The world of nowaday’s marketing sometimes is a crazy, crazy place. While people share the hell out of content on whether it is better to post at 2pm or 4pm we still have not done our homework in many ways.
Neither my job as a digital strategist is properly defined. Nor is there a clear understanding of what a contemporary process in the digital space should look like? How does integrated marketing truly work? What are the essential conceptual steps in digital brand building?
Marco Spies has published a book that is meant to answer a lot of questions that arise in agencies and marketing department nowadays. It is called “Branded Interactions” and I personally think it is one of the most important German books on digital marketing in ages. It doubtlessly already is one of the most beautiful non-fictional books I have ever seen.
Currently the book has only been published in German. But if you ask Marco to come up with an English version very, very, very soon – he will probably speed up. Contact him here on twitter and if you just want to say hi – that’s cool as well. If you like what you are seeing below and ask yourself where you can buy the book and learn more about its content. Please go to brandedinteractions.de.
I know Marco for quite some time when both of us worked for Razorfish back in the days. Coincidentally he has become my neighbor here in Berlin where he runs an agency called think moto together with his partner Katja.
Time to get to know Marco.
Hi Marco, you have published a book called ‘Branded Interactions’. What are ‘Branded Interactions’ and what is your book all about?
Here at think moto we define ‘Branded Interactions’ as digital experiences bridging brand, business and user. My book focuses on Branded Interaction Design (BIxD) – a strategic design process for interactive brand experiences.
How do you define design?
The way I define design confuses Germans all too often. When I say design I do not mean visual design – in fact it goes much further than that.
Visual design, user experience design, information and interaction design, service design – these are different, very conceptual entities that we understand as part of a design process. We are not just interested how an interface looks like. But how a brand can be experienced across a number of touch points. And that’s a highly strategic process. A process that needs to be designed. And this process is what I wanted to describe in my book.
As a digital guy: why did you decide to write a book?
Oh, that’s quite easy to answer. There is a lot of literature on CI/CD and branding on the one hand and on user experience design on the other. Most of it comes from the U.S. and is quite U.S.-centric. What is missing is a book that intertwines User Experience Design and Strategic Branding.
There is a gap, that needed to be filled. And it is exactly this intersection of UX and Corporate Design/Branding that I have been working on throughout my professional life.
One of my first major projects was about developing a style guide for new media formats – as it was called back then – for adidas worldwide. And that is what I have been doing for one and a half decades now: enabling brands to be experienceable in the digital space.
To cut a long answer short: There is demand for a book that does not only talk about brands or digital but instead tries to bridge both worlds.
So it seems there is no agreement in the industry what digital marketing actually means. Otherwise you would not see a demand in a basic guideline for a BIxD process. Why do you think this is the case?
Good question. And in fact, I thought about it more than once. My theory: this is related with a marketing industry that still struggles with the paradigm shift that we have seen for years.
In Germany (as in many other countries) we have three types of agencies as key players:
- Interactive or Digital agencies which most often used to be technical service providers rather than design consultancies
- Branding agencies which intended to build brands mostly across a number of non-digital touchpoints
- Advertising agencies which intended to create communicative solutions for their clients
All of these agency types struggle with the digital revolution in one way or the other. I personally think digital agencies like Razorfish are probably the best prepared players to adapt. They quite often started as digital specialists but have understood that they now serve as something different – brand consultants in the digital space. Understanding first what a brand in the digital space can do before executing this in traditional media is much easier than vice versa.
I can understand how hard it is to adapt to this new world. There are a lot of people out there who create brilliant brand experiences or great advertising. But truly creating great branded experiences is something different. It adds a third dimension to a product and a service.
Take a look at what Nike is doing with Nike+ to understand what I mean: Nike used to produce and market sportswear. But with Nike+ they moved way beyond their original business segment. Not only did they innovate their marketing by providing personalized digital services. They extended their product portfolio. And this is how they readjusted their existing old economy business model with respect to the new digital world we live in.
The Nike+ service systems consists of new digitally enhanced products and gadgets which turned Nike+ into the most successful sports community worldwide.
By redesigning its core business model, Nike was able to allow its customers to experience the brand wherever it is relevant for them: on a soccer field, during a run or in front of their XBox at home? This is their choice. Nike+ is everywhere. And this is what many agencies struggle with: in order to deliver digital brand experiences we truly have to deep dive into three core aspects of brand business: the brand, the user and the business model. And for many “traditional” agencies it seems to be quite challenging to integrate the latter into their processes.
Let’s talk about your book. How are you trying to explain a BIxD process?
The book ‘Branded Interactions’ is a manual for what we at think moto call a Branded Interaction Design process. It is supposed to go beyond designing communication for the digital space. We want to understand the context of interaction between a brand, its users and the underlying business model. And from there develop new digital applications, products and services that deepen the overall brand experience.
So, to a certain degree ‘Branded Interactions’ describes the process, tools and the different roles and responsibilities of getting from A to B. I hope it is a very practical book. Something that you hopefully would like to keep on your desk and read if you need an inspiration or a new thought for getting an idea. In addition to the explanation of the process and its methodology it also presents many good practice case studies and a number of interviews with some leading experts in the field.
And – thanks to the publisher Herman Schmidt Verlag and the designer Katrin Schacke – it has become a very beautiful book with some really nice and useful features as the removeable folding panel or the well designed diagrams and templates. :-)
Who should buy your book?
First and foremost, everybody who is interested in this topic. It will be most purposeful for anybody involved in the broader design process: Designers, Art and Creative Directors, UX Designers, Concept Developers, Copywriters. But I think ‘Branded Interactions’ will also be very beneficial for Strategists, Client Service people and Project Managers.
You have just published Branded Interactions. How are you going to make it evolve?
For now I am happy it is out there. But hey, this book is based on how we actually work at think moto. I am sure there is a lot more out there to explore. And I am certain we will find new and different ways to work in the future. Let’s just see what makes our projects more successful and what works for us – and maybe it will become part of a future edition.
Thanks a lot Marco.
Please feel free to leave a comment or a question underneath this article. If you wonder where to get Branded Interactions: this is the place – brandedinteractions.de.
Marco Spies is co-founder of think moto, a digital design consultancy in Berlin. Before, he had been working as a UX Designer and Creative Director for Pixelpark and Razorﬁsh and headed the interactive design department at branding agency Peter Schmidt Group (BBDO). Marco has been responsible for the interactive brand experience of many national and international brands such as T-Mobile, Germanwings, Nintendo and the Linde Group.
think moto is a digital design consultancy in Berlin, focussing on strategy and design of (digital) brands, products and services. think moto has been founded by Katja Wenger and Marco Spies in 2010. Among their clients are simyo, Cornelsen Verlag and Men‘s Health.
More about think moto: www.thinkmoto.de
More by think moto: www.brandnewthinking.de