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What Vivid Sydney can tell you about brand experience

01/06/17

Neon light artwork at Vivid Sydney 2017

Everything we try to explain to clients about a relevant, fresh brand experience is summed up in life size at Vivid Sydney.

We should add we’re rather partial to Vivid Sydney and its many light displays. Almost 100 pieces, in fact, as The Offices discovered when we stepped out to browse the trail of luminous works.

Personal highlights included the Electric Forest and inSIGHT at the Botanical Gardens. Plus, we never tire of Vivid Sydney’s projections across the MCA, Opera House and Customs House forecourt. Simple and spectacular. Then there are the workshops, concerts and talks.

But perhaps the biggest highlight is seeing 400,000-plus visitors lose themselves in the wonder of technology and art. They are all the more impressive in the blanket of darkness, any time after 5pm.

So Mike Rigby’s talk for AGDA, ‘Can Technology Make us More Human’, was fitting, with its focus on tech-driven actions in brand experiences. By brand experiences, we mean: liking a Facebook post, hearing Skype’s beautiful dial-up tones, settling into a business class lounge. Actual physical experiences.

Brand experience learnings from Vivid Sydney

On that note, here are four learnings that we hope all brands out there will take on board, taking a cue from Vivid Sydney:

Generosity – this means shaping something your customers want, not something you then have to sell. Like an installation so interesting people will wait for the right timing to photograph it. Not like the logo-plastered Ford monstrosity we bypassed in annoyance. Or beyond Vivid, marketing pieces so interesting people will turn them upside-down to learn more. Not materials so heavily branded they’ll end up in the bin.

Physicality – a brand is so much more than its logo and visual identity. It’s also the physical actions you can embed into the experience. If you’re a developer who cares about sustainability, include generous plantings, solar power and natural finishes at your showrooms or stakeholder sessions. If you’re a sportswear brand, get people excited about heart-rates, motion and exertion – not just glamour.

Variation – just like the best Vivid works, great modern brands fade in and out of their settings, change colour, and take on different shapes. From Telstra and Nike to Alzheimer’s Australia and Coke, they use a surprisingly vast set of language cues, palettes and graphic elements. This way, the drive unexpected new conversations with customers everywhere.

Ownership – we love working with clients at the brand strategy stages, to help draw out areas they can own. We don’t mean product niches. That’s not always possible in crowded markets, when you offer services nearly identical to those of your competitors. We mean qualities that only they stand for – like a healthy peanut butter that’s fun and not pious. Or an infrastructure consultancy that’s about influencing better outcomes, not ‘optimising stakeholder drivers to sustainably leverage results-driven solutions’.

Or like the way Vivid Sydney is now synonymous with early winter, formerly an empty space in our bare-legged, summer-loving city.


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