Strategic Design Thinking – Day 4

Today was the day to talk about Brand, Services and Ethics.

Firstly we had some historical perspective on branding and how it has changed since late 1800’s thought out 1900’s and how it is seen now.

Talking about branding? Talking about Coca-Cola.

They are HUGE and have passed though lots of changes over the years (you know, in the beginning it was some sort of remedy…), for decades they were as American as bald eagles, stars and bubble gum, but, you know, US is not the most friendly reference nowadays, maybe for this and many other reasons now Coke are more about making the world a happier place.

Be happy! Share these Cokes!

I really admire the work David Butler have done with the brand (as recognised by Fast Company in 2009). Great stuff going on there.

Maybe not by coincidence Tatil, which was present with 2016 Olympics identity in many parts of the presentation, have done some very interesting projects with Coletivo Coca-Cola in Brazil (this one is in Portuguese, sorry) you can check more about it here (this one in EN).

Basically the brand is helping disadvantaged communities providing education focused on helping these kids to become more employable, which is obviously perceived as an engaging attitude with a very positive feedback in the media and in society as a whole.

Also in Portuguese… 

Want to know a little bit more about David Butler work with Coca-Cola? Check this lecture he gave at an AIGA event in 2009 (he was on fire that year, wasn’t he?). “Oh Fernando, I would love to see his slides”. There you go.

Back to the topic.

Tom Inns presented a framework with 3 branding structures: Monolithic, Endorsed and Branded.

Monolithic would be defined by:

  • The single business identity 
  • For companies that want to promote a special idea about 
  • themselves. 
  • Very often operating across many business activities 
  • Because every product and service has the same name 
  • everything supports everything else 
  • Staff are very clear about what the company stands for 
  • Companies have a high visibility and a clear positioning

The very British example for this? Virgin! they surely have a special way to do stuff (apparently any stuff actually). I really feel attracted by the way they present themselves.

I think another great example is RedBull. They managed to create such a brand value based on performance, energy and youngness that it is easily shaped in different offers, from the energy drink to the media industry passing by an F1 TEAM! Come on, these guys are great.

The funny thing for me is that even without competing directly in many markets, I think as brands they are quite similar. I mean… Both have this special way to approach other areas by been very young, fresh and energetic.

Caring on there is the Endorsed brand defined by:

  • A multi-business identity
  • A large number of companies have grown by acquisition
  • They want to retain the goodwill of the brands that they
  • have acquired
  • But they want to superimpose their own management
  • style and attitudes
  • They want to impress certain audiences with their size
  • and strength, among these audiences they want to
  • emphasise uniformity and consistency
  • They frequently operate in different countries where
  • their reputation’s vary

I think it is valid for most of these brands behind other brands.

Good illustration of this is Procter & Gamble, offering from Mr Clean and Hair & Shoulders to Pringles (actually recently sold, but you got the idea).

Unilever is also a big umbrella of valuable brands. For me the most interesting is the paradox between some of their brands, specially Dove and Axe. Dove defends that all women are beautiful in their own way in this very modern-pos-feminism way, while Axe is all about using this product to became the ultimate bimbos womanizer. An Unilever promote both ideas. How awesome?

No. Those models ARE NOT that perfect early in the morning. Hail Photoshop.


Really? Check YouTube for more pearls like this.


And the third, the Brand based identity

  • Usually in pharmaceuticals, food, drink and other fast
  • moving consumer goods (fmcg)
  • Do not present their corporate face to the consumer
  • Based on the fact that consumerism is based on simple
  • symbolism
  • Brands have a life cycle of their own … independent of
  • the company
  • Brands from the same company might compete in the
  • same market place
  • Brands should be free to develop their own identities

The umbrella is there but far behind the stage, and usually one have no clue about the ownership. A great example is LVMH, owning lot of luxury brands in several different categories (fashion, drinks, jewelry and so on). Diageo is almost the same thing but focused on beverage only. Have you ever tried something from Diageo? No? Probably yes since they own Johnnie Walker, SmirnoffCiroc and even Guinness.

In the afternoon we talked more about service design and ethics, that Tom approached from a social / environmental perspective.

There is a lot of material out there about service design… I just define it as the design of things that are not things, which means processes, systems and other intangible offers.

Tom showed a little video to demonstrate it, but I like this one better:

About the ethics part… it is interesting how most of young people already have this eco/social concerns embed in their way of work. I think nowadays been environmentally and socially concerned is a commodity. Really, there is no space for you out there without this!

I think this is it for today.



4 thoughts on “Strategic Design Thinking – Day 4

  1. Interesting observation on the approach to ethics… made me think it does seem to have become a synonym for a certain brand of socially aware / enviro conscious values. Interesting to think about the implications of that. What other issues within that word ethics are missing in the ‘standard’ version?

    I have to say I wish I was as confident as you are that young people have even the social awareness / eco stuff embedded in their work. Up to a point, and in a very particular way perhaps…? Certainly from the perspective of someone who was young before 80s rampant capitalism ran riot across the industrial world as it now runs riot across the rest of the world what passes for social awareness now looks very different.

    BTW I am sure you know them already but if not you I hope will read soon the work of Cameron Tonkinwise and of Lucy Kimbell.

  2. Thanks Cat.

    I don’t know… maybe it is my circle in Brazil, we are a bunch of very concerned people. In 2009 we organized a 3 days workshop on design ethnography and design research in general, creativity and sustainability… So you are probably right, I am over confident with this… hahaha but in the end I really think our generation want to do good.

    The thinking that frightens me is that maybe what we think is good NOW will not be in the future. I have this idea, for example, that some day animal cruelty became a really big and accepted think in a extreme way, for example, having a pet would not be considered acceptable anymore because it is like a prisoner. And it could be common sense in the future as is common sense now to not have slaves (while a couple of centuries ago would be a totally normal thing).

    And thanks for the references, no, I didn’t know them.


    • Great example Fernando, again all evidence of the importance of relativism (much as many these days would love to deny that idea). I think the young are always inclined to “do good” and to try and find a better way of being. But I see a world now that is so immeasurably more materialist than mine – I can’t imagine how hard it is to balance the idealistic impulse against the one created by a world that tells you you are not “a real person”unless you have a mobile phone, a computer, special clothes, a car, a house, etc etc. None of those things existed for my generation. A watch, a camera, that was about the extent of what we lusted after. Our clothes were shit and we lived in squalid flats with furniture picked up from the streets but it didn’t matter because it never occurred to us that we could have more. I don’t think we were better – we just had less temptation, less resources even if we were tempted (no credit back then) and no TV constantly telling us we should live like Kings on our peasant’s incomes.

  3. Ok. Now I feel quite bad, hahaha.

    I think it is quite natural to want to improve, to not be satisfied with what we have, but sure, the kind of thing we pursue nowadays are trivial in many aspects, but it is not just a question of generation, we also are divided in many different groups (some want to go to wall street, others to a favela in Rio)…

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