Did IKEA just kill UK Grime?

Do you remember when your parents started using slang words that were only used by your mates? It was awkward, right? You stopped using them.

Brands can have an equally awkward habit of the same weird flex, but ok.

18 years ago, the BRIT awards crowned UK Garage group So Solid Crew with the best video award for 21 Seconds. It is seen by some that this was a turning point for the cultural perception of the brand of UK Garage. It became commercial and destroyed its founding principles.

It’s 2019 and the IKEA Christmas Grime ad is here…

If you squint you can see the approach of this campaign. But something here is very awkward and we’re closing in on two brands—UK Grime and IKEA— destroying their own principles.

  • Ad Agency Pitch: It’s a funny ad with a dis grime battle rap from cuddly toys aimed at a family getting their home together for Christmas.
  • The Awkward: The word shame. This is a powerful word. A deep critique on your worth and representation to others. Multiply this by the toughest time of the year for some families. Mental wellbeing?
  • Subtext: Families are in continued tough times globally and they are more aware of the divide in wealth than ever before, it’s now our everyday spiral of political mess. Even the size of their house is up for grabs here
  • Distraction: We have all been sold to using the “show your best self” and everyone likes funny grime songs, right? Stormzy played Glasto this year guys! Come on. Also, it’s just a rapping T-Rex.
  • IKEA’s Problem: their vision is — “To create a better everyday life for the many people” — this campaign message isn’t for the many, it’s actually for the very few. Those with enough capital to do home upgrades while paying for presents, food, booze and more.
  • Grimes Problem: you just rapped about buying an IKEA folding table. Awkward. Who’s brand is next on your list? Pepsi?
    Perhaps it would have been less awkward to have an ad that focused on families upgrading their everyday lives not just a short lived shameful view on being judged at Christmas.
  • My pitch: Don’t buy yourself some AirPods you melt, buy your family something they can use all year round designed for a compact living space.
    It’s 2019, I doubt anyone will think Grime has peaked by rapping for IKEA, everything is a remix, re-memed and upside down. I just don’t think it’s that cool to rap about folding tables — a bit like being on the BRIT awards.

Written by
Lawrence Brown on 8th November 2019

An idea for augmented reality

I’ve struggled finding an AR feature I would need, then after a couple of hire cars with existing damage… 💡


The pitch: reporting damage to hire car clubs is slow and done over the phone when you need to get moving. You don’t want slow—that’s why you hired a car. Instead of phoning, use AR to overlay the known and already reported damage. If it is new damage, report it in the app before you start the journey. If it is existing — no need to wait on the to phone customer services and check it, off you go.

[above] I comped this dodgy screen together in a few minutes.

DriveNow is great, I’m a fan. Their customer service is super responsive and detailed too. However, when you’re renting a car you do need to check if it has damage — which in their London fleet seems to be quite common. If you force customers down this route in the app, checking damage becomes part of the rental journey process, it could be super quick and gives DriveNow more data. Saves the phone call too.

Beep beep. 🚗💨


Update: The wonderful Annalisa Cividati — shared this company with me

https://www.ravin.ai

“Using most camera types, under most physical conditions, we detect more damages, reduce inspection costs and restore trust anywhere vehicles change hands”

Written by
Lawrence Brown on 23rd July 2019

What company mission do your customers actually remember?

We all have to adapt to survive, but you might have cemented an idea that people will never forget.


Deliveroo has changed. Businesses do change. The thing is, I remember the mission of the 2015 Deliveroo. I can order from amazing places that don’t actually do delivery and eat at my own kitchen table. “We are on a mission to bring the world’s best local restaurants to everyone’s home or office.” — Deliveroo 2015. View the early pitch deck here

Four years later I open the app when working from home, cupboards are empty and I get this beautiful selection shown above.

  • How much has the idea changed?
  • Why did the idea change?
  • Is this idea as good?

Let’s face it. It’s not is it? “Crap food at any time for a premium rate delivered by drivers making a tricky salary.” Why did this change? Scale, growth and greed. Perhaps, and hold onto your hat here, the idea was never meant to be as big as they are trying to make it.

There’s loads of add on ideas to try and keep companies like Deliveroo growing, all in the name of the future bet of big profits from tiny margins and questionable outsourced labour. Be it:


What company mission do your customers actually remember?

🖥 Designers tell you Apple isn’t in it for the creative professional anymore.
✈️ Travellers tell you British Airways isn’t a top-end experience anymore.
🏨 Soho House members will tell you it’s too much like WeWork now.

The problem is, these statements are somewhat false. One of the brand ideas of Apple is to be creative, the joy of making something easily. British Airways offer some of the best customer service whilst competing in an aggressive price war sector. Soho House value members having memorable and unique experiences in their houses.

🍔 I will tell you that Deliveroo isn’t the place for the world’s best restaurants.
But I’m wrong, you can still order from some of London’s best affordable restaurants. You can also order from some of the worst.

Protecting your brand idea and mission takes care, time and saying no. Saying no a lot. I wonder where the brand idea of Deliveroo will be in the next four years, is this just part of the growth struggle? This is true of Airbnb too.


What can brands do to protect their idea, their mission, their place in our mind?

  • Define your Brand Architecture. Deliveroo could make fast food a sub-brand, a category choice off the homescreen. The effort of making a portfolio of rules for your brand and products gives you a huge return in equity and clarity.
  • Set brand rules based on the idea, Art Directors — this is your design jurisdiction and you get to put your team and suppliers in time-out or jail for breaking these rules
  • Plan the journey for the brand. Yes, it will change. Look at the greats who have done this over time, Apple is often overused but damn, they are strategy hero’s of positioning, quality and delivery into music, phones, media, health, finance, education… what’s next?
  • Keep your business plan in check with your idea. My bet is growth greed has caused Deliveroo to compromise. Keep your brand, keep your customers, keep your idea.
  • Help suppliers, they are your weak point. Airbnb are cited for helping hosts photograph their homes and add finishing touches, again, set your standards to the experience and enforce it.

 

Written by
Lawrence Brown on 19th July 2019

The balance of your business operational models, brand and customer experience

Short story: I got fined by Uber JUMP because I parked a bicycle outside their operational zone. A few days later I got refunded and emailed the above automatically. This business rule was quite well managed, it created a feeling of trust in JUMP that I haven’t always felt with Uber Taxis & Uber Eats.

It got me wondering, what triggers, nudges and logic for your business can be optimised for a reliable operational model and great customer experience whilst strengthening your brand?

Are you looking at the big picture of customer journeys with a Service Designer, Brand Strategist and an Accountant?

📚Valuable Reading:
This is Service Design Doing
This is Service Design Thinking


Long story: Uber are here in London with their bicycle rental service; JUMP, it’s exactly the same as the others, except, the hybrid bikes are better. Although, I’m still a fan of City owned schemes for economic and sustainability reasons.

On my first ride I didn’t look up JUMP’s operational zones. With hindsight it’s an obvious thing to check, especially for rental and sharing services.

I pelted it across London from Hackney to Waterloo station, had 5 mins to spare until meeting someone, locked the bike up, opened the app and then… £10 parking fee (shown above, left). I’ve taken the bike out of its agreed area and this idiot just got fined 229.36% the cost of the journey.

A few days and rides later I got the email above (middle and right), refunding me and explaining a bit more about their service terms. I’m guessing a few pieces of programmed logic are happening here. It’s a designed service journey that is carefully balancing operational costs, lifetime customer value (LCV) and the brand experience.

The blind spot is booking a bike away from an exclusion zone shows you a regular map. Book it near the edges of the zones and you see greyed out regions. You’ll quickly get where you can and can’t finish your ride. I didn’t get that where I started my ride.

Logistics and sharing app experiences are deliberately paired back, they have minimal controls, snippets of information and rarely can you access all your data. Product Designers want simplicity and therefore hopefully more bookings.

Let’s go. Let’s book. 🚙 🚲 🛴 📈

There isn’t even a cancel button for reserving a JUMP bike. So you get £1 fall out your wallet if you change your mind, which you can get back by emailing them.

As an industry, we Designers are removing or masking more in the name of simplicity and usability, but we’re not always in it for the customer, especially when the revenue model is precarious (ride sharing, food delivery, etc). This will be at the cost of the brand. Experience = brand.

Still, I believe JUMP made a fair call on the charge here, definitely not the lack of cancel button. It appears to be the careful balance of business sense and customer experience.

One of the big tasks we’re undertaking at NET-A-PORTER & MR PORTER is to fully map out all service journeys. We want to understand them not only from an interface perspective but from a deeper business analysis — we need that careful balance to our customer service, returns policy, logistics promises, stock control… and so on. I know the challenge will always be make sure every function here feels remunerated whilst the customer feels great too.

To wrap up, a few examples I’ve seen or been thinking about

  • Strava ask if you want to join a local running club a few days after a run logged — it leads customers to see the value in a paid account.
  • BOLD hotels surprise you with free drinks at check-in if you say yes to your room not having sheets cleaned every night
  • 💡DriveNow should add an AR feature to check car damage before you drive (I’ve been stung a few times by forgetting to check, they could make it fun and easy and logged)

Written by
Lawrence Brown on 18th July 2019

Decision nuggets

This got me thinking. Damn I want some chicken nuggets. Would I ever go to Burger King for them though? Wait. But why? I haven’t even tried BK’s nuggets.

You’ve got to love a strategy that can have a place in our mind the second before we commit to a competitor. They are your doubt. They are your wake up call. At this point, they own questioning a decision, if only for a second.

BK are notable for a variety of interesting marketing ideas, stunts and executions, I wouldn’t say this is one of them.

Although, there’s something wonderfully childish about this. It’s cheeky and we all know BK’s brand is too. Often you hear marketeers talk about “brand positioning” – a place in a consumers mind. They have nailed it here just by the physical positioning and opportunity, with added bonus of not having to worry about any smart ass copywriting.

Questions I’m thinking about

  • Where is your companies brand positioned literally and strategically?
  • Will you get this close to influencing your customer during a decision?
  • How can you deliver brand voice without needing copy?
  • What are BK’s chicken nuggets actually like?

Written by
Lawrence Brown on 17th July 2019

Make it more uncomfortable

Recently, I’ve been thinking about when is the best time to get someones attention. How could your message be interpreted and received by editing simple variables?

I walk past this campaign / idea / initiative(?) every day

It’s very pretty. Well done Design team. Pretty stuff is the big idea of the Westfield mall. However, I can’t help feeling there are two huge opportunities missed here, and perhaps a vacant mall unit is not the place for this…

  1. Why are there no actual signs of homelessness here — just this sign?
  2. Why isn’t this positioned where dwell time meets audiences consideration — paying for your parking, walking out of the mall, next to the actual pavement?

I’m going to take a bet why.

Because it’s too uncomfortable for these brands to have these reminders next to your shopping session, the brief was about being pretty next to the other pretty retailers +use RFID please.

How effective is this thing if it’s not actually stopping people?

The space should be used to rotate a real story, a real person and real objects, that you have to really deal with as you pass through.

Make it more uncomfortable.

Written by
Lawrence Brown on 16th July 2019

A film is written three times…

first in the screenplay, next in production and finally in the edit.


This film essay video below is brilliant. If you haven’t got 18mins to watch it, all you need to know is — making things is hard, you have your own perception on what you’ve made and what it’s communicating. Then comes along someone else and they see it differently. And again, and so on. You need these people.

Star Wars was a mess in its first screening and idea. It took a lot of effort and humility to address the less than perfect to make it somewhere—some might say—close to perfect.

  • How often do you let someone edit your work?
  • How happy are you to admit it isn’t ready?
  • Are you building this process and mindset into your work or are you being caught out by others peoples last minute feedback?

I keep thinking about workflow and processes that allow you to get an idea down but keep it moving around. Onto Milton Glaser. In this interview he says:

“I move things around till they look right”

There’s something in this comfortableness of changing things. I like this idea.I keep editing these posts I’ve been publishing. I’m aiming to get ideas down that are in my head. I know the words are not great, they are just ok. Giving myself that space to edit and learn feels right though.


For my work output and ideas I keep coming to:

  1. Write it like you’re saying it to your friend
  2. Then re-write it for my Director to read
  3. Now re-write it for our customer to hear

Finally, this jogged another useful process — Upworthy had a guide to content that went around a lot in 2012, the bit I often cite is the “write 25 headlines”

The idea is that you keep going with that edit, keep refining to get the rubbish and the half good out the way.

https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/employers/blog/10-ways-support-lgbt-employees/

http://www.prideam.org/

Written by
Lawrence Brown on 27th June 2019

Design challenges: Why ‘how’s it going?’ is the worst question to ask

When you have a design or business problem to solve, what steps do you take?

  • Do you get your head down and sketch out ideas?
  • Do you turn to the internet for inspiration?
  • Do you talk to anyone who will listen?

Before you do anything, firstly, see if you’re thinking about the entire ‘thing’.

A buddy taught me a problem solving model he uses daily:
[Problems, Plan, Progress], shorthand — PPP. He’s a doctor working in A&E. Emergency wards are fast paced, critical and stressful environments. The conversations he has with patients and his colleagues must be responsive, structured and analytical.

By contrast, problem solving a design solution allows open, ambient and sometimes irrelevant communication. Shooting the shit. Which is fine, if we’re getting closer to the answer and we’re remembering to question the problem. It’s doubtful anyone’s life is on the line in a design review*.

The PPP model might feel specific to doctors, but it’s transferable and helps force you into holistic thinking.

Broken down:

  1. What do you think is the problem? Why are you right?
  2. Using your experience and expertise, what is your plan for solving this and what have you done so far?
  3. Are you right? Is the problem solved or are we seeing an improvement?

Why is the model robust?

  • It forces you to describe the full picture in 3 sentences, not just focusing on your amazing (proposed) plan
  • It communicates time and status
  • It opens discussion for improvement
  • It is transferrable to colleagues, no lone rangers here
  • It is not subjective

Too often when we focus on problem solving we have a bias to the activity of just ‘doing’. PPP forces you to continuously monitor not only your evaluation of the problem but the efficiency of your answer.

Asking ‘how’s it going?’ often won’t tell you much about what’s actually going on.

*Some designers will tell you they have been close

Written by
Lawrence Brown on 13th January 2017