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Tuesday Insights at FUSE

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Cheryl
Swanson, co conference leader and founder of Toniq
welcomed us all with an
overview of semiotics, the study of signs, symbols and body language.  She used this filter to study our
interaction with change.  Radical
change is not just a possibility it's inevitability.  We are both driven by and in fear of change.  Her advice is to face change with
positive emotion for although you don't know here change is leading, it is
easier to accept if you know that it will be worth the experience.  She referenced radical change in brand
messaging using humor in examples from AT&T, Chrysler, Cracker Jack, Clorox
and others.  This was a great way
to tee up the experience that this day was going to offer.
Debbie
Millman
co conference leader and President of Sterling
then took us all on
a history of the FUSE conference through a delightful and ingenious 'graphic
movie', highlighting the changes in the design industry as the FUSE brand
evolved.  Referencing past speakers
and contributors was a great reflection for those of us who have been FUSE
loyalists for many years
Jonathan
Adler
, Artist/Author
then took on the challenge of the provocateur, the
artist, and the brand builder by sharing with us his creative process, his
inspiration and his beautiful work. 
He battles against his 'addiction to his brand' and the analysis, rules
and limits that branding puts on innovation and creativity.  He described his fashion-driven muse,
his sense of style, blending craft with high style authenticity and 'a dash of
vulgarity'.  He took us on a tour
of his Shelter Island home so as to give us an insight on how he uses scale,
applied art, contrast and textures to weave a truly unique experience from this
space.  He provoked those brand
enthusiasts among us by poking at the creative process and collaboration
suggesting that nothing comes out right the first time and that to design is to
continue to evolve.
Mike
Indursky, CEO of Bliss,
gave us an insider's view from the top at how a
challenger brand can turn barriers into opportunities.  In competing with billion dollar brands
that can out spend it at every turn, Bliss's success is driven by being
resourceful, fast moving, decisive and nimble.  Mike uses his 'one shot' analogy to suggest that he has to
make immediate impact and see fast success or move on.  He embraces polarization.  A brand needs to be something very
important to a very specific audience, not everything to everyone.  In order to attract those that love the
brand you have to accept those who hate it.  He used Dollar Shave Club, Method, Help and other brands as
examples of relevant but irreverent brands.  He showcased Bliss launch of the cellulite fighting
'Ass-spite' brand of as an example of leading the consumer rather than
following them.  His courageous
rally cry ignited the audience.
Neil
Grimmer, Co Founder Plumb Organics
described the development of his 'small
giant' brand that was inspired by love and fueled by a mission for 'craveable
health' in childhood nutrition.  He
went further into the evolution of the Plum brand and how it created the first
real disruption in the baby food category, not just in its nutritious and
delicious food but also in its package and the convenience it provides.  He then switched the focus to giving
back.  To address the fact that 1
in 5 children in the US are undernourished, he and his foundation members at
'The Full Effect' have set out to provide nutritious foods for the first 36
months of child's life. This sets the tone of their eating habits for their
entire life and allows them to reach their full potential.  With proper nutrition, every child can
grow up to provide its full effect on the world.  He asked the audience to participate and further this quest.
Following lunch Dondeena Bradley of Pepsico and an eclectic team of five women
talked about their collective roles in 'collaborative disruption' as they seek
new pathways to wellbeing for women. 
Working from their strengths each takes a different responsibility in
contributing to the information and how it is processed.  From the 'warrior' who drives new ways
of thinking to the 'interventionist' who deconstructs complexities, to the
'weaver' who binds them all together, this team explored collaboration in an
entirely new way.  Their
inspirational film outlined their goal of wellness and the power that the
Pepsico brand can provide to fuel it.
Chad
Donvito of Hasbro
then outlined the path that the Nerf brand took to move
from a toy to a lifestyle brand, as it became one of the most successful brands
in its category.  He featured the
brand's evolution in product innovation and usage innovation, using key
insights from kid play patterns to create new structured games and competitions
among Nerf tag players.  Knowing
that kids are 4 times more likely to buy a product recommended by a friend,
Hasbro encouraged kids to own the brand. 
They allowed kids to make their own TV commercials and to foster brand
advocates. Once kids started talking about the brand to their friends, the
brand really became successful. Following this lesson, Chad encouraged
marketers to let go of the reins and allow the consumer to determine where the
brand fits in their lives.  This
new thinking drives new products like Fire Vision where using special glasses,
kids can play in the dark.  
He discussed how cross brand building strategies brought the existing
Super soaker into the Nerf brand franchise that doubled sales within a
year.  Now targeting girls by
building on The Hunger Game franchise, Nerf has seen a 10 fold increase in
sales in the last few years.
The
Web De Vlam team and Louis Goldstein of Organic Farms
used a beautifully
crafted case study of re-inventing an Organic cooperative brand by tapping into
the roots of its 1800 family farmer owners and what motivates them to go
organic.  Video of the farmer's
lifestyles and testimonials to their quest to build a better world through
organic food drove a deeper understanding of this compelling brand story.  This created the connection point
between the consultancy and the decision makers to make relevant change in the
brand message and its identity. 
The resulting full-color work package design showcases emotional imagery
of the farmers and their cows, reflecting the respect they have for their
animals and the pride they take in the quality of their product.
A panel featuring Willy Wong, Chief Creative Officer of NYC & Co, Sean Hughes, Chief Design Officer of Philips Healthcare, Chris Plews, Design
Director
of Davis and Vince Voron,
Head of Design
of Coca-Cola provided
a fast paced and interdisciplinary look at branding from very different
perspectives. 
Willy's
work with rebranding New York City showcases the challenge and power that comes
applying strict brand identity standards to a myriad of applications and
allowing them to come alive in their own individual way.   He referenced the lightning speed
tat his team works under and the parameters of variety within consistency.
Sean
then changed gears to highlight how design of both the medical device and
the environment in which it's in can dramatically improve patient care. He was faced with an army of powerful
forces that did not want to change, but by showing them how the room design,
lighting, projected imagery and ambient sound eased patient anxiety and gave
them some feeling of control.  Patient
satisfaction scores proved that this works.  The design team transformed themselves from a value-added
department to revenue generating profit center for the Philips brand.
Using the Stride brand redesign case
study, Chris talked about designing
for brands that never stop moving. 
The need to speed the process can often be thought of as limiting the
creative endeavor.  But Chris
suggested that this also forced more non-linear thinking, it required
simplifying complexity and it drove intuitive decisions.  He argued that better work
results. 
Using lessons he learned while in the
creative team at Apple, Vince
applied his collaborative design leadership tactics to the sizable challenge of
keeping Coke relevant.  He trained
his design team to become 'chameleon communicators'.  He fostered their empathy for the audiences they were
addressing, from the Finance and research teams to the marketers.  He encouraged the designer as the ROI
advocate, the consumer insight interpreter and the branded retail experience
builder. This new process resulted in such industry defining innovations as the
Coke Freestyle machine, which engages the consumer in a very different way and
makes Coca-Cola contemporary and relevant to emerging audiences.  He elevated design as he elevated
designer's impact within the organization.
Presenting a refreshing look at the pathway
of the creative entrepreneur, Kendra
Inman
then concluded the day.  
Her quest to create a truly unique skin care brand in this hyper
cluttered category began by questioning everything with a 'beginner's mind'.
She began by questioning everything. 'Do we need it'?  In formulating the brand, she questioned the need for its
largest ingredient, water.  If the
product did not have water it would not need the emulsifiers and preservatives
that water s.  By eliminating these
harmful 'industry standards', what results is one of the industry's highest
quality and most effective products. 
This truly distinct product and its compelling brand story emerged to
become the One Love Organics brand. 
Kendra continued to describe how this 'beginners mind' vision continued
to inform the brand's identity and package design.  The clean aesthetic strips back all elements to their
core.  Educated consumers look to
the brand's web site and social media platforms where they can learn more about
the brand story.  The brand's
twitter page proves that One Love Organics does not just have loyal users, they
have passionate and informed brand advocates.
On to the cocktail reception and the
chance to reconnect with the industry's most engaging thought leaders!
Rob Wallace
Wallace Church
Rob@wallacechurch.com

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