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Method 10 X10
Designing the experience before the brand experience Method 10X10

Raiders of the Lost Overture

But in this frenetic, multi-tasking, app-happy society, how do you prepare people to pay attention in the first place, let alone get actively involved in your carefully planned customer journey?

Raiders of the Lost Overture

Designing the experience before the brand experienceBy now most of us get the message — we need to consider the entire customer journey, the complete experience, surrounding the products and services we offer to customers.

Method 10 X 10

As brands aspire to create deeper connections with an endlessly distracted consumer, storytelling in design has become ever more crucial.
And to get it right we might as well borrow (i.e. steal) ideasfrom those who know best— our friends in show business. How do great plays and movies prepare their audience for their stories? How do they prime us all to be engaged regardless of what mood we are in? It’s simple: with an overture. Great brand experiences do exactly the same thing. Though relatively rare now, overtures were common during the glory days of Broadway musicals, when shows like WestSide Story, My Fair Lady, and The King and I were the primary source of pop music singles and mainstream movie adaptations. In fact, you can tell how old most theatrical soundtracks are without looking at the title. If the first track is an overture, the show is probably of pre1970 vintage. Overtures include brief phrases of the songs that will be performed in the show, but they’re more involvedthan the 30-second song samples on iTunes before buying an album (or just one song, you miserable little album-killing kids). An over- ture is a carefully considered, coherent piece of music on its own, with skillfully designed changes in tempo and key that foreshadow the tone,

mood and structure of the story about to be performed. The result is a more powerful and compelling overall experience,because the audience is primed for it. That approach has applications well beyond musical theater. In the movie world, great opening scenes perform the same function as musical overtures. The opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark is a great example. It’s a 13-minute masterpiece of storytelling, despite the fact that what happens is completely independent of the actual storyline of the rest ofthe film. However, the scripted storyline is really not what the movie is about. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas conceived the movie as an homage to the cliffhanger Bmovie serials of their youth. Their love of those movies is what this movie is about, and that’s what is communicated, with a bare minimum of dialogue, in the opening sequence. However, in order to succeed commercially, the movieneeded to appeal to a much wider audience than the relative handful that would get all the sly references to the serial genres sprinkled throughout the film. The opening sequence functions as an overture that funnels a broad audience through a narrowly defined, intense tunnel of experience, training them on the rules of this particular world, and then expands again into the main thread of theactual storyline. Once the entire audience has been on that wonderful opening ride, they are all on the same thematic page, no matter how they entered the theater. That’s the goal we should all aim for as designers of brand experiences.

Need a refresher? View a scene-byscene annotation of the first scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Raiders of the Lost Overture

Designing the experience beforethe brand experience

Method 10 X 10

Overtures as a strategic design strategy

Play with expectations of the category.

Introduce and connect brand identity elements with the product.
For the first 3 minutes, we never see Harrison Ford’s face. Instead, we are first introduced to his iconic calling cards—his fedora, his leather jacket, and then his bullwhip, which he uses to disarm a...
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