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You wouldn’t do this, would you?

22.04.2020
#Digital #Service design

I don’t know!

06.11.2019

Service Design Award 2019

17.10.2019
#Service design

Change

24.04.2019

Jobs to be done

19.02.2019

Key take-aways from SDGC18

08.11.2018
#Service design

AI as UI?

17.10.2018

Shopper marketing

27.09.2018

Learning by doing

08.02.2018

BMW

23.11.2017

Empathy

30.10.2017

Glue for business

17.05.2017

Oh f***!

26.04.2017

Ready-set-go!

31.01.2017

The Kano model

07.09.2016

Trends in 2015

02.12.2015

The orange door

17.06.2015

Change Hurts

26.01.2011

Brave new year

11.01.2011

Whoops!

12.04.2010

A bit of history

12.02.2010

ROI. Meet ROB.

20.01.2010
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Storytime

You wouldn’t do this, would you?

You go to a restaurant. Order everything on the menu, because you don’t know what’s good. Taste everything. And pay only for what you like. Doesn’t sound reasonable, does it? In the world of public tenders, especially for ambiguous topics, such as design, this appears to be common practice. Often these tenders expect participants to …

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Disruption as a source of innovation

The first in a series of articles, of how to see the opportunities for innovation, that the Coronavirus is laying bare.

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How much information is enough information?

Asking a lot of people for a lot of information doesn’t necessarily mean that it will lead to understanding. How many of us have received requests to answer one or the other questionnaire about our recent purchase / flight / hotel stay / restaurant meal or grocery shopping? How many of us have started out …

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Avoiding unforeseen consequences

The title is a contradiction. If it is unforeseen, then it cannot, by definition, be avoided. However, as Einstein pointed out, “imagination is more important than knowledge” and that gives us hope, as we are in a creative business. On the other hand, Niels Bohr said that “predictions are difficult. Especially about the future.” So …

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Your first idea is the same as everyone else’s

Iteration is the key to getting to new ideas. Because your first idea is the same one your neighbour has.

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Doing is harder than talking

We are often engaged by clients in both the public and private sector, to help design better services. However, curiously, in quite a number of these engagements, we actually never design the services. We just help in defining the service. The above scenario really works well, if the client has an internal design team that …

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I don’t know!

Ever feel more like a wallet being opened to extract money than a valued customer? You are not alone. Companies ignore feelings like this at their peril.

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Service Design Award 2019

The Service Design Award. Read what the head of the jury, our own Margus, had to say about the winners.

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Untangling wicked problems

Untangling wicked problems in public services is unlike designing better customer experiences. Proceed with caution.

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Happy employees. Happy customers.

Employer branding is important. Employer branding is a buzz word. Employer branding is misunderstood.

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Understanding the value you create

A practical toolset to map where your organisation actually creates value. What is important to customers, how to define how you deliver that value, how to learn from the best in the market.

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Causality or causation?

Outside of purely digital services, such as Netflix, it is very difficult to understand exactly what people are doing and why. In science this is referred to as the difference between causality and causation. Just because b followed a doesn’t mean that a caused b.

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Change

Change is inevitable. We all know that. So why is it so hard to change organisations to become flexible and customer centric?

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The root cause of every misunderstanding is a communication problem

There’s a video that we often use in lectures on service design. It’s a film about a door that people keep trying to pull instead of pushing. It’s a perfect illustration of a communication problem. The door handle says “pull me”. And that’s what people do, and then the door screams “push”, by just not …

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The Problem with Service Design

Avoiding lost in translation between strategy and execution is hard. But in order to succeed at service design, you have to learn to create teams that work from the beginning of discovery all the way to the end of delivery.

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Jobs to be done

There’s a classic (at least we think so) film of Clayton Christensen explaining the job a milkshake does. This idea, that customers aren’t necessarily buying what you are selling isn’t new. But the jobs to be done theory does help to clarify the difference between what is important to you, the seller, and what is …

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Context: How to avoid misunderstandings.

Context is the key to understanding customer behaviour. People act the way they do because of the situation, in which they find themselves. Simply put, if you are in a hurry then a 10 second wait is an eternity. If you’re feeling really relaxed, 5 minutes is an instant.

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Personas. Why they’re good for business.

Personas are a short cut. Unless you can have a real-life unbiased customer sitting in your office 24/7, answering and reacting naturally to every idea you have, then the next best thing is a persona. To put it very bluntly, personas help you empathise. And empathy is the secret ingredient to creating products and services …

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Life is not a straight line

Service design tools. The journey map Everybody talks about customer journey maps. Seems that everybody does them. And, admittedly, there’s a million suggestions out there on how to do them. So, on the back of the service design course that we’ve developed, it seems the right time to start describing each tool and method in …

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Key take-aways from SDGC18

A brief summary of what we heard and learned at this year’s service design conference.

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AI as UI?

Can artificial intelligence become the user interface of choice?

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Shopper marketing

According to Fast Company, “shopper marketing is one of the hottest trends in marketing today, at least in the eyes of major consumer packaged goods companies such as P&G, Unilever, Coke, Kraft etc.”

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Designing for experiences. Not designing experiences.

We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that people’s experiences can actually be designed. Experiences are not pliable and mouldable products. Rather they are reactions inside people, which manifest in response to an experienced phenomenon.

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Culture. Eats Strategy. For breakfast.

Thinking about aesthetics first is like considering culture first. We should but we don’t

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Brands are what they do. Not what they say.

Building a brand is one of the goals of every business. The clearer defined your brand is, the easier it is to acquire new customers and retain existing one’s. (Presuming your not a one-time service, like permanent hair-removal.)

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Retail is not about to die. But your store may.

Retail is about detail. The detail of serving customers, not moving goods. Because online is better at moving goods but reasonably terrible at helping customers with what they didn’t know they want.

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Failure is the price of success

Learning to fail, and becoming comfortable with failure, is a designers secret weapon. The skill of working effectively with trial and error leads further, faster than presuming that you already know everything.

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Learning by doing

The answer is not, that women and men are different.

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Equality + diversity = quality

Equality and diversity aren’t buzzwords. They’re a necessity for a successful business.

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BMW

BMW does not stand for Bayerische Motoren Werke. It stands for Brand Manual Wednesday. Which, occasionally also can be a Tuesday or Thursday but most frequently is, in fact, a Wednesday. 

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Empathy

To improve the customer experience, you must first see and feel, what the customer is going through. In short, you must empathise. Once you can see the service or product through the customer’s eyes, and really understand what is good and bad, then you can begin to improve it. Not before. Empathy is hard. In …

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Applying service design to employer branding

It’s a fact that hiring staff ain’t what it used to be. Millennials have a different point-of-view to employment than their parents. And the gig-economy is changing what work is, or could be. Here are 7 tips for those working with recruitment, and how service design methods can help you find and keep the right people.

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Maybe the reason services are bad is because of how they are created?

For every effect, there has to be a cause. When a product is bad, you can reverse engineer and find out where it went wrong. But when a service doesn’t turn out right, the organisation shrugs its collective shoulders and proceeds as if nothing has happened, while writing of a 100 million $something investment, convinced …

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Stop looking for your customers’ “changing needs”

Needs don’t change. Needs are basic. The thing that changes is how we satisfy those needs. And, yes, those means of satisfying needs are certainly changing, but perhaps not always in the direction we’d like.

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Optimisation is perfecting the formula that goes out of date

Pursuing optimisation and efficiency is admirable, if it is balanced with innovation and customer insight. But when optimisation becomes a technical pursuit, then what should be the real goal of optimisation, delivering greater value to customers, is often lost in translation.

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Glue for business

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Or, every single touchpoint on the customer journey was thought through. They just didn’t work very well together.

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Oh f***!

“Our United Customer Commitment: We are committed to providing a level of service to our customers that makes us a leader in the airline industry. We understand that to do this we need to have a product we are proud of and employees who like coming to work every day. …

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The Law of Unintended Consequences

People being people, perverse results can often happen as people tend to use situations for their own benefit. Or you can consider it an opportunity for innovation.

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Appetite for Destruction

Things have gotten too complicated. Everywhere around us, instead of working with what is already there, we add layers of rules / regulations / processes / functions and make things harder to understand and use. It’s time to introduce the Chief Destruction Officer.

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All you need is innovation + marketing

Peter Drucker said, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.”

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Customer journey maps. Why, what, how and when.

Doing “customer journey mapping” is the new, cool thing to do. Companies are tweeting and Facebook posting pictures of groups of people working with post-its by a whiteboard. So the big question is, does it work? Is it time well spent? Or is it just a fashionable trend that will blow over in year?

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Ready-set-go!

Design driven innovation. Innovation through design thinking. One way or the other, this works.

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Inside look: project management at Brand Manual

Last year we took a very close look at our own organisation. We also analysed how we handled client projects, and what we like about working, and what not. The resulting project management methods and tools were summarised in 8 principles, which is what guides our working method today. We think that they could be useful for you, too.

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Re-designing education

Education needs to enter the 21st century. Today’s educational system can no longer deliver a workforce that business requires.

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The problem is that we don’t know what the problem is

Recently, a government organisation asked us to answer the question of “whether it is possible to create e-services that meet the needs of all age groups?” Our answer, such as it was, was, “Yes. No. Maybe. Depends…” The problem is that we don’t know what the problem is. Which is the problem that we should …

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Service hacks – your guide to innovation

Observing people as they navigate the options available to them, often shows us a better way of providing services. Learning from these “service hacks” truly makes them a guide to innovation.

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Your core business may not be your “core” business

For the customer, what is your “core” business and what is “on the side” may be indistinguishable from each other.

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Five Ways Not To Design

Success cases are inspiring. But often we can learn more from failure. Here’s a guide how NOT to do design.

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Your digital customer journey exposes your silos

Organisations often manage different digital channels from different departments. This silo thinking becomes visible for customers surfing between channels.

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Please don’t waste my time

Wasting time incurs the highest cost on organisations and people. It is the only thing no-one can get back. Why are we willing to accept this cost?

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From persuasion to experience

There are several storms blowing across the business landscape. The one everyone talks about is digital. The other one on people’s lips is “customer experience” and being “customer centric.” The third one, perhaps not as acknowledged, is how easy it has become for the customer to switch from one brand to another. Put these three …

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The Kano model

The Kano model is a theory of product development and customer satisfaction developed in the 1980s by Professor Noriaki Kano. And is today more relevant than ever.

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Out of sight, out of mind?

Nowhere is the opportunity to improve the customer experience greater, than with digitalisation. However, there are some pitfalls too…

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New dog new tricks

Much like the universe, Brand Manual too is constantly expanding. Villu Koskaru, meet everybody. Everybody, meet Villu.

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Designing Your business for Your customer

Quality is not enough. All cars drive. All computers compute. All phones let you make phone calls. Almost all things you can buy work equally well. This is why forward looking companies have realised, that competitive advantage no longer comes from cramming in more features or options, but rather from how the customer experiences the …

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Merry Empathetic Christmas!

Empathy is the service designer’s primary tool. We have summed up our year’s worth of sympathising with different personalities in the ultimate challenge – to understand what drives Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We used Brand Manual’s own tools – the Empathy Map – and learned that it’s one tough job, being the top executive of …

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My beloved orange fridge

Hi! My name is Caroline and I’m an intern at BM Stockholm. My journey to BM started not so long ago. I’m a newly graduate with a bachelor degree in Business, Technology and Design. For the past couple of years I have been working in the fashion industry, I once believed that I belonged in …

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Det älskade orangea kylskåpet

Hej! Jag heter Caroline och jag är praktikant på BM stockholmskontoret. Resan hit till BM började för inte så längesedan. Jag har tidigare arbetat i modebranschen och det var där jag trodde att jag hörde hemma. Under de senaste tre åren har jag studerat och i somras tog jag min examen på programmet ekonomi, teknik …

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Trends in 2015

In our work, we come across very versatile business areas and projects – starting from the smart selection of services for a brand-new entertainment centre to the positioning and launch of a new loaf of bread. In order to better understand consumers we conduct face-to-face interviews, because no one knows for sure what we will …

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The value of a good customer experience

Business involving and what used to be a competitive advantage has become a hygiene factor. Enjoy the film and start a discussion at work.

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Det är kundupplevelsen som driver affärer

Idag är kvalitet är inte längre något unikt. Alla datorer och tv-apparater fungerar. Det spelar inte heller någon större roll vilken bil du köper eftersom alla tar dig från punkt A till B. Det som särskiljer är själva upplevelsen. Hur ska man då marknadsföra något när i princip alla säger samma sak, om samma sak, …

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It is the customer experience, that drives business.

Quality is universal and it really doesn’t matter which car you pick or which phone you buy. There is no difference between the brands in what they do. The only difference comes from how they do it. By association, how the companies do it. By implication, how the people in the company do it. So …

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Är du säker på att du vill åka buss?

I december förra året beslutade jag och min familj att vi skulle åka till Alperna under sportlovet. Där, bland Frankrikes högsta toppar ligger Val Thorens. Ett skidparadis högt ovanför trädgränsen där kopiösa mängder av fluffig snö gnistrar i kapp med solen som skiner från en klarblå himmel. Åtminstone i broschyren Och det är vad vi …

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The orange door

Hallo, my name is Anfisa and I’m an intern in Brand Manual. Now 3 years away from Ukraine, once moved to Estonia for master in Design&Engineering course in Tallinn Technical University, then living a bit here and there: United States, Italy, hitchhiking 30-something countries life finally brought me here in front of the entrance. It took some …

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Are you sure you want to go by bus?

In December of last year, my family decided that we should go skiing in the alps during the Winter holiday’s. There, among the greatest peaks of France, is a place called Val Thorens. A place for skiers, not aprés skiers. Built by skiers, high above the tree line, covered in copious amounts of fluffy powder …

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En regnig dag i Milano

Milano är en trevlig stad fylld av mat, vin, kaffe, mode och design. En stad fylld av män i ursnygga kostymer som avslappnat glider förbi på sina solblekta Vespor. En stad fylld av slanka kvinnor som ljudlöst passerar i svalt skurna klänningar och nätta, dyrbara skor. Alla hänger utanför caféer iförda stora mörka solglasögon nonchalant …

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A rainy day in Milan

Milan is a city high on food, wine, coffee, fashion and design. A city filled with men in supercool suits riding past on sun bleached Vespas. A city filled with slim women gliding soundlessly past in sophisticated dresses and expensive shoes. They’re all hanging out in sidewalk cafés wearing oversized dark sunglasses while nonchalantly smoking cigarettes …

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Västerås is located in Mälardalen and in the future

Having discussed the importance of creativity and how to nurture the creative spark in people, we had the great pleasure of visiting Expectrum. It is a meeting place for innovation, run jointly by Västerås city and the regional businesses and enterprise associations. The purpose of Expectrum is to enable more businesses to grow through a …

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The Stockholm syndrome

I recently had the good fortune of living and working in Stockholm for a change. The change didn’t last long, but it was as refreshing as being punched in the face by the north wind – very.

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A Fair(l)y Tall Tale

A thrilling fable of what happens when design, genius and magic meet. A Swede’s point-of-view on working in Tallinn for a week.

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Brand Manual is 6 years old. How did that happen?

‘Twas the week before xmas 2008 and all was well-ish… ..the global economy had just tanked (but a lot of people hadn’t noticed yet), the snow wasn’t falling but it was probably cold. Four weary and old advertising / design souls trudged into NOP to contemplate the future. Each had his own reason to be …

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An introduction to service design

Find out how service design can help save half your marketing budget.

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A funny thing happened the other day…

We pride ourselves on making business sense. Sjukgymnastgruppen is a nice example of what happens when you do things right, not just the right things.

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Simplicity knows why

This is a service designers’ rendition of the lessons learned packaged into a six-step guide to good art direction and design practice.

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Why “why” matters

Explaining “why” is the best way of getting people to do the best work they can.

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Varför “varför” är viktigt

Att förklara “varför” är bästa sättet att få medarbetarna göra sitt bästa jobb.

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Brand Manual just got a lot bigger. And better!

We’re growing up. Growing up is fun. Soon we’ll start behaving like adults.

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Signwriters do it in 1-Shot

Glass gilding means applying gold leaf to glass. It is part of the bigger field of sign painting. The historical peak of gilding was the late 19th / early 20th century, and part of a process of creating beautiful and striking signs and adverts. Combined with hand-painted and screen-printed lettering, as well as a few …

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Bye-bye, my family!

“I thought we were the family!” said Mihkel, when one of our colleagues decided to take a day off because of a family errand. That was the moment I realised that ‘yes, the Brand Manual collective is our second family’. We are all so different from each other, but there is something that connects us …

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Service design for seniors

Take some 20 seconds and name couple of things that make the opposite sex happy. Three or four would be enough. Now do the same list for yourself. Any difference?

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Service Design för pensionärer

Ta en stund att lista några av de värden som gör det motsatta könet lyckligt. Tre eller fyra räcker. Nu gör detsamma för dig själv. Märker du skillnaden?

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From Ukraine with love

Hallo, my name is Sonya, I’m from Ukraine. I’m a trainee in Brand Manual. My story starts with a journey (as everything in my life). The physical and psychological journey from wide streets of Kiev – noisy, full of chestnut trees and old ladies with golden teeth – to calm, straightforward, windy fairy tale Tallinn.

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Art Director Wanted

Do you feel a bit fed up with the advertising work you do day in and day out? Brand Manual is looking for an Art Director who likes to make sense of things.

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First day at Brand Manual

It took less than a week for this TEKO Design + Business student to send an application e-mail and actually start her internship at Brand Manual. She’s a storyteller, and that’s exactly what charmed us.

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The embarrassing story of a smiling lady

or how cutting the corners of content creation eventually shows. Here is an example that we came across on the website of a very respectful company.

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Den pinsamma historien om en leende dam

och varför man inte ska snåla när det som handlar om företagets ansikte utåt. Det här är ett exempel från ett välrenommerat företags hemsida.

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Designing a friendly marina

Port Noblessner is a small marina within a short walking distance from central Tallinn. Originally a Soviet submarine base, it is now converting it’s military heritage into modern, welcoming funk. Development has been ongoing for several years – opening quays, a boat yard and a restaurant – but there is still a long way to go.

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“This murder was no accident. It was done by design.”

A hospital wanted to improve patient satisfaction. Finally they hit upon the notion that people are always grouped by their disease. But why? Why does it make sense to have people with broken bones in one room and cuts in the other?

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“This murder was no accident. It was done by design.”

Ett sjukhus ville göra sina patienter nöjdare. De hade länge förstått att patienten behövde bli botad, inte bara behandlad, så de började fundera över vad som, utöver läkarens kompetens, skulle kunna förbättra vården. Till slut kom sjukhuset på att patienterna alltid är grupperade efter sina sjukdomar. Varför?

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Seasons’ greetings

Our Christmas greetings are usually an exercise in making a simple statement into a very complicated in-house process. 2013 was no exception, but the result was worth it.
Each of us had just one word. But put in a row, these words make sense. In a way, this poster illustrates that when individuals get together for a reason, meaning is created.

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Read it to believe it

Brand Manual opened its Stockholm office on September 2, 2013. Joining the team as CEO of Brand Manual Sweden is Göran Crafoord. He has over 25 years of experience as both strategist and creative director, and has run several communication agencies over the years.
Joining him in Sweden is one of Brand Manual’s founders, J.Margus Klaar. Together, Göran and Margus, with the back-up from Tallinn, will build up Brand Manual Sweden.

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Excuse me, where’s the ketchup?

The customer is king, they say. As a rule, however, the customer only interacts with the lowest paid employee of the company. Rarely is it the company’s president or chairman of the board – the only worthy representative to greet the king.
So who builds the image of the company in the eyes of the customer? The marketing department or the actual service representative?

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What will the machines eat?

As a service designer, I’m often asked to develop new service models. The new service models have to provide more value to the end user. They do this by automating tasks currently performed by humans. Machines compute fast, have no “human” flaws and most importantly, cost less. Consequently, I’ve started asking where do the people …

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Englishman in New York

a.k.a Lewis sharing his first impressions after joining Brand Manual Tallinn team “Arriving without any knowledge of the language, I lived in a world without words, where, almost like a baby, I had to learn everything from scratch. I think the experience of being illiterate and then slowly growing back into society has made me …

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What do you stand for?

Infomelton has been importing great stuff for years – Jura and Cimbali coffee machines, Lavazza coffee. But just representing someone was not what they were about – spelling it out was a bit of a stumbling block, though. We helped them regain their passion while rebranding them as Kafo. There was one thing that all …

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From kiosk to convenience store

After three years of meticulous work with one of our prime clients, R-kiosk, we have something to show now. The kiosks are really changing – not just the looks but the whole approach to servicing their clients. This is one of the cases where we didn’t draw a new logo (this one came from Finland), …

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Future Perfect: the Book

Our fourth book is finally out there and in some ways it summarises what we’ve been up to since 2009. The first book was about branding. In 2011 we took a look at innovation and last year we dissected service design. This book puts those topics in the context of how we all meet our …

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Sagmeister: An uncommon touch of sense

About a week ago our long wait to greet Stefan “The Sagmeister” Sagmeister in Tallinn finally ended. There he was, drinking bottled water at our office, happily accepting a job offer as Brand Manual’s receptionist. This happened many years after we made our first approach to Stefan through ADC*Estonia. A year ago at the festival …

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Camp Berlin: re-thinking the future of television

In the beginning of February a group of design and media professionals were on stage in Musiikitalo, Helsinki. We were delivering presentations about the future of television to the decision makers of the Finnish television industry. For a week we had been in Berlin, brainstorming on the topic and developing our ideas into bigger concepts, …

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A real Christmas Journey

‘Tis the week before Christmas and panic has finally broken loose. Where can I get that new gadget? Where do they sell that cuddly bear? And why, oh why, didn’t I start shopping earlier? Say, in July? One of the main tools of service design is the customer journey. It clearly illustrates how people spend …

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How to create great packaging in two days

The packaging design course Dan was conducting at the British Higher School of Design in Moscow past summer caught the attention of the leading Russian packaging webizine ‘What the Pack?’. How did the young Russian designers react to a Scandinavian approach? Here’s a thorough interview, plus a visual review of the results. The outcome was …

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Unreasonable man. An overview of Generator 12

On November 26 and 27, our partner Margus, visited the Generator conference in Gävle, Sweden. The reason we decided to participate in the conference was manyfold: 1. The Generator conference is not a typical creative or policy conference, but rather a meeting place to generate ideas and policy for creative and cultural industries; 2. Brand …

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Leading the Packaging Design Intensive Course

One of our partners, Dan Mikkin, was invited by Vasili Andreyev to lead an intensive packaging design course at the summer session of the British Higher School of Art & Design. The course was very intensive indeed – in two days (!) students had to produce believable mock-ups of a 3-member packaging range. The brief …

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Do you want to be part of the Korean success story?

We do! That was the motivation behind Brand Manual joining 13 Estonian product, service and communication design experts on a journey to meet South Korean companies, design agencies and institutions. Why? Multinational Korean corporations like Samsung, LG and Hyundai have become global players, proving that design education and practice pays off in the longer run. …

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Identifying cartographers

ReachU, a cartographer with global reach, operates in Estonia and the Baltic as Regio. They are extremely keen on quality, but still get complaints about faulty maps every now and then. The reason – Regio is almost synonymous with maps around here and mistakes in other producers’ editions are attributed to our client. That called …

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Startup’s. Up close and personal.

What is it about startups that gets everybody so excited? Yes, the Lean Startup movement and fast prototyping is what makes it relevant for anyone involved with design and product development, but the whole business of incubators, investor relations and pitching seemed like something to ignore. To have an opinion, Markko, one of our partners, …

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Complexity creates more complexity

Companies often end up creating their own nightmare. At fault is the lack of a clearly defined company ambition and idea: what the business is all about. Instead, management starts managing (costs), often to the detriment of a successful future product. Optimization creates its own complexity, which is subsequently managed by repackaging identical products to …

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Opening speech of the 1st Service Design Conference in Tallinn

“Welcome everyone. It is nice to see a full house at the first Service Design conference here in Tallinn. Today we’ll hear and see many presentations and case-studies that show the effectiveness of service design as principle and process. But before we get to those speeches I’ll try to define why we’re here in the …

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Service. The only remaining source of competitive advantage

Over the past few years, we developed our own vision of branding. We believe that branding is about staff motivation and empowerment, how this relates to good service and how, increasingly, the delivery of a positive customer experience will be a source of competitive advantage. In fact – we stated that service delivery will be …

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The Perils of Lifestyle Branding

Extending a brand beyond the borders of your product category has a lot of opportunities. Here’s a study that brings out some substantial threats of such an extension – cross-category competition for one.

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Why an e-mail can go sour in no time

Here’s a brief article on the hazards of electronic communications. I’ve had some occasions myself when exchanging e-mails has made things much worse instead of solving them – although that was their intension. Not being a big fan of emoticons (and still opposing over-using them), I read this piece through carefully.

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Innovate or die: but how?

Companies that continuously come up with new and exciting stuff have one thing in common: little management and lots of leadership. The company has a goal, everyone knows what the goal is and does their part, in helping the company achieve that goal. The cumbersome, not-fun, uninspiring company has a plan. Everyone in the company …

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Merry Christmas Experiment

A phone call from a confused client inspired us to make public, and thus conclude, our little Christmas card experiment. We had almost completely forgotten the whole thing, since it all took place more than 6 weeks ago. It appears, however, that due to the “good” service of global postal companies there is still plenty …

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The future of transactions

Service design has a lot to do with future scenarios. A few months ago we developed the initial identity for ParkNOW!, a pay-by-cell phone parking payment operator in the US. During that project we talked a lot with them about different payment methods, and NFC (near-field communication) got mentioned too. In fact, all major mobile …

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Change Hurts

There has been a lot of discussion lately about changing identities of the world-famous brands. Well, the fuss has always been up in forums, but with social media gaining more public attention some logo redesigns have become matters of global importance. Namely Gap, Starbucks, Tropicana. John Nunziato, the author of the featured article tries to …

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Brave new year

Last year was different. We saw the rise of the iPad and the smartphone reigned over the mobile phone. Making websites has changed into creating content. Media is no longer the message, being on Facebook is not a strategy. Corporate and governmental systems are in disarray, as for the first time in history people can …

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Content is never dead

Music industry is dead? Advertising industry is dead? Really? Read what David Brier has to say about sustainable business.

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What are your customers buying?

A neat and thorough slideshow about ONE branding principle. Applying it may boost your sales, ignoring it kill your business. This piece has a bit of an American accent, but gets this one point through nevertheless.

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Fresh from ADC*Estonia Design Awards

Not bad. Three out of four works we sent to the ADC*Estonia Design Awards this year won! Fresh-from-the-oven packages for iBaker (in cooperation with Bruno Lill), do-it-yourself identity for Tartu Art School and a nicely matured Global web site for Viru – they all scored! Thank you, dear clients. Yet again proof, that great results …

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Rebranding illustrated

Our long-term project of rebranding Viru beer is starting to become tangible. This is how we set the beer box clearly in the Art Deco era, still retaining connection to the old package. Expect revised glass bottles with new labelling in very, very, very selected hotel bars near you in a few months.

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The Book on Branding

There are a few things we have to say about branding – what it is, why it matters and how it is done. It’s all in a book now – RTFM! -, available at very carefully selected distributors. If you are experiencing difficulties obtaining the printed version, then there’s an e-published edition too. Or, alternatively, …

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Whoops!

An interesting court case is taking shape in Sweden. A dairy created a Turkish yogurt and commissioned a label that would make people feel that real Turks also ate the stuff. Going to Turkey to photograph someone was obviously prohibitively expensive so they went to the photo bank instead and bought a picture that would …

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Brand Manual’s first b-day!

On April 1st Brand Manual celebrated its first year. When we started this business, it was in the depths of the Great Recession and we had no clients, no office, no money but we had experience and an idea. We also decided to practice what we preach and build our brand from the inside out, …

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Don’t follow me. I’m lost too!

The retail trade and FMCG makers in the Baltic have one indisputable success to their credit: they’ve created consumers loyal only to price. Although it seems obvious that it should be the quality, not the quantity of market share that dictates company policy, this unfortunately has not been the modus operandi of most companies here. …

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More tools than you can handle

Check out this magnificent set of service design tools. A great attempt to gather together all methods that facilitate service design projects, compiled by Roberta Tassi. It’s made a bit too complicated by trying to simplify through cross references. But under the ‘about’ link you’ll find a ‘Tools Provenance Map”, that lays it all out …

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What do consumers really want?

Joseph Pine makes a very strong case for what consumers really want. Watch it here. From our point of view, he makes a very strong case for branding. His description of authenticity, of value creation and what motivates consumers to buy is a coherent delivery of a company’s value proposition that is, well, branding. Consistency …

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A bit of history

Before the Nazis took over the Swastika it was used by some other organizations. The Swastika is a good luck symbol. It remains widely used in Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

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ROI. Meet ROB.

We’ve redefined ROI. We are now talking about return-on-branding, a.k.a. ROB. ROI we’ll leave for the mathematicians at McKinsey. ROB is much easier to measure and improve, because it mostly affects business process not investment. The idea is actually quite simple and can be implemented by any business on their own: just take a look …

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Stating the obvious

Effective branding creates value. All companies engage in branding. Most companies are not brands. All companies would benefit from being a well-known brand. Branding is not a cosmetic exercise that improves the company logo nor is it related to the quality of the company’s advertising. Branding is what happens every second of every day in …

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Unbranding Starbucks

A curious thing happened to Starbucks – they abandoned all corporate branding in some of their shops. Why did they do it and was it worth it – here’s an opinion.

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Our friends at Harvest

Starting a company is hard work. Trying to balance costs with potential income is hard, so it is nice to know that there are companies out there willing to help a start-up get up on its own two feet. One of these companies is Harvest. It offers business a time-tracking and billing system online at …

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Branding is useless…

… if it’s treated as a cosmetic makeup. One can’t “brand” product’s problems away – that’s why we prefer to look under the skin. First make it work, then shout about it, not the other way around. Read more: The Downsides of Branding by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

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How teenagers consume media

Morgan Stanley published a very interesting and insightful research paper done by a 15 y.o. intern. It details the media consumption habits of teenagers. You can find the full research paper through this link (care of the Guardian newspaper): http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jul/13/teenage-media-habits-morgan-stanley Enjoy!

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Let’s share some stuff

There’s this idea, that if you’ve got special tools to do a job then you should keep them to your self. Our idea is to share our tools instead. So here’s a one you may find useful. We call it a brand map. The idea behind the brand map is to illustrate all the inter-connections …

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Rebranding – an easy path?

This is a Time Line of a hypothetical rebranding process. Starting with background info harvesting and up to checkpoints in years to come. Substantial work is done in the first 6 months (give or take), but this map shows that brands need constant nurturing and development after the launch as well. Brands die when left …

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