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Accelerating Brand Growth Through Story-Driven Design, Leland Maschmeyer

Brand stories, the human will, facing complexity, and the future of packaging as the future of retail. Leland Maschmeyer was one of the presenters at the Dieline Summint, in Paris 2014. What follows is our understanding of the main points of his presentation at the Dieline summit in Paris, 2014.

Stories Reach People in a Way Information Can’t

  • Your brand should tell a story. Stories engage and create experience, feelings and emotions, in the hearer. The story does not have to be explicit, but it needs to exist in the idea of the brand. There are five elements of a story: 1) Character, 2) Setting, 3) Conflict, 4) Plot, 5) Theme.

  • Design is solving problems, and the design process itself is a story: The problem is a dragon that must be fought. First you must FIND the dragon (identify the problem), which is 75% of the solution. Then you must STUDY the dragon’s ways, defenses, weaknesses (understand the problem). Then DESIGN your attack to hit where the dragon is weak (create strategy). And finally you must KILL the dragon and MAKE SURE it’s dead (solve the problem, measure effectiveness).

  • Example: One problem identified was that people loved the funky furniture from a company when they saw it in the show room, but weren’t buying it online. The understanding was because young people were used to Pinetrest and the way things were depicted there, and their packaging didn’t match that. The strategy was to create packaging that looks like Pinetrest (the consumers’ weakness).

Design Is the Human Will in Motion

  • Design is a tradition of Inquiry just like the sciences and humanities. Science asks, “What is true?” The humanities ask, “What matters?” Design asks, “What is desirable? What is needed? What is missing?”

  • Design creates what is desirable. To create what is desirable you must consider: aesthetics (what we want); ethics (what ought to be, or ought not to be); reason (what needs to be). Design for living, not for purchasing only.

  • Design creates attraction. “Attraction is the spark that occurs when desire meets the manifestation of the desired. In other words, attraction is the recognition of the missing piece in one’s life.” Getting that missing piece can be transformative.

Facing Complexity is THE Problem to be Solved by Design

  • Complexity is a problem that must be addressed. All sectors of our world are getting ever more complex: the environment, government, business, educational system, healthcare system, food system, energy system, financial system, etc. Decision making is more complex than ever and getting more complex daily. The problem being solved is not merely “How to attract attention?” but “How to aid in the complex decision to buy (packaging) and to keep coming back (Branding). Good Design: 1) Compresses complex actions into simple ones, 2) Tells complex stories in an instant. Example: This complexity is one of the reasons for the rise of info graphics.

  • The role of designers is to simplify complexity. The next generation of designers will play a significant role in conquering complexity. They will have a superior aptitude for navigating and deciphering systems of complexity than most designers today. They are growing up in a complex world and will develop an intuitive understanding of it. Their desire and ability to make a difference in the world will bring them into direct confrontation with seemingly impenetrable complexity.

  • Designers must develop complexity fluency, a deep and intuitive understanding of how to map, understand, and intervene in complex problems. These methods reveal how to kill the dragon (as above), by helping them FIND where the root problem is, STUDY why a problem is the root problem, DESIGN a solution to the problem, SOLVE that problem in a way that has a positive cascading impact, and measure that impact.

The future of Packaging is about the Future of Retail.

  • The design of packaging is a strategic reaction to changing retail environments, such as “endless aisles”, increased shopping on mobile devices, the internet-of-things, new product subscription models, iBeacon, Amazon Dash, grocery home delivery, personal assistant AI and many more.

  • What new shopping behaviors will develop? How will consumers navigate this emerging landscape? This will create a need for new success criteria on packaging, and those new criteria will drive the innovation of packaging’s future.

  • Key Questions: What types of packaging will the internet of things require? Will designing for the internet of things still be designing for people? Or for gaining the interest of networks? Houses? Cars? Will this be done by people? Or will it be done by algorithms for algorithms?





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