Whippet gazes at a sweet retro moon in Shanghai

Ichido

Whippet recently took a quick trip to Shanghai, and one little gem we spotted was this small-format version of one of the city’s favourite bakeries. We have to confess we had no idea what the store was selling when we first walked past, but we were intrigued by the window display of a vintage bicycle accompanied by old school tube TVs and hanging birdcage shades.

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Upon entering the store, we were none the wiser as to what was on offer (mostly due to our pathetic grasp of the local language). But we investigated further, and closely inspected the many rows of identical tins before noticing a small table with an open one on display.

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Inside were commemorative sets of mooncakes, a Chinese speciality eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival which happened to be taking place during our visit. Suddenly it all made sense! Mooncakes are small round pastries, usually filled with a thick red bean or lotus paste, and are traditionally given as gifts during the festival – which explained the specially designed tins.

According to a gorgeous wall graphic, these individually decorated mooncakes were celebrating historic technological innovations made in Shanghai, including sewing machines, cameras, bicycles and watches.

combined

As the festival only lasts a short time, we assumed that the store was a pop-up for the duration only, and might subsequently return to a standard bakery format. Whatever its longevity, we gave it a big Whippet thumbs up for its wonderful juxtaposition of intrigue, originality and design. Maybe the magic was enhanced by our initial ignorance, but there was no doubting it tickled our creative tastebuds. Bravo Ichido!

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Retail assistance: a smiling face in the age of automation

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If you’ve been to Japan, China or Korea in the last decade, you’ve likely come across a restaurant with a tablet-at-the-table ordering system. If not, you can probably already guess how it works. You arrive at the restaurant, are shown to your table by a waiter or maître d’, and then order at your leisure using the tablet sitting on your table.

A waiter will bring you your food and drinks, clear any glasses and plates you’ve finished with, and then once you’re done you settle up on the way out (or pay using the tablet on your table depending on the restaurant). It’s fantastically fast and efficient. Certainly, the system doesn’t allow for quite as much rapport to be built between the dining party and a dedicated host, but many diners would prefer to avoid too much awkward small talk with an overly-enthusiastic waiter anyway.

Similarly, walk into any McDonalds these days and you’re likely to find several large touchscreens from which you can order and pay for your gluttonous guilty pleasures. Again, fast and efficient.

As more and more job functions become automated – and businesses require fewer staff to operate – how does the overall store experience change for customers and, importantly, for staff?

From a customer’s perspective, this automation is usually positive as it means getting what you want faster. It can sometimes be frustrating if something goes awry, but as long as there’s a staff member nearby to rectify the problem (and there almost always is), no harm no foul.

For staff, however, it can be trickier. Take a supermarket for example. The team member whose job it is to help customers having trouble with the self-service checkout knows that as the system matures and customers become more adept at using it, their tenure becomes ever more tenuous. 

For a checkout assistant doing things old-school, they’re patently aware that just metres away a row of robots is helping customers perform the exact same job as they are – and they too know their days scanning and bagging items are likely to be numbered. But do they even want to be performing tasks they know can be just as effectively performed by a robot?

David Graeber’s much-circulated 2013 essay on ‘bullshit jobs’ deals with 9-5 workers with ridiculous roles, like the secretary whose job exists just to make their boss look busy enough to warrant a secretary. This, he contends, can be deeply harmful to one’s sense of self-worth. “The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound” writes Graeber, because these people know their job isn’t really helping anyone.

But what about workers whose job actually does help people, but can also be performed equally well by a robot, like our checkout assistant? Surely this isn’t as damaging to their sense of self-worth, but it’s certainly not going to help, either. So how can they add more value to customers, and simultaneously enjoy their jobs more?

One way is for their roles to expand to include things that automated systems can’t yet do. For example, carrying groceries to customers’ cars, replenishing stock, general cleaning or even providing in-store samples of high-margin items, like international cheeses or cosmetics. Couple this with emerging technology like that at Amazon’s checkout-free ‘Go’ stores, and you’d have a situation where assistants are actually of assistance rather than just acting as cash-collecting gatekeepers.

Like how the waiters the restaurants mentioned above can all smile, deliver food, pour wine and clear tables better than robots can (for now), if retail staff can play to their human strengths by providing genuine value to customers – in the form of extra service or expertise – surely that’s better for everyone. It makes financial sense, too. By providing a superior shopping experience, bricks and mortar businesses can continue to fight the good fight against the ever-present threat of online stores swallowing up their market share. 

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Whippet shortlisted for the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Design Awards

Wednesday 12th September saw Whippets (L-R) Tod O’Reilly (Executive Creative Director), Steve Stoner (Founder), Pete Forbes (Senior Designer) and Kate Watts (Designer) in attendance to celebrate the outstanding local work on display at the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Design Awards. 

Our big congratulations go to Museums Victoria for taking out the top prize in the Communication Design category, and to the International Indigenous Design Charter for not only winning the main prize of the evening – the Premier’s Design Award of the Year – but also getting the gong in Design Strategy. Two very worthy winners. 

Kit Haselden Photography

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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