PowerPoint is not the enemy of design (or a great presentation)

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Actual slide from ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ Powerpoint (Whippet)

Jeff Bezos banned it from being used in meetings at Amazon. Harvard University research suggests it can damage your brand. There’s even an international movement dedicated to banishing it to the annals of history. Yes, Microsoft’s much maligned PowerPoint may be just be the most ridiculed and detested piece of software on the planet, but does it really deserve such a bad rap?

Let’s take a quick look at why poor PowerPoint has garnered such a wretched reputation – and what we’ve learned through experience to ensure we get the most out of it.

A good carpenter

PowerPoint is a tool – and as we all know, a good carpenter never blames their tools. It only takes moments for Google to uncover the incredible art that can been achieved with programs as basic as Microsoft Paint, and a quick search of ‘Photoshop fails’ to realise that fancy software does not maketh the digital designer.

Rather, a lack of professional design skills – which, like everything, take years of training and experience to master – are the root cause of PowerPoint decks that are an aesthetic abomination. But a PowerPoint presentation doesn’t have to be pretty to be effective. Far more important than design polish is the content and flow of information, and this is the first area where so many presenters fall down.

Put simply, PowerPoint – like Prezi, Keynote, Clearslide, et al – should be used to support enhance what the presenter is saying, not to mirror it or to provide a script for the presenter (or the audience) to read from – especially if it’s page after page of bullet points. A separate ‘leave behind’ summary document does a much better job of this.

The cart before the horse

In the same way an author doesn’t just sit down and make the story up as they go along, nor should a presenter open up PowerPoint before they’ve decided on what the point of their presentation is. Understanding the information that needs to be conveyed, and then structuring it in such a way that it tells a compelling story is crucial to ending up with a polished presentation.

When done well, a PowerPoint presentation can be enthralling – one prime example being Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Although it’s not an impressive film visually (basically just a slide presentation), Gore’s skill as a presenter has you captivated for the entire length of the film.

an-inconvenient-truth

Another great example of an engaging use of PowerPoint can be seen in Dave Gorman’s hilarious stand-up routines Dave Gorman’s Powerpoint Presentation and With Great Powerpoint Comes Great Responsibilitypoint. When questioned about his penchant for PowerPoint, Gorman simply says that it allows him to provide evidence for his stories. He stresses that fancier transitions wouldn’t make his show any funnier.    

Learning to love PowerPoint

Over the years, we’ve had numerous clients ask us to create PowerPoint decks for them to be presented to both internal and external audiences. More than a few times this has resulted in a bit of light-hearted eye-rolling from our designers, who would ask ‘Can’t we just do it in InDesign?!’. Not anymore.

As the saying goes, practise makes perfect, and our creatives now produce stunning decks that push the boundaries of what PowerPoint can do to support a presentation. Granted, the polish of these presentations comes from a combination of professional design prowess and an in-depth understanding of PowerPoint, but the main reason our clients have been so happy with the final result is not just because they look nice.

In every case, before we begin designing we collaborate closely with our client to ensure we have a clear understanding of what they’re trying to achieve in their presentation, the story they are telling and the points they want to make. Next, we consider what imagery, graphics and words could work to support that content, and whether the content is structured in a way that tells an interesting story. Then, and only then, do we begin designing the deck. The result is a presentation that is professional, engaging, compelling and aesthetically appealing.

iStock-821463426_2

Our clients have frequently told us that our willingness to work with PowerPoint has made their lives that much easier. Not only can the presentation be forwarded to their clients and colleagues with the safe assumption that they will be able to open it (everyone has PowerPoint after all!), our clients enjoy the flexibility to make tweaks and shuffle the slides to suit the audience and their time allowance. 

We see the PowerPoint deck and accompanying presentation as a marketing channel just like any other. It is created for a specific target audience with the intent of selling something – an idea, a point of view, a plan, a product or service. It should represent the brand it comes from, but unfortunately it is usually not given the attention, or budget, it maybe deserves.

So, to Jeff Bezos and the boffins at Harvard we say this: don’t blame PowerPoint for the boring presentations you’ve had to endure. Blame the presenter and/or creator of the presentation – they’re the ones in the driver’s seat.

We’re not suggesting PowerPoint is perfect by any means, but its ubiquity is an asset – and with a little effort it can help you make, well…powerful points!

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All things pink: Trending in Retail

Trending in retail: Pink

IT’S A PINK THING

Being hyped as one of the most ubiquitous and versatile colours of the decade, pink continues to take the world by storm; the retail industry is no exception.

Since the sugary pastel shade of Rose Quartz received Pantone’s approving nod as Colour of the Year in 2016, various hues of pink have found their way into favour. Few industries have escaped the resurgent colour’s power to capture a customer’s attention. While a few of us were left wondering what the heck “Pale dogwood” actually was, one thing we knew for sure was that it was anything but “daggy”.

The soft and neutral undertones of millennial pink trending in retail are a far cry from the ultra-feminine Barbie pink that once upon a time cemented gender norms.

 
 

Acne Studios Hong Kong

Acne Studios Hong Kong

 

PRETTY (PRACTICAL) IN PINK

A strong design and merchandising trend, everyone’s finding a way to win from this strawberry milk-coloured moment. As brands amp up their retail-tainment and incorporate design features with the intention to be sharable on social media, pink has become a key colour trend.

It has repeatedly stalked the runway at fashion week and graced the covers of countless publications. On the food scene, entire restaurants have been devoted to it. Pantone dedicated a year to it. Drake dedicated a “Hotline Bling” to it. We’re wearing it, walking past it in shop windows; we’re even styling our homes with it. It’s no surprise then to see more and more of it in our retail outlets.  In fact, brought to life through rich textures like velvets, corded fabrics and lush upholstery, retail interiors are some of the most memorable and endearing.

So here it is. The future looks bright for colour lovers… Look at all that millennial pink…

 
 

Image Credit: Sketch

Image Credit: Sketch

Mansur_Gavriel_Photo_cred_New_York_Post

Photo Credit: New York Post

Normann Copenhagen’s revamped flagship store

Normann Copenhagen’s revamped flagship store

The Daily Edited Flagship Store Melbourne

Photo cred: archilovers

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Casper opens first bricks & mortar store in New York

Photo_Cred_LA Guestlist

iSpy with Whippet’s little eye
Brand Casper
What Casper opens its first highly anticipated bricks and mortar store
Where NYC
When February 2018

Background

More than a mattress company, Casper sells the ideal of a better sleep for a brighter day. By ditching the jargon and delivering their products as part of the solution to a better night’s sleep, the online mattress retailer has managed to catapult itself ahead of the rest.

Within a month of launching its online store in April 2014, Casper had sold over $1 million dollars worth of mattresses. Despite specialising in the sale of a big ticket item not traditionally purchased online, in its first year the brand sold $40 million worth of stock, making it one of the most successful online retail launches of all time.

The mattress category is the latest in a long line of traditional retailers to be disrupted by technology.

Following the epic success of its online launch, Casper opened the doors of its very first bricks and mortar store earlier this year; selling its mattresses and lovable sleep expertise alongside an extended range of sheets, pillows, quilts and dog beds, on Broadway in New York.

Photo cred: Entrepreneur

From pop ups to a place on Broadway

Casper had a massive online advertising presence but needed a physical space where customers could engage with the product and experience the brand. Pop-up stores were rolled out in Paris, New York, LA and Toronto. Remaining faithful to their original design, the new Broadway concept store delivers a quirky but lovable brand to customers eager to engage with it.

Brand voice

The quirky and lovable tone of voice really connects with customers. Instead of using the technical details and jargon like its competitors, Casper made itself accessible to the average consumer by focusing on the benefits of great sleep – and just how easy it was to have. They also developed a distinctive illustration style in house, one that translates really well on social media, outdoor advertising and public transport with posters.

Comfortable is cool

The in-store experience at Casper’s first permanent store is uncluttered, fresh and inviting. You can even take a nap in a miniature home. The merchandise is cleverly displayed to highlight excellent product demonstrations. Casper isn’t just your regular mattress retailer!

The beds are all housed in quirky little bedrooms, giving customers an opportunity to “nap” and test them in privacy while staff wear lab coats that add a touch of theatre to the experience.

Photo cred: CNBC

Photo cred: CNBC

Photo cred: Washington Post

Photo cred: Washington Post

Photo cred: Casper blog

Photo cred: Wink Brand Design

Photo cred: Wink Brand Design

Taking to the streets: The Nap Tour

Casper used a branded trailer – the “nap mobile” – completely tailored with 4 beds inside to showcase their service, expertise and products. The Nap Tour was promoted as a way of taking the brand to the masses.

What started as a direct-to-consumer-mattress-in-a-box company has officially landed on Broadway, bringing with it all the quirky charm and appeal we’ve come to expect from the cleverly branded retail giant.

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