Holiday seasons like Valentine’s Day stand as pivotal moments for brands to cultivate consumer engagement and drive sales, leveraging the emotional resonance inherent on such occasions. Once a simple celebration of affection, February 14th has evolved into a grand marketing spectacle, wielding immense economic influence across diverse industries.

In fact, in 2024, Valentine’s Day expenditures in the United States are projected to soar to a staggering $26 billion (Statista, 2024). These figures underscore the burgeoning opportunity that this day represents for brands.

Therefore, it is legitimate to ask, how brands can leverage design strategies to maximize consumer engagement and drive sales during Valentine’s Day, as an opportunity to forge deeper connection with their audience.

/ Modern love

Situationships.

In today’s dynamic landscape of relationships, the concept of “situationships” has emerged as a prominent phenomenon, especially among younger generations. According to a 2022 survey conducted by YPulse, 20% of Gen Z and 16% of Millennials report they have been in a situationship. And 35% of Gen z say they prefer to have an undefined relationship rather than one with a label, highlighting the evolving nature of modern love dynamics.

Several brands have innovatively tailored their offerings to resonate with this contemporary relationship dynamic.
US confectionery brand Sweethearts Candies is one of them capitalizing on this.  Sweethearts Candies’ limited-edition “Situationships” box features heart-shaped candies with blurred messages, targeting individuals navigating the grey areas of relationships. Unlike traditional Valentine’s Day campaigns that focus on happy couples, Sweethearts Candies targets a different ‘unseen’ demographic: people in situationships.

The campaign quickly gained traction on social media platforms, garnering over 1.2 million views on TikTok and sparking engagement from users who resonated with how confusing situationships can be. The brand’s website further extends the campaign’s reach with downloadable e-cards bearing phrases like “Do you know how much you mean to me? Because I don’t.” adding a touch of humor and authenticity to their Valentine’s Day strategy. This approach exemplifies how brands can adapt to evolving consumer behaviors and cultural trends, infusing their offerings with relevance and resonance.

Dating apps.

Today’s romantic landscape is inseparable from dating apps. With 2.3 million daily unique visitors to these platforms in France in 2023, dating apps have become an essential aspect of modern romance. Consequently, they represent a significant business opportunity for brands aiming to expand their audience reach, enhance visibility, and engage users in meaningful ways by addressing real-life challenges.

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Source: Adidas

For example, Adidas and Bumble have collaborated to introduce a Gym Buddy Interest Badge on the dating app. This badge simplifies the process of finding potential gym partners who share a passion for staying active. The collaboration is in line with the launch of Adidas’s Spring/Summer 2024 Strength collection, showcasing the boundless potential of brand partnerships.

In another partnership, Tinder and Merci Handy have unveiled a capsule beauty collection named “First Date Heroes“. Inspired by an IFOP study for Tinder, which revealed that 74% of 18-25 year olds in France feel stressed before a date, this kit aims to ease the anxiety of first encounters. Additionally, 10% of proceeds from the collection are donated to Consentis, an association advocating for a culture of consent and combating sexual violence in social settings. This collaboration leverages Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to raise awareness of relevant issues and offer solutions that resonate with contemporary dating culture.

Tinder

Source: Merci Handy

/ AI powered love

The increasing impact of AI is transforming how brands operate, presenting a new frontier in personalization and connection for both audiences and marketers. In the United States, 81% of consumers are open to AI providing personalized communications, underscoring the validity of its integration into communication and marketing strategies, especially evident during Valentine’s Day campaigns.

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Source: Faire Savoir Faire

Regardless of the sector, brands are tapping into this sentiment, leveraging AI to support personal expression and deepen emotional connections with their audience.
 
For example, this year, Caprice des Dieux chose to assist its audience in organizing the perfect Valentine’s Day celebration. Through its website “Quiveutdufromage.com,” the brand used artificial intelligence to provide fully personalized evening ideas tailored to the desires of each couple.
On the other hand, the US-based song generation platform Suno AI offered users a unique opportunity to create personalized tracks for their loved ones. Through the users’ answers to three questions: “Who is your Valentine?”, “Where did you meet?”, and “What makes [the person’s name] special?”, the platform generated three songs with personalized lyrics and enough scope to produce plenty of tracks.
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Source: Little Black Book

/ Limited Edition Love

As for holiday season, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for brands across all sectors to capitalize on the festive spirit by releasing limited edition products and redesigning their packaging. These special releases, ranging from beauty to food items, serve as simple but effective ways to engage consumers and drive sales.

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Source: The grocer

For instance, Babybel celebrates Valentine’s Day with a heart-shaped mini variant of its iconic cheese. However, this special edition isn’t available for purchase in stores; instead, consumers must participate in a sweepstake on Babybel’s Instagram page to win it. This approach not only generates excitement but also amplifies the visibility of the limited edition.

Barilla celebrates Valentine’s Day by introducing heart-shaped pasta, accompanied by special recipes for a romantic evening. Meanwhile, Manly Man Co.‘s Meathearts puts a savory twist on the sweet candy hearts with playful messages like “MEET ME”.

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Source: Barilla, Manly Man Co

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Source: Fauchon

Heinz celebrated the attraction of opposites with Fauchon Paris through the introduction of the Tomacaron: a macaron with ketchup. This limited edition isn’t just a culinary collaboration; it’s a testament to the power of collaboration that unlocked new opportunities to showcase their respective strengths, broaden their audience reach, and unveil a product that captures the imagination of consumers.

Thus, with the constant evolution of trends, technology, and consumer behaviors, brands have a wide range of options to capitalize on Valentine’s Day. They can leverage the latest technological advancements and emerging trends such as “situationships” and artificial intelligence, or opt for more traditional strategies like limited editions. By integrating these approaches in innovative and thoughtful ways, brands can strengthen their position in the market and foster lasting relationships with their audience during Valentine’s Day and beyond.

Why you should build a brand, not buy a logo.

Many of the startups and entrepreneurs that we are lucky to work with are engineers and product developers who are responsible for some truly remarkable innovations. They’re “idea” people who are able to turn ideas into hardware, software and theoretical Unicorns. They’re brilliant. In the early years of their business, their teams are lean and scrappy. They build and iterate and prototype and drive their friends and families crazy with ideas and decks and pitches. And by the time they show up at our door, they’re eager to bring their business to market, but they need a branding and design agency’s help to do so.

9 times out of 10, this is the point at which entrepreneurs provide us with a brief for their logo. In their minds, this visual mark provides the much needed validity that will enable them to sell their idea to a room and help investors envision their idea as the next big cash cow. Much to their chagrin, this is also the point at which I explain to our entrepreneurs that brands are like icebergs. A logo is but the tip of this iceberg, whereas the heart of the idea lies submerged under water. To make a consumer – or a room full of investors – fall in love, you need the sum of these parts: the full brand.

More often than not, startups struggle with this concept. Many feel that the challenge and cost of conducting a branding exercise is prohibitive. As a result, these clients crowdsource logos or a singular piece of packaging design or collateral which they lean on to support their business as it grows. But this mentality is flawed and is often the most expensive route a company can take; we’ve seen countless companies stumble and fall when they underestimate the role of brand and fail to invest in it.

Much like a startups’ consumer doesn’t fall in love with the lines of code that make up a piece of tech, neither do consumers fall in love with a logo alone. Instead, what wins the hearts and minds of consumers is the combination of code, visual language and story all rolled into one beautiful brand. And while these entrepreneurs are often horrified to hear that we recommend investing the two things they have so little of – time and money – into building their brand the right way, we have seen first-hand the power of “brand” in cementing a startup’s success time and time again.

Here are 3 ways in which early investment in brand can make all the difference for startups looking to stand the test of time:

/ Cultivate Desire

Many startups are started by young engineers who are, without a doubt, brilliant individuals. But these same individuals often clam up when it comes time to talk about the emotional connection to what they were building. This lack of emotion can be a quick and fatal error. A good product is one thing, but without a story or a reason for believing in your product, your business simply cannot thrive. Emotion is the fastest way to build brand loyalty with consumers, and desire is the strongest emotional of them all. Even the best product will not succeed if no one wants it.

Startups that sit at the crossroads of “desirable brand” and “exceptional product” will forge long lasting emotional connections with their consumers. This connection means loyalty in good times (and shaky), improves the likelihood of word-of-mouth ambassadorship, and inevitably sets up a solid foundation for growth. A great example? While many of its competitors has superior technological capabilities, Apple’s lifelong commitment to brand ensures that their product is the most desirable, and thereby the most successful.

/ Think Beyond Product

Another common hiccup for startups is their hesitation to create a brand before they have the security of a fully fledged product line. And while the logic in that is relatively sound, it’s forgetting one key reality: every good product company has pivoted and reinvented itself, for which there is an essential ingredient: a strong brand.

A brand is the medium through which a startup can express a desirable and sustainable vision to both investors and consumers. It’s that brand that tells a long term story that transcends product and allows audiences to buy into a bigger vision. And it’s this brand that should act as the North Star long after that first beta product launches. As much as it can be hard for our clients to hear, brand cannot be secondary to product – the two must go hand in hand.

If you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low-cost producer is the only winner.

—— Phillip Kotler  

/ Consider Long-term Growth First

A few smaller clients are excited to invest in their brand, but they consider that to be their logo, the look of their website, or their packaging. While these are important components of any good brand, they’re not comprehensive and usually won’t support long term growth. While entrepreneurs can be tempted to embrace short term opportunities because they are facing cash flow issues or lack of interest from investors, it’s vital that they consider their long game before doing so.

With a strong brand in place, it is significantly easier to do this. A clear brand foundation provides a clear roadmap for the business, allowing entrepreneurs to continually vet and develop successful opportunities. Moreover, branding builds more than just desire and security on the consumer side, it also affects the internal value of a company. The best consumer brands in the world are also some of the best to work for because that brand runs deep in their D.N.A. Driven by the mission and the values of the brand, the company purpose comes alive and the company is able to build a strong and covetable culture.

Companies pay too much attention to the cost of doing something. They should worry more about the cost of not doing it.

——- Phillip Kotler  

Do you have a challenge, a project, something else, for which you need support?

New year,

new Design Trends Report!

15 trends
5 pillars.

In a world where change is the only constant, the ability to discern fleeting fads from enduring trends is more crucial than ever.

We have highlighted 15 trends that promise longevity and sustainability, transcending the ephemeral nature that characterizes the world of brands, with a focus on positive impact.

Our report, covering over 40 industries and 90 case studies, revolves around 5 pillars derived from our Critical Imprint utility map:

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There is no planet B.

Reinventing raw materials and everyday consumer products is a necessity: we must consider material innovation and reorient product life cycles.

Ancient wisdom is increasingly acknowledged for modern environmental solutions.

Inclusivity and diversity

continue to gain ground. Brands are increasingly rejecting binary gender norms and traditional aesthetics.

Sexual positivity, a multi-age mindset,
and the use of psychotropic substances

are increasingly adopted by brands for holistic well-being.

The rise of artificial intelligence is redefining creativity and strategic thinking

… while increasingly, brands integrate behavioral design into their strategies, thus promoting spaces of connection and shared experiences against digital isolation.

Web3 is redefining brand engagement through transparency, ethics, and decentralized control.

Brands are adapting to the rising cost of living by prioritizing cost-effective solutions, while cities worldwide adjust to environmentally friendly micromobility.

Interested in learning more about opportunities for your brand?

Let's talk!

In case you missed it...

In a marketing world where innovation is key, “Fake Out of Home” (FOOH) campaigns are emerging as a fascinating trend. Combining illusion, surprise and interaction, these campaigns are revolutionizing the traditional approach to out-of-home advertising. These are advertising initiatives based on special effects and computer-generated images, which use public space to create a unique and memorable advertising experience. Unlike traditional billboards or posters, FOOHs rely on surprise and illusion to capture the public’s attention and get noticed. 

/ Justified success

At the heart of FOOH campaigns lies the creative use of illusion.

This can involve displays that seem to interact with their surroundings in impossible ways, or art installations that play with perspective and perception. The result is “fake” but looks so real that it appeals. The short format of these advertising campaigns is also appreciated by users and helps to create real engagement with the brand.

Indeed, Jacquemus created a buzz with its iconic Bambino bags rolling in front of the Opéra Garnier in Paris. The campaign, produced entirely in 3D, attracted a large number of Internet users, who shared the results on social networks. It’s not the only time the brand has shown originality: to mark the start of 2024, Jacquemus has published a video of a chalet covered in snow by a brand bag. Just the thing to remind consumers that a new year rhymes with creativity!

In the age of social media, viral potential is a major asset. 

FOOH campaigns, with their unusual and sometimes humorous nature, are perfectly positioned to gain considerable traction online. A successful campaign can quickly become a topic of conversation, extending its reach far beyond its augmented reality.
 
This is the case, for example, of the Maybelline campaign in which subways and buses can be seen sporting gigantic eyelashes ready to be made up with a mascara of the same magnitude. This computer-generated activation, too, provoked numerous reactions on the web.

Other brands have used public transport to carry out a FOOH campaign, such as Subway, which transformed a Parisian bus into a sandwich, to promote their new extra “cheesy” range. An original way to promote your product! Italian clothing brand Benetton was equally creative, re-purposing a branded bus with a number of poodles, similar to those featured in the advertising campaign, climbing out of it. The video generated a lot of positive feedback on the brand’s networks. 

For brands, FOOH is not just a way of standing out from the crowd, it can also be a way of gaining a certain economic advantage. An activation of this scale would be complex and very costly to implement, whereas this way the brand generates significant engagement for a smaller sum. 

/ Overcoming the challenges of illusion
Despite their potential, FOOH campaigns come with their own set of challenges. Planning and implementation require a deep understanding of the space, the target audience, and often, a healthy dose of creative courage. It’s crucial to ensure that the brand message isn’t lost in the creative effort. If the message is not clearly conveyed, or if the surprise effect is misinterpreted, this can lead to a negative perception of the brand. A campaign that is too misleading or lacks clarity can frustrate or confuse the audience. This was the case with JD Sport’s campaign, which depicted Big Ben wearing The North Face’s iconic down jacket. Many users believed it to the point of criticizing the campaign.

The question of ethics also arises. As the line between reality and fiction is very fine, it’s essential that the brand mentions that these are computer-generated images to remain transparent with its consumer. What’s more, in a world where trends change rapidly, especially with the influence of social media, a FOOH campaign can quickly become obsolete or lose its initial appeal.

FOOH campaigns represent an exciting turning point in outdoor advertising.

By breaking convention and embracing innovation, they offer a new way for brands to connect with their audiences in a memorable and engaging way. As the world of marketing continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how this trend develops and influences other forms of advertising.

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New year, new trends?

As we step into 2024, the question arises: “New year, new trends?” The answer leans towards continuity rather than a complete overhaul. While some fresh trends are set to emerge, the design environment will continue to sustain many of the existing ones.

So, as we step into 2024, what emerging trends will the world give birth to, or which existing trends will it continue to embrace? 

/ ENVIRONMENT

As we navigate a rapidly changing world where environmental issues have become more fundamental than ever, sustainability touches every sector, emphasizing its importance in the face of an ever-expanding threat. In the face of this growing threat, design emerges as a key player in the battle against climate change. 

Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword; it has become an integral element of both daily consumer life and corporate policies. This serves as the driving force behind the surge of alternative material development, particularly in retail and packaging.  

Sustainable Packaging

According to Ipsos (2022), almost 60% of the French population intends to ditch excessive packaging in the fight against climate change — a compelling percentage that encourages brands to integrate more eco-design into their production methods. The growing consumer demand for environmentally conscious choices is compelling more and more brands today, and will continue to do so in the future, to commit to responsible packaging design. 

Sustainable material choices coupled with responsible manufacturing processes will continue to play a key part in design for 2024.

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Source: Creative Boom

In 2024, biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable packaging, providing alternatives to single-use items, is likely to gain a more prominent role.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society exemplifies this trend with its handcrafted paper-pulp bottle outer. By making eco-friendly material choices and employing handmade production methods, the bottle not only achieves a luxurious aesthetic but also avoids the greenwashed approach to sustainability. 

Sustainable retail design

Design provides a unique opportunity to reconsider our consumption and production patterns. The retail sector is undergoing a significant transformation, adapting to the growing ecological awareness by incorporating environmentally friendly practices into all aspects of the retail process.

Sustainable retail design is now a crucial player in shaping our world’s future. It authentically addresses environmental concerns and aligns with the corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives of brands that adopt it.  

Examples such as Nescafe’s eco-friendly store in São Paulo, built with biodegradable materials and utilizing algorithmic 3D printing, and VALRHONA’s Parisian store, exclusively crafted with eco-responsible materials, showcase how retail design can innovate spaces while minimizing ecological impact.  

Source: Yanko Design

Sustainable retail not only touches brands but also shapes the future dining experience. Practices in the food industry are evolving beyond reducing food waste, with circular design in restaurants representing the next step in eco-friendly dining. Zero Waste Bistro, a pop-up restaurant featured in New York, constructed from recycled food packaging and composting all its leftovers, epitomizes this trend. 

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Source: Dezeen

/ EMPOWERMENT

Inclusive design

Brands have a powerful role to play, from shaping culture and society to actively creating opportunities for everyone, regardless of age, physical ability, gender, or ethnic origin. Today, designing for accessibility and inclusion transcends ethical considerations; it’s also a lucrative business move, particularly in the technology sector. With more than 1 billion people worldwide estimated to experience disability and over 5 billion internet users, there is a big opportunity for brands to enhance their products and services to be more accessible. 

Design is a powerful tool for breaking down barriers, and an increasing number of brands are recognizing its potential. For instance, the MouthPad, developed by Augmental, allows hands-free control of digital devices using the tongue. This inclusive design innovation not only opens new possibilities for people with disabilities to interact with the world but also proves to be useful for enabling high-end multi-tasking for everyone. 

Inclusive design is better design, and these technology considerations have the potential to be just as useful to both disabled and non-disabled people.

/ SOCIETY

Authenticity

Numbers don’t lie: 86% of consumers say a brand’s authenticity impacts their purchasing decision, and a whopping 73% are willing to pay more for products when a company promises transparency.  Furthermore, 94% express loyalty to brands that provide transparency. 

Today, customers are increasingly drawn to brands that align with their values. Authenticity, as defined by a brand’s openness in showcasing its actions, has become a defining factor. Consequently, transparency is more critical than ever. 

Packaging goes beyond mere aesthetic appearance; it’s a powerful tool that communicates a brand’s identity and values. Packaging that includes information about material sustainability, origin transparency, and supply chain traceability enables brands to have transparent communication. 

Green Queen Media Collage

Source: Green Queen

Companies like Oatly, Allbirds, Tenzing, Innocent are actively responding to the demand for transparency by adopting Ecolabels. These actions are becoming the norm, especially among younger consumers. In 2024, we can anticipate seeing even more carbon labeling on shelves as brands continue to prioritize transparency. 

Hyper-personalization

Thanks to advanced technology and data analysis techniques like artificial intelligence, brands now access much larger and more detailed customer data. This enables the creation of hyper-personalized consumer experiences, making customers feel valued and understood.

76% of consumers prefer purchasing from brands that personalize user experiences. Brand satisfaction sees a notable 52% increase due to personalization, resulting in an average revenue boost of 10% to 15%. As the numbers clearly indicate, personalization emerges as a highly effective strategy to enhance satisfaction, foster customer loyalty, drive sales growth, gain a competitive advantage, and improve overall brand image. 

All the signs point toward a future where hyper-personalization becomes omnipresent. Most of the love brands have already embraced hyper-personalization in their marketing strategies. Therefore, it is crucial for brands to think about how they can outperform competitors and stand out in a competitive market. 

Spotify is a perfect example of how a brand can leverage hyper-personalization. Introduced in 2015, “Spotify Wrapped” rapidly evolved into a yearly social media phenomenon. This strategy not only enhances customer loyalty but also significantly boosts brand visibilityThe #SpotifyWrapped hashtag has amassed 72.2 billion views on TikTok. Moreover, in the last quarter of 2023, Spotify introduced “Daylist”, an AI-powered playlist that updates multiple times a day to align with the moods and activities of consumers. This continuous evolution highlights Spotify’s unwavering commitment to hyper-personalization, solidifying its position as an industry leader. 

SPOTIFY

Source: Spotify

As there is a significant shift towards hyper-personalization, it is essential not to overlook the fact that today, we operate within a privacy-first marketing ecosystem. Zero-party data, referring to information willingly shared by customers with a brand regarding their intentions and preferences, plays a pivotal role in this system. It fosters greater trust with customers, leading to better experiences for them. Therefore, in 2024, with hyper-personalization continuing to surge, zero-party data will be indispensable for any brand’s marketing, personalization, and experience strategy. 

/ ACCESS

Video Games

Generation Z represents the future of consumers, with an estimated purchasing power of $44 billion. Brands seeking to connect with this generation must understand their tendencies, expectations, and needs. 

For Gen Z, gaming isn’t merely entertainment; it’s a way of connecting with friends. Recognizing the potential of video games as a powerful medium to engage with the younger generation, brands are actively leveraging it.   

For example, Fortnite stands out as one of the most popular video games among them. In a bid to raise awareness among the younger audience on the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, Fortnite, SOS Amazônia, and the Federation of the Huni Kuĩ People of Acre have partnered to launch “The Originary Map,” which challenges players to protect forests and indigenous peoples. 

Throughout this year, a lot of brands, from organizations to luxury houses like Balenciaga, Cartier, and Hermès, have embraced gaming as a strategy to amplify visibility, foster engagement, and establish stronger connections with Generation Z. It is certain that gaming has a significant role to play in 2024. 

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Source: Journal du luxe

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This year has truly been the year of artificial intelligence (AI), emerging as the central force driving innovation across diverse industries. The profound impact of AI on the creative industry cannot be overstated, as it reshapes the strategic thinking of companies and clients in their pursuit of efficiency and better results. While AI opens a new world of possibilities for the creative industry, it also prompts questions about the future landscape. As we look ahead to the trends of 2024, it is clear that the proliferation of generative AI will continue and solidify its position as a transformative force. 

In a world characterized by perpetual change, the ability to distinguish fleeting fads from enduring trends is more crucial than ever. For that, we are more than pleased to announce that the third edition of “Useful Design Trends”, our annual exploration of the movements shaping the future of design across a multitude of industries and global markets, will soon be released

Stay tuned!

And you, what are your expectations for this new year? 

For brands, Christmas transcends the simple calendar. It’s much more than a period of vacations and festive celebrations; it’s a valuable strategic opportunity. This festive period represents a key moment in the year when brands can not only capitalize on the natural increase in spending on gifts and festivities, but also forge lasting emotional connections with their consumers by creating campaigns imbued with tradition, warmth and sharing, representative of their values. Festive spirit advertising and campaigns seek to create memorable, positive brand memories. 

But how do brands really integrate Christmas into their strategy? How does the integration of Christmas into brand strategy contribute to strengthening the brand experience with consumers? Is it mainly focused on creating a festive atmosphere, or on encouraging purchase? Let’s explore! 

/ THE ART OF FESTIVE PACKAGING
There are several strategies available to brands when it comes to communicating during the festive season. Brands like Pringles opt for festive packaging, with its iconic logo disguised as Santa Claus or an elf. As consumers are in a festive mood, this leads to an increase in sales as a result of the impulse buying typical of festive periods.
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Source: Pringles

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Source : Because of Marketing

If not the logo, it could just as easily be the slogan. This is the choice made by the Fairy brand, playing on its “Féérique” name. The brand has decorated its packaging with baubles and snowflakes and written “Wishing you a Fairy Christmas”. This creates an emotional connection with the consumer, who feels considered, and enables the brand to tap into the seasonal enthusiasm and positive emotions associated with this time of year, simply and effectively.

The ode to celebration can also be expressed through a modern, elegant identity. Such is the case with the packaging created in collaboration between Chivas XV Festive Series and CBA Design. It combines phosphorescent rowolis motifs with vibrant colors, symbolizing festive flames. The explosion of colors and flavors marks the excitement of the approaching festive season.

/ CHRISTMAS IN RETAIL CONCEPTS

The Christmas experience can also be enjoyed in-store. Many stores decorate their shelves or storefronts for the festive season. And remember how some people love to store at Christmas time for the simple pleasure of listening to Christmas playlists over and over again (yes, Mariah, we love you!). Some retailers even take the experience a step further. Every year at Christmas time, Aldi consumers are reunited with Kevin the Carrot, the store’s emblematic mascot, through brand-new advertising. This year, the brand decided to go all out, dressing up their kiosks with their Christmas mascot. There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the Natale atmosphere as soon as you enter the store. And not just at the entrance! As you move through the aisles, you’ll find Kevin the Carrot plush toys for sale. In this way, Aldi achieves its brand awareness objective by involving the consumer throughout the entire journey, from Christmas advertising to social media engagement to in-store promotions. A successful experience!

Technology is also an asset exploited by some retailers during the Christmas season. This is the case for Orange, which is deploying an augmented reality device in its points of sale. This initiative aims to make the in-store experience lively, connected and social, with the use of a Snapcode to enable customers to discover this unique device. Videos on social networks encourage the public to visit the stores, and sponsored lenses on Snapchat offer an augmented reality experience, integrated into the point-of-sale scenography and customer experience. Orange is adopting this “phygital” concept, combining the digital and the physical, to create memorable in-store events and boost traffic at the point of sale during the Christmas period, with suggested gift ideas and prizes to be won.

/ SEIZING THE EMOTIONS OF CHRISTMAS
How can you write an article about brands and Christmas without mentioning Coca-Cola? Since 1930, the brand has used Santa Claus as the emblem of its festive advertising campaigns. He has become a cultural icon, symbolizing the brand with his red suit. Why does this work? Because Coca-Cola establishes an emotional bond with its consumers through campaigns aligned with Christmas values, creating a sense of warmth, unity and joy.

This is also the case for the John Lewis department store chain, which every year airs its traditional Christmas advert. This year, the brand featured a carnivorous plant that turned out to be much more touching than you might think, offering tenderly joyful emotions to its consumers. 

Numerous other strategies can be implemented for Christmas, such as the launch of special limited-edition products, like new flavors for candle brands, for example, or corporate gifts, special benefits to thank customers for their loyalty, and so on.

Christmas is more than just a successful sales season for brands.

It’s a time when they can become an integral part of family traditions, establish strong bonds with customers and build long-term loyalty. It’s a time when brands transform their commercial image into a source of warmth, magic and emotion, making Christmas a crucial season in the marketing landscape. And let’s not forget, a successful marketing strategy is all about creating a human connection by leveraging the brand experience. During the Christmas season, brands don’t just sell a product; they offer a dream, an emotion. By enabling consumers to see, feel and dream, they’re not simply making a transaction; on the contrary, they’re establishing a lasting, meaningful relationship with them. 

What's your marketing strategy for making consumers dream?

Seize the opportunity to boost your brand identity!

Inclusive design… a broad topic for a diverse society. Is it still necessary to talk about it? Some will say that the issue is already resolved, but is it really the case? Have brands really taken the issue to heart? Don’t you think that we first need to admit that we are not inclusive to become so? Let’s explore this together.

Inclusive design, what's that all about ?

Let’s start by reminding ourselves: what is inclusive design? It is an approach to design that aims to create products, environments, services, and technologies that are accessible and usable by a wide range of people, including those with specific needs or different abilities. 

The main goal of inclusive design is to break down barriers and ensure that everyone, regardless of age, physical ability, gender, or ethnic origin, has the promise of being able to participate fully in society equally.

/ breaking down barriers

In an increasingly diverse society, inclusive design has become a major issue; it is an ethical and responsible approach that helps to combat exclusion and promote inclusion. The statistics speak for themselves. According to a recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1 billion people in the world live with some form of disability. This would represent a purchasing power exceeding 8 billion dollars according to the Global Economics of Disability report. 

Brands that integrate inclusive design into their DNA will not only meet a growing demand but also an ethical necessity while expanding their consumer base but also contributing to creating a more equitable society.

Source: Kim Gehrig, Apple

A handful of brands have embraced this philosophy, transcending the limits of the conventional to create products and experiences that touch each of us. Take Apple, the famous technology company is recognized for its commitment to accessibility. Features like VoiceOver, which makes iOS devices usable by people who are blind, demonstrate how technology can be a force for inclusion.

More than just packaging.

There is also inclusive packaging, which are more than just packaging. They are a way to celebrate diversity and inclusion. 

The famous Nestlé biscuit brand, present in Brazil for over 30 years, launches, in collaboration with CBA B+G, a limited edition with illustrations of the alphabet of the Brazilian sign language. This initiative aims to promote learning and inclusion, while bringing a little fun to children.

/ An emerging trend

Having or embodied inclusive design is not so simple. Inclusive design is an approach that must be integrated from the beginning of the design process. It is not a feature that can be added or removed at will, but a philosophy that should guide the entire creative process. Indeed, it is not necessary to include this notion once the work is launched; it is recommended to integrate reflection on inclusion from the early stages of design.

empathie

One of the major points to start with will be to understand your targets: who are they? Their habits? Their needs? To consider perspectives and experiences other than our own, we can rely on studies or address people directly. The objective is to take advantage of human diversity, by integrating different points of view and learning from each other.

To do this, it is important to understand how people adapt to the world around them, taking the time to put themselves in their shoes. Empathy is an essential skill for designing inclusive products and services.

Everyone is awesome.

This gives us the urge to jump on a project led by the LEGO brand. In the UK, the group collaborates with Diversity Roles Models, an organization that educates children about empathy and inclusion. The brand also works with Workplace Pride to measure and adjust LGBTGQ+ representation and inclusion within the group.

Source: Lego

This commitment was naturally translated into June 2023, with the marketing of “everyone is awesome” which pays tribute to diversity. The pack consists of a rainbow background and 11 monochrome figurines. Each figurine has its own color and matching wig. The colors are not chosen at random: they take up those of the LGBTQ+ flag, those of the transgender community as well as the diversity of skin colors with black and brown. This set is a beautiful representation of love and open-mindedness. It encourages children to accept and celebrate differences. 🌈

Inclusivity: our responsibility.

At CBA, we don’t see inclusive design as a trend, but as a responsibility. Each member of our team is trained to understand the diverse needs of our clients and to integrate them into our creations. Our creative process is based on inclusion, ensuring that our campaigns, websites, and communication materials are accessible to everyone.

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Our latest project, the brand strategy for an innovative company driven by agro-ecology, Raízes do Campo is a concrete illustration of our commitment. We created the brand voice, with the tone of voice, manifesto, and storytelling of the brand. It was a real challenge to define the declaration of intent for the different links in the chain, with an inclusive message, to cover the diversity of stakeholders (producers, cooperatives, retailers, end consumers, as well as employees and investors).

Inclusivity, yes.
But it must be carefully considered.

Many brands aspire to create inclusive projects, communicate with a wide range of people and reach different audiences. However, this aspiration can sometimes prove to be a major challenge. As mentioned earlier, there are steps to follow before designing a truly inclusive project. It is important to note that simply stating “I want to be inclusive” is not enough.

Take the example of the oui.sncf app, which transformed into sncf-connect overnight! A brutal launch, accessibility was not thought out in the smallest corners, and the result? “Disappointing”, “Difficult to read”, “Not great”, “Frustrating”, “Not at all up to par”, “The least successful update of the century”, “A disaster”, … Dissatisfied users and add to that a lack of readability, you will get a flood on social networks and a failed launch. However, despite some setbacks, the brand has been able to question itself and improve its application over the months so that it can be accessible to the greatest number.

Inclusive design is not just a concept, but a tangible reality that is shaping the future of communication.

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Knock knock? Who’s there? The sweetest and spookiest of all the holidays: Halloween. If you think that Halloween is all about kids, costumes, and candy… you’re wrong. It’s a serious business opportunity for brands to boost their sales and connect with consumers. So, hop on your broomsticks, and let’s delve into how brands leverage this spooky holiday to their advantage.

/ Numbers speak for themselves

According to The National Retail Federation’s annual Halloween consumer survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, Halloween spending in 2023 was expected to reach a staggering $12.2 billion in the United States. In fact, Halloween is the second-largest retail holiday in the US, after Christmas. And this enchantment isn’t limited to the U.S. alone; the United Kingdom now regards it as the third most significant event on its retail holiday calendar. The allure of Halloween is spreading globally, making it a golden opportunity for brands to intensify their marketing efforts and capture attention.

Over the past decade, Halloween has undergone a remarkable transformation. It’s no longer just about sweets and treats; industries like cosmetics and apparel have experienced a significant surge in demand. This evolution highlights the vast potential for brands, regardless of their industry, to seize the Halloween season and utilize it to their advantage, even if their products don’t traditionally align with the “Halloween norm”.

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/ Identifying the Right Ingredients for Your Business Potion

Not every brand has an obvious connection to Halloween, but that doesn’t mean they can’t conjure up a successful strategy. The key is to identify which aspects of the holiday align with your products or services. Understanding what your customers desire during this eerie season is paramount.

For instance, NYX Cosmetics recognized the opportunity to align their products with Halloween’s creative spirit. They dedicated an entire webpage on their website to Halloween looks, partnering with makeup artists to create unique characters and makeup looks. They took it a step further by providing in-store services for applying Halloween makeup looks. This not only promotes their products but also offers a valuable service to their customers, fostering customer loyalty.

Credit: NYX Cosmetics

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Credit: Heinz

In recent years, Heinz got into the Halloween spirit with a playful twist. They transformed their ketchup into “Tomato Blood” complete with a spooky label, aiming to be a part of the full Halloween experience. To top it off, Heinz set up a pop-up store in LA where people could create costumes using this fake blood and offered a Halloween Heinz Blood costume kit. It’s a good example of a brand immersing itself in Halloween and creating a product connection that goes beyond the ordinary.

/ Unleashing Creativity

Brands are in fierce competition to claim their share of consumer spending, and two critical aspects they need to master are outshining their competitors and grabbing the consumer’s attention.

Holidays offer a prime opportunity for brands to stand out, and Halloween is no different. It serves as the ideal occasion for companies to inject creativity into their marketing campaigns, whether their goal is to spook, thrill, or amuse their target audience. Regardless of their typical offerings, Halloween empowers brands to unleash their creativity.

For instance, in 2017, Burger King playfully taunted their fast-food rival, McDonald’s, with the tagline “Come as a clown, eat as a king“. They offered their signature burger to the first 500 people dressed as creepy clowns, cleverly alluding to McDonald’s mascot. This ingenious move generated a remarkable 2.1 billion earned impressions, illustrating the potent impact of creative Halloween marketing.

because of marketing

Credit: Because of marketing

/ The Art of Packaging
Changing product packaging can be an effective and enjoyable method to seize attention during Halloween. Numerous brands opt for Halloween-themed packaging to encapsulate the spirit of the season and enhance their bottom line.
hello print

Credit: Hello Print

For example, in 2018, Fanta cans and bottles underwent a spooky transformation, featuring graphics of vampires, witches, and other devilish designs to celebrate the occasion. Each can included a unique QR code that unlocked a variety of eerie Snapchat filters, encouraging customers to share their spine-chilling creations and, in turn, increasing the brand’s visibility. This move boosted Fanta sales by an impressive 23% at convenience stores during the this period, highlighting how innovative packaging can translate into real success.

Some even introduce limited-edition Halloween products and recipes to entice consumers to partake in the spirit. Famous for their tagline “Taste the Rainbow,” Skittles embraced the Halloween spirit in 2019 with Zombie Skittles. This product offered five Halloween-themed flavors like Boogeyman Blackberry and Mummified Melon. However, the intriguing twist was that in each pack, one Skittle was the ‘rotten’ Zombie flavor, which pleasantly surprised consumers with a terrifyingly awful taste upon biting into it.

delish

Credit: Delish

Halloween also serves as the perfect occasion for product relaunches, reviving existing products without the necessity of menu alterations or new introductions. This approach has been embraced by various food companies over the years, with even fast-food giant McDonald’s introducing a fresh perspective on their existing items through spooktacular print ads.

MACDO

Credit: Because of marketing

/ Weaving Spooky Tales

By narrating a story, a brand can breathe life into its products or services, placing them in a memorable context and rendering them more engaging. Regardless of your product or service, storytelling remains the linchpin for consumer attention, and Halloween offers the perfect stage for spine-tingling narratives.

A great example of this is Burger King, who teamed up with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, one of the directors of “American Horror Story,” to create a short horror film, along with Halloween-themed packaging, to promote their seasonal treats: the Ghost Pepper Whopper and Ghost Pepper Chicken Fries. By seamlessly weaving these products into a horror story, Burger King didn’t just sell a product; they offered an experience, evoked emotions, and established a connection.

Halloween is the season when ghosts come out to play, and with them come boundless opportunities for businesses to thrive throughout October. From innovative packaging design to captivating storytelling, Halloween provides a distinctive platform for establishing memorable connections with consumers and enhancing sales. In essence, Halloween is more about the “trick” in business than the “treat,” where creative marketing strategies abound.

And you, what do you think about Halloween?

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Nowadays, design has emerged as a pivotal force, shaping not only how we perceive brands but also how businesses operate and influence our behavior. We strongly believe in the transformative power of design.

It is more than just a pretty logo or a beautiful interface. It is a powerful tool that can help brands differentiate themselves, have a positive impact on the world, and create value. We are committed to this belief at CBA! Together, let’s explore how design, in all its facets, acts as a catalyst for change in brands and beyond. Eager to deep into it with us? Scroll down!

/ DESIGN FOR IDENTITY AND BRAND VALUE

Design is more than just aesthetic appeal. It is about creating an identity, an ecosystem, and an experience that resonates with audiences. Designers, by using their talent strategically, can give brands extra value. How? By defining and creating unique expressions and experiences, positioning brands to become changemakers.

Design is a powerful business tool that can increase a company’s performance and values. The numbers speak for themselves: design can generate a 87% increase in sales. And that’s not all: 94% of a brand’s first impressions are related to its design.

Elements such as logos, typography, and color schemes play a vital role in defining a brand’s image. For instance, Apple Inc.’s sleek, bitten apple instantly evokes innovation and sophistication, showcasing the transformative power of design in brand identity.

/ DESIGN FOR USER EXPERIENCE

User experience (UX) is a field in which design directly influences the way we interact with brands. It encompasses a wide range of factors, such as product and service design, space planning, and content creation.

UX can have a significant impact on brands and consumers. Let’s take a closer look: the experiences that consumers have with a brand have a significant impact on their perception of that brand. A positive experience can create a sense of trust, loyalty, and attachment. A negative experience can lead to feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction, and loss of trust.

A positive experience can make a brand more desirable and more likely to be chosen by consumers. Consider the transformation brought about by ride-hailing apps, which have made transportation more convenient, efficient, and enjoyable for millions of people by taking a holistic approach that considers the needs and expectations of all users.

By creating experiences that are both useful and inclusive, brands can gain a competitive advantage, improve customer satisfaction, and create a more inclusive world.

/ DESIGN FOR A BETTER FUTURE

Design can be a force for good. Sustainable design is an embodiment of this principle, ensuring that the creation process does not harm our planet. Brands embracing sustainability not only attract environmentally conscious consumers, but also contribute to a greener and more sustainable future.

For instance, Patagonia, a renowned outdoor clothing company, has made sustainability a core element of its design ethos. This is evident in its eco-friendly website, which is hosted on servers powered by renewable energy and uses sustainable design techniques.

In addition, design can play an important educational role in changing behaviors and moving towards greater virtue. Indeed, design can be used to inform and raise awareness, to encourage people to become better in their daily lives through awareness campaigns. Whether it’s through the layout of a store, the packaging of a product, or the design of an advertisement, all of these aspects influence our choices. For example, Apple packaging not only protects the product, but also creates an unboxing experience that elevates the perceived value of the device. We can also mention the “unboxing” experience of the Make My Lemonade brand: once the package is unpacked, the packaging transforms into a stylish home storage box.

Beyond products and services, design extends its influence to lift communities. Social design is about creating solutions to solve social problems, promote inclusion, and positive change. Design can change mindsets by awakening consciences with strong visuals and messages that can appeal to citizens and encourage them to act.

This is where the concept of useful design takes on its full meaning. Let’s take a closer look below!
 
/ DESIGN FOR MEANING AND PERFORMANCE

Design is inextricably linked to creating meaning for brands. The story a brand tells through its design elements resonates in the minds of consumers. When design is aligned with a brand’s core values and purpose, it improves its performance.

At CBA, we believe that the brands that will succeed tomorrow will be the ones that put people first, that have a reason to be, and that embody a cause, while leaving an indelible mark beyond their products. This is what we stand for at CBA, and we are convinced of it! Design is a key element of this positive transformation.

Nike is a perfect example of what we want to achieve; a brand that has mastered the synergy between design and meaning. The brand is known for its iconic logo, its use of bright colors, and its message of empowerment. These design elements are aligned with Nike’s core values of athleticism, performance, and inspiration. Nike’s use of design to communicate its values and mission has contributed to its success. The brand is one of the most recognizable and profitable in the world.

 

Design is a powerful force that has the potential to transform brands, business models, and consumer behavior. At CBA, we believe that design is not limited to the visual; it is about creating experiences that resonate with the public, align with values, and drive positive change. Design is a powerful tool that can be used to make a difference in the world. By using design thoughtfully, we can contribute to creating a more just, sustainable, and inclusive world.

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In response to a growing demand for meatless products, the offer of vegetarian “meat” is booming – veggie burgers that mimic the texture, taste and nutritional benefits of red meat, with no ingredients of animal origin. 

Since the launch of the Impossible Burger in the United States in 2016, many other companies throughout the world followed suit. In Brazil, the concept is now on everyone’s lips, promising to fool even the most carnivores. The promise is daring, arousing everyone’s curiosity. 

But how is this surprising result achieved, and what does this tell about the product? Is this innovation really the answer to a more conscious consumption, as we’ve been told?

 

A perfect imitation… of processed meat

The techniques and recipes vary, but one thing is sure: to be able to mimic the taste and texture of meat by using just vegetables demands extensive manipulation and processing of ingredients. Animal-free they may be. Yet, they are not natural.

In the United States, the pioneer Impossible Burger is to this day considered the best vegetarian “meat”, due to its patented “secret ingredient” – heme. This molecule, only found in animals, is responsible for the typical succulence of meat. Using genetic engineering they managed to isolate and replicate the molecule in lab and then inject it in their burgers. That’s why the result is so great. No other competitor has this “heme” ingredient, but yet they managed to create very good burgers using other tricks, such as red beet to get close to the juicy, red aspect of blood. On each of the different recipes, the source of protein usually varies between soy and peas, and the fat comes from coconut or canola.

Along with these main ingredients, many others are added. The list of ingredients for highly processed food like this is usually extensive, as they have been extracted, isolated, manipulated and rearranged to make up the final product. Consequently, the faux meat can fake a burger and other processed food but is far from being “real” meat.

“The Impossible Burger contains Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12” 

 

Plant-based brands back up the surprise effect using the idea of a more conscious consumption

Future, Incredible, Rebel Whopper, Impossible, Beyond – the names chosen by the brands are an obvious bet on the fascination exerted by innovation. But after the first bite the surprise subsidies and the consumers seek more significant benefits. We observe that most brands sell the idea of a “better” consumption for individuals or for the planet.

Impossible proudly advocates that, with the consumption of this kind of product, we, as human beings, are taking a step towards a better future. Making use of the image of an astronaut, the brand implies that the impossible, a science fiction thing, is now real. “Save the world, eat a burger”, one of the taglines used, points to responsible consumption as a result of the technology created.

The Brazilian start-up Futuro has introduced veg burgers in the restaurant Lanchonete da Cidade and in supermarkets, announcing the quality of the ingredients used and the burger’s delicious taste, while its modern and urban look conveys the feeling that the plant-based burger is an updated version of the traditional meat.

Beyond calls itself the “future of protein”, a message that blends conscious consumption with personal growth, as if becoming a vegetarian would make one a better person.

 

But Burger King has made the most noise in the last weeks about its “100% plant-based” Rebel Whopper available only in São Paulo at the moment. In the commercial, young people savor the Whopper imagining it is the same as always, and then they discover that in fact it is not. It is a self-challenge, and a helping hand for vegans, that now have an option for their trash moments!

None of the brands declare explicitly that they are healthy, but many flirt with the idea through the visual identity, in messages such as “100% vegetable” and “plant-based”, and by using images of leaves and green seals. Who does not associate vegetables and plants with good health? All brands take advantage of the good reputation that veganism has earned lately, being regarded as a synonym for a healthy lifestyle, with several documentaries at Netflix catching on this idea.

However, behind the brand communication, how sustainable and healthy these plant-based products really are?

 

Not so good for me, not so good for the planet

As we have seen, Impossible presents this technology as a great solution for the future. Indeed, we are only beginning to see this kind of product. In the United States, Just has launched vegan scrambled eggs that look and taste exactly as the original, and is investing in high quality veggie meat. Millions are being invested, start-ups are blooming, large companies are coming into play. But is this really the perfect solution for our planet? We already know that it is crucial to eat less meat. But these plant-based products that try to replicate the experience that only meat products provide cause several ethical dilemmas, as some see them as a stimulus to shift from real food to processed and artificial food.

Paola Carosella and Rita Lobo, on the front line, uttering strong statements in social media, favor the idea that “in case you are a vegan, you should eat real vegetables instead of trying to replicate something that does not exist”. If we follow that line of reasoning, the plant-based products are a way found by industry to encourage the continuous purchase of expensive semi-prepared industrialized food, moving away from real food. Sure, it is a vegan option, however a processed one, instead of a chance of teaching people to free themselves from industrialized products, of learning to cook, of taking control of their own diet.

The claims highlighting the protein and its nutritious qualities are a solution for the dilemma faced by many wannabe vegetarians, who are afraid of not getting enough protein. But the source of the protein is not always made clear, it can come from soy, for example, whose healthiness in Brazil is highly questionable.

A more sustainable future involves not only the reduction of meat consumption, but also wider issues, such as educating the population to eat with awareness, enabling people to cook simple meals without having to rely on food that is impossible to replicate at home.

 

Plant-based meat brands must be responsible and transparent

The human capacity of doing the impossible is the most amazing fact about these new vegetarian “meat” products. I suggest trying them, as an alternative for meatless products.

However, to imagine that this is what the future holds is more scaring than positive. The consumption of this kind of food, like any ultra-processed food product, must be careful. When educating people to eat less meat, there should be a joint effort to raise food and cooking awareness. For this reason, brands should be very transparent and careful before claiming that those products are healthy or sustainable just because they are vegan.

 

Carmen Beer, Senior Strategist, CBA B+G.