Thanks to Hallam, this year’s Nottingham Digital Summit was even bigger and better than last year. Across not one, but three stages there were talks on thought leadership, customer experience, future trends, business management, creative campaigns, SEO and more.
So, after a full-on weekend walking around Glastonbury with inadequate footwear, I hobbled down to the Nottingham Playhouse to a) introduce myself back into civilisation and b) learn some useful stuff. And to no surprise, it was yet another awesome day full of practical advice and inspiration. Here are some of my notebook scribbles, translated.
Storytelling and future gazing — Billy Williams
Very few businesses have zero digital presence these days, so it’s more important than ever to craft our digital services carefully and deliberately.
Let’s go back to 2009 when the iPhone had only been around for two years, and Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Amazon had just started becoming Tech giants. They have a phrase in Silicon Valley: “Move fast and break things”. We’re increasingly learning from data and moving at such a fast rate. But with all this data, users become faceless, quantitative data points, and that affects our customer experiences.
“The thing I have noticed is when the anecdotes and the data disagree, the anecdotes are usually right.” – Jeff Bezos
Digital experiences are rapidly expanding and becoming more diverse. Billy’s example of this was Ikea’s virtual reality app — every part of that customer journey is digital. however, Billy still wanted that personal touch; he wanted to physically go into the Ikea store. So, what do we do?
Borrow from the past and turn to storytelling
“Advertising is about one thing, happiness” – Don Draper, Mad Men
Everything in the advertising world of the 1950s and 1960s was about storytelling. We need to take from that and be more ‘user-centered’ and ‘emotionally-led’. We need to be thoughtful about emotive design instead of relying on just data-driven design.
So how do we tell stories with our customer journey?
Billy used the 90s TV show ‘Friends’ as his example of great storytelling, which might not be very high-brow, but each episode has a simple story arc that everything leads back to — will Ross and Rachel get together?
The little touches matter, and each platform within your customer experience should have its own role and lead back to the underlying theme.
Take Monzo, for example. They claim to be ‘The bank of the future’. Their whole experience is community-led, they make you the star of the show, and they provide engaging imagery like colourful graphical interfaces and emoji notifications. This isn’t anything like any other bank we know!
Why does this work? Because they know it’s the little things that make their customers smile — like sending a mobile notification with a Swedish flag and a hot dog emoji whenever they shop at Ikea. Billy’s conclusion is that digital storytelling can be an optimistic and more human approach to product development, and that we should all be doing it.
SEO and UX teams, unite! – Ben Wood and Julio Taylor
The second talk of the day was led by a Digital Director and Creative Director. These guys were discussing the dynamics of SEO and Design, showing us how UX teams and SEO teams don’t collaborate enough, and telling us why it’s important that we change this.
With the introduction of Google’s Rankbrain, Google is now understanding search queries and measuring how people interact with search results. Specifically, it’s looking at:
Organic click-through rate
So, SEO needs to consider UX design. And UX design also must adapt to this ever-changing human behaviour.
Take Voice Search for example. These trends are conditioning users to discover and expect information faster. Design and SEO need to work together to create a great user experience that caters to this.
Key takeaways? Work from the same brief, make your work visible, control your ego, and believe in the mission.
The power of archetypal branding – Matt Davies
Brand is the meaning people attach to you. But the problem here is that it seems out of your control. You need to manage your own branding; you need to create your meaning and own it. So what’s the best way to create meaning? Well, Matt Davies says it’s all in the stories we tell.
Think back to when you were a child. How did you learn about and understand the world around you? Through stories, that’s how.
Branding includes your culture, your product/services, your customer experience, and your marketing communications, so we need to have a strong story that feeds into each of these branding elements. Matt Davis says there are 3 key strategies here:
Know your customer story Make the customer the hero of your story.
Know your archetypal character Archetypes are a recognizable stereotype of a character in a story. For example, Harry Potter is the hero of his story, right? These archetypes help us to manage our meaning by telling better stories. According to Carl Jung, there are twelve archetypes, and Matt says we need to pick one of them for our branding. This is so we can be consistent throughout everything we do; picking too many archetypes, he says, can confuse people about who you are as a brand.
3. Live your story Finally, allow your story to flow through every part of your business.
Why is this worth it? Well, just think of a Gucci handbag — functionally, its exactly the same as any other handbag. However, people are willing to pay much more for a handbag with their logo on as they identify with that meaning.
Recommended reading: The Hero and the Outlaw – Building extraordinary brands through the power of archetypes by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson
Impero’s Cloud Journey – Nikki Annison
Next up was Nikki Annison from Impero Software demonstrating how they created a fully-integrated campaign for their journey to the Cloud. They went with the four C’s of campaign success: coherence, consistency, continuity, and complementary. They also used Kotter’s 8 steps to change to really make an impact:
Impero came up with their desired action, communication objectives, and started getting their team, existing customers, and new businesses involved at an early stage. Everyone on the team was especially involved during the creative process.
Before selling the benefits with conviction and evidence, they needed to create awareness. So to get people talking, they wanted to pick a fun theme as an analogy. As they were doing a big product launch, they decided to go with a movie premiere theme, and this underpinned the whole marketing campaign.
And of course, they couldn’t have a movie launch without a trailer. Seriously, watch this — it’s utterly brilliant:
Consistency is key
Track success and share
Lessons from working at Google – Robert Craven
Robert kickstarted his talk with tremendous energy; energy that wasn’t initially reciprocated on such a hot, long day. But he tried again, asking the audience to cheer as if their favourite band had just come on stage at Glastonbury, and it worked.
This is probably the kind of energy that landed him a job at Google, and here’s what he says he learned while working there:
Mindset Here, Robert talks about having a ‘can-do’ attitude and asking us what’s holding us back. We were then asked to think of one thing that holds us back every day and talk to the person next to us about it. Then, he noted that most of us would have started our sentence with ‘They, he, or she’ — putting the blame on someone else is something we as humans are really bloody good at doing. It’s never our fault, always ‘theirs’. Secondly, he noted how Google uses this concept called ‘Moonshot Thinking’, which is basically thinking outside of the box, being bold and brave, and not being afraid to try new things and maybe mess up.
Speed Google moves twice as fast as everyone else. In fact, they don’t even bother with business plans for the year; all their plans are actually 12-week business plans. Robert says he never knew what he’d be doing next quarter. At Google, everything moves faster, everything happens quicker, they learn more in a shorter amount of time, and it makes things more exciting.
Team Psychological safety — it’s okay to take risks, it’s okay to be vulnerable in front of each other. Dependability, structure and clarity — everyone knows what they’re responsible for and what they’re always supposed to be doing. Meaning — each team member knows what they’re doing is worthwhile and that they’re each making an impact.
OKRs Google use Objectives and Key Results, which is a goal system that creates alignment and engagement around measurable goals. They’re usually frequently set, tracked and re-evaluated quarterly. The goal is to make sure everyone is constantly and consistently going in the same direction with clear priorities.
Not only was this a huge day filled with some seriously impressive talks, but we also managed to raise an insane £18,047.21 for Samaritans with our tickets (plus more donations were made via Larry the unicorn on the day!).
I can’t wait for next year! What did you learn? Let us know in the comments below!