up by multiple media outlets, including Fast Company, and inspired two wildly popular presentations at SXSW Interactive 2012.
Since then, the thinking that motivated ‘Brands As Patterns’ has continued to evolve. Last month, PSFK invited Marc to PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO to recap his concept of ‘Patterns’ and share what he’s been working on since publishing the piece.
Introducing ‘Brands as Frequency’, Marc explained that if you accept a brand to be iterative, you have to think about designing your brand over time, which means understanding the frequency of your brand. He outlined the different frequencies brands need to be aware of, illustrating his point with a musical interpretation of the Apple iPhone’s product release cycle. Marc also shared a list of rules–using the metaphor of surfing–that brands need to follow in order to be as prepared and fluid enough to be able to respond across a constantly shifting context.
Watch the full talk below, and let us know what you think in the comments!