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A collection of ideas from iiD

ideas in 2011

This ebook is a collection of iiD blog posts that tell the story of digital in 2011. This newsletter acts as a springboard for 2012 for your brand or agency.

2011: iiD & beyond

A year of change and new ideas By Lance Shields

Put simply, 2011 was all about bright beginnings for Ideas in Digital (iiD). Matt and myself moved back to San Francisco to join forces after more than 10 years on different continents. Sitting side by side at 120 Green in the summer months, we built our marketing strategy, a new CI for iiD and focused our message around becoming a “digital connections agency” that “builds friendship through emerging technology”. From there we moved on to find new clients and partners which we were glad to see was made easier by taking the time to put up our shingle in the right way. We also found out that brands and agencies have big needs at the tail-end of the recession. The question we keep hearing is “How can we build strategies and implement

iiD ideas in 2011

around social and mobile strategy?” Luckily that’s what iiD was set up to do. We have a blog minimally dubbed “Ideas” that documents a lot of the trends and project research we’ve shared in 2011. They range from why creatives don’t get social to the legacy of Steve Jobs to how our reading habits are changing with the web to how to reach affluents in digital. We hope you find them useful or at least amusing and hope to see your comments on our blog in 2012. The ideas blog:


A collection of ideas from iiD

Designing our new iiD image was a first step on opening up shop in San Francisco in August 2011. A process of love and sweat. We thought this would be a good start to our Ideas collection for 2011.

A New ID for iiD

We Started with a New Message


Before thinking about a logo, tagline or web design, we spent some time figuring out who we wanted to be and become in the future. iiD is still a small agency By Lance Shields but Matt and myself have a combined experience of Agencies are notorious for not walking the talk when it over 2 decades in the digital agency space. At the comes to their own brand and websites. It’s pretty sad same time, we are an agency that combines strategy, when you think about it but let’s face it, agencies get creative, social design and technology which is a big pretty darn busy taking care of everyone else’s brands. offering so we need a message that goes along with iiD has made a big jump forward today at 4:30pm by that. We came up with the simple yet important refreshing our website ( along message “a digital connections agency”. To explain with a completely new logo and identity system. The what that means we describe ourselves in the About partners (Matt and I) spent some time thinking about Us page as: the image we were after, the sort of clients we’d like to attract and the sort of message we want to bring to the iiD (“ideas in digital”) is a new breed of full service digital agency that builds connections through multimarket. platform strategy, highly usable UI, social design and iiD ideas in 2011


A collection of ideas from iiD

dynamic scale and the information on the card kept uncluttered and easy to read. The back side has our tagline (“a digital connections agency”) and a QR code with which when scanned leads users to our About Us page to learn more about iiD.

iiD Website Refresh Being a digital agency, we gave our website renewal the greatest attention. We believe our service lies exactly between a digital-social product and brand world. Consumers find both relevant but agencies mainly lean towards the flashy brands side of things. We designed the iiD site to live comfortably in the world of Facebook and Google+ in its stripped down, emerging technology to enable what what we call functional look-and-feel. The new creativity springs ‘friendship media’. Put simply, we create connections from these user generated UIs and that was the image in digital that engage the right users with brands we wanted to convey. On our top page, we used where and how they like them. elegant creative commons photos of the Getty Center in LA to serve as backdrops for our brands messages Designing a Logo Mark to Last and lead-ins to the main sections. We thought the organic lines of the architecture perfectly captured a Designing our own company logo was a lot harder than creative logic that iiD is all about while being of it looked. The logo is everywhere – your business beauty. The section pages user ajax accordion-style cards, your website, your Facebook page, your door, content reveals to keep the pages clean and readers to your stationary, you name it. It’s the face of the view only what interests them. company and represents the brand. So we thought it should be something we really like, has longevity and others will take seriously. Matt and I spent a whole day going back and forth with type, color and symbols before we decided to go with a very minimal, bold approach using just type, in this case the font Meta Bold. We also struck on the idea that only the D made capital with the dots of the two i’s in green made for a human yet innovative image we were after. We think the two i’s look like people and connote the “connections” we build for brands. The blue represents intelligence and strategy while the green is about fresh ideas and innovation.

From ID to Business Cards

On our blog:

The logo’s solid presence and color influenced the identity design for all of our collateral and website. Like the logo, we chose to design our business card as an ultra clean and white base with the logo at

iiD ideas in 2011


A collection of ideas from iiD

As REM once sang, “Sometimes everything is wrong… but hold on.” Of course there are lots of exceptions in all those above. The passionate ad man who digs social and tweets non-stop. The smart digital agency creative that gets how to design user experiences that build social right in.

Why social media sucks creatively 09.07.2011

What’s my Mom to Do With Social Creativity?

Doesn’t UGC Mean People Create Stuff?

Alright, admittedly UGC-enabled technology has unlocked some pretty interesting amateur artist My Mom uses social media pretty well… monitoring endeavors. NGO Creative Commons has helped my life, making commentary on my latest move and unknown creatives license their work which has somehow linking up with all my friends, coworkers stimulated lots of sharing and modification. Social and even clients. It sucks…sort of. But what can I do, she’s my Mom? This isn’t a post about my relationship media sharing is the norm and everyone can be a filmmaker, photographer, citizen journalist, you name with my maternal unit but it’s an anecdote for how it. But “creatives” have failed in my book to step up social has become a graveyard for basic and face the social challenge. What’s the problem communications devoid of creative brilliance and people? Well, think about it for a second. If everybody amazingness. The question that has bugged me so can generate content, then content creators who have much over the years is why is social media so lacking in creative spark? What has happened to the promised degrees in creative professions have a lot of noise to compete with. land? iiD ideas in 2011


A collection of ideas from iiD

Ad Agencies Suck

What About Creative Technologists?

Take the ad agency as a prime example. Employing a whole house full of copywriters, art directors and creative directors, this crew should be excellent at coming up with imaginative ways to use social channels to entertain, build new kinds of communities and encourage fans to create really engaging content all in the name of the brand. Unfortunately, really original agency-driven social campaigns are unicorns that I can count on one hand (Old Spice Man is the first one to come to mind.) The problem is ad agencies generally employ the wrong people trained in making TV commercials and print ads. They may even feel threatened by the voices of the social web and fear that their clever campaign could get flamed by them for not being clever enough. It takes a pretty brave CD to put their client’s brand out their for people to play with. Generally social media is an afterthought for agencies and it feels that way.

This is where definitions get super vague but the only people I would count on are the creative technologists – those people well versed and fanatical about technology with a creative POV that helps them figure out ways to make brands fun, original and surprising. I think surprise is what people want from brands and creative technologists in my book are a hybrid that can potentially realize cool solutions. Google Creative Labs is helping Google stretch a bit and Google Plus is a sign that things are looking up socially for Google (Circles is good creative at work.) Still, creative technologists tend to lean too much on their past coding experience and count on the creative director to determine how social will integrate with the whole media mix. This narrow tech focus can marginalize the creative technologist, making them the go-to guy/gal when people want an add-on digital and social idea.

Digital Agencies Are Sucky, Too

As REM once sang, “Sometimes everything is wrong… but hold on.” Of course there are lots of exceptions in all those above. The passionate ad man who digs social and tweets non-stop. The smart digital agency creative that gets how to design user experiences that build social right in. iiD is closest to this second exception. We’re a digital connections agency that love planning, designing and developing social media for brands that is unexpectedly creative to delight and bring a smile to your face. We think this is a blue ocean for strategists and creatives and a great opportunity for brands to shine. The only thing we ask is that clients suspend their expectations and expect big creative things out of social. The other thing is that integration is key, whereby social becomes a vital part of the communication plan from the first brainstorm onward. Creative executions in social don’t have to always suck. What social creative do you think is exceptional?

But what about digital agencies? They should be able to do social creatively, right? Usually wrong since their money comes from website and mobile builds charging for IA, design and coding. Social app development has become a substitute to the traditional website, most of these are gimmicky novelties aimed at people’s friend lists, not so different than a chain letter at best and a ponzi scheme at worst. Most distinguishing people can see through them and they do little more than to attract lots of disloyal fans.

Social Media Gurus Are Just Dull But what about the community managers, social strategists and other self-proclaimed social media gurus looking to social media as the key to profit and improving organizations? Well, frankly creativity is the last thing on these pragmatic people’s minds. To them social media is not so much a chance for titillating social communications but a weapon to maneuver and manage conversation to benefit a client in some way which is part soccer coach, part MBA-bred idealist, part nanny. To them creative breads chaos which is not on the menu. No fun hanging out with these folks unless you need to get your Dell fixed online. iiD ideas in 2011

Not All Sour Grapes

On our blog:


A collection of ideas from iiD

Kill the book and redesign deep reading 09.14.2011 Lance Shields

I’m enjoying Nicholas Carr’s book ‘The Shallows, What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains‘ and wanted to ask a few questions related to it. His basic premise is that using the Internet has changed the structure of our brains, reducing our attention spans and effecting the way people read. With the ability to Google anything and skim through countless articles in our RSS readers, Carr is saying that people have lost the ability to enter a deep reading state. I can see his point, especially with the Millennials who have grown up surfing the web. Assuming that Carr is on to something here, should we begin rethinking the “book” concept, what sort of experiences should be bundled and what level of content is appropriate for the modern brain? We were

having an interesting conversation last night with a seasoned journalist and author of four books about “interactive books” in relation to the iPad apps that iiD has been producing (this one and this one). Our CEO Matt was saying that even calling them books is limiting in how we think about designing new user experiences. Obviously a familiar book metaphor helps people adopt new applications more quickly but I can see his point about needing to break away from old models to really innovate and take full advantage of the Internet, interactivity, rich media and social sharing. Let’s make the argument that books are no longer efficient enough, sticky enough or consumable enough for many people now in and in the future. There will still be people

This diagram shows all the variety of content types that the Not-A-Book reading experience could have. Text-based ebooks will be a thing of the past.

iiD ideas in 2011


A collection of ideas from iiD

who read books in print or ebook form but a growing crowd need another format to consume long form content. The issue of portability (people want to read on the toilet) is still relevant so mobile or tablet makes sense for now. But how should we show content? How much text can people read continuously? What other experiences like video or audio are needed? How should layouts and interactive flows change to suit the user accustomed to skimming before jumping to the next piece of content? How should hyper text be integrated effectively allow readers to jump backward and forward depending on their interest? The real question is how to focus a reader who suffers from this “Internet ADD”? At the same time, how can we make social sharing as natural in deep reading as it has become reading blogs and news articles online? Heading into dream territory, can artifical intelligence be developed which learns over time how we each read to provide as relevant “read” as possible? Should we Wikipedia-ify the experience to change the content with new perspectives or should it a historical document? It’s important to understand that I’m not talking about dumbing down the reading experience so much as looking for new reading models that are fluid, visual, draw

iiD ideas in 2011

readers in and help them attain a deep reading experience that enables learning and concentrated thought. Building on the digital tools that we have, we’re interested in exploring new modes that don’t depend on the book and are a good fit with brains that are crying out for new ways to read. It’s time to burn the book if only to write a new chapter in helping people get smarter through reading.

On our blog:


A collection of ideas from iiD

"You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path." Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, The Non-Strategist 10.11.2011

I’ve taken a while to think about what to say after Steve Jobs death. I was shocked as most people in my generation. A huge loss. After the flood of words posted about Steve, it’s kind of hard to know what to say that isn’t just regurgitation. But finally, while riding the Muni 1 bus to work today, I realized there was one point of view, I hadn’t heard yet. Steve Jobs, for all the wonderful things he accomplished, he was not a strategist, at least as far as most people think of one. Strategy is defined in wikipedia as “a word of military origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a

iiD ideas in 2011

particular goal.” Could you ever imagine Steve in the military or working at GE surrounded by MBAs coming up with net present value proven plans? Not quite. Rather than embarking on focus group, business planning and financial analysis; Steve was more mad scientist slash perfectionist about the user experience, about design, making sure every screw was just right, delaying an OS until the scrollbar was just right. Not what a strategist would do at all as strategists traditionally value the ideas over execution (especially their ideas.) In most organizations, business success is driven by clear strategic business objectives, analysis such as Porter five forces and financial


A collection of ideas from iiD

simulations. But Steve seemed to skip all that, just as he skipped university. Instead of wielding words that attempt to explain how the stars should line up, he rolled up his sleeves, insisted on every little thing being done just right and inspired people around him to do the same. He even didn’t care what consumers said they wanted. Somehow this man who said you can only connect the dots when things are already over, redefined technology as we knew it by following his instincts about what would make simpler and more elegant technology. The enormous vacancy Steve Jobs has left behind is partially because there are so few industry leaders like him who take the user experience so seriously, even when it costs more. His vision was as low as it was high, and as detail-focused as it was inspired. Steve Jobs proved definitively that it’s really about delivering expertly designed technology, again and again. Possibly it’s unfair to say Steve Jobs wasn’t a strategist. He had his strategy but it was so close to actual execution that it allowed Apple to innovate. On our blog:

Steven Paul Jobs: (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an American businessman and inventor widely recognized as a charismatic pioneer of the personal computer revolution.

iiD ideas in 2011


A collection of ideas from iiD

iiD Launches Engaging iPad Apps for GIA Ideas in Digital and agency partner The Shand Group last week launched two innovative iPad apps, one for consumers and another for retailers, for our client GIA (Gemological Institute of America.) Making full use of our smartphone and tablet app design and development experience, the apps help educate and engage consumers on the 4Cs (Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat weight) of diamond quality. The apps are key marketing tools to help drive GIA business by establishing their authority in the gem/ jewelry industry. The new GIA 4Cs iPad app for consumers is now downloadable for free on iTunes. A retailer version of this app, designed to be used at point of sale, is also downloadable for free from GIA’s retailer support site

“Our goal is to provide the public with the knowledge they need to make informed buying decisions. iPad and tablet technologies allow GIA to be the on-the-go resource for any diamond shopper, delivering accurate, unbiased diamond information in a way that is both engaging and fun.” Kathryn Kimmel, GIA vice president and CMO

delivering accurate, unbiased diamond information in a way that is both engaging and fun.” The iPhone format and a Simplified Chinese version of this app will also be coming soon on iTunes. On our blog:

GIA vice president and chief marketing officer Kathryn Kimmel said, “Our goal is to provide the public with the knowledge they need to make informed buying decisions. iPad and tablet technologies allow GIA to be the onthe-go resource for any diamond shopper, Details of the GIA 4C’s App in English. The app also launched in Chinese.

iiD ideas in 2011


A collection of ideas from iiD

Still Google Minus? BofA Learned Not For Long! 11.15.2011 By Lance Shields

Bank of America has learned the hard way that their lack of a social media presence could work against them. Someone has set up a parody Google Plus page in the absence of a real one as reported by Reuters social media editor Anthony DeRosa on Twitter Monday night. The page looked official enough until you noticed the series of mocking photos, images and other posts. For the largest bank in the U.S. that doesn’t even have a Facebook page (doh!), that makes them a big moving target. The moral of this story is that if you choose not to engage, someone else will and not necessarily on your terms. The page has since been taken down by Google but not before a large number of comments, screen captures and embarrassing press. Just a

thought but we’re wondering if BofA might need our help coming up with a strategy to deal with this odd notion that a big bank doesn’t need social? Here’s our phone number guys: 415-738-0738. Ask for Lance or Matt…

Foursquare’s New Website Takes It to Next Level 11.16.2011

Foursquare Foursquare is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, such as smartphones. They currently have 15M users.

iiD ideas in 2011

Reading ReadWriteWeb’s post today talking about Foursquare’s revamping their website and making it a lot more useful made me want to pay attention again to the post-hyped check-in app. The joy of Foursquare was always in the smartphone app and never in the website but that seems to have changed. Enough “adults” have told me how much they thought Foursquare (and Facebook Places) was a waste of time…”who wants to share every place they go, for #$% sake?” But with the new site, if you give it access to your geolocation, you can see a slew of happening restaurants, bars, bakeries and shops that are popular. The service show some real smarts by

On our blog: still-google-minus-bofa-learned-not-forlong/

letting you know what is good in real time by being both location-sensitive and time-sensitive. What you see around lunch will be different at night. As Yelp has started to loses it’s value by people gaming it with overzealous and paid-for comments, Foursquare is quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to find goodness in San Francisco. It could also be really good for people who are traveling to a new city and want to discover a restaurant or shop. Cheers to Foursquare and I’ll be interested in seeing how much traffic to the site increases on On our blog: foursquares-new-website-takes-it-


A collection of ideas from iiD

62% of affluents agree that online shopping sites provide a more convenient shopping experience than in-person retail stores Ipsos Mendelsohn Study

Winning with the affluent in 2012 01.05.2012

Dear Marketers, do your research and scheming, gaze on the promised land of affluents (annual income over $100K) and know that while the rich are still careful about how they spend, they can be reached. Digital, social and e- and m- commerce are the keys to reaching the 10% who own the 70% of the wealth in the country. The team at iiD has spent the past several months working on strategies for brands specifically focused on the affluent in digital and social. And let’s just say we learned a thing or two. Much of this has been looking at established market research such as the

iiD ideas in 2011

Ipsos Mendelsohn and Digitas collaboration ‘The New Wave of Affluence‘ whitepaper which is excellent and eye opening. But a lot of what we’ve come to learn about affluents is from studying how finance, fashion, retail and other brands are reconfiguring their marketing channels to go full force online, in social, on mobile and tablet, and knowing that digital deals appeal to affluent more than one would think. Here are a few gold nuggets we can share…


A collection of ideas from iiD

1. Affluents are strategic shoppers, evaluate products carefully and care about value. Here are a few stats gleaned from the Ipsos study about affluents… • •

• •

64% agree, “I regularly read online reviews of products before making an online purchase.” 47% agree, “I regularly read online reviews of products before making a purchase in a retail store.” 68% agree, “When I go shopping online, I usually know exactly what I want to buy.” 63% agree, “When I go shopping in a retail store, I usually know exactly what I want to buy.”

62% of affluents agree that online shopping sites provide a more convenient shopping experience than in-person retail stores. And coming out of the recession, they still are careful about how they spend and like deals when they can get them. The 25-35 age affluents like and use mobile coupons and as the smartphone is the main device for this emerging affluent, offering deals via SMS text messages and geolocation apps such as Foursquare are highly relevant. One brand in particular, American Express is the one to watch in mobile and social marketing in the credit industry.

with everyone else but what makes them different is they like to lead and influence more than the average Joe. They’ve been raised and educated thinking what they have to say is important and like to recommend experiences like dining and wine tasting as well as let their social circle know about products such as fashion, finance and technology. What do they stand to gain? Today, for young affluents it’s about status in the social realm rather than the country club.

4. Affluents are loyal to brands that provide relevancy, value and user experience. This three point mantra has become a big deal strategy for us at iiD because brands can really acquire, activate and retain customers if they get this formula right. Relevancy is all about delivering content and social experiences that match who you are or want to be as an individual. Burberry has done this superbly with their youth-oriented rebranding in digital and social channels in the past year. The value equation in my mind is all about delivering deals or chances to earn points in the digital spaces you’re most active in – today this means mobile and social. And user experience is about what it’s always been (although many brands skimp), providing design and functionality that provides a fantastic experience, it builds loyalty with the brand that people want to advocate about.

So marketers, we hope you’re as excited as we are about the potential of doing business in 2012. Winning in digital obviously is easier said than done but the target is well defined, the channels are well known and the technologies are increasingly making it possible to This is counter intuitive to high-end brands who thought affluents hard to reach and until recently have reach affluent consumers whether on their sofa or inside your store. spent most of their advertising budgets in printed glossy magazines or the WSJ. But it makes sense that the rich who own a variety of digital devices from On our blog:, PC and tablet go online for most if not all affluent-in-2012/ of their information. This is something to think about when working with your media or advertising agency to be sending the right messages in the right places where the affluents are actively looking.

2. Affluents prefer digital media more than other media such as TV, magazines or newspapers.

3. Young affluent like to influence their friends in social media. These are the 25 to 35 high performers making $100-200K who have caught the Facebook bug along iiD ideas in 2011


A collection of ideas from iiD

“The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy; I mean that if you are happy you will be good.” Bertrand Russell

Making Happiness a Top Priority for iiD 01.02.2012 By Lance Shields

I just started reading a very good HBR series on how happiness and life satisfaction is scientifically proven to improve productivity (31%), creativity (300%) and even the bottom line sales (37%) of businesses. Taking this to heart, our 2012 resolution for iiD is about being happy, making our clients and partners happy, bringing happiness to our families and delighting the endusers of any experience we create this year. I personally plan on a daily level to smile to and greet strangers more, something I’ve noticed is lacking in San Francisco after my visit to Victoria, BC this holiday – wherever I went people were wishing me a good morning or happy holiday. Reducing stress in my life by getting exercise, riding my bike to work and the occasional longboard cruise on the Embarcadero is a must.

iiD ideas in 2011

I also plan on letting people know I appreciate them more often, whether this is my business partner, our team, my wife or our clients. On that note, I want to thank all our great clients who brought us into your projects and put faith in us this past year. We hope and intend to continue satisfying your needs and have a great time working with you this coming year. What can you do to spread happiness this year for yourself, your business and your community? On our blog:


A collection of ideas from iiD

About iiD iiD (“ideas in digital”) is a new breed of full service digital agency that builds connections through multiplatform strategy, user focused design, social channels and emerging technology to enable what we call ‘friendship media’. Put simply, we create connections in digital that engage the right users with brands where and how they like them. We map out, design and develop digital products and services to delight consumers and achieve our clients’ business goals. iiD blends the four key elements of success in digital media: strategy, creative, social design and technology. We measure everything we do and regard our clients’ success as our own.

ideas in digital 120 Green Street San Francisco, CA 94121 415.738.0738

iiD ideas in 2011


Ideas in 2011 - an ebook by iiD