Retailers are always looking for new ways to use the web to get people to shop more creatively, retain customers using personalization and to engage them by creating a digital experience based around the products and services they are offering that is beyond the traditional website. Imagine a world where you can walk into a restaurant and get a menu printed out for you based on your pre-selected preferences, you will only see the foods you like, the drinks you drink and even have the chef prepare the food based on certain diet issues you may have. Think of how easy a trip to Ikea would be if you were led to items that matched your home's color scheme and complimentary products that worked well with what you have already entered into your universal profile. What if you were able to scan your entire body and be able to find perfectly fitted clothing based on your shape and size? Using the web as a means of sharing your preferences with providers of products and services as well as finding schools, houses and jobs is something we have all become accustomed to but what if the experience didn't end on your computer screen? What if those preferences followed you everywhere you went, perhaps a card you carry or the extreme would be an embedded chip under the skin! That time is now and its already beginning to effect everything you do.
Many companies understand that the push for personalization, customization and availability of a vast amount of unique products is the only way to survive in today's fast paced economy, being able to service each customer as if they were their only customer is what will give companies the competitive edge to constantly wow and deliver products that their customers want. The internet has not only opened the door to new and exciting products but it has drastically defined demographics way beyond our wildest dreams. We know pretty much everything about the people who are buying products, we know their buying patterns and even bad shopping habits (like spending rent money on a new PSP) this gives retailers the ability to deliver precisely what the customer wants when they want it and even base it on certain specific times not just traditional holidays. The big question I have is, is this good for us? Is it good to have the exact shirt, the customized shoes, the color coordinated phone, iPod, handheld gaming console, sox and tie? My mind says yes but my heart is kind of teetering towards no. Perhaps I am not accustomed to always getting the exact product that fits my lifestyle, I remember when i would go buy a tee shirt and customize it myself, rub in some dye, wash it a hundred times, bleach it fifty times, then put it under my mattress for a month before I would wear it to get that exact look I was going for, my mother would kill me when I would take the $80 Champion sweatshirt that were predominant in the late 80s and early 90s and make small tears, fray the elastic, bleach and dye the hood different colors all to get that exact effect. I had been known in my high school as the guy who painted pictures on his shoes, I custom designed my Doc Martins with various pop art that was big at the time like Keith Haring's figures and some graffiti along with my own original art, I was the envy and the freak of my neighborhood and I loved it.
Seems like today that whole experience is watered down, now you can simply log onto the Nike website and order a pair of shoes to your exact specifications, Puma and their funky Mongolian BBQ is pretty cool but kind of takes away from the whole do it yourself experience I loved as a kid. Today's brands can no longer exist as a one dimensional logo anymore, it must be an entire experience that embodies the brand and the genre it serves. The brand needs to know the needs and the wants of its consumers and deliver it fast or else the next newest website to pop up will do it better and take away sales. Its a level playing field out there folks. Now that I have made my point regarding brands and experience I want to shift gears and talk about designers. Today, like a brand, a designer cannot simply design, there has to be an experience based around that designer, a blog, a personal portfolio as good as if not better than their professional work, tattoos, funky friends, networks of other designers, and so much more. Today a designer needs to embody the very personality they create when they design for a brand or a particular product, as consumers are getting more exacting in their needs, so are the advertisers and interactive agencies when looking for designers who will help embody the types of brands that their firm represents. So next time your racking your brain trying to figure out how to build a brand experience around your next client take some time and think about your own "experience" that you give over to people who know you and love your work. A musician needs an instrument to work, until his hands touch the guitar or the horn he cannot express himself, an artist is his own instrument, your eyes, your ears, etc... is a walking experience just waiting to attract some attention.