Lighting the FUSE

Lighting the FUSE

Earlier this month, we attended FUSE in Miami joining designers, strategists, marketers, innovators and insight leaders from around the world to celebrate the power of using design as a strategic force to elevate brands and help businesses succeed. We were inspired, hugely motivated and aligned to philosophy and principles espoused by Mauro Porcini, SVP & Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo. A champion of design thinking culture, Mauro highlighted the benefits of infusing design through an entire organisation, extolled the power of prototyping and asked the industry to reassess how they think about failure.

Here are a few of our key takeaways from the presentation that we’d like to share as a call out to all of us, both clients and agencies, to change our perceptions and practices, and to move forward using the power of true design innovation and strong leadership.

Brand Appeal throughout the Consumer Journey

There are three levels of achieving the preference and loyalty of consumers, and design has a role to play in each of them. Consumers make initial purchase decisions using their gut. It’s based on emotion and impulse. At this point in their journey, we need to create ‘WOW’ so that the consumer has a really ‘visceral’ experience when they see the brand and product.


The focus then shifts to persuading consumers to repurchase. Here the relationship must become ‘interactive’. It must build on the emotional satisfaction, engaging the consumer to build loyalty.

We then move to the ‘expressive’ phase, which is when consumers have attained so much pride and love, that they want share their positive brand experiences with their trusted peer group, becoming brand ambassadors.

Design plays an integral role in achieving impact with a consumer at all three of these levels - powerful packaging that ignites that initial visceral feeling; a brand experience that lingers in the memory and becomes part of the consumers’ lives; a framework to recruit, support and drive brand ambassadorship.

Brands are onstage 24/7. Managing its expression and propelling growth is becoming an increasingly overwhelming challenge. With design this challenge transforms into an opportunity to respond and resonate with consumers at every touch point.


Rethink Failure

Mauro is a great believer in changing the culture around how we think about failure. He advocates getting rid of the misnomer that you have to do something right the first time and that if it doesn’t research well than you’ve failed so change agency, change team, change direction.

It’s not failure. It’s perpetual learning. Don’t be afraid to turn around and do it again and don’t worry about budgets because it’s actually saving you money by avoiding launch of something that isn’t right. It’s really important for designers within the creative community to align the stake-holding groups very quickly, very early on. And the best way to put this into practice is rapid ‘idea’ prototyping, and co-creation.


Understanding prototyping and the benefits of using it organizationally. 

Make a film, sketch the concept out, mock it up - prototype it. As Mauro puts it, engage in ‘the power of the shiny object’ to give the room as much understanding as possible of what you are trying to achieve in a visceral way. Don’t talk about it in words. Put something on the table to see, to touch, and to feel. By making the concept sensorial, you create real memory.

Prototyping also allows other functions to impute into that process from other departments. It inadvertently becomes a co-created product with everyone involved feeling a sense of excitement, and therefore the perception of imperfection is much better. When people say, ‘It doesn’t look right. I don’t quite like that.” The response can be, “We can deal with that.” This nurtures a much more spirited progressive change helping to achieve an optimal brand and consumer experience.

If you adopt this prototyping process, it will lead to massive efficiencies. There are commercial gains with increased speed to market , and reduced costs to the company. You also get so much more quality from this co-creational approach. The ideas get better and better, and richer with more people collaborating. You get wonderful real-time insight and continual validation. And that’s what design leadership is all about.


Go Big with a Touch of Pragmatism You’ve got to have a big vision. If you don’t aim really high, you’ll end up very ordinary. Don’t come into a design or innovation meeting unless you’ve got something really exciting to share, or if you are not ready to create something thrilling. Aim for the stars and push your people.

But heed that you’ve got to land on an idea that is possible. Work within the parameters of commercial reality but embrace the risk of entrepreneurialism, and you’ll be amazed and become a true champion to design thinking.

Grey New World

Grey New World

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