Designing the Brand Experience by Brian Collins
Stained glass and organ music welcomed us to the sold-out “Designing the Brand Experience” this morning. I almost forgot that it wasn’t Sunday, and I half expected Brian Collins to be wearing a clerical collar or a robe. I have to admit the church theme had me thinking “man, this guy really takes this brand stuff seriously!” Brian Collins’ first experience with a brand was with the Catholic Church. The church had graphic costumes, extrordinary artwork, and an incredible story. It communicated a message. To illustrate this point, Brian invited a local Chicago gospel choir on stage. After a moving (not Catholic) performance, Brian returned to the stage and defined designers as “Possibility Creators.” “This is the perfect moment for design,” he said and added that he thinks today a MFA is as valuable as the MBA degree used to be. Design is hot right now and has leaped into the mainstream press. Business Week, Fast Company, and Wal-mart have all put design in the headlines recently.
Brian’s sermon notes were five key attributes of creativity and inspiration: Collaborate, Clarify, Challenge, Commit, and Delight.
The ability to collaborate will be the most important skill of the next ten years. When Brian was starting at Ogilvy, he was in charge of starting a creative department. The Ogilvy office was ugly, and not conducive to creativity. He painted the walls black and turned the walls into giant chalk boards. Within a few days, the team was interacting and collaborating.
What is the first chocolate company you think of? Hersheys? What is the first chocolate factory you think of? Wonka? Hershey’s owned the idea of chocolate, but they didn’t own the idea of where chocolate was made. Ogilvy’s team proposed that Hershey should buy a building on Times Square and create a Hersheys store. By story telliing, Hershey was able to start a new business. About this time, the audience starts to smell chocolate. Brian Collins explains that they created a chocolate fragrance that was used to fill the Hershey’s store. The same sweet fragrance was being pumped into our room. It was great.
Leigh Okies worked for Dove which was considering a Carl’s Jr/Paris Hilton style of campaign as they tackled the question, “what is beauty?” Instead of focus on celebrities, Ogilvy convinced Dove to use female photographers to tell a more responsible, realistic, and optimistic story of what beauty is. The photos went on an international tour. The catalog was a photo book. It was set up calendar style as a reference to the pinup calandars of the past.
Jen Panepinto shared the story of her senior project as a student of Brian Collins. She developed a set of nesting bowls that allowed you to know the measurements of the bowl you are eating out of. With nearly 2/3 of Americans classified as overweight, her simple design solution gave hope and beauty to dieters everywhere.
Deborah Adler was also a student of Brian Collins. She shared the story of her grandma who became sick after taking her husband’s medicine. This is a common occurrance that kills many people each year. She says that 60% of people who take medication have taken it incorrectly at some time last year. The error occurrs because medicine bottles lack design. Aside from the child-proof lids, the pill bottle has never seen innovation. Small type, dark type on dark backgrounds, coded “medical speak,” are just the start of a long list of design mistakes. Deborah’s solutions are beatiful, simple and intelligent. Most importantly, her design is saving people’s lives. Target adopted her ideas and has released one of the best products on the market today: ClearRX.
This was probably the best session of the HOW conference. I wasn’t sure what to expect being that Brian Collins works for Ogilvy. When I hear the name Ogilvy, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and not in a good way. As an ad man, Ogilvy didn’t seem to have much respect for designers. Ogilvy is a much different company now than it was during the rule of Mr. Ogilvy. It is innovative and is truely using design to change our world for the better. That is an uplifting message of hope. Amen? Amen.