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The first time you see This is America by Childish Gambino it’s simplicity draws you in, then it shocks you with something unexpected and you are hooked. You have joined the ranks of those unable to tear themselves away from seeing and hearing his views on the state of the nation.

It’s a truly compelling piece of art that has captured the attention of millions in a way that the advertising industry would love to emulate. Why? Because it’s a masterful piece of moving image. The medium that the Ad industry is geared to deliver and the social channels are…


What was the last good book you listened to? Or opinion piece you caught? Have you noticed the current rise in the volume of audio? Maybe more importantly are your customers podcast subscribers

It might not be something you’ve not given much thought to, the amount of information you take in through the ears. Part and parcel of every day, talking to the folk around you, overhearing conversations, or a voice on the radio.

But maybe you listened to an audiobook on your commute to work, or a podcast before you go to sleep? Increasingly podcasts are gaining traction among…


Drawing a crowd. Art by Mike Parsons

1. Write eye catching headlines

Yes, the listicle was a deliberate attempt to get you to read this, but it is based on the hard facts that people are more likely to click on articles titled “3 simple things” or “How to…” It’s also based on the understanding that headlines need to get the attention to a wide audience, with the idea that the next piece of content is equally interesting. So here’s a useful tip for most organisations.


It’s unlikely that you will need reminding that 2016 is time of change, from Brexit to Trump, social and political shifts have put us in a state of flux. On top of this, digital disruption is affecting every industry. How could design help?

Design has the most impact when it’s focused on a clear objective. Elon musk’s singular vision to make electric vehicles desirable. UK Government Digital Services remit to to save money and make services better. Or the Drum’s belief that marketing can save the world.

All grand plans that deserve to succeed and all with clear objective set out from the start. In order for any project to be a success it needs to have clear goals, so lets assume that you have a target in your sights, now, how best to tackle it? Over the last few years the ideas…


As so often happens, its only after the event that insight and understanding happens. This was certainly the case with the Reasons.to conference in Brighton last week

Crammed with great talks from design heavyweights like Stefan Sagmeister, Erik Kessels and the ubiquitous Mr Bingo, there was also space for less well known work like the excellent CarlosUlloa on audio in VR and even the sponsors put on a good show (Nice work Kier at Shopify partners.)

I was there as part of the Elevator pitch session — 15 people each with just three minutes to tell the audience who you are, what you do and why they should care. I was talking about Kernel cards, a content strategy tool, and to let people know that they are…


For a while now we’ve been thinking about ways to make workshops more user-focused and more productive. A great article in Fast company on the flawed nature of collective brainstorming, galvanised some of these thoughts.

Some of the issues raised apply to all kinds of group meetings. A big one is ‘anchoring’ which occurs when early ideas are discussed. Anyone who’s ever sat in on any kind of collective brainstorm, will know that initial ideas are the more obvious, but need to be written down so that you can move on. However, because they are first and tend to be…


After a week where the UK has gone from being an influencer on the world stage to a disorganised disparate laughing stock, it seems that communication (both what and how we consume) has played a part. And that misinformation, confirmation bias and the cult of personality have helped get us to this point. I’ve been thinking about how much this is a reflection of our fragmented media consumption and what it means going forward for those of us in the communication sector. How much does what we consume depend on our age, location or lifestyle?

largest percentages of readers over the age of 65 who make up almost half of their audiences — at 45 and 46 percent respectively.) The Leave campaign which was popular among this demographic, is an example of confirmation bias and the symbiotic relationship that this creates, (Readers want to read more viewpoints like theirs and news organisations want to sell newspapers).

Not that the digital media used by the Remain camp was any less polarising. The role of social media as an Echo-chamber for like minded views has been written about by Clay Shirky and others. …


West Ham, Eurostar & Bosch customers

If you work in branding, advertising or marketing then you probably spend a lot of your time making products and services look good. This makes perfect sense, but we should surely take it as a given that communicating our clients’ offer in the best light possible is key. An engaging brand, a beautiful object or efficient service is the result of people spending time crafting messages and imagery.

But what about the people who use the product or service? How does it make them feel? And, maybe more importantly, how does it make them look? The rules of engagement changed when people became more engaged with digital. Now brands and media companies are not the only ones who are broadcasting. A video on shared on Facebook, a What’s app message or a pic on Instagram from someone in your social circle can be more compelling than a carefully crafted brand message.

In a recent survey 67% of people bought something they had seen someone else share on social…


icoEX Strategy Cards prototype set

What if it was engaging, easy to learn and as engaging to play as a game of cards? What if it could rapidly lead to the creation of a robust and comprehensive strategy for any business?

After going through the process of defining a digital content strategy for a client many times using the three P’s (pen, paper and post-its) we felt that there might be another way. We looked at physical objects, from Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies and beautiful books created by our sister company ico design, and took inspiration from the categorisation done by e-consultancy & Chris Lakey in the periodic table of content marketing. Whilst the digital landscape is in constant change, we knew that there are enough fixed elements to warrant the creation of a framework.

And what better…


Tesla Model S Aluminum chassis and motor in Oxford Street showroom

What if the cars that he sold were amazing electric creations that did 0–60 in 2.8 seconds? And what if they could be charged in 20 minutes for free? And what if they would help save the planet? And what if the cars cost about the same price as a BMW?

If you had the finances, you’d buy one wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you? … Because they are being sold, right now on Oxford Street by the real life Tony Stark — Elon Musk. The car in question is a Tesla, part of Mr Musk’s mission to solve the world’s reliance on fossil fuels. For anyone that doesn’t know, Elon Musk is the man who invented PayPal, (among other things) and two of his companies, Solar City and Tesla motors are making a clean, renewable-energy future a reality, while his third, SpaceX is reopening space for exploration.

The man has pretty big…

icoEx

icoEx is an experience design and innovation consultancy.

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