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Design Indaba: Five Takeaways for Communications Marketing

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The Design Indaba Conference was first established in 1995. Since then, this annual conference celebrating design and creativity has expanded to include a week-long festival based in Cape Town, South Africa, with a mission to show how design can advocate for change and serve the world’s communities better. Here are some of the big takeaways for communications marketing:

  1. Create experiences

    It’s not enough to tell people what’s happening. Look for ways to immerse them in a story, to craft new and unique experiences. For instance, Editions at Play, from Google Creative Lab and Visual Editions, looks at what books can become in a digital age and produces books that cannot be printed, with stories that are integrated with animation, Google StreetView, and more.

    Nelly ben Hayoun is Designer of Experiences at SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute. SETI’s latest project, The Life, The Sea and the Space Viking, communicates serious issues around astrobiology, terraforming and the search for “extremophiles” – organisms adapted to survive in the harshest of Earth’s environments – in a fun, accessible medium that combines animation and rock music, with interviews with leading scientists.

    As communications marketers, we need to look for ways we can offer new and different experiences that engage the imagination.

  1. Look for duct-tape opportunities

    Duct tape can be used to fix almost anything, but it’s a temporary solution. Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, says that whenever you see duct tape, it indicates a problem which, in turn, is a design opportunity. Companies can apply the same principle by looking for `duct tape moments’ that require a new solution.

  1. Think differently

    The best projects aren’t like anything else you’ve seen before. Artist duo Lernert and Sander create conceptual films with a bold sense of humour. When put to commercial use, their short films linger in your mind. The Sound of COS celebrates the sounds, rather than the look, of luxury fashion, and the almost forgotten craft of foley artists. Architect Winy Maas makes a habit of asking “what if”, leading him to design walkways to bring the roofs of Rotterdam within pedestrian access and create crystal shopfronts, which echo the heritage of their surrounds while simultaneously creating a uniquely modern building.

  1. Culture is a rich source of inspiration

    In an increasingly homogenized world, African creatives are looking to their heritage to design products and images that are strikingly different. London-based creative Yinka Ilori says that, growing up, he envied his Nigerian expat parents their ease and comfort in a familiar culture. But by reconnecting with and exploring his ancestral home, he found a rich source of inspiration. He now creates unique chairs, each one inspired by a Nigerian proverb or by a personal relationship.

  1. It’s not always about the tech

    Some creatives made a point of exploring non-digital solutions with products that engage the senses – like bespoke perfume and jewelry, or work that changes over time. In a society where technology is ubiquitous, connecting in a different way can feel refreshingly authentic.

Jocelyn Newmarch is an account director, Edelman South Africa.
Prinolan Govender is a senior designer,  Edelman South Africa.

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