Evolve, fade away . . . or, lose your way.

November 23rd, 2011 by Allison Bradley

Evolve, or fade away. This is the opening statement on our company web site and it is the perspective we at Hyperquake keep in mind with every design, strategy and web site deployment.

So what happens when a brand rapidly changes itself or stubbornly stays the same? What happens when a brand doesn’t follow the cues of its consumers or its industry? A brand fades away. And, sadly, a brand risks losing its way.

Why? Healthy brands, like healthy people or relationships, experience evolution. The dictionary definition for evolution is: “gradual development, a pattern formed by a series of movement.”

I’d like to add to that definition by stating for brands, it’s a: “gradual and purposeful development, a noticeable pattern formed by a series of meaningful movements.”

Sometimes those movements happen very fast. Sometimes the pattern takes only a few steps and other times one big leap. Regardless the path, a thread of consistency emerges when you respect the evolution of a brand—you see purpose and can trace the steps of strategic, consumer-centric choices made along the way.

A recent BBC Story “Have Japanese Brands Lost Their Way?”offers the perfect example of how a lack of proper brand evolution can result in losing your way.

The article highlights how Japanese tech companies stubbornly (and somewhat complacently) relied upon previous market dominance to grow their business versus listening to consumers and the ever-changing tech landscape. They failed to evolve and their companies have likewise failed to profit.

  • Panasonic predicted an annual net loss of $5.5 billion.
  • Hitachi reported a 48% drop in quarterly profit.
  • Sony expects a $1 billion loss in the current fiscal year.

A perfect example of this was Sony and its previous market dominance in portable music devices. The Sony Walkman was one of the world’s biggest brands but Sony didn’t evolve within the portable music space properly.  They ran after technology that wasn’t relevant, practical or affordable with their Song MiniDisc player. When Apple released the iPod in 2001, which met consumer needs in a relevant and innovative way, Sony still didn’t properly evolve. Instead they stubbornly held onto its MiniDisc technology till 2007 and didn’t completely sunset the product until earlier this year.

The BBC story is also quick to point out unforeseen circumstances that contributed to these brands’ current circumstances, i.e., the global economic crisis and the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami.  However, the BBC also notes this problem was one of Japan’s own design. I agree.

When brands “rest on their laurels” they can become stale. When brands are complacent with market leadership, they don’t follow the lead of their consumers or industry. The result—these brands do not evolve; they fade away or lose their way.

I’m not suggesting that Sony will all the sudden fade away or “close its doors” because of their recent choices. However, the BBC story challenges us to evaluate the scenario and ask “Have Japanese Brands Lost Their Way?” And, that is an important lesson in brand evolution and brand leadership for all of us entrusted with being stewards of great brands—global, local or anything in between.

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Hello My Name is Lululemon.com

November 14th, 2011 by Allison Bradley


One of my favorite brands, lululemon, recently launched a redesign of their website. Rather than issuing some boring, pedantic press release to announce the site, lululemon did something completely different in a very fun, unexpected manner.

Lululemon posted a blog to introduce the reader to the new lululemon.com: “Meet the new lululemon.com. To get to know her a little better we asked her a few questions (as we do with all new hires).”

The interview was complete with fun questions like “where did you grow up?” and  “if you could have dinner with any three websites, decommissioned or current, which ones would they be?”

Some answers were just to be fun and quirky (check out the song lululemon.com just released) while other answers were fun and helped educate the reader about the site features (like live customer service chat).

As a lululemon fan, I loved checking out the site and its aspirational images that made me feel like I could conquer the world.

As a branding professional, I was impressed that lululemon once again made the most of every consumer touch point as a way to express their brand in a relevant, on-character manner. Even something as simple as announcing the evolution of the website was done in a way that uniquely ties back to their mission statement of “creating components for people to live longer, healthier, more fun lives.”

They also lead by example in carrying out their vision statement of “elevating the world from mediocrity to greatness.” How? By forgoing the expected press release and issuing this clever, viral and fun announcement that perfectly complements their equity and consumer communication approach.

Kudos lululemon. I have known and loved your apparel. Now, I know and love your site.





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The Kick OFFF

October 27th, 2011 by Caitlin Rose

Before the kick OFFF tonight, we would like to highlight some of the press OFFF Cincinnati has been getting around town and on Twitter (#offfcincy). There is a great energy around the office today in angst of the reveal of the rest of our hard work for the event. We are very excited to finally experience the app installation, see the reactions of the festival attendees and of course watch the presenters in awe. HQ will be live blogging, tweeting, instagraming, etc. throughout the entire event, so if you’re unable to make it- live vicariously through us!

Media Buzz Highlights:

Our creative director, Dan Barzcak, made his television debut on Sunday morning on the U.S. Bank Business Watch on Local 12 to talk about OFFF coming to Cincinnati and what it means for our creative community.

U.S. Bank Business Watch – 10/23/2011 – OFFF Cincinnati

Evan Wallis’ feature story in Soapbox.

Some of our favorite tweets:

@lisacmaly: WOOO RT @rcayabyab: it’s kick off day for #OFFFCincy! who else is stoked! :)

@mikeranochak: Rain? Who cares. It’s #OFFFcincy day!

@pepsalazar: Geting ready for offf on tour today. #offfcincy @OFFFest starting the day having breakfast @HyperQuake with @leannemwagnerMeet u @CincyCAC

@rcayabyab: i’m pretty stoked it’s #OFFFCincy week! can’t wait for the event AND the after party!

We hope everyone enjoys OFFF Cincinnati tonight & tomorrow and a huge thanks to everyone who brought this amazing festival to Cincy!

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And we’re OFFF…

October 12th, 2011 by LeAnne Wagner

The creative community in Cincinnati is all a buzz this week over the much anticipated release of OFFF Cincinnati tickets. And if you’ve had a chance to check out the speaker line-up, you understand why. As an active member of the Cincy design community, I’m not only stupid excited about the amazing speakers that will be visiting our fair city, but also about what OFFF Cincinnati means on a couple of other levels for Cincinnati.

There’s the obvious. OFFF is a well-respected and celebrated festival that has run primarily in major European cities for the past decade. The past presenters line-up looks like a who’s who of the digital art scene. Now, as the festival hits the road to start its first ever international traveling tour, Cincinnati has been graced as its first destination. Major PR points there.

And why little ol’ Cincy, some may ask? A large part of that can be accredited to the tireless staff at the CAC (Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center) who fostered the relationship with festival founders Pep Salazar Garcia and Hector Ayuso, inviting them and the OFFF festival to their beautiful Zaha Hadid home. I don’t doubt that Pep and Hector were excited by the CAC to begin with, based purely on the stellar rotation of exhibits that are curated under its roof, as well as the phenomenal level of community outreach and education the center contributes. These factors alone present a strong case, but I’d like to think that they were also excited by the potential they saw in the creative community.

We’re not New York City or San Francisco, but we are a community that creates influential and innovative work for some of the top companies in the world. The spirit of OFFF is about the future, connecting and collaborating. Bringing people together to learn something new from their peers, refresh their perspective on the industry and charge the community with the passion to do more. Something I think we could use a healthy dose of here in Cincy. A rallying around our profession to celebrate and share the unique thinking and design that comes out of Cincinnati.

OFFF is the perfect catalyst for this. Establishing the CAC as our neutral playing ground to leave agency allegiances behind and be inspired by and embrace the future of our industry and community. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, I hope OFFF Cincinnati is just the beginning of more exciting design centric events to come, ushering in a new spirit of collaboration and camaraderie here in Cincinnati.

See you at OFFF!

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S’all in the details: Instagram 2.0

September 21st, 2011 by Chris Hendrixson

Welp, yesterday Instagram rolled out version 2.0 of its popular (and growing) photo sharing app for the iPhone. Live filters, new filters, higher-resolution photos, etc. You can read more about that stuff here, but I want to focus on a relatively small but important update: the app icon. As a designer I’m often enamored by beautiful app icons, especially on the iPhone’s retina display. They are an important part of a product’s identity and although you have already been “sold” on the app since you’ve downloaded it, the icon is a detail not to be overlooked. It captures the essence of your product in all its square, little, rounded-corner glory. I think the Instagram 2.0 icon is a wonderful update. Just like the app, I liked the icon just fine before. Isn’t that the best kind of update though? Something you already like gets even better. Apple is great at this. The Instagram icon update is subtle and at first glance I couldn’t articulate what was different about it (more shadowing, more contrast, INST to Insta below the color stripes) but I knew it was different somehow. It feels better. Sometimes things don’t need an explanation, it’s just ok that they “feel” better. They certainly did not need to update the icon but I’m glad they did. This very high attention to the minor details is a characteristic of a “great” brand/product and something often overlooked by a “good” one.

(The layout of the Instagram icons above is a nod to one of our favorite and most visited blogs, Brand New.)

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BirdBot Wins a National Silver ADDY!

June 28th, 2011 by LeAnne Wagner

We are excited to announce that BirdBot won a silver ADDY in the Self-Promotion, Mixed Media Campaign category at the 2011 AAF National ADDY competition. With over 60,000 entries the ADDYs are the world’s largest advertising competition. Judges from renowned companies such as Weiden + Kennedy, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Leo Burnett, BBDO, Digitas and many more had the difficult task of narrowing the entries. At the national level of the three tiered competition, 1,382 entries were received, resulting in 87 gold ADDY awards and 156 silver ADDY awards. Needless to say, we’re pretty excited that our little BirdBot was included in such an elite circle and we’d like to thank everyone that voted for him.

We’d also like to say congrats to the other five Cincinnati area companies, Landor, Openfield Creative, Possible Worldwide, Northlich and Lightborne who received AAF’s coveted Silver awards at the annual national awards ceremony held this year in San Diego, California. This is the largest single award year for Cincinnati winners at the AAF event. Go Cincy!

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The New Digital Wallet?

May 24th, 2011 by Chris Hendrixson

Well, it’s finally starting to happen. Don’t throw away your velcro wallet just yet but I would reconsider buying a new one anytime soon. Today, Square CEO Jack Dorsey unveiled two new products that hope to drastically change how a small business accepts payments from customers. One of those is Square Register, which basically allows your iPad to function as a cash register that also collects data about purchases. According to Dorsey, “This obsoletes credit card terminals and cash registers.” The other new product is called Square Card Case which, according to the company, allows users to “explore local businesses, view menus, track and store digital receipts and open digital tabs to make instant, effortless purchases.” Dorsey had this to say about Card Case, “We want to take away all of this clutter, all the paper, all the mess. Get rid of the take out menus, get rid of the loyalty cards, get rid of the receipts, get rid of it and replace it with one clean digital card.” Read more here.

Posted in News, Technology | 114 Comments »

AIGA Cincinnati presents…Liquid Courage: The Love Edition

February 17th, 2011 by Chad Witzel

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported us last Friday night at the YES Gallery.

The event was the brainchild of AIGA Cincinnati’s programming board (LeAnne Wagner, Emily Wolf and yours truly). We wanted to host a special event to celebrate Valentine’s Day and bring together Cincy’s design community. So we did! For those of you who missed it, the event featured a do-it-yourself print making station where attendees could print their own posters, tote bags and t-shirts. There was a Valentine making station for everyone to show their love for their favorite local jaunts (which were then lovingly hand delivered). Mixologist Molly Wellman was making some delicious craft cocktails and dj’s Marty Spitfly and I provided the mood music.

Be on the look out for the next “special edition” Liquid Courage. Until then, check out the regular event schedule at  www.aigacincinnati.org

Posted in Design, Fun, News | 141 Comments »

Have You Visited A Facebook ‘Pop-Up’ Store Yet?

February 11th, 2011 by Chris Strong

Update Your Status!

If not, I’m thinking it’s a safe bet that you probably will within the next 6 months, if not before.

Why? Well, this is apparently one of the newest and now hottest social media trends right now. I myself am rather intrigued by the approach and think it may just have some legs.


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The Daily is here.

February 4th, 2011 by Dan Barczak

This week we got our first glimpse at The Daily, the first ever iPad-only news app and venture by News Corp. & Apple, along with the help of many others. The app is free for the first 2 weeks, then will sell for 99¢/week or $40/year. We all have opinions, and the keynote wasn’t without some intriguing questions from folks at Gizmodo, Techcrunch, Engadget, the New York Times, etc. This is not simply a news aggregator. It’s a new publisher with a distinct voice, and a new look and feel for news. (more…)

Posted in Design, News, Technology | 239 Comments »