Goodbye 2021, long live 2022! 

After almost two years of pandemic, people around the planet have resumed their activities, with a burning desire to make the world a better place. 

To start off this new cycle on the right foot, we invite you to read the Useful Design Trends 2022, our proprietary report with 15 trends in five major areas, which inspire utility through design.  

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To access the report, subscribe to Blimp, our monthly newsletter which brings together exclusive content on branding and design. 

If this report has given you ideas, do not hesitate to contact us, to think together about how to make them happen.

A few weeks ago we sat down to chat with designer Fabio Sant’Ana from Braskem about circular economy and the opportunities for generating new business models associated with it. To keep the conversation going, we made five suggestions that include reading, podcasts, conferences and other initiatives related to this urgent and inspiring topic. 

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TED Talk:

Andrew Dent and the importance of thrift

How can we be smarter about the way we make and remake our products? In this TED talk, an expert on sustainable materials shares surprising examples of thriftiness and invites us to reflect on this concept. Check it out here.

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ReTuna:

The first recycled goods shopping mall in the world 

Located in Eskilstuna, in Sweden, this stores in this shopping mall only sell second-hand or “upcycled” (products used in a new or different manner) products. Can you imagine that? Watch a video about it here.

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Colgate Latin America

The first recyclable tube  

Besides inspiring more naturalness through its ingredients, the new line Natural extracts is the first of its kind in Latin America to come in a recyclable tube. We’re very proud of having created its new visual identity. Find out more about the work here.

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“The tides have changed” 

Fe Cortez and donut economics 

In this episode of the podcast, activist Giovanna Nader invited Fe Cortez, creator of the  Menos 1 Lixo (1 Less piece of Trash) movement, to talk about ‘donut economics’ and how it relates to circularity. Listen here.

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Renner:

The first circular shop

The chain’s first fully circular shop opened its doors in Rio de Janeiro, in the Rio Sul mall. The shop’s architecture is based on a circular design, with green areas, partnerships with thrift shops and Eco Estilo, a reverse logistics program. Even if you can’t visit the shop in person, you can find out more about the initiative here.

Interaction and transformation are the actions that guide Café+, the internal initiative of CBA B+G – a space to think about sustainability, diversity, inclusion and many other urgent matters. Last month, our guest speaker at Café+ Circularity, was Fabio Sant’Ana, Braskem’s Specialist in Market Development of Packaging for Circular Economy and Consumer Goods.

The almost two-hour chat was attended by a room full of inquiring people, who were eager to learn what the designer and entrepreneur had to share. Here are some passages:

How should design rethink the plastic in the packaging?

We are well aware that this is an urgent topic, and the market has changed a lot regarding the briefing for packaging production. In the past, progress used to be based on cost, performance and communication; today the scenario has changed; these factors are still important, of course, but other drivers, such as sustainability and convenience, have been included. 

The constant consumer movements demanding the commitment of companies to sustainability has led to increasingly complex environments. In this context, which requires an enlarged look, the circular economy model gains momentum, and design plays a very important role.

Tell us a little bit more about circular economy. 

The circular economy is a business model that looks at sustainability as an intrinsic part of the process of industrialization and monetization, unlike the linear economy model. In the latter, the high point is when the consumer buys the product, and the idea is to make him buy again. However, in that model, there’s a constant extraction of raw material in high volume, while the value of the product decreases dramatically after use, since after use no alternative is considered other than low-value disposal.

The circular economy model promotes reuse and alternative solutions for post-consumption, such as maintenance, remanufacturing, and recycling. If we focus on the reuse model alone, which proposes the use of products for longer, we will notice that different opportunities for new business models associated with it eventually arise. And this requires a design-oriented thinking.

What do you mean? How does the circular economy encourage new business models? In what sense is it innovative?

It is innovative in the sense that the focus shifts from the product itself, to services. For example: there are furniture brands that, being familiar with the practices of the circular economy, have developed a new service: the repurchase of used furniture (buy back service) – and doing so with an interesting and engaging narrative, proposing that old furniture gain a new life. Another example: not so long ago, it was considered top-notch for computer companies to be able to assemble their computers in two minutes. Today, their KPI is certainly moving towards offering a product that can also be DISassembled in two minutes… It is the application of the concept ‘reuse, recycle, reduce’, and this directly impacts the type of product that we, designers, have to propose and design.

In your opinion, what should be done to broaden the vision of ‘product as a service’ and engage companies in this issue?

It’s a complex path. That’s how we see it at Braskem: we have a short-term focused team dedicated to the sale of resins. Meanwhile, the market development area thinks of a medium and long-term scope, predicting and planning five years ahead, to build a future market for managers to act. So it is a construction; a long, continuous and extremely necessary transition. It is an exercise of looking to different directions and changing the way you relate to products. We need to face the issue of scarcity, and in this sense, the circular economy, as a hybrid model, presents itself as a viable path: it is more sustainable both economically – searching for solutions and models that replace use by reuse, the production of goods by the supply of services – as well as environmentally, proposing a greater balance of ecosystems.

It’s a controversial topic, even more so in petrochemicals. Thinking from our point of view, as a design office, what should be the approach with customers? Where should we focus first: on material resources, logistics, post-consumption?

There is no ready recipe, it depends on the market in which each company operates. In the food sector, for example, the attention given to packaging demands a specific approach, since it works almost like an extended concept of the health and nutrition that it involves. In the hygiene products sector, on the other hand, the issue of water consumption is crucial, so the approach can be sustainability in the industrial process.

But the entire industry, to a greater or lesser extent, is launching its commitments to sustainability, which are based on four pillars: material optimization; production of 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging; use of recycled and use of renewable. Based on that, it is necessary to look at the customer’s need and understand: where are they inserted? What kind of business are they in? What is your consumer’s journey? And how to integrate it with the packaging journey, making it more circular and sustainable? While industries think about efficiency, the FMCG sector also values other attributes, such as consumer experience. The power of the brand reverberates differently depending on the universe. All of this provides the consumer with different value propositions.

Indeed, there is a great opportunity to make the most of the consumer journey. How to design a product, thinking about this journey? 

Influencing the journey can be a starting point, but circular thinking is much greater. It is a responsibility of businesses and consumers. See, the world works in a linear way, that’s the challenge. Everyone has to compromise and collaborate from their position; it is more than sustainable packaging; it is a sustainable solution. The entire cycle – supply, use, reuse – requires a transition to new models of thinking and consumption. We are all looking for solutions, and it is not just about who “pays” for the changes.

 

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

he 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.

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The work-from-home culture, previously restricted to a minimum share of the population, has become the motto for most companies of all sizes, worldwide, and in less than a year. For us here at CBA B+G, it was no different. Among all the challenges that this moment of transformation has brought, perhaps the greatest of them is to keep alive the culture of the company and the link between its members, despite the distance and isolation. And what is, after all, company culture and how can we keep it alive? 

A company’s culture is defined by a set of elements that reinforce or discourage patterns of behavior and values within the organization, reflecting the way it operates. Do you know when someone says that a place is “toxic“, or on the contrary, says that it feels like ”being with family”? Yes, this refers to culture. And it is not connected only with the well-being of employees. We are increasingly realizing that companies with strong and healthy cultures impact productivity and business results. For Livia Brandini, founder & CEO of Kultua, a startup that recently conducted the culture diagnosis of CBA B+G, understanding the culture installed in the company is the first step to successfully drive any change in the organization. She says: 

“Strengthening organizational culture and engagement at work increases business results by more than 20%, encouraging more positive relationships and work experiences for employees. There is no doubt, cultural barriers have proved to be the main obstacles to the transformation process necessary for the prosperity and health of organizations.”

From home, at a monthly meeting created to talk about ESG issues (come learn more about Café+ here!), the agenda was exactly this: and now, what will be the future of work, outside the office? Among the good reflections that emerged, we gathered key elements that we identified as part of a company’s culture, along with ideas on how to deal with them within a remote working context.

The 4 elements of Company Culture

People: companies are made of them. Without them, nothing exists. The quality of the relationship between people who coexist within a community says a lot about the values of that place, creating a sense of belonging to something greater. In face-to-face work, it is easier to keep in touch with people inside and outside their respective areas, or to know what is going on by inviting a workmate over for a coffee. In a work-from-home regime, people from different areas can work in the same company and never even see or know each other.

In order not to lose the connection between people and distinct areas, it has become even more important to create group dynamics that involve different areas on a regular basis and to have communication channels that facilitate spontaneous exchange between people – to talk about work or any other subject. We all like to meet colleagues also to relax and talk about trivial things. This lightness makes the work more pleasant.

Rituals: These are all the habits that have a special meaning in the routine, bringing a breather and creating a common identity. In the case of CBA B+G, we can mention the birthday celebrations with everyone in the agency singing “Happy Birthday” and eating a piece of cake, the collective meditation every Thursday at noon, or even the Pet Day (day when pets were welcome to spend all day in the office with us).

And how can we recreate these significant moments in a digital context? Here, our suggestion is to adapt: find new ways that suit the online environment, rather than romanticizing it and wanting it to become a copy of the face-to-face reality – it is not. From this understanding, there are numerous possibilities to recreate rituals in a hybrid way, half physical and half digital, such as keeping happy hours and breakfasts at a distance – with real beer, coffee, and Brazilian cheese bread.

Institution: Companies are places of work, which implies seriousness, rules. Cultivating a certain ‘discipline’ is also a necessary and welcome attitude, as it suggests guidelines that keep the focus on results and productivity. What’s more, it shows employees that they are not left to their own devices and that the leaders are committed to guiding and empowering them.

Currently, the first of the golden rules is to communicate, communicate, communicate. The second is to trace growth paths for everyone in the company, building a career plan, providing feedback and focusing on self-development. It is true that Human Resources and internal communication have never been so fundamental.

Environment: The physical space is also part of the culture, it is the embodiment of the company’s vision, conveying its values to the world. In many companies, the lobby is a place where one proudly displays the manifesto, beliefs, or any other symbol that represents their mission. The environment has the ability to put all employees in the same tune, typical of the company.

And what is the size of the challenge we face nowadays that each one is immersed in their personal bubble? Some virtual dating platforms, such as Topia and Gather are seeking to solve this issue, with the promise of recreating customized offices that mimic the physical space and bring the spontaneity of unplanned meetings.

We are beginning to enter a new era and one thing is clear: for many (most?) companies, nothing will be as before. With advantages and disadvantages, the remote and hybrid working models have come to stay. Businesses of all sizes have the unique opportunity to rethink processes and give new importance to the culture of the company and its employees. After all, there’s give and take on both sides, every day.

The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. In design, this maxim often proves right and ultimately determines the success of many products. However, when it comes to brands, the speech is of great importance.

For a branding project to be complete, it is necessary to create a visual identity as well as a verbal identity, which will set the brand’s tone of voice. This is nothing but the emotional utterance of what the brand represents and has to offer to the world, said and expressed in its own words. Put like that, it sounds simple.

In effect, the path to this construction is long and begins with the strategic positioning, when the questions to be answered are: why does the brand exist? what values guide its actions? – and consequently – what is its personality? Then, the story to be told becomes clear, and the first significant verbal expression that normally arises is the brand manifesto.

A few years ago, this was considered internal and confidential content, but now brands have realized that this information has to reach everyone. The brand’s manifesto makes everything, or almost everything, become evident. Here is a ‘classic’ and well-known example that shows what I mean: while The North Face positions itself as a brand for people who are passionate about outdoor adventures, its competitor Patagonia defends socio-environmental responsibility (going as far as making an anti-consumption announcement, in 2011). Both brands are in the same category, targeting the same consumers, but they have different beliefs and stories. The question is, what brand does each person identify with?

A great challenge when creating a verbal identity is to connect the speech not only to the brand purpose, but also to the people that work with the brand and, of course, to the target consumer. And it is this practical expression, carried on daily, that makes it real. It is not just about creating attributes, it is necessary to reflect the brand’s human traits and dig deeper, thinking about the words that should be used and the ones that should not. The brand needs to be real, authentic and honest, in the first place.

As a result of social networks, algorithms, and artificial intelligence, relationship building is highly valued, and increasingly human interactions are expected. It becomes clear that verbal identity does not refer only to written text. It is the speech that counts, which can have different formats and sizes – video, audio, or a demonstration of support for some everyday topic. And then we face another sensitive issue for any brand: the decision on whether (or when) to speak out on topics, defend causes or highlight a position, which can sometimes be controversial. The answer will depend on each brand, and obviously, it is also a strategic decision. Oftentimes being neutral, or not taking a stand, can be worse. Not taking a position can be seen as a stance. Tough, huh? I suggest reading this text, about activism and branding, that clarifies ideas and lists good practices on cause engagement and positive impact.

In a society in constant change and with social ruptures like the one we live in, it is key to have all brand stakeholders aligned. Brand books and guidelines are important but even more relevant is to inspire people, internal and external teams; you have to be consistent, but also flexible. After all, although it is the brand’s voice, it does not speak alone.

Ricardo Oliveira, Creative Director at CBA B+G

The Olympic period is an exciting moment – a time to cheer, thrill, when we oftentimes wake up in the wee hours of the morning and cry out of an indescribable feeling. On this mood, we have selected some historical, creative, and inspiring information about the games, to share with branding and design lovers and with all the other people too:

The Olympic Design Dot Com

On this site, in addition to the book Olympic Games – The Design, you can find numerous information on graphic design of the Olympic and Paralympic Games: from printed documents to medals, from pictograms to slogans, from tickets to posters. We chose to highlight the gallery of this last item, with the official posters of all editions of the Games. Difficult to pick a favorite:

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Tokyo 2020 (Official Art Posters)

Posters are an emblematic element of the Olympic Games. Therefore, since the 60s, several of them are created with each edition, in addition to the official one. Invited by the International Olympic Committee, artists and designers from all over the world have the chance to go down in history. Check out the official Tokyo 2020 posters here – 

Olympic Games posters

Paralympics Games posters

Sustainable Design

In order to hold the most sustainable Olympics in history, the Japanese have invested in recycled, repurposed and residual materials. From the medals to the beds of the Olympic Village, check the green choices of this edition of the Games:

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Pictograms

First used by themselves – the Japanese – at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the iconography of the pictograms of the Games are a show alone. We loved to learn more about the history of the symbols that can be understood by the whole international community, showed in this video.

Nowadays we can say that everyone plays video games. Wait a minute… everyone? Yes! In addition to committed hardcore gamers, there are several profiles of casual gamers. Even your mom who plays Candy Crush is a gamer!

The casual mode of video game conquers a wide target audience both for the simplicity of the proposals and for the high chance of going viral: from Tetris to Angry Birds, it is difficult to resist the fever that these games cause.

Here’s a # TBT of 5 casual games that have rocked the internet in the last decade. Remember them?

QWOP

Try to control yourself

The task: make the dummy walk forward without falling. The problem: the movement of his legs is coordinated by 4 different buttons. The game boomed for being almost impossible to play, yielding hilarious moments for anyone trying to keep the dummy standing. Funny to some, appalling to others. Its creator, Bennett Foddy, reported receiving many hate messages for having created the game.

Flappy Bird

Fly, little bird

In 2014, Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen was taken aback! His game, released almost a year before and born from the remains of a canceled project, suddenly became the most downloaded in all app stores. The game, a simple side-scroller in which the user must control a bird dodging obstacles, has reached a profit of 50 thousand dollars a day at its peak. The success was so huge that in no time, not only the original game was among the most downloaded, but also its dozens of imitations.

Cookie Clicker

For the bakers on duty

The premise of the game is quite simple: generate cookies from clicks. What started out as a game for the bored today has a universe so complex that it even has its own encyclopedia; from enslavement of grannies to interplanetary voyages, nothing should stand between the players and their goal of having more and more cookies!

Temple Run

Run, Indiana, run

In this game, the explorer must escape from monsters that chase him after he obtained an ancient relic. Sound familiar? Its success has yielded some spin-offs, a board game and even a promise of film adaptation.

Among Us

So who was it?

In 2018, almost every internet meme was about it: a multiplayer game in which the crew of a spaceship must find out who, among them, is the impostor. Its popularity was largely due to Brazilian and Korean streamers who played the game live on Twitch. Even Guilherme Boulos played live!

Proceeding with the previous reflection (read here), in which we approached the fantastic world of games and how brands are dealing with this universe of new possibilities, now our gaze turns to the engaging mechanics of games, known as gamification. They represent valuable opportunities for brands and agencies to create new experiences in research, innovation and design processes and methodologies.

Understanding gamification

We can define games as something we do to entertain ourselves, with a clear goal, and challenges along the way that affect our performance. That is, when we talk about gamification, we are approaching these three key elements: pleasure, objective and interactivity. What is behind these elements and why are all spheres of society trying to apply them in different ways? 

  • Pleasant stories involve us and soothe our soul: “Stop playing because it’s addicting”.  Who has never heard that? Games are in fact addictive as they activate serotonin. They also create a unique and personal universe where individuals can easily escape stress and forget about their problems. This escapism, in the right dose, can be useful in challenging times. In the pandemic, we have had to escape (and a lot!) from boredom and unplug from bad news. In this context, playing is not simply a waste of time, it is also a means to keep a healthy mind. This is what led the Lego company, for example, to expand its target, designing experiments and game sets aimed at adults . The AFOLs (Adult Fans of Legos) seek to practice mindfulness by fitting the colored pieces and following instructions, while revisiting the past with universes that recall their childhood or youth. It is also what explains the success of coloring books for adults, the insane popularity of social simulation games such as Animal Crossing or even simple pastimes like Candy Crush.  
  • The goal is an excuse, what matters is the journey: from board games to Nintendo Switch, all games have a goal and clear rules that establish who wins and who loses, stimulating competitiveness. The goal is taken seriously only within the game universe, but has no importance outside of it. What happens during the match (and how it is won) is the most important, bringing indirect benefits to the players: creating bonds between friends, relaxing, passing time, learning. In the end, games are the best way to put into practice the appreciation of the journey, and not of the destination. 
  • Interactivity reinforces human connections: the interactivity inherent in games is what differentiates them from simple competition. This means that games “force” contact between players and prompt a more active than passive posture, building relationships. In times of social isolation, digital games have also made it possible to bring together distant people, which explains the boom of the online version of traditional games like chess and poker, or the success of more immersive games like Fortnite, which create parallel universes and avatars where people can connect in micro-communities. 
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Springboard for emerging technologies and opportunity for brands

The principles behind gamification have always existed, so why is this phenomenon now gaining ground? For Vicente Martin Mastrocola, assistant teacher at ESPM where he teaches digital platforms, Game Essentials and Game Design, “companies have begun to understand the motivational techniques used by video game designers and apply them in other contexts. These techniques include goal design, badge recognition, team collaboration, stimulation of competition via rankings and points accumulation.”

Just as with the porn industry in the 80s, the game industry in times of pandemic seems to be the driving force for the implementation of emerging technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality, accelerating their use outside of it. There are plenty of examples: The New Yorker magazine has just released its first animated film in virtual reality; the 2021 edition of the SXSW festival was all online and interactive; Folha de São Paulo newspaper conducted a survey on the impact of the pandemic in an immersive game format; The Black Mirror series produced an interactive episode with multiple endings.

For brands and agencies, we see some opportunities to apply these experiences in processes and methodologies, and in how to interact with the public. For Carina Benitez, designer at CBA B+G, bringing this kind of dynamic to the corporate context makes the contact between all participants more enjoyable. “When we gamify the process, people instinctively want to participate more. This way, something super-ordinary and mundane in their routine ends up gaining a new look.”

Let's check the opportunities:

  1. Using immersive technologies to produce insights: the engagement in role-playing games, where the viewer embodies a character within a virtual environment, promotes empathy. Today, with virtual or mixed reality, immersion in the reality of the other is even more complete, and can be extremely powerful as a consumer research tool and for prototype testing.

  2. Using game dynamics to drive innovation: game formats are extremely valuable when applied to processes that are typically exhausting, boosting learning and internal-team engagement. For Fabiele Nunes, CEO and co-founder at Startup Mundi, “the main objective of the game is to bring to companies an innovative solution in Team Development, working from the conception to the scalability of a disruptive idea. The game is an unforgettable experiential experience, which mixes learning, simulation and a lot of emotion.” Fabiano Naspolini, expert in game design and coordinator of the site Game Factory, warns about the importance of fully analyzing the goals to be achieved with gamification. “Are the new skills developed throughout the game by the participants aligned with the goal of gamification? I’ve seen many applications that use these elements, but the ultimate result ends up generating a behavior that was not initially desired.”

  3. Applying Game UI in digital product design: The culture of games has driven advances in service and experience design, more specifically the improvement of UI (user interface) concepts, improving user interaction with digital services and narrowing the gap with the physical experience. The Tinder “match”, for example, was inspired by the gaming universe, putting a little more challenge and fun into the process of finding the perfect match, creating addiction.

  4. Embracing digital consumer experiences: As the digital world and the real world mix, new consumer experiences that explore fantasy and imagination are emerging: The Fabricant is a 100% digital fashion house with garments and scenarios made in 3D. Retail is moving to embrace phygital, as was the case with Ikea, which swapped its printed catalog for virtual stores; Google has also created a virtual city for Black Friday.
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Video games and immersive technology possibilities promise to revolutionize the way we consume and interact with brands. However, it is important to keep in mind that we are also experiencing a technological fatigue: excess screens, confinement and social distancing can lead people to seek a reconnection through physical contact. That’s why we bet that, in the future, brands should invest in gamer culture beyond pure digital, with playful experiences that mix digital and real, such as augmented reality. Our Branding for the future playbook and our article on empathy are good reading tips for those who want to delve into the importance of brands’ online presence and use of hybrid features.

Contact us if you want to chat about the challenges and opportunities for your brand. And if this topic inspires you, and you are or know business professionals, strategists and designers who are interested in being part of our team, write to newtalents@cba-bmaisg.com telling us about your expectations, goals and history. We are always in search of talent!

This article had the contribution of: Carmen Beer, Ana Cerqueira, Giuliana Sanchez, Thaísa Miyahara, Ana Paula Moreno, Fabiele Nunes, Carina Benitez, Fabiano Naspolini, Vicente Martin Mastrocola, Josy Lamenza, Daniela Irrazabal, Rosario Maglione, Renato Storni and Luis Bartolomei.

 

 

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People have never played so much as nowadays. The fast-paced growth of the gaming industry triggered by the need to stay at home during the pandemic is making games win an increasingly diverse and wider audience. The figures are dizzying: in 2019, the market had a turnover of 1.5 billion US dollars in Brazil and 152 billion worldwide, leveraging more investments than cinema and sports. In 2020, electronic games were the most discussed topic on Twitter, with 2 billion tweets. What does this universe represent for brands and how can they play the game?

 

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The mobile phone is the gateway

There is no doubt that games represent today for young people what music used to represent in the 90s: cultural identity and the feeling of belonging to a community. Games are intrinsically linked to young culture, today more than ever. But if your idea of a typical gamer is an antisocial teen geek, think twice. From Candy Crush to Fortnite, the profiles and ways to play are numerous, with games that fit everyone’s time and pocket, matching different lifestyles, personalities and interests.

According to the Pesquisa Game Brasil 2021 survey, 72% of Brazilians say they play electronic games, and most of them have played more online games since the beginning of the pandemic. The casual gamer is best represented by a woman between 25 and 35 years old, while the hardcore is usually a man between 16 and 24 years old. The survey also pointed out that almost half of the players are from the middle, lower and poor social classes. For all of them, the mobile phone is the choice of preference. This explains the success of games like Free Fire, available on mobile and with more than 100 million downloads. On the other hand, consoles are declining, much due to the exorbitant prices charged in Brazil. For Claudio Lima, CEO at Druid Creative Gaming, “the mobile has turned the key to the gaming market in Brazil. Playing was for upper-class individuals, it demanded a console or PC, and that was very expensive. Now, anyone can play. Kids today dream of becoming Free Fire players instead of becoming soccer players.”

 

It's not just about playing,
it's about watching too

In addition to playing, millions also watch other players, professional and non-professional, through streaming platforms that are growing non-stop – Twitch, for example, has more than 15 million daily active users. A global survey in 2020 pointed out that gamers between the ages of 18-25 spend an average of 4 hours a week watching other people online. This phenomenon is creating new types of influencers who play matches with their audience, sometimes hundreds in the same day, creating authentic bonds and a true closeness. The Brazilian gamer Cellbit, for example, has been recording videos for Twitch and YouTube since 2012, counting with more than 6 million followers, with a total of 300 million views.

 

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Metaverses are the future
of entertainment

The gaming industry is shaping the future of entertainment, with varied and complex productions, immersive technologies and universes full of possibilities, besides impacting the streaming industry. 

Immersive Games like Beyond Two Souls or Cyberpunk benefit from high-budget investments worthy of the biggest Hollywood productions, with the participation of the best writers, actors and artists. The result is the creation of incredible narratives, characters and soundtracks. New immersive technologies such as virtual reality engage the player intensely and fully, while augmented reality blurs the boundaries between real and virtual. And of course, in these universes, players have the possibility to do many other things: their avatars can watch music shows and spend their money in different ways, simulating the real world. Roblox, a very popular platform that allows users to create their own worlds and mini-games, aims to ”unite the world by building a metaverse (a virtual world that digitally replicates the real one), where millions can meet up in games, conferences, or in collaborative jobs within a virtual economy that has its own currency.”

 

Agencies and divisions
specialized in games

Many non-endemic brands, that is, those that traditionally have no market links with the segment, are entering this world, creating new market dynamics and generating new demands – internally and from their partners. Unilever has created an esports center to better meet the needs of its brands; Publicis Play, launched this year in the UK, brings together a pool of experts from the group to provide creative, media and production support to its customers. In Brazil, Druid started operations at the beginning of the year and seeks to creatively connect games and brands, through a Business to Gamer model.

 

How to play the game?

For traditional brands, entering the gaming world may seem scarier than it really is – but we believe there are far more opportunities than risks. However, entering this game is something that requires preparation, and before you even start creating content and activations, you need to build a solid strategy, consistent with the brand positioning and value proposition, to connect with audiences in an authentic way and not just as another product placer.

We’ve identified some ways in which brands can begin to relate to the gaming world, building bridges with communities to – lightly and unpretentiously – join the conversation:

  • Playing with languages, aesthetics and references of the gamer culture: Amaro, for example, has launched a collaborative collection fully inspired by the characters of Animal Crossing. Starface is a cosmetics brand with a young and fun look and feel, inspired by the look of retro video games. Domino’s has been making several fun activations, such as featuring Pac-Man on their pizza boxes.
  • Interacting and establishing dialogues with gamers, showing interest in getting to know this audience better, is also an option: famous celebrities are enjoying, for example, playing games interacting with the public or with influencers (gaining very high visibility in return, of course): Guilherme Boulos and AOC made lives playing Among Us, while Drake and Ninja’s live playing Fortnite broke audience records.  
  • Connecting with gamers through iconic products: Categories like fashion, and more specifically streetwear, have easily connected with gamers including their outfits in games. They also get inspiration from games to create unique collections in real life. Nike is an example of this approach. The brand started with a feature of the Jordan Collection sneakers in NBA video games, and now is outfitting some Fortnite characters and sponsoring the Chinese League of Legends team, with physical collections inspired by the game. 

On the other hand, we believe that some initiatives, at first glance tempting, can in fact be much riskier or less impactful: 

  • Major brands are entering esports body and soul, but the risk of compromising the relationship with their audience is huge. For Claudio Lima, this is explained by the fact that e-sports are an easy-to-understand product: “Everyone understands what a football sponsorship is. There’s a team, there’s a T-shirt, there’s a crowd. But brands also have to deal with passionate fans, and sometimes with closed and protective communities. You cannot get in and out whenever you want, you can’t give the impression that you’re abandoning the team.”
  • Other brands are creating their own minigames, and while it’s a fun way to create engagement, it’s more interesting to be where the audience is already playing than trying to compete with their favorite games. That is, instead of trying to create their own Animal Crossing, brands earn much more by participating in Animal Crossing.
 

Where is the market heading to?

As the pandemic subsides, the connections made by players within games will create opportunities outside of them as well. People who have met online will want to meet physically and show how they belong to the communities. Therefore, events will boom and meeting places, such as the famous Lan Gaming Centers, can revive.

Want to continue learning about games, gamer culture and their relationship with brands? We recommend the podcast marketin.gg, which investigates the relationship between games and brands and Netflix’s High Score, a docuseries which tells the story of video games in a fun way. Are you missing the first classic games? Check here how to get access to a number of retro games, for free. Stay tuned and read our article on gamification, or on how brands can apply the mechanics used in games. 

Get in touch if you want to chat about the challenges and opportunities for your brand. And if this topic inspires you, and you are or know business professionals, strategists and designers who are interested in joining our team, write to newtalents@cba-bmaisg.com telling us about your expectations, goals and history. We are always in search of talent!

This article had the contribution of: Carmen Beer, Ana Cerqueira, Giuliana Sanchez, Thaísa Miyahara, Ana Paula Moreno, Josy Lamenza, Daniela Irrazabal, Rosario Maglione, Renato Storni, Luís Bartolomei, and the special participation of Claudio Lima.