Hermès – La Maison Des Carrés

When Hermès announced on their Facebook Page ‘Come closer…Closer still…’ with an image showing a character and scarfs from a key hole – we expected yet another online experience but certainly not an e-commerce site with a beautiful storytelling illustration and animated characters.

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The website is a beautiful collection of silk scarves and accessories portrayed in a storytelling format and the site design naturally leads the user through ‘La Maison’. The UX is pretty simple to navigate in a one-pager format taking you through different rooms showcasing the collection. The e-commerce function is enabled for France, Europe, US, Japan, Australia and Canada, except China.

Website welcome

Upon loading, the site welcomes you with a pop-up message giving a brief overview on what the user can find here – making them aware that the silk scarves can be found by size, colour, material or theme. Of course the borders of the pop-up are ‘orange’ in color…oh so Hermès!! Love it!

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Homepage

The website loads with the top view of ‘La Maison’ showing the signature ‘Orange Box’ in the background with a team welcoming the visitors. There are various subtle animations in the background giving an aesthetic appeal to ‘La Maison’ and these characters/illustrations have been quite common in many Hermès interactive microsites in the past as well. ‘La Maison’ shows different rooms showcasing the collection, each room telling its own story.

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Silk Rooms

Several rooms showcase the Silk collection classified as ‘Silk Bandanas’, ‘Maxi-Twilly’, ‘Silk Knots’ and also theme wise in form of ‘Graphic & Abstract’, ‘Animal World & Wildlife’ and ‘Cocoa Color’.

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At the bottom of each scarf, its size is displayed and upon clicking the window expands into an e-commerce window, where the user can select their color and either purchase it or add it to their wish list. There is also a brief history behind the design of the scarf and a recommendation of related patterns below it. As the user is engaged and already exploring the scarf, there are questions and decision making processes going on in the background. Hermès clearly recognizes this and provides some ‘Service’ options that address the usual questions or thoughts the viewer may be having. These include, sharing their contact details and timings to inquire about the product, delivery and shipping options, short tip on preserving this item so the user knows what after sales efforts this purchase involves and lastly providing details on gifting this item. For both traditional and digital savvy users, there are options to ‘share’ and ‘print’ the item detail page as well.

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Equestrian Rooms

Of course any Hermès communication without the horse will be incomplete. To give a subtle touch of the brand roots there are two rooms dedicated to the Equestrian collection as ‘Horse & Equestrian’ and ‘History & Mythology’ showing a special collection of scarves with the horse in design and the famous historical design pieces respectively.

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I like how these specials scarfs are given their own space and identity signifying how important these pieces are to Hermès. It only helps to communicate this but also allows design and UX wise to simplify and allow users to navigate and ‘discover’ this content, which may have otherwise been missed had it not been classified under its own meaning.

‘Silk Knots’ and ‘Tie Break’ Apps

There are two rooms for their recent apps as well on ‘Silk Knots’ and ‘Tie Break’. I love how their respective detailed pages showcase the welcome video and tease users to download the app with an animated teaser and visuals from the app – without destroying the overall site design and look & feel. The button designs and color patterns for the Apple and Google Play stores are selected in sync with the overall page design showing how much attention is given to details. I love when designers and clients pay attention to such details. Secretly I am hoping that a black button was never presented and looking at the overall site design I am sure the designer got it right in the first place! 😉

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Color Cocoa Collection

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There is yet another special teaser playing with the sensory side of the user. A special collection of scarves for the ‘Chocolate Lovers’ inviting them to indulge their ‘silk tooth’ – yet another clever way to get the users attention to a collection that may have otherwise got unnoticed in the huge Maison.

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 Additional Functionalities and ‘La Chambre Des Garcons’

On the top left a navigation bar is hidden that provides users additional option like search, filtering the items via size, color, materials, themes and even price. There is also a section for men ‘La Chambre Des Garçons’ showing a selection of silk scarves and ties.

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There are also additional link outs to the corporate site and the Hermès Editeur site (An online gallery of editions of ‘works of art’ on silk).

So why this website?

The question why Hermès would move away from their main site and create this site is pretty obvious. They want to appeal to the younger generation who may not be so well versed with the history of the brand. Surely many won’t be able to afford these items, but this is to educate and inspire them to be the future customers of Hermès, learn about the brand and see the huge collection they have to offer.

It is a great example of using storytelling and expressing their brand to a younger audience while giving their current audience and promising prospects an opportunity to buy these items online.

Also the current Hermès website owing to its design and structure could not do this job of clearly showcasing the collection of more than 400+ scarves in such an exciting and user friendly way.

View this beautiful online experience here http://usa.hermes.com/la-maison-des-carres.html

The online campaign is also supported by a beautiful short film showing imagining how ‘La Maison’ comes to life

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Cool kids on Snapchat…including me ;)

Personal Branding – Let’s begin with this for a change

You can see personal branding right there in the title. No, I am not a celebrity. I am just using this post to begin with an apology to my followers/readers. I have been just too busy to write as my social life + my social apps & jobs have swallowed me way more than necessary lately. Now I have added another social network to my list, SNAPCHAT and I really want to tell you about this.

More Personal Branding – backed by some numbers. People love numbers…here you go! 

Currently I am touching 1800 pictures on Instagram, 7000+ check-ins on Foursquare/Swarm, 9500+ tweets, 2000+ on Facebook, 2000 Spotify songs & 10,000 photos taken on my iPhone since Sep’13. I have been a hyper cool kid, hyper connected, distracted, excited and even hyper ignorant to my blog lately. This will change. I will find time & get back on the scene. Now serious stuff starts below…ha!

Cool Kids (and Cool Brands) are on Snapchat

Here’s the thing. ‘Facebook is dead. Long live Facebook.’

Too strong a start for you? Well let me break it down for you – Facebook was my first social network crush, affair, love and an upcoming divorce. Facebook have come a long way and we have a lot to thank them for rather than point fingers at them but lately they have been on a spree of buying smaller networks to have control. Which is fine but then just because the number of audience on a new network is less, compared to Facebook, then it doesn’t mean that it is fail or has not taken off etc. Facebook has been around for way too long & is a giant roping in many services.

Those looking for something that is not owned by Facebook – please welcome Snapchat!

Snapchat is a bit of a breather. It does not leave you anything to look back to. It destroys the message as soon it is viewed and sent and another option is to have the message live up to 24 hours and then it is destroyed. It is a kind of social network that celebrates our short attention spans and impatient selves, thanks to technology.

Some of you now must be wondering…What is Snapchat and why am I still reading this? I am too lazy to download and check it out…but let’s see if this article saves some effort. It will. So before you close this window read on. And yes there are ‘filters’…I know you are suddenly interested now.

How does Snapchat work? (Tip: Download the app while you read below – if you want to learn on the go)

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Once you download and register – open the camera.

Top Navigation

Top left is to control the flash on/off and top right is to select front/back facing camera.

Center button

With one click you can take a picture and if you keep it pressed, you start taking a video. For images you can select for how many seconds should the image appear for your friends to see, max 10 seconds. (Short attention spans – an insight – you see!). The arrow down button is to ‘Save’ the image to your camera gallery. The boxy+ button is to add it as a story.

Text

To add text, simply click on the image once you have captured it and start typing. You can also select the doodling tool & doodle. Scroll through the color palette to select your choice of color.

 Filters

Once you have captured your Snap, slide to the right and it’ll give you basic filters and there’s even a black & white.

You probably get the gist of it. It is pretty basic & can be fast. You need to get used to it & be reactive and spontaneous to go to the level of ‘Storytelling’

 Snapchat Stories

Grubhub shared a story on Snapchat a few hours ago today. Those who see this post today, probably have a chance to experience it first hand today if you are able to still find it online. I took screenshots, because it is a very good example to show Snapchat users how they can get involved.

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It’s National Hot Dog day – so Grubhub decided to have some fun on Snapchat & engage the audience who will otherwise Snapchat Hot Dogs anyways today.

If you see these screenshots, which I have placed in the order as it appears, you’ll notice how within just 60 seconds, Grubhub has rolled out a call-to-action for their followers and even shown ‘HOW’ it has to be done on Snapchat.

If you click on a friend to chat to them, you can send the photo/screenshot to them that you saved in the camera gallery. (See Step 2 in the image)

This is a pretty neat example showing how brands can use Snapchat and involve people who are still trying to figure out how Snapchat works. There is a comfort level for the users and they address that some users still struggle to use Snapchat because a majority of us are so used to clear labels across the Internet. It is a good idea to walk the followers through and grow with them. Earn that comfort level side by side on a tool that many people I know just shun it because they don’t get how it works.

This is certainly not a flaw; it is the future of tech. Minimal design is the future and with wearables tech coming up in other news, icons & advanced technology, with even lesser and automated steps, will become more widespread. We have to adapt.

I hope these screenshots and an example of story help further to understand the user and marketer way of using Snapchat.

I know you must be thinking now…where did the Cool Kids part go. It is here.

Cool Kids on Instagram – ‘Casey Neistat’ and ‘Audi’

Ladies & Gentlemen, our famous New York based YouTube filmmaker – Casey Neistat, is the ‘coolest’ kid on Snapchat. And I am really trying to be cool like him on Snapchat…I am really cool otherwise too 😉

Why is Casey Neistat a cool kid on Snapchat?

Because he gets it & he is not afraid to try. No he did not pay me to write this and does not even know me. But may be he will know me now. I still don’t want to get paid for this advertising. I am a TRUE FAN!

Casey is one of the coolest filmmakers around and has embraced YouTube when it was taking off in all sorts of short-film making world online. He is well aware that Snapchat stories means videos too & bam, he picked it up just like we all should.

Casey uploads about 4-5 Snapchats daily, I guess. And has even incorporated it into his top social network business card. Here’s the screenshot I took that I really really love & would like to develop something similar for myself personally attached to my CV 😉

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Casey is making an effort to take out time & share interesting experiences on Snapchat. It’s like you can see what he is doing when he is not filming, how he prepares for films, some personal experiences that can be shared with public, cool restaurant reviews and for this non-stop entertainment he has even backed up the batteries. Disclaimer: Snapchat addiction can drain batteries. And if your personal stats are like mine on social networks, then get ready to charge your phone for an extra round during the day.

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We need cool kids like Casey to ‘assure’ the talent in our industry like celebrity endorsements, marketers, brand managers, interns, creative directors, account managers, clients, clients who don’t get social media, clients who want to be cool, clients who want to be clients, …’assure’ that it is OKAY to NOT BE PERFECT at all times & real-time is so much more fun and authentic than locking up copywriters in booths and making them go through 5 rounds of changes, just because people want to contribute more in terms of competition of giving feedback, rather than adding value & understanding what ‘social media’ actually means and make it so perfect that it is so numb and dumb and superficial, that it doesn’t really do its job.

Opinion. A very strong opinion.

I still believe that 70% of our digital industry still does not understand that social media can be so simple & the beauty of it is that it does not need to be superficially perfect. It is one of the rare areas where we are allowed to talk freely and let go sometimes, to keep it real and original.

I think you need to watch some of Casey’s videos to see just how cool it is to capture some moments in a natural way & this is the real storytelling, than micro managing every single dialogue that is shared by a brand and make it look like the most dry-cleaned and social proof message in the history of social media.

Another Cool Kid – Audi – also a well known brand 😉

So Audi is young and plays it safe when it comes to their brand. But on Snapchat, they are wayyyy off brand and have a refreshing unexpected side of sharing social content. Their recent partnership with ‘Pretty Little Liars’ is surprising & Audi is posting funny Snapchats with hints on the next season, in creative executions, that are not Audi like. ‘Emojis’ are the new copy here as clues to what will happen in the next episode.

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Emotional Conclusion

Emotional because I am disappointed that brands are so slow on taking up Snapchat & I am in meetings discussing Facebook fan growth and reach at least 4 hours every week.

Can you creative directors please wake up the industry, learn and embrace such networks and follow a new way to express ‘brand’ content. Make it more fun, more reachable, more connected & more comfortable to consume. Desktop is so irritating!

General Disclaimer: I am a cool kid on Snapchat but only with my close friends for now. When I become a celeb, you can follow me 😉

Reality Disclaimer for the Brand Manager

I am not saying throw your brand guidelines out of the window. Use this platform to add an element of surprise & an opportunity to get noticed. Don’t be afraid to break through the clutter.

Already on Snapchat and ‘been there done that’…then download TUNEPICS. (Stay tuned for the next blog post on TUNEPICS)

Download Links to

Snapchat https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/snapchat/id447188370?mt=8

Tunepics https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tunepics/id796420945?mt=8

Snapchat Doodle Tip

Buy one of these for a very ‘fine’ DOODLING experience on Snapchat. Enjoy!

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SXSW Blippar Coasters

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Yes! Blip this NOW….so you can relate better to my comments below:-

I am not at SXSW, but have been following their activity online and spotted this really cool Blippar news online. Blippar have placed ‘blippable coasters’ at bars which bring miscellaneous content to life.

Blippar has grown over time and providing even richer functionalities today compared to their launch a few years ago. It is great to see that they did not only survive the Augmented Reality marketing space but are also leading it today and setting trends.

Layers that appear after Blipping

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An animated layer with various interactive CTAs appears. It is more of a Blippar advertising, expressing ways in which their services can be used. Here is what the icons do –

Rocket icon – It appears out of the frame and starts shooting random 3D-like objects around it supported with background sound effects.

TV Screen icon – Loads a video showing a snapshot of Blippar case studies

Equalizer icon – Loads 3 playlists and an animated equalizer

Instagram icon – Shows a carousel of 3 images

Bubble icon – Displays the quote shown above

Bag icon – Loads 3 heels in 3D (pretty random)

Dots icon – Folds out to the left and reveals 4 more icons to follow Blippar on Facebook, Twitter, call or email.

Basically, this a clever way to show the possibilities and make the participants understand how much data can a tiny piece of cardboard reflect and host.

‘What’s under your beer’ – well a lot as you can see 😉

 

Why I respect Audi for their recent efforts.

A deep thought based on my own experience and that of my close friends in the advertising and digital industry makes me want to clap and declare Hans Thurner and Floris Dreesman the two men our industry needs to thank today. Rather than criticizing the Audi City experiment.

Audi understands what digital means. So what is digital?

Let’s keep this one short. Digital marketing is using electronic devices to engage with customers. Fact is that many brands just stopped here and are still learning to create presentations to educate their co-workers on what is digital. Just look closely, we are surrounded by digital. Everything has gone digital. Digital is not just online. TV is digital (Shazam TV tags, GetGlue and Viggle). Print is digital (QR codes, Blippar and AR tags). Experiential is digital and Audi has landed there with a crown.

Audi is able to connect to their target audience by investing in online and offline experiences that are meaningful, fun and provide a benefit. Sometimes even just fun to have a good time and participate in love for cars. Cool cars.

Audi – Print is digital

It somehow says ….I will not bore you with a lead management link to tell you to go online. You will do it because this film is so bloody awesome that even if you don’t like cars, the sound of this will make you want to talk about it, share it and read more about it.

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On scanning this ad with Blippar, you see this beautiful film, a sneak peak at what this beast is up to roaring away in madness.

Audi Online experience – For Fun

#WantAnR8 contest is the third one by Audi and this time on Tumblr because they wanted to turn up the game here. Their target audience are getting smarter, using sophisticated technology and becoming natural at participating in initiatives online. A really clever move here to move away from the norms like Facebook and Twitter and use the Tumblr’s freedom of theme & functionality to create a fun filled online experience.

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Audi offer about 40 short clips and 10 audio effects to let users create their own Audi R8 story. This video is then hosted on their YouTube page to house user-generated content. It just does not stop here. A part of this exercise is also to learn what a majority of customers prefer, what angles they like to see in videos and what sort of audio energy is desired. Audi has not used any paid media to push the campaign and generated about 100 submissions in just first 5 hours of launch followed by 200 in the first 4 days. Not bad at all for an organic growth.

I must say I spent about 40 minutes trying to create an awesome clip and absolutely enjoyed every little part of it. Audi did not push me in the end to rush me to their site and try to sell any other models, if not the R8. I was intrigued enough to swim around for some information on V10 and just read up. But if I were to buy in the near future a V10 beast, I will remember to check Audi out and recommend it to interested sports car buyers.

Audi Online Experience – For use

Audi has extended the success of the A1 eKurzinfo app to A3 models. The A3 app helps the drivers to learn more about their car via visualizations rather than boring A3 bible manuals! It provides them instant access to detailed step by step information on how to complete particular tasks. e.g. how to locate the engine coolant. This is definitely useful for the first-time buyers who have poor knowledge on technical topics that are good to know about their car. Of course, there are inductions held to understand your own vehicle but we forget these over time and instant access available to such data is reassuring.

The app recognises more than 300 elements of A3 and reflects all the data saved in cloud-based architecture. It is currently available in English, German and Japanese on the Apple Store.

That was the customer service going digital. Online. Now what about offline.

Audi Experiential

Here they have shaken things up with Audi City Showroom. The first virtual showroom without any cars. I have already blogged about it when they launched it but was lucky enough to visit RTT Excite 2013 in Munich where I was delighted to attend the presentation by Hans Thurner and Floris Dreesman on Audi City.

Why I respect Audi so much today?

Well 200 people at Audi and 70 of their partner agencies have been sweating it out to change the automotive buying behaviour. While still producing their online banners and Facebook applications that some think are digital gods of this online space, Audi is investing time and efforts to change all that you think you know about selling cars online or offline. They are capturing the whole universe around it making customers dependable on them and these new technologies making yours redundant in the next 2 years. Today you are developing dealer tool kits killing trees printing massive old skool stuff, Audi and even BMW are using digital to sort data and virtualise all that jazz on a sheet of paper, making it come alive and hit your senses. Tablets are the future.

I fail to grasp how automotive employees criticize a concept like Audi City. The frustration of our generation is about following old school rules coming in the way of doing what our generation wants to see, wants to be and wants to show. We want to create it because we want to use that.

Remember what Ferdinand Porsche said I couldn’t find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself.

Pixel Press – Draw your own video game

 

What an amazing idea?!

Pixel Press seem to be determined to take apps and gaming to the next level. This activity, of being able to draw your own video game and also sharing it with the others, will first time allow people to bring a personalized game to life. One can simply draw a video game and instantly customize and play + share it.

The only barrier that we all have been facing all this time is coding and Pixel Press seem to have taken care of that in the pre-defined coding in the app. This is perhaps not an easy task and I am curious to see what/how many patterns the app will be able to reproduce.

Creators will be rewarded via feedback of their friends and the community. Of course, each game will have its core features such as high scores, best completion times and also points earned via collective participation.

The only barrier at the moment is that it does not allow you to draw in the app yet. One can either draw on paper or drop the sketch sheet into Photoshop or Illustrator to draw fine lines, and then use that from the photo library on the device.

How it works?

Download a 2 page PDF, one page will be a pre-formatted grid (like grid paper, just a special version built for Pixel Press) and the other page will be a set of simple instructions. The instructions will show you which shapes represent each level component. For example a box represents terrain, and an x represents a spike. It’s a bit more complex than that, but overall it’s very simple. The instruction sheet also lets you know physics rules such as how far the player can jump, and other important details.

Pixel Press recommended using a heavy card stock so that the “flatness” of the paper is consistent and you don’t bend or tear it while drawing & erasing.

Once you have your level drawing complete, you just need to take a picture of it with your iPad or iPhone and it is converted into a digital level that you can instantly play and start testing. You can get more details in the Questions section on their site.

Launch & cost

It is fighting for funds on Kickstarter (launching May 7th) to build out the entire app, and we can expect Pixel Press to be available in Q4 2013. The cost can be up to $9.99 for the full version and up to $1.99 for the lite version.

To back this project on Kickstarter visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/robinrath/pixel-press-draw-your-own-video-game

QR code made of Crates – Volkswagen Crafter

To prove the loading capacity of the Volkswagen Crafter, DDB Mexico installed a giant QR code made of wooden crates. The installation was placed at the largest wholesale market in Mexico where the potential targets could be reached. On scanning the QR code a video plays which shows that the entire installation can be carried in a Volkswagen Crafter.

It is a very clever idea and the video is beautifully done to prove the loading capacity of the Crafter. This installation was awarded a Bronze Lion in the Promo & Activation category.

Club Monaco Social Timeline Facebook App Review

Club Monaco, an international men’s and women’s lifestyle brand with over 104,000+ Facebook likes, has launched a “Social Timeline” application on their Facebook page.

The Social Timeline application is based on the Facebook Timeline profile format. The headline is “We are sharing moments that have inspired us… If these inspire you too, add them to your personal Facebook timeline”. Basically, they have a gallery of images ranging from coffee shops, food, photography, store openings, galleries and product launches. Each image has a unique description with an option for the user to edit the month, date and year and add a caption to it and share it on their wall i.e. if the same experience applies to them, if they had something to do with the content on the Social Timeline.

How it works? 

Once the user enters the month, date, year and caption details, this Social Timeline application will insert this image from the application gallery on to the users timeline. Quite clever and very easy to use. The user experience of the application is pretty simple and no issues to select and share on the timeline. Smooth! The design is also great with a white background, beautiful fonts with minimum relevant copy and great images with relevant descriptions.

The issue here is not the experience definitely but the content. The application is a great tool to allow Facebook users to add moments to their Timeline and doing so with professional photography and cool messages already in place. Not everybody can be creative about expressing their experience and hence a pre-description of the experience kind of helps to shape the story even further. However, what matters here is how relevant are the content in the Social Timeline gallery to their fans and potential application users.

It looks like the content is heavily revolving around Club Monaco vs topics for the consumer/followers of Club Monaco or even the people who have nothing to do with Club Monaco but possibly are interested in using the application. Why I am involving the people who are not followers of Club Monaco here is because cool ideas like this spread quickly on the web and there should be a series of content available for a majority of people to use to spread it to the extent it is expected to go to and will definitely do since they are the first ones to do such an application.

Club Monaco might disagree saying that it is made to be super relevant to the brand etc and has bits and pieces of content for users besides that of Club Monaco. However, this has nothing to do with the users personal Facebook timeline, only rarely relevant to the employees I believe who got a job there, or enjoyed a store opening or someone who had an extravagant experience at one of their stores. But these people do not make up a huge percentage of the Facebook fans.

What such powerful ideas need are powerful and relevant content which are shareable and can carry the hallmark of “Club Monaco Social Timeline” on it. Some of this content should definitely be brand related and some on topics like music, art and similar topics. eg. something like launch of Nirvana’s album, Jeff Koons or Anish Kapoor’s or Andy Warhol’s art that had people in awwh!, music festival related content, music awards, hit song, best restaurant and coffee shops that drew lots of people in…stuff which is in everyday talks, content like that would get people sharing such experience faster and draw to the Club Monaco brand, spread awareness about them etc.

Also, why should a person add this to their timeline? Besides the fact that I mentioned that the cool pre-descriptions and professional stunning photography is a reason good enough but why not get people to share content and get rewarded for it? How about a gift card or discount or even an invitation to a store opening or gift cards to enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants featured in the Social Timeline gallery. This way more people will use it and spread the word further.

Check out the application and share your thoughts.