Thank you for not drooling on the furnishings

Herman Miller, the 93-year-old legendary design company, just opened what it’s calling its first retail store. But for anyone who’s ever salivated over photos in shelter magazines and interior design sites, the 6,000 square foot space is the Barbie Dream House come to life. The idea isn’t just to sell you furniture and accessories; it’s to experience the Herman Miller lifestyle. It’s all part of the company’s “Shift” strategy, designed to transition from its workspace design roots to a lifestyle brand. Herman Miller ECD Ben Watson approached the project by asking “what does nirvana look like?” Mission accomplished. The environment is pure heaven.

Finally, a better smartwatch experience for the visually impaired

Developers in South Korea took on a challenge: create a smartwatch for blind and visually impaired (B&VI) people that reduces the size, weight and cost of a braille reader by a factor of 10. Link it via Bluetooth to a smartphone so it can receive information in text form from any app or service. Give it full smartwatch functionality: time, timer, alarm, stopwatch, gyroscope, accelerometer, and a 7-day battery life. Have an open API so that anyone can develop apps and services for it.

The result? DOT, an elegant smartwatch that will change the way B&VI people can experience daily life.

Developed in close relationship to braille educators and with prototypes tested by thousands of B&VI people worldwide, this product fits the actual life experiences and needs of its audience. At a cost of just $290, over 60,000 DOTs have been pre-ordered so far. But the developers haven’t stopped there. In the works are a less expensive version for developing countries; integration of the DOT Active Braille Technology into public facilities like ATMs and transportation hubs; a DOT pad for release in 2017/18; partnerships with Google and Uber.

From a simple question: “How can we make braille readers less expensive?” comes a visionary and life-changing solution: DOT, the first braille smartwatch.

Up your freelance experience by taking it on the road

For freelancers on the go, it's now easy to be green. Design firm Studio Hardie of England, inspired by the “hot-desking” trend, has put the ultimate work cubicle in the back of a Nissan van, the electric E-NV200 model, with a zero-emissions footprint. Not only does it have the basics — a desk, chair, Wi-Fi and a phone charging station — it also includes Bluetooth speakers, an espresso machine, app-controlled lighting, a mini-fridge and a glass roof.

And if you need to get some creative inspiration (and exercise) there is a fold-out bike mounted to the inside back door as well as a pull-out deck off the back of the van. Now instead of having that “dream get-away” picture as a background image on your computer screen, you can actually just drive your whole office on location and experience it firsthand while you work. You can save on rent, too.

It’s the ultimate experience for the modern freelancer.

Experiencing the Syrian refugee crisis firsthand

One of the greatest challenges in charitable fundraising is how to create a powerful, memorable way to demonstrate the charity’s need — to reach out and touch donors’ hearts. If done effectively, not only do you raise money, you also create advocates.

Ikea, the Red Cross and the ad agency POL teamed up to raise funds for those caught in the Syrian refugee crisis. They decided to bring the emotional impact of living in a war zone home — literally — recreating, detail by detail, 25 square meters of an actual home of a real Syrian family, right in the middle of Ikea’s flagship store in Norway. This disruptive installation allowed Ikea’s customers to experience a Syrian family’s world firsthand, in stark contrast to IKEA’s picture-perfect sample rooms, and with far greater emotional impact than pictures or video could ever deliver.

It also delivered results: 80,000 visitors over two weeks and 22 million euros raised.

Would you live with your target audience for a week?

The Italian version of “Would it play in Peoria?” is ”Will this be understandable to the Voghera Housewife?” — an idea developed in the 60s to keep advertising pitches and brainstorms grounded in reality.

Starting Nov. 28, for the whole week, execs (CEO, art director, copywriter and account manager) from the agency Le Balene will live and work with Michela, an actual Voghera housewife and live stream their experiences on Facebook. They hope this immersion within an ordinary Italian family will give them valuable insights to effectively market their clients’ brands.

And their clients will get to experience the life of their target audience firsthand, too. All client meetings will be held in Michela’s home — brainstorms in the kitchen, briefing meetings in the dining room. What’s more, Michela will get the last word on all proposals.

Besides Facebook, the experience will be covered by Italian advertising websites, a blog by the main Italian newspaper and Italian mom bloggers. Check it out this week and see if Le Balene shakes up their creative process and generates some good work.

Would you give up your phone for beer?

For Meantime Brewing Company of Greenwich, London, UK, time IS their essence. In fact, they consider it the 5th ingredient of their beer — beer that takes 6 weeks to brew, taking advantage of traditional hand-crafted techniques as well as modern technologies. To dramatize this, they challenged 6 craftspeople from 6 cities across the UK to create bespoke elements for a tiny pop-up bar in just 6 weeks. In the meantime, the brewers created 6 custom beers to serve there, alongside two of their flagship brews.

The “Make Time For It” campaign created an extraordinary drinking experience that allowed only three customers at a time to enjoy their beers — for free. The catch? They had to surrender their mobile devices at the door. Why? Because the Meantime brewers believe that nothing is more important than spending quality time with friends over good beer.

Attack of the security drones

If horror movies have taught us anything, you never want to be that person who goes outside to "just check things out." (Hint: you won't be coming back.) Slasher cliche's aside, there is an insight into home security that this startup is looking to take advantage of.

Rather than alert you when a bad guy breaks a window, this system uses tech to explore things that go bump in the night. Solar powered "sunflowers" learn the routines around your property. If something's funky, a personal drone is dispatched to investigate and send you a pic of the perp.

Tech overload aside, the most interesting notion is the rethinking the CX of home security from protection to investigation. And who knows, we might start seeing "Beware of Drone" signs everywhere.

Mystery cruise to parts you

The cruise industry is in the middle of several arms races: from most tricked out ships to most competitive prices. So it's a nice break -- dare we say a "vacation"? -- to see someone find a new way to innovate the CX of cruising.

UK-based Bolsover Cruise Club is offering a "Secret Sailaway" a 16-night luxury package that only discloses the dates and the price. Destinations and activities are kept a mystery. Take a deep breath control freaks. Once onboard, you can try to crack riddles to figure it out. Or you can just relax and go with the flow.

Our research into the cruise category showed that the anticipation of the trip was one of the most important--and motivating--parts of the travel experience. By creating suspense around this core component, they have elevated it to lido-deck levels of intensity.

Stay far, far away from this wine

In celebration of Wine Wednesday (which frankly, can be celebrated any day), here is something rare in wine packaging. And no, it's not that it doesn't have animals or landscapes on the label. It's what it does have: a concept that provokes an experience.

Lonxe from the Eloi Lorenzo Winery is all about location; but this is beyond simple terroir. The idea is all about the remoteness of the vineyard and that "far" -- the translation of the name -- can be a good thing, even magical thing, in a world of "close" and "mass production." So check out the dot pattern on the label, as you back away from it the GPS coordinates come into view. (Go ahead, step away from the screen.) It's analog interactivity creates a sense of distance and luxury. And not to mention, you show it off to everyone you uncork it with. 

McD's serves tech and trash-talk

A self-checkout kiosk is usually about tech interactions over human interactions. (Unless of course, you count the clerk having to help when you screw up royally.) But McDonald's in Canada did a great job of turning this efficiency improvement into part of the bigger brand experience.

To demonstrate the personalization of the new kiosk, Montreal Canadiens players Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk bring their competitive sides to the buns as they engage customers to order one of their signature burgers. The teammates trash-talking continues with live on-screen videos (see below) as well as in social media with competing hashtags.

Sports-star power aside, the interesting takeaway (pun intended) is that even a functional service interaction can be a platform to serve up a deeper brand experience. And some big-ass burgers.

Now your brand news diet is chockfull of tasty tales of Customer Experiences (CX). Served-fresh every morning for your daily recommended dose of marketing inspirations. Never sugar coated. May contain nuts. Archives | Look back at these past bites