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The Intersection of Social Media & Design

These days, if you want to make a bang, you need to start with a tweet.

Written by Nico Cortinove
on 10.17.17

It wasn’t so long ago—15 years, tops—that if you wanted to target a large audience you had the limited options of TV commercials, billboard signs, and magazine ads. Today, there’s a fourth option, as social networks have created a seat at the mass media table. Millions of current customers and potential customers use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, with opinions they’re morethan happy to share.

How has this affected design? Immediate feedback. Instead of a Mad Men-style smoky boardroom with a few key players, there’s a stadium of loud fans who are either going to cheer or boo your creativity with rapid speed. This real-time feedback is crucial for getting it right. Impeccable design moves the needle forward; social media lets teams know if they’re moving in the right direction. Here to offer some insight is Nico Cortinove, Art Director at PACIFIC.

Uber Logo

Chances are, you’ve not only heard of Uber, you’ve used it yourself. The 50-billion dollar company is featured in 65 countries, has a staff that doubles every six months, and is one of the biggest start-up success stories of the past five years. Perhaps it was no surprise then that the internet nearly broke (and not in a good way) when Uber updated its logo in February 2016.

Uber changed its logo from a black and white “U” to geometrical shapes with an atomic style aesthetic. The shapes are hexagonal if the user is a driver, circular if the user is a rider. Additionally, the color changes based on country. The response about the new Uber logo? Uh, not great. On social media, the overarching option was dislike—and that’s putting it mildly.

Word from Uber itself? As they said in their press release, “Uber no longer moves just people; we’re now moving food, goods, and soon, maybe much more. With the potential for many apps with many app icons, we needed one approach that connected tem all. So we came back to our story of bits and atoms.”

The design is meant to represent the universal sales approach of Uber’s future. Whether or not people eventually embrace the logo remains to be seen.

“As important as it is to impress on a first date, it’s natural for a brand to evolve,” said Nico Cortinove, PACIFIC’s Art Director. “The logo, be it for a product or a company, must always bring this to the table: A conceptual character of something the consumers desire, which may or may not impact the relationship of the brand and consumers in the long-term. When you decide to change the logo, the relationship can also change. Luckily, this new generation of consumers is more thorough and faster to absorb any information, and brands should be no different. Surprise on the first date and know how to give a good excuse for any mismatches.”

Jeep Ad

What do you get when you acknowledge the rise of mobile during something as traditional as the Super Bowl? Buzz and acclaim. During Super Bowl L, Jeep ran their Portraits ad (created by Iris Worldwide), which featured 60 black and white photographs of Jeeps through the decades as well as a gambit of blue-collar average joes and glamorous celebrities. The message? Jeep is iconic. And the people drive Jeeps are just as study and resilient.

However, what really got people talking about the ad? That it only took up a third of the screen—opting for a narrow, vertical look that would replay better on mobile. According to an agency statement from the global creative director of Iris Worldwide Sean Reynolds, “We thought about how wouldn’t it be interesting to build a spot so it worked really beautifully in portrait mode on a table or a mobile.” Judging by on the online response and esteemed awards, he was right.

“Integrated is the new black,” said Cortinove. “Bringing a TV campaign in vertical format is something somewhat sensitive. However, if you want your brand to be presented in a hybrid manner, develop something that causes discomfort for people and puts them in a new situation.”

Lawn Doctor

By the time you see an ad, it’s gone through months of research, design, and promotion to get it right. Then you have Lawn Doctor (using the ad agency Sleek Machine) that, instead of launching one idea, released a batch of 50 of videos, content, and banners.

Some of these pieces go for humor, like the “Don’t Be Embarrassed By Your Lawn” spot that features a brown lawn and home owners wearing paper bags on their heads. Some go for a minimal approach, with lush lawns that celebrate small moments of summer, like the father-in-law coming to visit. And then there are ads with pets in armor, ads featuring musicians, and ads with bugs waving white flags of surrender. It’s a spread of ideas being tested on Facebook, YouTube, and other DIY websites. The goal? See—in real-time—which angle works best using feedback from social channels. From there, they can hone in on the creative idea that works.

“The timeline of comments on social media is the best brainstorm to give to creative teams, ” said Cortinove. “Once people connect in real time with any activity or daily event they become influencers of the brand.”

Design is more than lines and dots. It’s about creative concepts that inspire new cultural habits and start conversations. With many of these conversations happening in the social sphere, it’s vital for the worlds of design and social to listen to what the audience has to say in return.