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Being DESIGNful… February 24, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in creativity, strategy.

Working on it anyway.

Earlier this week I finished Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin which, while I would have appreciated more practical application of his ideas, was great none the less, and a good primer for visual thinking applied to business situations.

No sooner had I put that down, I picked up Marty Neumeier’s new book, The Designful Company. If his name rings a bell, I’ve likely told you before about his previous book Zag, and you may even know of the one before that, The Brand Gap, kindly available over on Slideshare in totality. It’ll take you 10 minutes, go read it, then come back.

Marty uses the book as a platform to expound the virtues of design thinking, something that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. Something I really believe but perhaps haven’t articulated all that well in the past is that in order to bring new ideas to the table there’s little value in mining the places everyone else is looking; subsequently I’m more likely to read Fred Wilson than Copyranter when thinking about advertising, though both are great. That’s not right or wrong, it’s just my take, those of you reading A Big Life In Advertising keep at it, I imagine we want different things anyway.

I’m only part way through but Marty is hitting on a number of memes that have been floating around recently, certainly touching on the territory recently mined by Seth Godin in Tribes. It isn’t resonating the way Zag did yet, but it’s interesting none the less – I’ll let you know whether I really think it is worth the coin when I’m done. It’s certainly touching on some things I’ve thought previously, particularly being willing to be wrong, but I cna hardly say I like the parts of the book that agree with me now can I?

While I’m here, I stumbled across Design Thinking, a blog written by IDEO‘s CEO Tim Brown, FYI for those interested.

What was that?

Who is IDEO?!??!


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I aorde tihs December 11, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, creativity.
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Via bad banana blog.

New businesses reside in the linked economy November 11, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, creativity, intent, strategy, technology, web 2.0.
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Image via Wikipedia

I spend a lot of time with friends thinking about where tomorrow’s businesses lie, and I’m on the record that great content with good intentions and an open philosophy will be at the heart of the real money-makers in the next decade.

With that in mind, I’ve just read a fascinating post from Mark Ury who is an Experience Architect at Blast Radius. Mark ties together a few loose strands of thinking and comes out with something entirely his own. I particularly love the below principles he borrows from Jeff Jarvis

Can applying “link economy” strategies work for “traditional” companies? Here are Jeff Jarvis’ four principles. And below is a modified version, applied to companies in pursuit of innovation:

1. All companies must be transparent. Your talent base and IP must be exposed and connected. They’re not useable unless they’re linked.

2. The recipient of IP and talent is the party responsible for monetizing them. The more you enable the flow of IP and talent AWAY from you, the more it comes BACK—with greater value and skills to monetize. Just watch how Hollywood operates.

3. A porous organization is the key to efficiency. In other words: do what you do best and link to the rest.

4. There are opportunities to add value atop the IP and talent layer. This is where one can find business opportunities: by managing abundance rather than the old model of managing scarcity. The market needs help finding the good stuff; that curation is a business opportunity.

…which he applies to Threadless during the course of the post…

The result: a business that manages abundance (t-shirt ideas), provides value through transparency (the audience becomes both editor and consumer), and values the flow of IP and talent through them—rather than by them. (Doc Searls calls this kind of value “a shift from “making money with” to “making money because.”)

Great piece. And it contains some links to some other fascinating reads on “the linked economy”. Mark also takes the time to talk about opportunities that exist around monetising the aggregation of information and content, of which Threadless is a prime example (as is Flickr, YouTube, MySpace etc.).

The idea here is this: find the verticles in seemingly well-mined markets, and you will open up doors the rest of us never knew existed.

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A lesson in being remarkable from IDEO November 8, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, creativity, marketing, technology.
Tags: ,
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They say: IDEO’s Gobal Chain Reaction Experience.

I say: Show me a more remarkable business card from a design and engineering firm.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Posted with vodpod.

I forgot to say – found courtesy of FRANKthoughts’ Tamir, who will hopefully be Beersphering with us on Thursday.

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Ambiguity in narrative, in advertising October 19, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, creativity, storytelling, Video Games.
Tags: , , , , ,

Yesterday I was at my friend Tim‘s place where we waxed lyrical over beers on how we can make a squillion dollars – look for an announcement on retirement shortly. While there he fired up GTA 4 on his Xbox 360 as I hadn’t actually seen it in action (the gamer kids are asking for my dog tags back, it’s really quite tragic). I was incredibly impressed, it seems all the learnings about the balance between a sandbox and a story had been compounded into an experience equal parts open ended and focused. The biggest issue in games like GTA 4 (aside from the mammoth amount of technology they have to wrangle of course) is giving the users who want it an open ended universe to explore while at the same time delivering a taught experience for people who just want to play a game.

Tim actually took exception, saying it hinted at a completely open universe but didn’t actually deliver as he couldn’t run into any shop he wanted, rob them and then go next door to rinse and repeat. The pragmatist in me thinks that is unrealistic, but only because I’m coming from the perspective of a person who once had to generate content for people like Tim to run into every nook and cranny they could find; that is not a fun job to have.

I digress though. Ambiguity. Who did their homework and checked out the HBO Voyeur site? If you haven’t please go look at it now.

OK, what did you think? What did you see? A series of apartments spread across New York City, all with their own narratives going on. To my mind, what the agencies involved have done is take the essence of what they were promoting and asked themselves what the best way to tell the story would be. The other day I said the best examples of narrative in games are the ones where people think first about the story they want to tell and then settle on the style of game that suits it best; marketing can learn a lot from that approach, one of being platform-neutral and making sure the main thing is the main thing. No egos, no hidden agendas, just the desire to deliver the work in a way that suits the project best.

Sure, saying no egos in advertising is like asking the Pussycat Dolls to share vocals equally, like it was a vehicle for five careers and not one. The point remains though: we overcook so much on the way to delivering creative, we lose sight of what the brief was in the first place: to get the brand, product or service talked about.

Not the advertising around it.

Image courtesy of xeophin, with thanks to compfight.

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Cheap wine and a three-day growth September 26, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, creativity, marketing.

If I was a bottle of wine, how would I stand out on a bottle-shop shelf? What could I do? Varietal isn’t going to cut it, people like what they like (and generally aren’t adventurous). Regional? Not really.

What if I thought about the effect I have on people? What if drinking me could take you somewhere, if it was a ticket to another place, be that a great, uninhibited conversation, a new idea not previously formed…an unwanted pregnancy?

Regardless, I saw the below the other night and loved it.

Do you have your boarding pass?

Do you have your boarding pass?

When was the last time you saw a wine label that was unforgettable?

You and me, and the games people play September 23, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, conversation, creativity, digital strategy, marketing, philosophy, social media, web 2.0, work/life.
Tags: , , , , ,
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Content. Engaging content. Stories being told. Experiences facilitated by brands but not ABOUT brands. The logical extension of “This program was brought to you by…” in life after the 30-second spot is entertainment created solely for or by a brand. Entertainment that doesn’t ram a message home, but simply offers it up on a plate and says “Hey, yeah we did this. Hope you dig it.” The goal is of course still re-enforcement of whatever your brand’s values are, but there are better ways to do it than to just spit out a tagline.

The below quote from Henry Jenkins sums it up for me. I’m trying to figure out where it came from, it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for quite sometime…ahh here it is. I ❤ Google.

The key is to produce something that both pulls people together and gives them something to do…I don’t have to control the conversation to benefit from their interest

That ties in nicely to something I read over on Slideshare the other day (found by way of my friend Tim’s Insight + Ideas blog) that I liked so much I wrote on a Post-It and stuck it to my screen at work:

Autonomy (the ability to make a choice) plus Competence (a feeling like you have the necessary resources to make that choice) plus Relatedness (a sense you are working together towards a common goal) equals Happiness.

Maybe even a good deal of love for your brand.

First image courtesy of via, with thanks to compfight.

Second image courtesy of my own bad self.

We’re not here for a long time August 10, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in creativity, work/life.
Tags: ,

Being in the office on Sunday fees like I’m back in high school and am the only kid who forgot it was free-dress day, having showed up in my school uniform much like any other day.

In between the burst of work, I’m catching up on feeds. Quick off the mark this morning was Gavin Heaton’s great Servant of Chaos blog, and a fun little video about growing and nurturing creatives. Ultimately pointless of course, but Sundays aren’t made for productivity.

Most Sundays anyway.

Why creative is not a department August 9, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in creativity, web 2.0, work/life.
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How I hate a title for a post that isn’t a line from a song.


The below talk by Sir Ken Robinson (again at TED) is extraordinary. I wish I’d seen it when I was a kid, it would have made a whole lot of things make lots more sense. Thankfully I had parents who were already thinking along these lines, so they made everything a whole lot easier than some of my friends got from their traditionalist upbringings. Ken’s talk is on creativity and the new role it has to play in today’s world.

Please watch it.