Tag Archives: Design

Can the new tranche of Chinese tech brands take the UK by storm?

drum blog

In recent years, more Chinese brands than ever have broken new ground in Europe and continued to develop outside of their established Asian markets. One of the most immediately recognisable Chinese brands is Huawei and possibly Hisense but have you heard of Haier, Oppo or Xiaomi? Chinese consumer electronics brands have recently launched in the UK and are fast gaining traction in their respective categories since being made available on the UK high street.

We live in a society where global brands are the norm. Whilst we are, or at least believe we are, familiar with many of the brands we are exposed to, there are others that we don’t know so much about even if we buy-into them as consumers. Do we care about a brand’s origins and heritage? Or are consumer purchase decisions driven by a products’ look, functionality, usage, price point and status? If this new tranche of Chinese tech brands doesn’t focus enough on building their brands and resonance with the UK audience, will they be able to compete with their Californian cousins and achieve their full potential in the UK market?

Cleverly Haier, the world’s number one major appliance brand in terms of volume bought Hoover Candy, a traditional stalwart of the Major Domestic Appliance market in the EU which enables Haier to tap into the trust associated with a familiar European brand. Now listed in John Lewis stores, there’s brand reassurance of Haier is being established among shoppers.

Oppo, China’s leading 4G smartphone manufacturer, launched its range of mobile phones into Dixons Carphone earlier this year. With flagship models coming in at under £800 SIM free, the brand offers premium and innovative features at a fraction of the price other brands may charge. Time will tell if the brand has done enough to resonate and take a big enough market share and see a return on investment on their ICC Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon sponsorship.

Xiaomi, pronounced ‘ShwowMee’, is actually the world’s most valuable privately held company, and the third biggest smartphone maker, selling 61 million handsets last year. Xiaomi has been bold with its UK launch strategy and has opened a great new Mi store at Westfield White City. The store is familiar looking, sharing many similarities, all be it on a smaller budget, to that of its Californian cousins.

It sells a variety of products from mobile phones, TVs, smart kettles, electric scooters and other accessories in an environment where you are encouraged to play and explore. Its pricing is competitive and it’s certainly within the budgets of a far wider demographic than other brands but what it lacks is star quality. Star quality on build, packaging and its ability to give consumers that ‘feel good’ factor from an anonymous brand is essential if it’s to mean more to consumers. All possible if its proud heritage and brand storytelling was more obvious.

Tell me what Mi means to the technology industry and I may be persuaded to purchase some of today’s most competitively priced technology and become a brand advocate. Hide from me what Mi is and I may react a bit more suspiciously and feel the brand isn’t the best fit for me. Brands, wherever they are from, should be proud of their heritage and success. A confident, honest and ethical brand will help instil the necessary confidence in consumers to help a brand to gain traction and ‘win’ in a new market.

To read the full article please visit The Drum.

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Could Game of Thrones’ dark cinematography style boost TV sales?

tv blog

We’ve been warned time and time again that the night is dark and full of terrors, but I don’t think we realised just how dark things were going to get…

Episode 3 of season 8 of Game of Thrones aired this weekend, and it was quite the spectacle. Without writing a bunch of spoilers, let’s just say it was 82 minutes of genius writing and acting. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, and I squinted… I squinted a lot.

Set at night-time, and in amongst an abundance of fog, there was no doubt that it was going to be dark and mysterious. But along with the 70,000 other fans who complained on Twitter, I was unable to see a damn thing during certain scenes.

I found myself pausing the show and desperately fiddling about with image settings on my TV. I checked my internet connection, I turned all the lights off, I closed the blinds, but it didn’t matter what I did, there seemed to be some problem with the cinematography.

Or was there?

“No, it wasn’t a technical hitch, it was intentional, as the showrunners and director wanted the episode to be dark and forgot to tell viewers that it should be watched in a dark environment,” Dan Todaro, MD of Gekko Field Marketing told PCR.

Sure enough Fabian Wagner, the show’s cinematographer, insisted that his filming wasn’t to blame for the issues and HBO’s compression of the episode was to the problem. However, despite all the back and fourth finger pointing, it’s not really any one group’s fault.

“The GoT cinematographer is claiming that the pixelation and muddy dark colours that fans encountered on their TVs and mobile devices were due to HBO’s compression of the episode, made worse if being viewed on a streaming service with a weak connection,” said Todaro.

“However, is this more a case of technology overtaking consumer demand? Not everyone has the technology to view in UHD either on a device or TV yet flagship ‘big budget’ productions are using today’s technology. Compound this with a splash of creative licence and run the risk of upsetting die-hard fans, as happened with this episode.”

This is the same conclusion that I came to. My TV is almost 7 years old. Is it technically MY fault that I don’t have the right technology in my home to enjoy such advanced cinematography? And if so, how many other people are having their entertainment ruined by simply continuing to use their current devices?

“Interestingly, over half of British consumers buying a new TV are doing so because they are replacing an existing, working set (44%) or buying an additional set (16%),” pointed out Todaro. “The HDR feature is particularly important to those upgrading or buying an additional product indicating that not everyone has the capability to enjoy content as intended by producers.”

If that’s the case, Game of Thrones’ dark cinematography style could possibly contribute to a boost in TV sales – something retailers should be taking advantage of.

“When purchasing a new TV, bricks and mortar stores are still a dominant influence in the final decision making process. Analysts expect to see more 65 – 80 inch models and the first 8k sets from several brands become standard ranging in 2019,” explained Todaro.

“Was this episode a rare example of content overtaking technology and consumer demand? Maybe, but for those savvy brands and retailers, it’s an opportunity.”

To read the full article please visit PCR.

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The Microsoft Surface Book has broken the copycat mold

surface

Over the past decade, the importance of showcasing innovation in both product and design has become a pain point within the tech industry in which many have not alleviated. In a market where competition is high, but opportunities are slim, brands have struggled to break the copycat mold and come up with something different to set them apart from the rest. Brands are often keen in following the footsteps of Apple’s chief designer Jonathan Ive, such as Huawei’s iPhone 6 look-alike Honour 6 device which unashamedly has no original design features, however, it is refreshing to see Microsoft engage in an original industrial design philosophy with the recent launch of its Surface Book.

Understanding that design along with functionality drives desire, Microsoft has achieved the right equilibrium. The Surface Book’s sleek craftsmanship, accurate and responsive pen and touch support, as well as being twice as powerful as the Macbook Pro, has proved innovation in product and design is not just confined to only one brand. The laptop’s advanced display technology makes it not just attractive to look at, but natural and fluid to write on. Together, Surface’s creative director, Ralf Groene and Windows 10 devices head Panos Panay, have invented something new, desirable, and premium, giving the brand a new lease of life in the laptop category.

Other brands should take a leaf out of Microsoft’s book. Consumers are starting to see through the usual copycat formula as demonstrated when a new iPad launches, sending the rest of the tech world into tablet production overload. If brands want to establish themselves within a competitive market, it is about creating an identity that they can call their own, or risk being overshadowed by competing brands.

Whilst innovative design is always important, product functionality is also a game changer. Striking the right balance between the two, Microsoft’s new product launch has hit the ground running. Already running on 110 million devices worldwide and Windows 10 is off to the fastest start in history, could this be Microsoft’s time to shine and set the agenda for the next design-led tech trend? Maybe.

 

Read more at: http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2015/10/27/how-microsoft-has-broken-the-copycat-mold/

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Gekko website voted ‘Site of the Week’

gekko mediums banner

Gekko’s new look website has been voted as ‘Site of the Week’ by ProcessWire Weekly.

Here’s the site’s glowing review:

Gekko Field Marketing is a UK-based field marketing company. In their own words, they offer a full range of services, helping to create more opportunities to connect consumers with brands.

999 Design Group Ltd is responsible for the new site of Gekko Field Marketing, not to mention their brand communication and visual identity altogether. They’ve done a pretty awesome job too: the visual identity feels refreshing, and the site has a very nice and modern feel to it. Both are simple yet effective, just the way we like it.

Some of the highlights of the site include a responsive mobile-first design, the neat expertise wheel feature, a well functioning prev/next navigation for various content types, and a nice touch of custom styling for the embedded Google Maps views. It’s the little details that make the site feel so alive and compelling – definitely a job well done!

A big thanks to ProcessWire for the review, and 999 Design for producing a fantastic site that complements our brand and our message: we bring your brand to the right people, and the right people to your brand.

Read more at http://weekly.pw/issue/70/

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