In May 2013, SYNTAX celebrated its 15th birthday. More than a birthday party we transformed the occasion into what we called SYNTAX/Interface: we opened our offices (and building roof) for a day of ideas, interaction and fun. Our invited speakers, clients, partners, SYNTAXers and ex-SYNTAXers, friends and family all showed up for what turned out to be a great, colorful day.
But it was also a day that signaled the end of an era and the beginning of another.
Technology has changed. The world has changed. We have changed.
Only a decade ago, it was a struggle to convince clients in the Arab region of the importance of a coherent brand, or the value of a web strategy, or, even more far fetched, the need to innovate.
Today, some of these challenges remain. But it is clear that our region is more connected than ever before. Connected internally, and globally. Our region is not immune to global competition nor to social and political change. And the region’s innovators are no longer invisible.
SYNTAX, a company that for more than a decade and a half preached design and innovation needs to redesign itself.
Our DNA of curiosity, clarity and craft has not changed. But the scope of what we deliver has progressively evolved.
A history lesson
When we started the company in the late 1990s, we tagged ourselves as providers of “strategic design and interactive media”, and that’s what we did during what I call SYNTAX 1.0. That mission was translated into building pioneering websites, corporate designs, logos and publications. Sometimes we provided comprehensive solutions, but often disconnected, one-off interventions.
SYNTAX 2.0 saw us evolve our strategic branding capabilities and expertise, as well as our involvement with web 2.0 startups. Besides branding companies, we now were branding larger corporations, cities and regions.
Today, we’re increasingly designing businesses from the ground up: Product strategy, brand, technology, communication, user interface, space are more than just interconnected. They are one!
In parallel to this evolution, our team grew, not merely in numbers. It is the growth that comes from long term collaborative learning and the trust built between people who have been together through tough challenges and hard-won achievements for many years. In a world where job hopping has become the norm, many of us SYNTAXers have been here for 5 years or more. Some, a decade and more. Equally, I am it is the growth that comes from new members of our team who are adding exciting dimensions to our expertise and culture.
Everyone: welcome to SYNTAX 3.0.
Remembering why we’re here
Beyond all the buzzwords and trends, beyond consultant’s presentations, we see our role as designers addressing some deep-rooted human needs: Communication. Knowledge. Tools. Space. Place. Identity.
Humans are a tool-making and tool-using species. From the stone hammer to the smartphone. We keep evolving our tools, making them better, redesigning them.
We are a species that communicates. The better communicators thrive.
We all need identities to “identify”. From our personal identity (who am I) to the identity of communities, cities, companies, organizations. Having an identity means standing for something.
We are a learning species. The gathering, organization, transmission and development of knowledge is central to human culture. Any system that stops learning, dies.
We are a space dwelling species: from caves to skyscrapers. From the village to the metropolis. Our relation to the spaces we dwell in and travel through is central to the living and understanding of our lives.
The best we can hope for at SYNTAX is to help people, communities and organization by designing better tools, communication and knowledge, spaces, places and identities.
How it’s done at SYNTAX
We favor designing and building things over talking about them. We are visual. We are tactile. We are experiential. We show and tell. We prototype the future to see how it looks and if it really works. We aren’t afraid to make “mistakes” as we iterate towards a solution that works elegantly.
We challenge the status quo, and don’t care about departmental politics. We don’t care if it “was always done this way”. We don’t care if it “can’t be done”.
We are not just “design nerds”. Yes we deeply care about obscure design details of materials, fonts, pixels and shades of color. But we are also passionately curious about real-world business challenges and how organizations work and how people use products, perceive information, interact with their environments and how they feel about the experiences they have.
Transforming your business through Experiential Integration
The best organizations and companies are the ones that can consistently offer their audiences experiences that respond to their needs, that add to their lives and that ultimately delight them in small and large ways.
People experience your organziation through a series of interfaces. These interfaces include the products you sell, the services you provide, the communication you transmit, the physical spaces and the digital platforms where they interact with you.
Designing those interfaces in a holistic, connected and thoughtful manner to deliver experiences that are easy, intuitive, beautiful, meaningful and delightful is what we call Experiential Integration.
“Transforming Experiences” is our guiding idea today. It not only means that we have the technical ability to transform an experience. It challenges us to create experiences transform perceptions, opinions, usage, engagement, profits, relevance. A great meal can transform your mood. A great teaching experience delivered by a passionate teacher can transform a child. A great transport experience can transform the lives of citizens. A great travel experience can transform the understanding the world and your place in it.
A window into our world
With these thoughts, I invite you to have a look at our new website to see more of what we’ve bee up to. We hope it sparks an idea. Maybe we’ll be working together soon to transform an experience.
Originally published at syntaxdesign.com on February 12, 2014.