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A bunch of us Reaktorians had the chance to attend the iconic Cannes Lions Festivals of Creativity this summer. There were four of us, three guys with a software development background and then me, “the brand person” with a limited understanding of technical design but a background of over ten years in branding and advertising.
This trip to Cannes made me wonder what six months in a software company and over ten years in advertising have taught me.
Here is what I’ve learned:
The differences between advertising, service design, brand development and product design are becoming more and more vague. Opportunities for new kinds of marketing acts, services and innovations have never been greater – people are craving for new services that make their lives easier. But, in order to succeed for longer than a week or two, these services must solve a real problem, surprise and engage people over and over again.
Both software and advertising professionals are creative problem solvers. They are trying to find answers to digital shifts in the market landscape and the behavioural changes in consumers’ lives. This is an ongoing hunt for something contagious and deeply engaging.
In this new era, advertising agencies and software companies have much to gain from each other’s worlds. The advertising industry would benefit from the discipline and transparency of agile software development. On the other hand, when designing digital services, more time should be spent finding consumer and market insights that resonate with the audience emotionally.
I believe that some of the lessons I’ve learned from working in an IT company would be particularly valuable for the advertising industry as well:
Agile approach in future-proof service design
- Don’t aim for a final product. Instead, think in terms of Minimum Viable Products so as to allow for measuring and corrections based on how the service resonates with the target market. Zero users, zero insight.
- Embrace imperfection but base your design on real data. In the early stages of product development, the number of downloads isn’t as important as retention. Be prepared to kill your darlings and to reassess your design or vision.
- Visualize the workflow of each team member. What you need to make visible is the process itself, not just the outcome. An iterative process makes decision making smarter, because it’s based on up-to-date knowledge.
- Become your client’s trusted advisor. Sharing a physical space with your client is the key to a shared understanding. Minimise meetings and keep moving forward. One prototype is worth a thousand meetings.
- Solve a real problem. Understand your audience and their real needs. How do you want to change our customers’ lives? What kind of behavioural change are you trying to achieve with your product?
Want to hear more? I will continue on this subject at Reaktor Breakpoint in September. Conference program and tickets here.