Without question, we are at the start of a decade that must see massive change. Now, more than ever, we need face a future with positivity – our planet is dying, and because we are all responsible for that, we should all bring positive change where we can. And change must come quickly. We have ten years to design for global change, to influence users, consumers and clients to make better decisions for our planet – with it, we can bring sustainability to the forefront in all domains.
Social change – Your Business has a role.
“Brand purpose” has been at the forefront of marketing for a while. We’ve used the term to help build identities, campaigns and keep things on-track. For years we have preached ‘we should stay true, and not try to change the world’. Now, it really is time to drop the ‘not’. Customers expect a Brand, Company or Organization to have a point of view on the bigger picture – Corporate Social Responsibility, ethics, traceability, morality, should be driving all that we do today. But Brands, Companies and Organizations are not human beings, they can’t react emotionally to injustice, immorality or human rights – but they can still stand for something. Today, we can still talk luxury, reliability, performance, but climbing through we see new brand attributes ; inclusion, integrity, conscience and the big one, understanding. There are sceptics who say that this can only begin internally, only driven by people who are driven by work that is important to them. But those of us who design or develop marketing assets, are also people with values – we work with powerful platforms that can be used to drive social change. The tricky part is balancing what we are doing to change the world with authenticity – it’s the challenge that we face, and we must focus wholly on to resolve. There is little time left to miss opportunities to sow a seed of change. If a customer, client can be informed, or messaged that change, no matter how small is underway, it’s a positive move to making a difference through design. And if all Brands, Companies and Organisations make the effort to message change, the big change will come. Committing to inspire change should be our priority and be seen as the most important purpose to any Brand Company or Organization. And if it’s top of the list, at the forefront of all our audiences minds, it will change their own day, every day, and will undoubtedly lead and influence change in those around them.
UX designed for time.
When it comes to service, we have always designed UX around optimization – speed, efficiency, ‘give them what they want, as soon as we can’. It is of course all still relevant, but creating and spending quality time with the customer is a rising priority. We have developed warp-speed immersion, a confused and complicated contradiction. The flinch test still has its place, but now, we should strive to deepen relationships to make UX truly memorable – to induce an understanding of time well spent – today, time is a commodity more precious than ever, because time is so limited. Your Business is not just competing within your sector, its competitors are the smartphones, the podcasts, the clips, the games, the posts, the snaps, and, all the rest. The change comes as we, the designers and marketers, have been trained not to think about spending too much time with the customer. The shops we visit, or the services we use, are always trying to drive down wait time and speed up service. This fear of ‘time-wasting’ has extended to digital, where “time on site” is actually now seen as evidence of how confused or lost our User is. But experiential marketing is changing things. Users are looking for time and space, because, online or offline, they are tired of not having enough. Brands and businesses that design UX for quality time, for a longer-lasting experience, are the ones that are winning. Some will say we are almost at full-circle, that our hyper-speed digital world is turning us, and our platforms off. But for the moment, whether you are steering a Brand, or influencing Stakeholders, we are all still contributors to the ‘experience economy’, and we still need to apply the old measures of success. 2020 will however see the old measures starting to change.
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Our lives are defined by our data – we are blanket bombed by sameness, generic choice and experience, it impacts our well-being and outlook. Credible design solutions, based on real insights and science, more impact-aware than ever, will play their part.
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Green will lead.
Up until 2019, Sustainability issues were still talking points, the subject of projection graphs and 2050 timelines. In 2020, we have reached a tipping point for change – ‘green’ issues and attitudes become the singularly most important shift in human behavior. From Individual to Corporate level, ‘green issues’, primarily the acceleration of preserving our planet is today, the principal driver in all that what we do, with global support for a new generation of activists, advocates and business leaders who’s mission is to redefine what it means to be ‘green’. And it’s already having a huge impact in the way we design, communicate and go to market. Consumer demands and habits are changing, and will soon be enough of a majority to support commercially viable, and more profitable sustainable products – and, it will be game-changing – from plant-based food, private mobility, to how we work, where we work, and where we go on holiday. Savvy Brands and Businesses are now moving sustainability out of the CSR cupboard and putting them at the top of the pile in their product and marketing portfolios. And, thankfully, it’s a change that sees Global Governments absolute in their commitment to the pursuit of creating green jobs and greener businesses. Collectively, these global trends will see Sustainability transformed from a virtuous ideal for tomorrow into a commercial reality and prime driver of business today.
Creativity – more important than ever.
2020 is the world at peak data. We have spent the last decade feasting on research, statistics, and analysis – the result is a huge gain of huge knowledge. From this, we have learned how decisions are influenced, how those decisions shape and form brands and businesses, and our daily lives. But we’re stuck. With so much data so available, we are saturate with sameness. Many brand experiences aim for the same as content creators throughout the world see the same data patterns in the same data sets – and it’s too easy to choose the most obvious to provide answers and to drive solutions. It’s mass produced response building, based on mass produced indicators, and the result is generic, with UX that has become the ordinary. 2020 should see this stop. A big push for more creativity will breed big ideas on the ascent, as we collectively realise that collective data is not the starting point for smart, surprising, or unique experiences. To create great work that will bring real stand out to any business domain, we need strong and original ideas born from imaginative thinking and not just the understanding of data.