Huma-Huma in the House

By Lisa Smith

Last Thursday we were excited to have Chris Smith and Matt Lewkowicz from Huma-Huma come in for our weekly share in the New York office. 

A few of us were lucky enough to work with them on the compositions for the recent USA TODAY broadcast spots. Huma-Huma certainly have more than one string to their bow: They are at once a band, company, collective, and sound house. They make music for films, television shows, commercials, video games, websites, toys, hotels, installations, interactive work, and anywhere else you could possibly imagine music or sound.

They endeared us with their creative and intuitive processes and showed us a sampling of their work. Below is my favorite piece, commissioned by Showtime as part of a short film series, that I feel really sums them up… 

Showtime “Music Box” from Huma-Huma on Vimeo.

Lisa Smith is a design director at Wolff Olins New York

Share: How Brandworkz works

By Spencer Phillips

Last month the New York office met with VP Thomas Aabo of Brandworkz for our weekly Share. Brandworkz aims to streamline the branding process through brand management software.

Their program lets clients choose and fine-tune a series of existing modules to quickly launch a new brand or alter an existing identity.  

Here’s what it looks like:

Thomas Aabo walked us through the Brandworkz process using a faux brand deliciously known as “Frootini,” a fictional online market place for digital smoothies. As  “brand managers” for Frootini, we got to use Brandworkz for simultaneous education and application. 

The software’s defining factor has to be its ease of use. By allowing clients to navigate and customize an array of dynamic templates, Brandworkz allows for easy on-brand decisions and asset management. Additionally, the software manages analytics and tracks all changes that occur within the program, allowing a company to efficiently manage their brand choices. 

So what might an operation like Brandworkz mean for business?  Well, for one, customization provides clients the choice to alter and manage on the go. The ability to manage assets remotely is an attractive feature, especially in a world that is constantly in motion. 

While asset management is a crucial aspect of maintaining your brand, it’s hard to imagine that even the most integrated digital service will  ever wholly replace bespoke strategy and design and in-person implementation. Brandworkz will have to consider how their modules can flex with organizations over time, and adapt to new platforms as the market and media evolve. We look forward to seeing how these new methods will complement more traditional branding and implementation practices.

Thanks to Thomas for a thought-provoking share.

Spencer Phillips is an intern at Wolff Olins New York.

Share: Droga5

Advertising agency Droga5 recently visited the NY office for our weekly Share. Chief Strategy Officer Jonny Bauer shed a little light on how Droga5 operates: they’re creatively led, strategy driven, tech-friendly, and most importantly humanity obsessed. (Sounds familiar?!)

Jonny showed us several campaigns, which all left us either deeply moved (watch part of “Day One,” a retirement campaign for Prudential above) or in laughing fits. A personal favorite was the work they did for Newcastle, the “No Bollocks” campaign, which plays into some predominant beer marketing stereotypes.  Check out that advert below:

(Spencer Phillips)

PARTY at lunch

In New York, we have a real treat for lunch today.

Masashi Kawamura, the founder and Creative Director of PARTY, is stopping by to do a quick lunch time share of his work.

I was lucky enough to share the stage with him in Goa at the Kyooruis design conference in September. His work is fantastic. A great mix of technology and creativity.

Screen Story (Sony) from DTan on Vimeo.

His work  focuses  on both “Human Insights” and “Technical Insights,” in order to inject “new stories crafted by new technologies” into product, service, space, and various other entertainments. His work ranges from web campaigns, TV commercials, games on mobile and web, TV shows, digital signage, TV graphics, books, toys and even a talking toilet.

(Karl Heiselman)

Infograph Epoch

By Kate Welsh

How does a corporate behemoth build trust in a world that is—to put it lightly—increasingly skeptical of big businesses?

Last week, Wolff Olins had the opportunity to meet Camille Kubie, the founder and former leader of GE’s visualization team, at our weekly Share in New York. GE, inspired by MoMA’s 2008 Design and Elastic Mind exhibition, decided to take advantage of the massive amount of data that they had accumulated from the sale and usage of their industrial, healthcare, and energy manufacturing products (GE sources their data from sensors attached to their products, as well as reports from utility companies and the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency). They believed that consumers wanted to see more transparency from corporations, especially in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Kubie showed us Smart Money’s “Map of the Market” and Aaron Koblin’s gorgeous visualization of flight patterns as her inspiration. Both manage to synthesize almost laughably huge amounts of data—the stock market and global airline flights—and present them using innovative visual displays and rich graphs and maps. One of GE’s early experiments with data visualization engaged consumers with their own energy costs. A visitor to the site could choose a home appliance and see how much its usage cost in watts, dollars and gallons of gas per year, month or day, state by state. If I stopped making toast in the morning, I could save 19.65$/year. (ATTN popcorn popper users of New York: That appliance uses more energy than your unit A/C, refrigerator, and computer combined.)

GE has definitely tapped into the “turn everything into an infograph” trend. Since the 2011 launch of the community platform, which allows users to easily create their own infographics, the Internet has become saturated with data visualizations as varied as one about the borough-to-borough artistic merit of graffiti in NYC to the process of hearing loss. In 2011, GE’s “Stats of the Union” was the second most popular iPad app in the U.S. Kubie herself uses the visualization platform,, which uses beautifully designed visual analytics to illuminate weighty policy issues.

Infographics utilize the idea that the brain can more easily process dynamic images rather than lists of numbers. But the best visualizations do more than animate bits of data. They elicit visceral comprehension and moments of insight that make viewers want to discover more. News outlets such as the Guardian, The New York Times, and Newsweek have made high profile use of data visualizations (see NYT Olympics Men’s 100 Meter Sprint, Newsweek best countries)—thus solidifying their positions as prescient, intellectually curious idea generators, rather than just news aggregators.

What does this mean for brands? GE successfully engaged people who might otherwise never think about the greater implications and responsibilities of the global manufacturing company—except in the context of the financial crisis. Brands can take engagement a step further. Data visualization helps companies gain insight into consumer behavior, but they can also show how their products respond to their consumers’ needs. GE could show how a new line of washing machines saves water and money. A foundation could show the far-reaching impact of their grant making. Data visualization can do more than offer a patina of transparency—it can help a brand achieve a higher purpose and become more useful to its customers.

Kate Welsh is a strategy intern at Wolff Olins New York.

Image via Aaron Koblin

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems? Not with Betterment.

By Ben Crane

At a recent Share in New York, Wolff Olins had the chance to meet Jon Stein, CEO, and Eli Broverman, COO, the cofounders of Betterment, a startup that wants to bring simplicity, design, and a dose of behavioral economics to personal investing and saving.

Disrupting your savings account.

So how does it work? First, a user easily transfers money between their checking account and the Betterment tool. Then Betterment invests the money across a diversified range of options.  Those options take into account a person’s net worth and income as well as modern portfolio theory. At any time, a user can adjust the risk that informs their investing strategy—if you’re more comfortable with risk your money can be invested in more stocks than bonds, and vice versa.

Jon and Eli, the duo behind Betterment, launched the company at the 2010 TechCrunch Disrupt, beating out 500 other startups to be named Biggest New York disruptor. Not bad for an SEC Registered Investment Advisor and a broker dealer regulated by FINRA and the SEC.

Betterment sticks out in three notable ways. 

— First, Betterment’s design sensibilities are refreshing considering the cluttered and confusing user interfaces that populate many investing services. Jon describes this minimalist approach to financial services as “Apple meets Vanguard. 

— Second, the cost of using Betterment is extremely attractive for anyone interested in growing their savings—there are no minimum balances, transaction fees, holding periods, or hidden costs. The only fee a user pays is a low annual management fee between 0.15% and 0.35%. To put this in perspective, the average mutual fund fee is close to 1.4%

Now, mind you, competitors can quickly emulate these two qualities. Banks can hire design firms to redo their website, and lean startups with enough funding can perform the same services for less. 

— The third factor, and where this start up truly stands apart, is that it lets its users set goals which inform Betterment’s investing strategy. The ‘goals’ feature, implemented by Betterment after carefully listening to the feedback of their users, treats you like a human being, rather than a dollar sign. 

Let’s say you want to purchase a car in 3 years. With a few simple clicks to provide basic information, such as how much you’d like to save, you can quickly set that as a goal. Next, Betterment recommends an investment strategy for you, considering your total net worth, salary, and investment goals. Goals range from the specific—purchase a new $40,000 car in 3 years—to the more nebulous—retire by the age of 60. 

The purpose of money management is only superficially to make more money. At its core, the driving force of money management is to make more money to do things.Helping someone achieve their goals requires a deep level of trust, and a genuine interest in their circumstances. 

Users and brands can work together.

The recent scandal at JP Morgan Chase over the manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, is only the latest in a series of events—perhaps beginning with the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007—to deepen the distrust citizens feel toward financial behemoths.

Betterment thinks users and brands can work together to better each other’s lot. It is this sensibility, that a company’s value is evaluated not only by its bottom line, but by its social impact, that we take to heart here at Wolff Olins. Ultimately, it is this sensibility that will separate the game changers, from everyone else. 

SHARE: What’s your type?

By Beya Likhari

We met Christian Schwartz last week, co-founder of Commercial Type, a foundry for typefaces, one of their most noted works being the Guardian Egyptian.

Christian and his partner-in-type (see what I did there) Paul Barnes, met over discussion of the letter ‘g’ and the rest as they say, is history.

The duo started a foundry to better help them control the context of where their work is seen. They say that having a smaller curated ‘neighborhood deli’ feel helps them develop personal relationships between clients.

Since the creation of typefaces can take a lifetime, it’s always good to have clients tell them to stop when they’ve arrived at a good variation of the font. Otherwise, Christian and Paul have their own typeface projects they’ve been working on for over 20 years.

The two work to make fonts that are bespoke for each client and their publications. One of their most well known, a font called STAG, was used for Esquire Magazine. The font started off as a stencil and was used in multiple formats, one of which was for Las Vegas Weekly-they wanted STAG to incorporate the ‘lights’ of Las Vegas and was later used in the newspaper’s ‘Features’ section.

Christian says they like seeing who ends up using the fonts they create. Oddly enough, law firms in Australia have also adopted the STAG as one of their main typefaces.

One of their biggest, though oddly understated, partnerships was with Puma in 2006. Commercial Type was asked to create fonts for the Puma Pace campaign that would be featured in the FIFA World Cup. Paul created two fonts- Crepello and Olembe for the Puma Pace sponsored teams.  

The World Cup was the largest viewing of the company’s work as the fonts were used on Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Italy, Ivory Coast, Switzerland and Uruguay’s teams. 

Top photo via @LA_Hall_  Middle photo through Commercial Type. Others via Font Feed

Share: Drinks, Friends and Collaborative Creation

Judd Morgenstern and Brendan O’brien of Wayla at last night’s Share in New York. 

By Beya Likhari

Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting Harry Raymond, Judd Morgenstern and Sandeep Ayyapan, the star students of Wolff Olins’ Brand Strategy classes at General Assembly. The three gentlemen had come in to talk about their latest entrepreneurial ventures and get our opinions and questions.

Harry Raymond, a young entrepreneur took us back a few years to when he was in college, studying abroad in London. While visiting bars and pubs, he was frustrated by having no way to adequately capture his memories, let alone, his favorite drinks. He came back to the states and decided to tackle the issue by creating a mobile app. Once it’s developed, Shindig will allow users to add and share their favorite drinks with their friends. The app searches drink names by ingredients and if you get creative and make your own drink, it gets added to the database. Harry also mentioned that the app will have a section for non-alcoholic drinks and smoothies, for the drink agnostic.

Next up, was Judd Morgenstern along with his partner in crime Brendan O’brien, who are both trying to make social networking a more fluid and real experience, versus it being set up as a Cartesian Grid, like Facebook. Their app, Wayla, is taking a stab at getting people together through events. Although the app hasn’t launched yet, it will allow users to “join” events through their phone and check in with other people at the event, giving you access to photographs and the ability to communicate with people at the location, given their privacy settings. And for all you documentarians, Wayla also has a virtual corkboard that allows you to collect digital posters and ticket stubs from each place you’ve visited.  

Last but not least, we met Sandeep Ayyappan, who talked to us about his project called Delve, a news curation dashboard for organizations. As the supply of news increases, it becomes more difficult for teams to discover, share and utilize information. Delve creates a workspace that allows employees to post articles related to certain topics that their co-workers can read and comment on. The company launched its private beta this week and is hoping to be the next area online for collaborative creation.

So what does this mean for the future of business? More and more, technology is acting as the catalyst for conversations and shared interests. Young entrepreneurs are seeing this trend, and acting on it. In the process, they’re creating an atmosphere where people come together and learn more about their interests, even if it is through an app.

Beya Likhari is an intern on the Wolff Olins Global Marketing team.

Image via @vijaymathews

Share: NewsCred Makes Friends, Not Enemies


By Ben Crane

Last week, NewsCred CEO Shafqat Islam and former Wolff Olins account manager Alicianne Rand—now NewsCred’s Marketing Director—came to share with us how they are disrupting the journalism and publishing industry while developing their brand identity.

NewsCred is a technology company that licenses and curates articles, photos and videos from over 750 high quality news sources, from The Guardian to The Economist.

The process of capturing the world’s best journalism is a complicated one, but Shafqat and Alicianne took the time to explain their method. They capture, license, customize, package, and deliver the world’s best journalism all in one place. Sounds simple right?

But NewsCred is not a news aggregator. Instead, it serves journalists- by getting them paid for their work, publishers- by offering customized content, and brands- by making it easy for them to host relevant, quality content with the editorial tools they’ve built. Brands they have worked with include Pepsi, Forbes, and Orange.

The technological abilities of NewsCred’s platform are impressive, but what I found most game-changing about them is how they work with publishers of great content, rather than against them. Their model is one of partnership and facilitation, a trend we’ve seen many startups embrace in the burgeoning sharing economy, from AirBnB to Getaround.

This spirit of looking first to cooperate, rather than compete, is not unique to startups either—industry behemoths are experimenting with this strategy too. Just the other day, Microsoft announced their newest offering, an app for IOS, Android and Windows 8 devices called SmartGlass, which lets you connect competitor’s devices to the Xbox 360 platform. In this case, it’s about providing a better entertainment experience by leveraging the products and services of those traditionally thought of as competitors, rather than Microsoft trying to provide every piece responsible for that experience.

As a brand consultancy, part of our job is reimagining how companies can operate in previously dismissed market spaces. This often requires new partnerships with existing companies, and a focus on what the brand does have, rather than what it lacks. So long as people are interested in learning, they’ll be interested in access to quality information. I’m excited to see which partnerships NewsCred initiates in the coming months.

Learn more about NewsCred  and Xbox SmartGlass.

Ben Crane is an intern on the Wolff Olins Strategy team.

Illustration by James Kape

SHARE: Ale Lariu of everybody SHOUT

By Thao Nguyen and Rachel Blatt

Born in Brazil and now native to the digital space, Ale Lariu considers herself a “geeky jungle kid.” We see her more as a spunky guru for creatives in digital, marketing and advertising. Our friends at Fast Company would certainly agree; they chose her as #29 of the 100 most creative people in business in 2010, topping Tom Ford, Jamie Oliver and the founders of FourSquare. 

Among her other impressive credentials, Lariu was once the SVP, Creative Director at McCann Erickson. While she enjoyed the thrills of agency life, she told us at a recent Share in our NY office that she had a stronger desire to live a “free range” existence. “I just thought, well, if technology and co-creation has allowed us to do all these things, why don’t we take advantage of them? Why are we still working in the same way?”

She left McCann to cofound SheSays, a now award-winning global creative network for women. Her goal is the engagement, education and advancement of all creative people in digital marketing and advertising, but her focus is on women. 

The newest venture out of SheSays is Shout, a radical and innovative way for women in digital advertising to work collaboratively and be compensated for it. Think of an online community where everyone is encouraged to give creative input towards a client’s brief and then gets rewarded for their contribution, whether their direction is chosen or not.

Shout embodies all of Lariu’s ideas about cage-free working, or what Wolff Olins usually dubs being boundaryless. People work when and where they want, with whomever they choose to. The profit is shared, the culture is collaborative, the rewards are both financial and non-financial. A lot of the Shout community contributes part time or freelance, Lariu told us, as a sort of supplemental income. 

“One insight I had when putting this together was that there are so many clever people out there. For instance, I bet I’d like to work with all of you guys. But when I was tied to one agency I couldn’t.” Once you’re part of the network, Shout has a LinkedIn-like algorithm that introduces you to people with complementing interests and skills, who you might want to work with. 

At the same time, Lariu says clients are into it because of its social aspect. “On the public layer, people are always commenting on the work as it’s happening. It’s like real-time PR for them.” 

Shout also collaborates with its sister company, SheSays, to educate its members through events, courses, career management and mentorship. To learn more, get involved, or take classes at these two ventures, visit and

SHARE is a weekly show & tell at Wolff Olins NY. Check out previous Shares HERE.

Image via the grindist