August 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
LEGO turns 80 this month and in tribute of the occasion, they have created a 17-minute animated short film sharing the history behind their iconic bricks. At 17 minutes, the film is rather long for the typical brand-inspired film, particularly considering the ever-shrinking attention span of the average person. And yet, the video has been watched by well over 2 million people. I don’t know about them, but I watched the entire video. All 17 minutes worth.
The film is a great example of brand storytelling done exceptional. A few of my thoughts on why:
- The founder’s story: tying any brand story back to the company’s origins (which are usually humble and involving personal hardship) tends to be interesting, especially when they are tied to a person who endured and persevered through hardships as those overcome by Ole Kirk Christiansen, the founder of LEGO. A strong founder’s story is inspiring, relatable, and even heart-wrenching. At its best, bringing a founder’s story to life is a powerful tool in strengthening emotional attachment of fans, and establishing a tie with those who are not yet fans. LEGO’s founder is someone that fans can relate to, cheer on and hope does well… even when we know he eventually must, as we know what LEGO is today.
- Emotive story themes: Personal difficulty, perseverance, hard work, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to quality – the hallmarks of a brand that every customer can get behind, and ones that not every brand can attest to. LEGO has wrapped layer after layer of their brand story in these elements, making the extra effort to tie their commitment to quality to the craftsman story of the original wooden toys LEGO created. Smart, because carpentry is something a customer can easily relate craftsmanship to. More so than the plastic block.
- Personal narration: The film is narrated by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the grandson of Ole Kirk Christiansen. Initially, the narrator is unnoticed as just a voice, but eventually, it’s subtly and then not too subtly revealed that he’s a member of the family. Strong, because with the close familial ties to not only the founder but also LEGO, the narration, founder, and company suddenly become even more relatable and relevant. We’re listening to a man tell the story of his grandfather’s start and slow establishment of his company. Even though Kjeld is no longer the President and CEO of LEGO, it doesn’t matter. It’s still his family’s company, and as fans, we are more closely tied to his story because it is told through his eyes.
- Sincerity and authenticity: the story is told in a matter-of-fact sort of way that is approachable, simple, and authentic without any bells and whistles. Not to say that every story should be told in this way, but stories rooted in authenticity further resonate with fans. They are also more believable.
- Alignment to brand values: Alongside the story themes, which are compelling, and also selected in close alignment to LEGO’s brand values, the way LEGO’s story is told – methodically without too much excitement or embellishment – is also closely aligned to LEGO’s brand values. A brand story should always be consistent with the brand values and positioning. It seems obvious, but surprising how often it’s not well executed.
- Informative: Even for the biggest LEGO fan, the film offers you something new about the company you may not have known before. Did you know that LEGO comes from the Danish words “leg godt” for “play well”? LEGO also means “I put together” in Latin – a lucky, unplanned aspect of the name.
Apart from these aspects, the film is, of course very well executed in a Pixar-style animation. That level of quality in a video always helps.
In any case, happy 80th birthday, LEGO. I hope there are many more years of playing well to come.
December 18, 2010 § 2 Comments
Toyota’s new Auris hybrid has an attractive claim to fame: it recycles energy while you drive. So when Toyota launched their the hybrid in the UK earlier this season, they decided to use technology as innovative as their car: 3D projection mapping. 3D projection mapping has tended to find its way on to buildings up to now, and is becoming increasingly popular. But for Toyota, there was a catch. They wanted to project right onto the car itself, and they wanted it to be a 360 experience. It might seem like a slight modification, or even natural evolution of the existing technology, but if you consider how difficult is to effectively execute 3D projection mapping on the usual 2-dimensional plane, it would be infinitely more complicated and challenging.
In the end, with the help of Glue Isobar and production agency, Superglue, Toyota successfully launched the Auris in the way they had envisioned. They needed to use 7 different projectors around the car for a full 360 degree projection. The result, no matter where someone from the audience stood around the car, he or she would get the same experience.
The final product is shown in the video below:
And if you’re interested in how the projection mapping was done, Toyota’s posted a video about that:
Find out more about the campaign at: http://www.getyourenergyback.co.uk/
If you’re interested in finding out more about 3D projection mapping, Social Times has a great article on it.
December 17, 2010 § Leave a Comment
In the spirit of the holidays, Excentric sent their clients a Christmas card featuring their own rendition of the Nativity story told through a digital lens of today. I wanted to share this as I thought it was a clever way of showing how times have changed. See for yourself!
November 29, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Last night, an ad for the XBOX Kinect came on tv. I was on my computer, and so was only partially paying attention – but the last statement of the ad really jolted my attention back to the tv: “YOU ARE THE CONTROLLER.”
How profound. Are we here in the future already? How incredible is it that technology has now evolved to the point where you don’t need a controller to play video games anymore. Microsoft has completely changed the playing field this time, like Nintendo did with the Wii. And collectively, we are charging towards the reality that anyone and anything can be a vehicle and platform for technology, connection, communication, and interaction.
The rest of the ad itself is expressive in the simplicity of this concept. Just do what you know how to do already: move.
It made me go find it on YouTube to share – so they did something right.
October 25, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I was quite enchanted by the recently launched Tabio UK interactive website. It was sweet, whimsical, and endearing, but most of all, it reignited a nostalgic childhood fascination and playfulness around a normally rather benign, everyday product: socks. The best part about the site was the wonderful blend of emotive playfulness with the barely noticeable transactional capabilities of the site. Increasingly, I think this blend of feel-good emotive integration into the buying and selling process is the norm.
June 2, 2010 § 1 Comment
At the time and for the weeks and months following, the announcement has been met with mixed reviews. In one camp, people have labeled it as being just an oversized iPhone that was not quite phone, not quite computer. In another, it has been heralded as something that can be expected to revolutionize the gadget industry and way we interact with technology in ways we’ve seen Apple products do in the past. Within Critical Mass, we also had many discussions about the potential impact of Apple’s new iPad. However, regardless of our discussions and each person’s opinion around the iPad, one thing was sure. There was a lot of excitement – especially at the prospect of designing some of the first iPad apps for our clients.
Rather than talk about the impact of the iPad on our industry and market (if you want a great read on the subject, see Neil Clemmon’s post on Experience Matters), this post discusses some of the things we’ve learned about iPad app design and development through our own experience with some of our savvy clients. Through the course of our work with iPad apps, six main guiding principles have surfaced.
May 9, 2010 § Leave a Comment
In approaching mass marketing campaigns, so often, the communication focus is on reaching as many people as possible with our message or our client’s message… so much so that the underlying objective of understanding is lost. How do we get to them? Where are they already going to be? What are other ways we can reach them? Got that? Great. Now, let’s get them the message. And frequently, there’s a lot to say. We want people to know about the company, what the company is doing, that there’s a great promotion or initiative happening, and why people won’t want to miss out. Throw into the mix dates, locations, rules, participating partners, sponsors, prizes or donation opportunity, and even celebrity endorsement. But don’t forget the overall brand message… and campaign message. Oh, and also the partner sponsor brand and campaign messages too.
And that’s usually only the baseline of informational requirements. That’s already a lot.
It’s critical never to forget that although we want to reach people and get the information we want them to receive when we do – most often, less is more. Or actually, simplicity is key. Managing to fit all of the various points we want people to know doesn’t mean they will receive it when they see, hear, or read it. How do you ensure someone will walk away not only having been exposed to your message amongst all the other people and companies trying to get their messages out, but understanding it in the way you had intended it? You can’t, but you can certainly make it easier for them.
What are the one or two ideas you want someone to walk away with, and more importantly, if you could make it happen – what would you want them to do? That’s what should be in your communication, and everything about your design should support this. Your core idea and what you want someone to do with it.
A firehose of information is overwhelming and can result in more harm than good. Chances are people won’t listen to or read your full ad or write-up, or worse, get confused by it. The small act of keeping things simple – although easier said than done – can make all the difference, and well worth the effort.