Get smart: the impact of switched on clients and consumers


Earlier this week we had a great session with Mike Waller, Senior Lecturer from Goldsmiths and Programme Leader of the MA in Innovation in Practice, and the students from this course. It’s always interesting to open the studio to students from different disciplines and schools – and this group impressed us with their insightful, business-minded questions. We discussed the opportunities and difficulties of collaborating with other studios; how version control and collaborative tools are changing the way we work both internally and how we share and iterate work with our clients. We were also asked how we might manage a balance between ‘creating’ and ‘catch-ups’: that is, how to ensure the right people are feeding into a project, without being stifled by crits and feedback loops.

When asked his opinion on the major changes affecting the design industry, MB’s Design Director Campbell Orme saw three big factors at play:

1/ The democratisation of publishing means the creation of and access to content is more open, fluid and pacier than ever before.
2/ The way we work is now increasingly driven by the crowd and the cloud, making the way we work flexible and collaborative in different ways (sharing working components, for example, and not just ‘ideas).
3/ And, last but not least, the obvious impacts of our increased connectivity through mobile devices.
These things have culminated in consumers – and clients – understanding/being exposed to more, and therefore wanting more. As Campbell put it, “People are SMART. We’re seeing traditional clients approaching with incredibly exciting and non-traditional requests like ‘I want a big data project.’ Although they don’t necessarily *need* one, it’s pretty telling that they’re even aware of things like this”.

Another interesting question was posed: People now have the tools to share and shape a brand’s message. How has this changed how we work?

The answer, in it’s simplest form, comes back to that overused phrase – storytelling. Without a strong story, consumers have nothing to connect with. If they understand what you stand for, and believe in it, they will share that story for you. Sure, shifts in technology, new social networks and access to more data will impact the way a business can connect with consumer’s. But none of that matters if people don’t know, or care, what you stand for.