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  • Posted by: Nick Awbrey on Thursday, May 9 2013 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

    Oppikoppi Festival

    A unique challenge to music festival organisers is creating a brand the young demographic generally views as cool and exclusive. The South African music festival Oppikoppi has unveiled a concept that will not only combat inconveniently long lines, but also establish the Oppikoppi experience as enjoyable and unique.

    Oppikoppi organisers plan to allow its concert goers to order beer via their smartphones. The beer is then delivered via drones which drop the beers into the crowd of concert goers. Although currently manually controlled, the drones will eventually deliver beer based on the consumers’ GPS location.

    The video demonstrating the beer drone has generated great interest since its publication on YouTube. The Oppikoppi festival has enjoyed an increase in brand awareness internationally, with its relatively simple drone demonstration racking up over 82 000 views and numerous mentions by the international press.

    Of course, ensuring that a beer can being dropped by a drone at altitude into a large crowd accurately and safely may prove challenging. However if these challenges can be overcome, drone delivery has the potential to increase brand value by providing the associating brands in question with innovation and the ever elusive “cool factor.”

    In the end, beer drones may prove to be impractical. However Oppikoppi has already won in the brand game by captivating its audience and positioning itself as the edgy and definitive authority on cool.

    Nick Awbrey is a Consultant for InterbrandSampson.

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  • Posted by: Forest Young on Tuesday, March 12 2013 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

    SXSWAs the 5-day SXSW® (@SXSW) Interactive Festival comes to a close today, it celebrates 18 years of providing a unique and unmatched culture of inspired creativity and international community. The combined entities of SXSW Interactive, Film and Music will be the highest revenue-generating event for the city of Austin this year with projections easily surpassing $200 million. 

    While a predominantly start-up culture initially differentiated SXSW Interactive, the festival is now inclusive of both the bootstrapping entrepreneur and the corporate giant. As a festival veteran and attendee this year, I will try to distill the main themes that emerged from the 2013 talks and symposiums.


    While SXSW Interactive continues to be a wellspring of inspiration for emerging and potentially disruptive technology, a growing number of panels focused on the societal outcomes beyond digital tools and platforms. Elon Musk (@elonmusk), an SXSW Interactive keynote speaker and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, delivered a well-received session. He stressed the application of technology to solve the problems of sustainable energy and "non-terrestrial" exploration. 

    Former Vice President Al Gore (@algore) spoke at length about our "stalker economy" — how forms of surveillance are being monetized, such as check-in apps, RFID tags, embedded cookies and geo-location, and that we will inevitably reach an impasse. Apps such as Snapchat (@Snapchat) allow the privacy-conscious to enjoy being social without accruing a potentially incriminating digital record. 

    The tech-savvy Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) lists among his many mayoral credentials an impressive Twitter following of 1.3 million people. He emphasized using social media channels to expand degrees of political and civic influence and, more importantly, as a potent vehicle for delivering hope and inspiration.

    TED celebrity Cindy Gallop (@cindygallop) returned to SXSW Interactive to discuss enhancements to her Make Love Not Porn properties — digital platforms that work to course correct sexual misconceptions stemming from hardcore pornography viewing. At the core of her multi-faceted and controversial initiatives, however, is a concern for more humane types of intimacy, reproductive health and safety. Always a provocative persona, Gallop, whose panel coincided with Al Gore's, tweeted: "At 3.30pm today, don't do @algore, do me. As it were :)"


    Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee), inventor of the World Wide Web, spoke about the past, present and future state of the internet on Sunday morning. The Internet of Things — a term Kevin Ashton coined to describe the connected network of intelligent machines — was long foreseen by Berners-Lee, who was adamant that the Web be preserved "as a space where any compatible device works." Berners-Lee expressed excitement over the versatility of HTML5 and the surge in coding literacy. He also cautioned about potential threats to this expansive connectivity, namely ISP interference, state surveillance and a lack of robust digital rights management (DRM) protocol.

    The frog SXSW Interactive opening party, titled "The Other Singularity" — a playful Kurzweillian twist, provided a compelling take on The Internet of Things, exploring how smart connectivity will extend to mundane gadgets and impact our lives in the future. Reminiscent of conceptual designers Dunne & Raby, the frog technologists exposed SXSWers to a crowd-sourced DJ jukebox platform, a robotic Zen gardener, smart Porta Potties and a user-device controlled "light as ink" installation.


    Echoing the growing presence of hardware at the festival, SXSW featured exciting developments in wearable tech that introduced new form factors and HCI models altogether. Leap Motion (@LeapMotion) — a motion controller peripheral for PCs and Macs — debuted at SXSW with much fanfare. Designed for detecting precise hand gestures with little-to-no latency, the product boasts an accuracy 200 times that of its Kinect predecessor, and might someday be integrated into standard computer hardware. In the demos, drawing with your finger in the air appeared effortless, and the fidelity of the motion capture was remarkable. Leap Motion CEO and co-founder Michael Buckwald sees his product as a solution for faster modeling with 3D software in addition to the obvious gaming applications and will be available to consumers in May.

    Google and its oft discussed Google Glass (@projectglass) technology stole the show on Monday as Timothy Jordan, Senior Developer Advocate and presenter, provided SXSW developers a first look at the Google Glass Mirror API and app integrations for Gmail, The New York Times, Evernote and Path. The glasses feature a small screen visible over your right eye with a microcomputer in the right arm of the eyewear. As Jordan flipped through news articles on his glasses in front of an awestruck audience, the excitement was palpable and served as a key element of Google's product socialization — a reminder that your digital products are only as good as the developers who are excited to continually redefine the envelope of possibilities.


    There was a noticeable and shifting emphasis this year of hardware and devices over software and social apps and platforms. MakerBot CEO and keynote presenter Bre Pettis (@bre) introduced the "Digitizer" — a 3D desktop laser scanner that eliminates the need for computer-aided design (CAD). MakerBot (@MakerBot), along with MaKey MaKey from the MIT Media Lab (@medialab), Arduino microcontrollers (@Arduino) and the Raspberry Pi (@Raspberry_Pi), are ushering in a new era of affordable DIY power tools. 

    This democratization of technology coincides with the proliferation of open source and entry level hardware projects and is part of a larger Maker Movement that supports STEM education and seeks to revive American manufacturing, and subsequently the economy, through a growing and technologically skilled labor force. Next year I'm anticipating another spike in hardware start-ups that will descend upon Austin.

    Game of Thrones#SocialXSW

    SXSW is an inherently social festival. Simple advice for a strong appearance in Austin: be memorable and be talked about. Internet star and meme sensation Grumpy Cat (@RealGrumpyCat) became an instant Austin celebrity as people waited hours to take pictures with the frowning feline. The Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) guerilla campaign was a smash hit as SXSWers took pictures of themselves on the Iron Throne in the Convention Center. Who would have thought that tech nerds would be drawn to Sci-Fi-/Fantasy?


    While there was no discernible unveiling on par with the historic Twitter or FourSquare debuts, two apps and a platform did make an impression at SXSW, with social media chatter, investment and downloads to prove it. Takes is a camera app that transforms still photos into dynamic video, with filter and music options. MessageMe (@msgme) is a group messaging app that allows users to send rich content in addition to SMS, such as songs, videos and doodles. 

    Realty Mogul (@Realty_Mogul), a real-estate crowdfunding platform won the HATCH pitch competition held at the 2012 SXSW Startup Village. The Los Angeles-based start-up provides a vehicle for "accredited investors to pool money online and buy shares of real property like office buildings, apartment buildings and retail centers."

    This was the largest SXSW Interactive to date with an estimated 27,000 to 28,000 registered attendees. An optimal SXSW Interactive experience is a blend of inspiring and structured speaker sessions with the impromptu and organic discussions — convivial exchange that happens away from the official venues. I can't wait for next year’s festival.

    Forest Young is Associate Creative Director at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Alex Foss on Tuesday, March 5 2013 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

    Self-driving cars

    Self-driving cars have seen a lot of progress in the past year, but the latest represents a surprising intersection of robotics and consumer tech. Oxford University students recently demonstrated how an Apple iPad can be used as the control center for a self-driving Nissan. It can engage “autopilot” on familiar routes, avoid obstacles and pedestrians, and return control to the driver with a touch of the breaks.

    Cool-factor aside, this is one of many recent examples of how consumer software and technology are finding their ways into product classes traditionally dominated by industrial heavyweights. Some near century-old giants of automotive, aerospace and manufacturing are finding new competitors in previously unrelated categories.

    • The Federal Aviation Administration recently granted permission to American Airlines to use the iPad as pilots’ resource for regulations and aircraft manuals. In addition to eliminating 35 lbs. of paper from the pilots’ flight bags, it allows the airline to avoid costly aircraft retrofits with dedicated electronic flight bag consoles.
    • MirrorLink, a technology that duplicates the display and touch controls of smartphones into automotive head-units, is gaining support from device and entertainment companies. This could compromise automakers' ability to market their own branded infotainment and telematics systems and maintain consistency of the driving experience.
    • The increasing accessibility of 3D printing technology is threatening to disrupt the value chains of all kinds of industries. There are implications for intellectual property, labor, the size and location of plant and equipment, shipping and – perhaps most importantly – product design. 3D printers are already being used to make on-demand spare parts, prosthetics and product prototypes.

    The modern computing landscape, characterized by pocket-sized devices stuffed with sensors and backed by vast cloud computing power, has changed consumers’ expectations for usability, connectivity and access to the state-of-the-art. For brands whose product lifecycles are measured in decades, it will be ever more important to develop platforms that allow their products to keep pace with the innovation happening around them.

    The components of Brand Strength can be helpful tools for looking at this challenge. Some manufactures will attempt to stake out their differentiation with proprietary branded solutions, at the risk of losing relevance because of rapid obsolescence. Others will try to maintain relevance by creating transparent conduits for consumers’ existing tech ecosystems, at the risk of commoditizing their own products and compromising consistency. Successful brands in the durable goods and industrial categories will see these components not as tradeoffs, but as mutual necessities in maintaining and growing brand value.

    Alex Foss is an Associate Consultant, Brand Strategy at Interbrand San Francisco.

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  • Posted by: Hugh Tallents on Thursday, January 31 2013 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

    BlackBerryZ10Confession time. I used to own a BlackBerry. Three in fact. And I loved them. It feels good to say it, so I’ll say it again. I LOVED MY BLACKBERRY. You won’t hear it much because it isn’t cool to even think that any more. It’s like listing an AOL account on your resume or mispronouncing Hyundai. You should just know better. Today execs all over America text their families on their personal iPhones over lunch while putting their company mandated BlackBerries in their waist holsters. BlackBerries have become the corporate technology captor but none of their users are developing Stockholm syndrome anymore.

    There have been some big pieces of news around BlackBerry and RIM recently – the “RIM = RIP” headlines have been writing themselves for a while now and so it was proven as the kooky Canadians who felt the need to put a holding company between their marquee BlackBerry brand and the customer did what we all hoped and just let it fade away. They wouldn’t be the first holding company in history whose sole job was to obfuscate, but most of those are headquartered in the Caymans and get investigated in Tom Cruise movies. So all you lucky RIM stock owners who have lost north of 60% of your portfolio value can check out the new BBRY ticker and pin your hopes and dreams on the fact that the same team that brought you RIM might, maybe, maybe have a plan.

    And they might.

    Their plan looks like being one that leads with the brand and acknowledges the customer for once. They plan to make you fall in love with their phones again. By committing to BlackBerry they are sending a message. No more distractions, no more shenanigans, no more hiding behind a meaningless acronym – let’s get back to making some of the most business friendly hardware around. The new BlackBerry Z10 is getting rave reviews for putting the user at its core (ahem) and providing an extremely productivity friendly tool to get things done. That sounds a lot more like the BlackBerry I fell in love with.

    What’s more remarkable is that this single mindedness is happening at a time when distraction is so easy to come by. Those at CES and readers of tech journos will appreciate the overuse of the words “innovation,” “ecosystem” and “connected” recently and that is only going to continue. Everyone from Huawei to Polaroid to the networks to Google are trying to own the customer’s connected digital life and the noise there is deafening. It is therefore actually quite refreshing to see the newly minted BlackBerry company understand the need to retrench, rebuild credibility through their products and help us fall in love with the BlackBerry brand again via their new devices.

    There’s room for artists who make just one beautiful thing. Maybe BlackBerry, by getting back to what made them famous in the first place, can earn a place in our hearts again.

    Hugh Tallents is a Senior Director of Strategy at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Wynne Renz on Tuesday, October 23 2012 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

    Rob Forbes, the founder of Design Within Reach, recently came to speak at Interbrand New York as part of our World Changing Speakers Series. Forbes talked about his latest venture, Public Bicycles, as well as how good design can be found in unexpected places—all you have to do is look for it.

    Forbes shared how he "sees" design in a TED Talk: Rob Forbes on ways of seeing.

    I started thinking about Forbes' idea that "common design in the public area means a lot to people, and establishes [a] groundwork and common dialogue." In looking at where I personally work, I asked myself, "What 'un-designed' design can be found in the ‘public’ space of Interbrand New York?" And I wondered, "How is this design inspiring and connective?"

    Un-designed design #1:

    Interbrand Coffee Mug Pyramid

    Interbrand Mug Pyramid 

    According to Forbes, "the first job of design is to serve a social purpose." The Interbrand coffee mug pyramid is design-for-the-public-good, giving Interbrand employees their much needed morning cup of Joe.

    Each mug is expertly placed on top of the other, revealing the “white space” waiting to be filled. The design is interactive — the structure changes as each mug is removed.

    It even has a design imperfection, like a knot in a beautiful cut of wood. See the white mug, sans Interbrand logo?

    Un-designed design #2

    3rd Floor Stairway

    Interbrand Stairway 

    The third floor stairway exemplifies Forbes’ idea of, "the power of pattern and repetition to make an effect in our mind." The length of the stairs narrows to the top, creating the effect of an M.C. Escher painting, where the stairs appear to be neither ascending nor descending.

    See the poster announcing Forbes’ World Changing Speaker Series? The event copy is printed in red, which is Interbrand’s core color. And red, Mr. Forbes says, is a color that has "this emotional power…"

    Un-designed design #3

    The Elevator Floor

    The Elevator Floor 

    The polka dotted floor of our building’s elevator shows how pattern has the power to, according to Forbes, "unite disparate elements."’ People tend to look down in elevators, and the pattern of the dots creates a sense of order and expectation in a place where people want to feel they’re safely getting where they need to go.

    What are some moments of un-design you appreciate in your own environment?

    Wynne Renz is a Consultant with the Verbal Identity team at Interbrand, NY.

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