Julio Ferro & Cristián Saracco
We met in Buenos Aires more than 15 years ago. We have worked together as a tandem of “a brand consultant + a brand designer” delivering unique and meaningful solutions to both local and internationally-renowned brands. We have also written several articles and posts together, and have probably invested a huge amount of time with our psychoanalysts –an Argentine tradition.
Now one of us is living in Madrid –Cristián [C], while the other is still enjoying the fast and incessantly changing environment of Buenos Aires –Julio [J]. The interesting issue is that irrespective of our location, our crafted approach to branding remains the same.
Something that we have perhaps discovered as a difference in our conversations is the environment where the brands are; while Argentina is a developing modern country, Spain is a developed traditional kingdom.
However, it doesn’t matter whether our clients are local or global, their problems are similar and most of them are working towards the triple-bottom-line, economic, social and environmental achievements.
Creating and building a brand requires understanding the need for a tailor-made conversation between people –regardless of their roles, and organisations. It is a question of values and beliefs in a context of wider discussion.
[C] To allow a deep conversation, the brand has to be strategically crafted. Craft evokes traditional skill, dedication and perfection through the mastery of detail. For branding this means the need to merge formulation and implementation into a fluid process through which creative branding concepts evolve in a turbulent and disruptive world. In this way, people and organizations need to find consistency and enthusiasm in a new type of more collaborative relationship, based on conversations.
[C] I believe that those dialogues through the brands must consider the emergent challenges of globalisation, digitalisation and politicisation.
[J] Craftsmanship is maybe the origin of everything. History points to the Egyptians as the first producers to brand their products, so the intention remains more or less the same. To identify products a brand selects an origin, the quality and even the price. I imagine a market scene in ancient times where a shopper analyses a good to buy.
[J] Brands still work as breadcrumbs leading to a bigger experience.
[C] The challenge of globalisation is to understand each other and obtain recognition, generating a conversation endowed with significance and relevance. It is vital to understand the values between people and organisation through the brand.
[J] And at the same time, we’re actually sharing principles and meanings worldwide. I think that´s an advantage for brands. There are so many coincidences and considerations for symbols that we can use as shortcuts and cues. Coca-Cola means the same in Alaska as it does in Tanzania and the Mercedes Benz symbol means luxury and exclusivity wherever it is seen.
[J] +[C] As an example which answers the globalisation challenge, we could consider “The Kiss” (created by Julio), a mashup of two universal icons evoking a classic scene to celebrate the Coca-Cola 100th contour bottle anniversary. It has been implemented in several materials and sizes in more of 200 countries as part of a global campaign and included in the “Kiss The Past Hello” edition published by Assouline.
[J] + [C] Conceptually and applying a design thinking approach (we now that this will sound boring due to the excessive number of people talking about this sort of approach), co-creation can be leveraged if the globalisation challenge is transformed in an opportunity. A good example of this has been the re-positioning effort done by Cosentino. Over five months, more than 2,800 people from 25 different countries voluntarily participated, dedicating thousands of hours to searching for and creating an idea which could represent the company, “imagine & anticipate”. The results were more than encouraging:
- Recognition of the social work which has been carrying out consistently for more than 35 years.
- A conclusion which with simplicity, familiarity and significance represents Cosentino’s shared vision
- Adaptation of the company’s mission and vision which now reflect and transmit the concepts behind “imagine & anticipate”
[J] A really good example of co-creation is idBrooklyn, a large-scale design project aimed at creating the graphic identity of Brooklyn through citizen participation. The intention is to involve Brooklynites and Brooklyn-lovers worldwide to participate in designing a beautiful set of graphic icons of Brooklyn’s culture. This project was leaded by argentine designers Gustavo Stecher, Hernan Berdichevsky and Gustavo Contreras with the support of Brooklyn Major Marty Markowitz.
[C] The Cosentino case opens us the door to the challenge of digitisation as a new way to create and capture value. Different communities are providing creative ideas as co-creative processes. Somehow, in this networked world, the key is on values that are lived, shared and implicitly communicated by brands.
[J] There’s no way to hide from co-creation. Millennials have born with that mind-set so I think in the near future designers will work as coordinators of a massive creation where users from different origins and cultures will define what a brand should say and look to be relevant for them. It’s a challenge!
[J] & [C] We remember the first digitalisation effort also developed by Cosentino in 2008 (the moment in time is important). The creation and development of the corporate social network to interact with architects, designers and people interested on sustainable design, “cuisine” and innovation.
[J] & [C] In addition, digitalisation has allowed us to work asynchronously and delocalised. A good example is the new online experience of Medinge Group, an international think-tank of brand experts and visionaries whose purpose is to influence business to become more humane and conscious in order to help humanity progress and prosper.
[J] In my creative process I used to use Post-it, now with the digitisation I found the benefits of Evernote (peals of laughter).
[C] The politicisation of companies goes through striking a balance between demands of their target audiences in the private sphere, and their social responsibility and consciousness.
[C] The consistency of values defines the authenticity –not necessarily transparency, of the organisation in the way it deals with social responsibility and consciousness, and this is synthesised in its brand.
[J] We have to design with the shared value principle in mind. If our solutions don’t reach every member of the value chain, something is really wrong. From a designer’s perspective we have to support authenticity in every expression and touchpoint to shape the brand as a credible being.
[J] + [C] Examples of how concepts evolve to designs and how they establish a conversation trying to answer the politicisation challenge mentioned above could be the campaign symbol promoting organ donation, or identity and communications for transparency –International Argentine chapter, “Poder Ciudadano”, where the symbol refers to “we always build more through debate and participation” (this poster is a hack to the argentine national emblem to express the tension between politics and citizens).
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Probably, due to history, education, background and personal curiosity, most argentine professionals are at the cutting-edge of branding and design, as an artistic, creative, business and personal issue.
Julio is an experienced designer, a passionate about innovation, brand creation and brand experiences for major global, creative and surprising brands, bridging design and business through fresh ideas, creative strategy, deep insights from the market and well-crafted deliverables. Frequent speaker at design conferences in Latin America, his work was published by several international publications.
Cristián is a craftsman strategist, who anticipates the patterns to create landmarks and metaphors with a personal touch, mastering the details, empowering the sense of harmony and integration. For him, it’s key to protect and nurture his clients’ traditions and values, while evolving into a contemporary global venture. With more than 25 years of international experience, he helps companies to create sustainable long-lasting value through developing and revitalizing meaningful and familiar brand experiences, for each key audience, at every touch-point.