Brand New World

By Moussa Beidas

With the fear of being pedantic, branding has slowly been moving towards obsolescence. Not the general notion of the industry mind you, but its traditional definition in the global market place. A recent Fast Company piece called “Branding Talk Isn’t Helping Your Company. Here’s What Should Replace It” is getting a lot of attention this week for making that point. Its author Brian Millar says brand agencies are coming up short in creating brands that will thrive and grow to their full potential.

The branding industry has never stayed the same for long. Wolff Olins, for example, started out as a logo shop in the 60s and moved into the corporate identity realm before morphing into a brand consultancy. As is the nature with all things that thrive and progress, Wolff Olins will continue to change and evolve with the times. It has to.

What is interesting about Brian Millar’s piece is that he makes a clear differentiation between the creation of a brand and its continuation/survival.

Take Apple as an example: the last time it advertised around its brand was during the “Think Different” campaign of its 1980s brand cycle. The article argues that since then, every product Apple has come out with has been its brand. The company wasn’t told to shift its focus to just talking about its products, and it certainly wasn’t coached to do so by a consultancy. The truth of the matter is that Apple intuitively knew that the strongest act of branding they could take was to design products that would speak for themselves. Interestingly enough, even people that don’t purchase Apple products still have a clear idea of the brand and what it stands for.  

Such a reality calls into question the role of the brand consultancy, doesn’t it? Much like keeping training wheels on a bicycle ridden by a veteran, an agency could potentially do a strong brand more harm than good. When Millar says branders aren’t helping, I think what he’s really getting at is that the job of the consultant has to change.

We must start looking at how users are defining brands on their own terms versus creating a one size fits all definition for them. Using consumer feedback to understand and find target markets for brand positioning should be core to our efforts.

When all is said and done, brand is just a term, a phrase, a word made up of four consonants and a vowel.

It’s what you do with it and how you use it that counts.

Moussa Beidas is a designer at Wolff Olins Dubai. 

Image via Blaberize


Touché Disney

By Moussa Beidas

The iPhone and many of its equivalents have generated a whole new perception of digital interaction. Finger-swiping and motion gesturing have greatly desensitized our understanding of these new technologies and enabled new purposes for mass digital interaction. The buck doesn’t stop there however—Mickey Mouse has just added a new angle to interactive technology. 

Disney Research, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon and Tokyo University, just introduced a completely new method of digital interaction called Touché, which enables a wider gamut of information relay through touch. Touché works across all types of material, from existing touchscreens to more exotic items like doorknobs, your skin, and even water’s surface. See the video above for a richer explanation. 

The understanding and range of these sorts of physical interactions will have huge implications and ripple effects. It will not only affect content structure and visual cues on your tablet, phone or Mp3 player, but also have a huge impact on our ability to decipher social understanding through body language and other parameters that our species has long taken for granted.

Touché works by sensing signals across a large range of frequencies — while the typical systems we know only pick up signal at a single frequency.  According to Disney Research, this technology could soon enable embedding different commands for when a user pinches or grasps a hooked-up object. 

In short, Disney has used zeros and ones to create a cross-platform game changing approach to people’s interactions with the objects in their lives. 

Liechtenstein for all, by all


By Moussa Beidas

Bordered by Switzerland to the west and south, and by Austria to the east, this small principality is dubbed by most as the Monaco of Eastern Europe. It shares a lot of similarities with its French namesake, including the second lowest unemployment rate in the world (Monaco is 1st) as well as the highest gross domestic product per person anywhere. But thats probably where the similarities end in the eyes of those behind the Liechtenstein brand. It underwent a branding exercise in 2004 with Wolff Olins London and since then has been positioned as a sophisticated capital destination with an influx in tourism and a strong entrepreneurial spirit. 

Fast forward to 2012 and Liechtenstein is pushing the reboot button with the same spirit it had back in 2004. It has asked design agencies around Europe to submit their thoughts on what Liechtenstein should look like now and will then put those ideas forward to the principality’s 30,000 citizens. Having such an accountable population really helps makes the job a lot easier. 

With the global economy slowly rising from the ashes, an increasing number of brands and the people behind them are using the opportunity to latch on to people’s new found spending confidence. Destination brands are gaining popularity by the minute, because people are looking for a change in scenery.

It goes beyond looking for new places to visit, and onto new ways to get there. Emirates airlines is another brand focusing on a massive global refresh, moving from Keep Discovering, to Hello Tomorrow. If the trend is to hold water, then brands all over are going to begin to appeal to the masses and their aspirations, and Liechtenstein will probably be following suite.  

Watch this space for updates on which new Liechtenstein is chosen. 


Same VS Relevant

By Moussa Beidas

In centuries past, branding a makers mark on ceramics and hand made goods was done to prevent copies or recreations of the real thing. Their purpose was to guarantee the future integrity of their brand and encapsulate the design and style from which they stemmed, (timelessness). Todays marks do just that for businesses; a successful visualization of a business’ experience ensures its longevity through the ages and cements its purpose in the future of a modern social environment. 

Read More

Got melt?

There’s a new kid on the block in the browser world and here’s the scoop: he’s an enthusiastic short guy with really thick glasses and a heavy accent. Web browsing is second nature to most of us, but web developers Tim Howes and Eric Vishria along with Netscape founder Marc Andreessen have created a new social media web browser called Rockmelt. As the name suggests, it creates a synergy between the online social experience.

So what happens when you fuse your social networking experience with your browsing experience? Not a whole lot I’m afraid. The browser world isn’t as exciting as the brochure let us believe it might be, but it has created a new outlook on how we view the growth and life cycles of online experiences. One way of venturing out of the comfort zone is to look at what is yet to exist or inevitable. A thought of a global login browser comes into mind.

As facebook is quickly becoming the most used internet service ever created, then why not use facebook as an internet passport? A browser that would integrate all information used to login to facebook, coupled with an increased security validation and apply that to a tailor made master key for every user and thats when you’re onto something. The browser is now no longer a browser.

The question still remains, will innovation vs reinvention be sufficient to sustain the internet?

(Moussa Beidas)