‘Scandustrializing’ Dubai with The Bowery

It’s great to learn all about the creative work taking place across the region, be it art, music or even tech. At Infographic.ly, we find inspiration in the success of others and wanted to share that with our network. That’s why, each month we’ll feature a profile of someone, as part of our new ‘Creative Industries’ spotlight. Our first chat was with Christiane Daou, founder of The Bowery Company, an ecommerce site dedicated to Scandinavian furniture and home accessories for the region.

Daou was one of the first to break the predominant bricks and mortar mold in 2015, paving the way for fellow interior design businesses to curate and sell online. Her highly regarded ‘Scandustrial’ concept brought international and emerging designers to the region, offering affordable luxury paired with good design to her range of clients.

Also credited as being one of the first to bring the light box and letter board trend to the UAE, her impressive portfolio of designers from across the globe ensures a unique offering for those looking for eclectic and thoughtful pieces, as well as serving as an inspiration to entrepreneurs and designers alike, to make the leap into unfamiliar territory.

Starting your career in finance and then shifting to something more creative, seems to be turning into a norm in this region. How did you land on such a unique, hybrid concept of blending New York’s Bowery Avenue aesthetic to the preferences of the region as the core of your business?

I was in New York in September 2014 and walking along Bowery Avenue – an area that separates the East and West village - transitioning from industrial to posh and a prevalence of, ‘scandustrial’ pieces. I loved the idea of bringing the same aesthetic to the region; the unique blend of both industrial and Scandinavian. There were hardly any online concept stores at the time, as the focus was very much on having a physical space. So, when I came back to Dubai, in February 2015, I launched the idea with nothing more than a gut feeling, while still working my full-time job in finance.

In addition to the ecommerce business, you also added an offline extension to the Bowery offering; a free design service, where customers could use an interior designer to reimagine their home using Bowery products. How did this come about?

We had a lot of requests for advice, with customers sending in photos of their home, asking if they were to buy one of our products, would it go with what they already had, so it was very much driven by our customers’ needs. Once we saw the demand was there, it pushed us to expand the scope of the site and offer this service, which has proven very popular with users.

I think the process has a lot to do with its popularity as well. We work with an interior designer in-house, who will then do a site visit to see the space, following it up with a mood board and a few sketches of the concept they think will work for the consumer. 90% of the time they go with our suggestions, which is great. It’s very much a personalized service, driven by a tailored shopping list of items based on answers from a completed client survey.

The timeliness Scandinavian style has been embraced across the region since your company's launch. From your experience, what do you see as the emerging interior design trends for 2019 and beyond?

In the past year we have seen a lot of colorful palettes, however now we are returning to more earthy tones, with indoor greenery complementing this trend. Fabric wise, linen will be a popular choice, with consumers more committed to making sustainable choices, while in flooring, we’ll see terracotta and terrazzo taking the lead.

Interestingly enough, both ends of the color palette will be catered for next season as well, with the ‘all black’ look continuing in popularity, simultaneously with ‘everything pastel’ style. This is fast replacing grey as the tonal of choice, with pastels now considered the ‘new neutrals’, gaining in status with every season.

In terms of finishing touches, the sumptuous elegance from previous seasons surrounding art décor – the metallics, gold, brass, velvet and the roaring 20s - will be here to stay as well.

It’s clear that the region is flooded with extremely talented and creative individuals. We’ve also seen a growing interest from the younger generation to look outside of the ‘formal’ career paths using tech as a means for support. In your opinion, what should we as designers be doing in the UAE/GCC to support new, emerging local and international talent?

I think we need to create a stronger ecosystem that supports design. There is a lot of this already for tech in the region, but this hasn’t translated across to our industry, despite big initiatives such as D3 and the Design District, which have cropped up over the last few years.

Big groups need to support the smaller businesses, making access easier for emerging talent and start-ups to be able to afford to grow. There needs to be more initiatives from bigger companies to create scholarships and provide a platform that gives support to these smaller companies, which in turn will fuel this ecosystem.

Finding inspiration can come from anywhere. Where you do find your inspiration day-to-day?

Instagram and Pinterest are great sources of inspiration I find day-to-day, with the latter just edging ahead for me. Everything is so readily available online, so people have so much choice at the touch of a button to discover something new. On the flip side, you can easily get overwhelmed in the digital space, so being specific when you search, using the right hashtag or keyword, is great for filtering through the things you don’t need to see.

 


Follow Netflix’s Lead and ‘Redesign’ Your Business Thinking in Three Easy Steps

We’ve all been at fault at one time or another, failing to appreciate design's role in making our lives better. A car is green because the color exists, a stop sign is in the shape of a pentagon since the triangle was in use, and your phone is flat because how else would you fit it in your pocket? You could assume that it’s all just a beautiful, if slightly haphazard, blend of creativity and common sense, but the reality is, even the most minute details of our world are designed with intent - and businesses are starting to take stock.

Using empathy to put customers, clients, and end users at the center of the equation form the foundation of design thinking. Combine that with research and clues from data, and the method to the madness has not only become sharper over time, but celebrated as a business advantage too. According to the annual Design Management Institute Index, design-driven companies have maintained a significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P 500 by more than 200% over 10 years.

With numbers like that, there’s no doubt that design-led thinking has turned into a tool for change, capable of transforming the way companies do business, hire talent, compete, and even build their brand. To produce new and innovative outcomes means pushing aside a problem’s restrictions and zeroing in on the possibility of what could be.

Take streaming and content powerhouse, Netflix, for example. We all know its revolutionary story, but what hasn't garnered as much attention, is its reinvention using a design-led approach. Netflix started as a popular DVD mail service, only to later ax its successful business model and rebuild it as a streaming hub and new-age production house for original content. Netflix, at every stage of its existence, created an offering ahead of its time and was fearless in rewriting its future by tearing down its past. The secret to the impressive evolution? A customer-centric viewpoint.

According to Forbes, even as far back as 2001, Netflix was spending $10 mn a year on research into streaming, building a management philosophy that anyone in the company can have good ideas and should be part of the process. By combining that focus with researched facts and data, Netflix was able to create personalized content recommendations and original shows geared towards viewer interests, resulting in better outcomes for both the user and the company.

It’s not just in product innovation where design-led companies are thriving, it goes as deep as identifying systems-level challenges, too. The healthcare industry, historically known as evidence-based, reliant on scientific and quantitative data, have also begun to take a design-led approach in recent years. New hospitals and clinics are shifting their focus from just quality care, to ensuring a first-class customer experience akin to that of a five-star hotel. And who could have guessed that financial institutions would begin humanizing their approach in an industry so rooted in facts and figures? Capital One certainly did, after acquiring consulting design firm Adaptive Path to help fuel initiatives based on design thinking.

You don’t have to be a designer to think creatively, you only have to believe in the power of what you do and what could be possible. Perhaps it’s time to take a new approach to business, with customers at the heart of everything.

For those who want to lead by design to drive innovation and improve business outcomes, here are three essential things to bear in mind: 

  1. Immerse designers across the business - Don’t wait until the very last minute to involve your ‘knight in shining designer’ in the process. Align with them from the very beginning, ensuring your consumer-centric messaging is factored in at every stage of their design planning process.
  2. Embrace the process - Encourage a culture of trial and error. Nothing good has ever come from the first round of anything. Test, learn, adjust, and repeat until the final result proves its purpose.
  3. Apply Data - Designers are great at translating data into something visual that’s also informative and useful. The more your team knows, the more they are empowered to make decisions.

Infographic.ly creates data visual materials with the end user in mind.

 


It Started With a CV… Why The Payoff Is Worth Taking The Risk

(As featured on Entrepreneur Middle East)

It’s the same every year. A range of emotions play out; the anticipation, the build-up and then… the decision. You know, the one that essentially defines your career path for the next 40+ years. Bleak, isn’t it?!

You have to feel for students on results day. Among the excitement and heartbreak (you remember what it was like to be 18) there’s a flurry of activity on what comes next. Sure, they could pigeonhole themselves early on studying delights, such as Beyoncé, Maple Syrup and Jedi Training 101 (real courses, honestly) when in reality, they should be thinking much further ahead than traditional years of study dictate.

The working world has never been more fluid, and we should all be taking advantage of that. I’m just highlighting one end of the spectrum here, but arguably anyone can change things up, whatever stage in their career they may be at. In the past, we were encouraged to find a job for life, to climb the corporate ladder, or that a title and a big salary equaled success, but now… times are changing.

Millennials are quitting their jobs more frequently without a back-up plan, preferring to travel the globe, work flexibly and broaden both their skill sets and horizons. Gen Z is becoming pickier about the professions they go in to, electing to try as many different career fields as possible. Today, knowledge, rather than power, is their main driver.

Given that I don’t exactly fall into this bucket (I’m a proud member of the Gen X club) my experience of this actually happened when I hit 34. I had moved from Milan to Dubai, ready to take up the corporate mantle once again, having spent the past few years studying for my Masters, but things didn’t quite work out the way I’d planned.

As any budding entrepreneur will tell you, there’s only so many bad interviews you can sit through before you realize that you’re on the wrong side of the desk. Sure, I was an ambitious architect and loved what I did, but my side hustle in visual design was itching to become a full-time reality, even if I didn’t know it myself yet. My lightbulb moment actually came courtesy of my sister one evening, as she gave me the push to stray from the ‘life plan’ and instead dedicate everything to my burgeoning new business.

I can’t say I relished the thought of no job security and becoming a social recluse for the next 12 months, but the thought of being able to translate my creativity in a new way, fired me up to make a real go of it.

So, my CV gathering virtual dust from the early 00s, formatted in what is probably the most shameful of generic fonts, (Calibri) now needed to perform a new purpose; a visual representation of who I am today. It’s proven that we retain information much more with visual aids, and yet, our CVs, arguably the most important document we will ever create, seem destined for the word graveyard.

Choosing the right words to highlight your skills is all very well, but what really needs to come across today is your personality and what better way to do this than through visual design? Once I made this connection and with encouraging words from friends and colleagues, I could see how this would translate to other fields, helping businesses visualize important, but often dull, information to communicate more effectively.

My CV became my best-selling point, and ultimately, the validation I needed to take a leap of faith and transition my architectural mind into the new creative world of information design. When you think about it, the process behind the two is remarkably similar, and once you break down those silos, it’s this fluid way of working that will define the skill sets, not careers of the future.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. While my creative passion was there from the beginning, a different approach to showcasing who I was gave me a clear direction of what to do next. The moral of the story? Take the risk and dare to be different - 2018’s working world demands it of us. We all need to be able to wear multiple hats, transition our skills across multiple departments and have a wide variety of interests to succeed today.

Being an expert in your field is fine, but don’t be blinkered to what the rest of the world has to offer you. Trust me, a leap of faith (and a good friend) are all it takes.

 


How Infographics Help to Engage and Educate Your Audience

Whether you’re a teacher, a marketer, or have pretty much any job that involves working with people, there are going to be many times where you are going to have to communicate complex or large amounts of information to engage and educate your audience.

The average human attention span lastszzzzzzzz……sorry, we meant to say 8 seconds! The point is, by the time you reach the end of this paragraph, most people would already have lost interest. Not great if you’re looking to persuade them to buy your product or learn a new topic.

Enter infographics: a visual presentation of your information that is digestible, easy-to-understand and can communicate your key messages more effectively than regular ol’ text. Here’s how.

It highlights the important bits

Of course everything in that 50-page report you wrote is important. But let’s face it, some things are more important to know than others - and these are things you’ll want your audience to take home.

Using an infographic instead or paragraphs of text means you can get straight to the point, and shed the word count in the process.

It increases information retention

Not only do infographics hone in on the most important information, but the use of visuals actually help to increase retention of that information.

This is because humans can remember up to 80% of what they see, but just 20% of what they read. Our visual memory is so strong that at times we can even identify incomplete visual elements (we love playing guess the logo game!).

Using appropriate icons or imagery with text therefore helps with memory recall.

It makes statistics understandable

Statistics presented in tables or text make it difficult to analyze data or read trends (and, frankly, are a complete snoozefest).

This is where infographics really shine, as you can show multiple statistics together in a way that is really clear and simply laid out. You’re still presenting a lot of information, but it’s much easier to identify trends and outliers.

It breaks down difficult concepts

Using an infographic format can help to explain difficult concepts like big data really simply, and also works well for visualizing processes or timelines.

Infographics make a powerful tool when it comes to communicating with your audience, so next time you find yourself working on a report or presentation, cut down the writing and start visualizing!

At Infographic.ly, we’re obsessed with helping clients communicate their information more effectively - get in touch and see what our data design whizzkids can do for you.


Marketing to millennials: building a communications strategy

As the first digitally native generation, millennials have re-written the rulebooks when it comes to brand marketing. Unlimited access to information and 24/7 connectivity across multiple platforms and devices - often on-the-go - means that today’s marketer must deliver communications that are relevant to the device, channel and stage of the buyer journey to earn their loyalty.

But marketing to millennials doesn’t need to be scary if you have the right strategy in place. Here’s my advice on how to build an effective communications strategy for millennials:

Make it visual
Millennials scan through mass amounts of text quickly searching for key information, making visuals a powerful tool to capture their attention in a text-heavy world. Think about pairing attractive visuals with your text to make key messages stand out.

Bite-sized chunks
That being said, just using images isn’t enough to capture their attention: the sheer volume of information available means that 41% of millennials suffer from information overload. Keep text concise and to the point, and break up important ideas across multiple pieces of content.

Be original
With so many brands competing for their attention, it’s important to create a brand identity that is recognisable and consistent. This means shunning the stock imagery (or being very selective with it!) and creating original, visual content that is synonymous with your brand.

Mobile-first design
With over 80% of social media time being spent on mobile devices, make sure that your visuals are optimised for consumption on a mobile device - this means that any text should be readable and important elements visible without having to zoom in.

Channel relevant
It would be easy to think that you can post the same content to all your social media channels - it’s all the same, right? Wrong! Consumers use different social channels for different reasons, so make sure the content you’re posting is relevant to the channel it’s on.

Focus on the why
84% of millennials say that they don’t trust advertising and will research products thoroughly before buying, so forget the hard sell. Focus instead on creating content that highlights why you do what you do and where you fit in your customers’ lives, for example through buyer videos.

Marketing to millennials is all about developing the right message and delivering it how your audience wants to consume it. Done right, and you stand to gain the loyalty of a generation that is expected to have the highest spending power in the coming years.

 


Why even B2B companies need to be on Instagram

When you think of Instagram, you probably think of holiday snaps, motivational quotes and avocados (about 6.8 million of them, give or take!). But with over 700 million active users a month - many of them your potential clients and employees - companies simply can’t afford ignore the potential of the ‘Gram for B2B marketing. Here’s why….

1.    It showcases the work you do

Sure, you have a website with a portfolio on it, but what are you doing to get people to see the great work that you do? Instagram is a great way to increase brand awareness and get your work in front of an entirely new audience. And though you might not get immediate sales like when people search for your services on Google, it’s all about building connections: Rome wasn’t built day, and neither will be your sales pipeline.

We love the Emaar Dubai feed, which includes stunning photos of its latest projects (such as the imposing Burj Khalifa) and behind-the-scenes shots. Note there is no hard sell here, and the focus is always on the architecture and the aesthetics of the photo - after all, people use Instagram to see great photos, not be sold to!

https://www.instagram.com/p/Ba360hXF8Ky/?taken-by=emaardubai

2.    It tells your brand story

As people look to engage with more meaningful brands, it’s not just what you do but why you do it that counts. Instagram provides a great way to tell your story and build brand affinity by demonstrating shared values and interests, which can be all the difference between winning and losing that all-important contract.

The Boston Consulting Group is a good example of a company that does this through its feed of employee, client and inspirational quotes on innovation, leadership and growth. As management consultants brought in to transform clients’ businesses, this reflects their people and values, demonstrates thought leadership and, importantly, builds trust by showcasing who some of their high profile clients are.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BO2mjo5BEoK/?hl=en&taken-by=bcg

 

3.    It helps you attract new employees

To be the best, you have to hire the best, but the fact is that employers face a lot more competition in today’s evolving digital workplace. Potential employees are not just looking at salary but also culture, benefits and career development, so it’s important that you can demonstrate what it is that makes you such a great place to work.

We think McKinsey & Co is a great example of a B2B company doing a stellar job of demonstrating itself as being an open, diverse and supportive workplace that values individualism through its employee stories. If we didn’t already love working at Infographic.ly so much, we’d be seriously tempted!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcGHNEEAhid/?hl=en&taken-by=mckinseyco

 

As B2B marketing evolves, it’s important that companies start to embrace traditionally consumer platforms like Instagram as a means of building deeper connections with prospective clients, employees and thought leaders within their industry. Of course, Instagram is all about the visuals so to help you get the best out of it, take a look at our tips on creating a good visual strategy for social media.

Need help with building or implementing your B2B Instagram strategy? Get in touch with our team of expert content strategists and design whizzkids today! [email protected]


Using Visual Communication to Improve Understanding Within Your Team

Whether you’re a small business or a large organisation, your employees are required to understand and retain a lot of information to carry out their roles effectively. Yet one of the biggest challenges businesses face is communicating that information in a concise and engaging way.

We know that humans are visually wired, and brands already use the power of visuals to communicate with their customers - so why not employees too? We run through ways in which businesses of all sizes can leverage visual communication to improve employee engagement.

Company handbooks

Operational handbooks are a key part of onboarding new employees and standardising processes across a business, as well as being an important reference source for existing employees. But handbooks are usually dense, text-heavy tomes of information, which are more often found propping up a wobbly desk than being read cover to cover.

Think about how you can present the information in your handbook in a more appealing way. For example, presenting your handbook in a clear layout with good use of typography or visualising your processes using diagrams and flowcharts can make communicating complex systems and structures in a easily digestible and memorable way.

Video Guides

Motion graphics trump text: according to research by Hubspot, 55% of people will finish a video they’ve started. This is in comparison to just 29% of people who will read a blog until the end. (They probably got distracted by a cat meme.)

Creating a series of short video guides can be a great way to give employees an overview of your processes or product. Better still, the same video can often be used in multiple contexts, such as during employee training sessions or investor pitches.

Training Materials

Just like company handbooks, static training documents are a bore... which means it’s more difficult for staff to learn and retain information. Multiple studies have shown that interactive learning hugely improves learner engagement, retention and performance in comparison to passive learning (that is, just reading or listening), so consider how you can introduce interactive elements or exercises within training materials.

This could be anything from ranking priorities, selecting responses from drop downs, using scrolling functionality or clickable buttons and in-group exercises - anything that involves the user in the process rather than just being a passive observer. You should also link to videos and further reading where necessary.

Newsletters

Company newsletters can be a great way to update team members and pass on information. But long, copy-filled emails get skipped over so make sure that your newsletters are well-designed and appealing to look at, with key information highlighted.

To get your team really engaged and clicking to open, think about how you can maintain some consistency from week to week. For example, you may want to include a monthly sales update, highlight your customer satisfaction rate, or even have a weekly interview with someone from the team. If you pick something that your team care about, they’ll look forward to receiving your newsletter and your open rates will soar.

It’s easy to forget how much information we often require our employees to remember. Using visual communication across key communications can help to increase engagement and understanding within your team, by providing them with information in a way that is easy to understand and recall.

If you need help visually putting together an internal document, contact us to see how we can work together.


The 4 Hottest Design Trends to Watch in 2017

Design touches every aspect of our lives, from buildings to fashion to art, and at Infographic.ly we’re always fascinated how certain trends seem to influence them all. With 2017 in full swing, we round up our favourite design trends of the year so far.

Brighter and bolder

After a tumultuous 2016 (to say the least!), you’d be forgiven for assuming that 2017 would be trying to fade away into the background like a wallflower. But you’d have assumed wrong, as colors in 2017 are louder than ever before. We’ve always loved Spotify for their use of colour, and we give a big thumbs up to their 2017 update from washed out brights to big, bold primary colours.

2016

2017

Simpler lines and shapes

With great colour comes great responsibility. Alongside the trend in bolder colours we’re also seeing a back-to-basics approach with vector shapes and lines. Customers are looking for simplicity, so forget fussy, intricate designs and say hello to keeping things simple. We’ve already seen some big brands reinvent themselves in the past year, and expect to see more doing the same.

Hand-drawn graphics and animations

This B2B trend is one after our own hearts. Gone are the days of boring stock icon vectors, 2017 is the year of quirky doodles and moving graphics galore. We love what Dropbox and Mailchimp are doing on their sites, with motion adding just that little bit of extra pizzazz to the page.

Keeping it natural

Hot off the back of the healthy living trend that is sweeping the globe (honestly, we’ve never eaten more avocado or kale!), comes a nod to personal stories and all things natural. From candid 90s-style photographs and upcycled furniture to stripped-back packaging and laid-back khaki, designers are pushing back on the posed minimalism and overused stock imagery we’ve been used to seeing in recent years.

So to sum up: 2017 looks to be the year where we go back to our roots and focus on colour, shapes and people. We can’t wait for what’s in store!

Seen a design trend you love? Tweet us @infographicly_ and let us know about it!


The 3 Golden Rules of Social Media Visuals

Getting your visuals right on social media is super important but super easy to get wrong. That’s why we’ve put together our golden rules for social media visuals, with before and after examples of how to get them right.

Let’s begin…

Rule #1 - Brand it up

Social media platforms now give you so many options for making your pages and profiles on-brand. Your page is your shop window and face to the world, so make it appealing and inviting. This is your chance to show a bit of creativity, so go for it!

There’s also more you can do with a profile picture than just stick your entire logo on there. This is particularly true if it’s lots of text, as people won’t be able to see it well in the thumbnail when scrolling through their feed. At infographic.ly we use our ‘o’, which is also a doughnout chart!

If you do have a text only logo, try to capture the personality of your brand. We love what Net-A-Porter do with their profile picture, which they also update seasonally (although we don’t recommend this for smaller brands).

Rule #2 - Don’t overstuff information

Information overload is very serious business, and it’s very possible to do it with pictures or graphics. It’s particularly relevant to infographics but can happen to any well-meaning visual.

Remember that less is more. Eyes need space to rest between taking in information, and a primary focus is really important too. (Note also that Facebook won’t let you promote images with more than 20% text!)

Check out what happens when some of the information is presented separately. It’s still bright and eye-catching, only now it won’t make your brain hurt trying to process all the information at once. Luckily, Instagram now allows for carousel images which is a great way to relay more information in just one post.

Rule #3 - Keep it consistent

Consistency is so key on social media if you want people to remember you and continue engaging with you. But this isn’t just what you talk about, it’s how you present yourself too.

At a bare minimum, you should be keeping your fonts, colours and logos consistent, but there’s so much you can do to make yourself unique and memorable, especially when it comes to images!

This could be a visual or photographic style, or even a content series that you create. For example, every Thursday we post a #TBT of then vs now, to show how much things have changed over the years - because who doesn’t love a bit of nostalgia.

(You can find the full collection on Instagram on #50daysoftbt)

So there you have it - our 3 golden rules for getting social media visuals right! Follow them closely and let your brand shine across the Internet!

Looking to inject some creativity into your social media profiles? Our design team would love to help, so feel free to get in touch!


[INFOGRAPHIC] Celebrating April As Autism Awareness Month

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability affecting social and communication skills. ASD is a neurological condition that affects the way a person experiences and interacts with the world. The main signs of ASD include:

  • Delayed & disordered language
  • Impaired social interaction
  • Repetitive behaviour
  • Restricted range of interest

Before 2013, five different subtypes of autism were classified under Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD): Autism, Asperger’s, Child Disintegrative Disorder (CDD), Pervasive Non-Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), and Rett’s.

Today, four of these subtypes (excluding Rett’s) have now been replaced with one central diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder. Rather than a distinction between different subtypes, ASD is now differentiated based on three levels of severity and support needed (from mild to severe):

Level 1: requiring support
Level 2: requiring substantial support
Level 3: requiring very substantial support

Studies in the past decade show ASD prevalence figures to be growing. The current estimate by the American Autism & Development Disabilities Monitoring Network is as high as 1 in 68 individuals with a diagnosis of autism. Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism with 1 in every 42 boys being diagnosed with autism.

Early intervention, and consistent access to care can greatly improve the development of a child with ASD. This month, you can support families, educate communities, or provide life changing services for individuals affected by ASD.

As a society, we owe it to our children to do whatever we can to help them prosper in a world with increasing awareness and opportunities. Show you care, learn how to help. For more information, please visit Think Inc Foundation.

World Autism2-02