Brand Perfect Tour – Notes on ‘Digital – where the brand breaks’ talk

My notes on the talk given by Scott Ewings and Kon Papagiannopoulos from Fjord about the issues that arise for brands in the digital channel. For me, this was the most inspiring talk of the day and although not the topic of the talk, it showed how branding is intrinsically merged with service design. The complexity of digital means we can no longer realistically design for technology. Design needs to start with consideration of context and behaviour with brand assets that are fluid and adaptable to fit how people manage content digitally. They propose a ‘digital brand DNA’  that allows brands to develop with this in mind.

The digital considerations for brands have evolved – from ‘online’ to ‘multichannel’ to ‘social’ and now to ‘smart objects’.

  • ATT in the US reports there are more smart objects on their network than humans.
  • Ericsson predicts there will be 50 billion smart objects connected by 2020.

We need to stop designing for technology and design for context and mode of use.

We need to create transportable brand assets for different behaviours.

Consider context

Person / situational context

  • Who are you with?
  • Who are you? (e.g. parent, employee, friend)
  • Where are you?
  • How much time do you have?
  • What did you do before?
  • What are you about to do?

Technological context

  • Do you have wifi? Is it secure?
  • Delivery?
  • What personal network are you on?
  • Is content aggregated?
  • Is your location detectable?
  • What device are you on?

Shows the need for behavioural based brand assets that are fluid.


Give up control. The customer drives control now.

Brand ads are just ‘noise’ to customers.

People manage content in the following ways and brand assets need to be suitable for this:

  • Filter
  • Aggregate
  • Connect
  • Curate
  • Share
  • Contribute

People can kill your brand in a day by connecting, sharing and contributing.

‘Atomisation’ – content that can be pulled into many different formats.


Broadcast media is non-interactive and visual.  Digital media is liquid, 2-way and behavioural. Skills, methods and tools are not defined.

Brand DNA for digital

Appearance + Behaviour + Presentation

Appearance (visual consistency)

  • Liquid
  • Horizontal
  • Scalable

Consistent typography and colour are important.

Behaviour (interaction consistency)

  • Contextual

Think about the brand in context of behaviours:

  1. Find
  2. Buy
  3. Set up
  4. Use
  5. Change / upgrade

Presentation (language and performance consistency)

  • Consistent performance
  • Consistent language

It’s important to be visually recognised, have authentic interactions and guarantee expected performances.

Examples of branded behaviours:

Google – cutting edge but friendly and trustworthy, recognisable interactions across all their products

Amazon –  ‘1-click purchase’ behaviour

Foursquare – invented location ‘check-in’

Spotify – cloud music, portability

BBC iPlayer – invented catch-up TV and content ‘multi-modality’

BMW –  created ‘connected drive’ where the driver has their own profile in the car that adjusts to their personal settings.

They are powering everyday behaviours by using new technology.

Where you can establish recognised behaviours then visual branding can be very light. Branding becomes about usefulness.


  • Design for context
  • Design for a brand in action
  • Design for digital DNA

It’s the context of consumption that’s important and the ‘lego layer’ – formulating experiences around the context of the audience.


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