Predictive analytics is very expensive and highly specialized, meaning that only top players can afford it at scale. Capgemini wanted their offer to democratize predictive analytics through a SaaS platform. Beyond big data and consulting, utility companies, fintech companies, even the NHS would save money using this platform. Their goal was to be the first mover in this lucrative space, but they didn't know how to find a competitive edge.
We had mocked up how we would work with companies with large data lakes like IKEA and Unilever, who would be able to adaptively work with this platform to help them save money in managing their operations and identify opportunities to improve margins.
I later learned that EY was building a similar platform, so we had to make ours available to many more businesses at an affordable price – pay as you go, which is the raison d'etre of the SaaS model.
The project was a collaboration with a team of senior brand creatives and client services people, alongside a business unit from Capgemini. We were a specialist business task force looking to disrupt the business in order to present something to the market that nobody else could.
When the rest of the group had gone through a couple of preliminary stages to organize themselves, I got involved to manage the brand.
I'm the only brand creative who currently promotes 'brand identity origination’, which is intended to fully capture creative brand strategy and design. Ordinarily, a brand strategist, brand identity designer, and UI/UX designer would be required for a project of this size, but my holistic approach promoted maximum creativity and lower costs.
To get to know the business, I spoke to the client and asked for as many strategic documents and materials as they were comfortable sharing. Generally, the better the quality of those documents, the less time I have to spend with them – although I can plug the gaps, if necessary.
Brand identity origination starts with a concise description of the business. Invariably, this generates more word-based creative brand ideas which, in turn, lead into design. I worked hard to bring together tone of voice and visual assets with organizing principles.
Clients are generally brand-literate and often have a good idea of what their brand strategy should be. It's my job to dive into the nuts and bolts of the business strategy: plug in an extra component; do a competitive analysis; visualize where they see themselves relative to competitors; do a SWOT analysis — whatever's needed.
Coming up with an unexpected name early on put less pressure on supplementary ideas and brand assets later. We presented a number of options and I came up with the chosen name: 890. If you take 8 and turn it 90 degrees, what do you get? An infinity symbol. Once you apply this mnemonic, it sticks.
We hired a freelance digital designer to put together a branded prototype for the front end of the platform.
We then scripted and storyboarded a promotional video, which was produced by an external company, to sell this new venture. In a rush to present to the executive team, I defined the principles and we came up with a narrative over a weekend. Then we costed it, sourced suppliers, and went straight into production.
To represent something as abstract as data, we decided to use metaphor — but with so many possibilities, we had to get specific. To represent 'critical mass' we sourced a photographer who is well-known for taking multiple pictures and stitching them all together. If the idea is understood at the metaphorical level, you don't have to, for instance, demonstrate predictive analysis for insurance products.
The organizing principles I had set up at the beginning were carefully woven through this and many subsequent videos, including animated ones we produced for each sample product. Having the brand name and narrative so early on also informed these assets, and in particular what we first presented to the executives.
The whole brand specification so far had been for the purpose of selling the overall business proposition to the leadership. To unlock the big budget that was necessary to develop it, we had to get buy-in from the C-suite.
Using the branded front-end platform prototype and promotional video, we got the sign-off from on high. The name, which they loved, turned out to be the real clincher.
That's when I came on stream to develop the brand identity in its entirety. This was a natural extension of what we had presented, deepening and enriching the solutions we wanted to offer.
Next, I designed the website in keeping with the brand identity, presented it to the clients, and got the green light. Then there was a handover to the agency responsible for the backend components — that is, the heavy lifting.
I consulted with the agency, who were already working on the back end, and oversaw the interpretation of the contextual visuals I had produced. I offered to share PDF specs but they preferred to have a dedicated digital artworker work it up against a grid. Some developers don't want to stray too much from what you give them, while others accept relative freedom within a framework and still come back with a solution faithful to the original.
I'd ordinarily handle the brand messaging at the top level, but sometimes a client asks me to parse the technical copy through my filters and find opportunities to build in the brand narrative. It's an extra couple of days' work but when it goes live — often without changes — it's extremely rewarding.
The branded experience goes far beyond the logo, it's an overall look and feel. When you get everything working together, you can influence not only consumer behaviors but internal behaviors as well — it's totalizing. So, I worked through my creative solution defining artwork and principles to be rolled out across a vast array of products.
The digital artworker worked through all the variable visual components we had presented to the client and we set them perfectly on the grid.
The client didn't give us an exact list of products and services, so our design had to be maximally flexible. In view of this, I set up principles based on the original concept for website and video image selection. I also wrote a short guiding narrative in fairly elegant prose designed to be inspiring. Inspiration is a goal I carry through all my work: to surprise and entertain people a little, in order to establish and maintain preference in the competitive landscape.
This product has been in development since the end of 2018, and I was involved until the middle of 2019. For a long time, I wondered if it would ever see the light of day; often, once you enter the 'real world', things get messy. Then, about two months ago, I saw glimpses of it online as part of Capgemini's Perform AI, something they're pushing at the moment – along with machine learning.
The company looks confident about the product being out on the market. They've taken on some core tenants — some big tenants — who I expect are currently the main benefactors of our branding work. There's also a section dedicated to 890 by Capgemini on the Perform AI page of the corporate website.
Brand-led businesses are not only visionary but made visual. Branding is all about practical thinking in symbols. Find symbols that are going to be the north star of your organization, your guiding light when things get messy and difficult, and when the future looks uncertain. Create a brand that is defined enough to stand for something great but open enough to include future possibilities.
Start with the dream, if you can. Aim high — higher even than your client's vision, if possible. For a business to foster and maintain preference within a market, it's absolutely necessary to be brand-led. If you get your brand right from the get-go, creating a brand identity experience that inspires distinction, the returns will be worth more than profit alone.