Need to Know
20 : 08 : 19

British Airways trials in-flight VR therapy, Banana Story unpacks complex food supply chains, and Americans want relatable video content.

Venmo’s refreshed identity celebrates friendship

Venmo branding by Sebastian Curi
Venmo branding by Sebastian Curi
Venmo branding by Sebastian Curi

US – The digital payment platform commissioned illustrator Sebastian Curi to rethink the aesthetic of peer-to-peer payments.

Venmo, which lets friends transfer money to each other, has developed the brand’s visual identity to match the energy of its user base. The 50 illustrations created by Curi aim to reflect the stories behind every payment, whether last-minute concert tickets, ‘a dollar to say hi’ or the £5.6m ($6.8m, €6.1m) spent by Venmo users on pizza in 2018.

‘The number of illustrations intend to show variety and diversity through the arc of scenes and characters,' explains Curi. ‘The entirety of the graphic system celebrates friendships in all their forms and empowers connections without losing a consistent look and a clear visual style.’

Venmo’s colourful identity re-imagines the visual cues of the fintech industry for a new generation of consumers. For more, read our design direction Fluid Capital.

Packaging that contributes positively to the biosphere

Haeckels' zero-impact mycelium packaging Haeckels' zero-impact mycelium packaging
Haeckels' zero-impact mycelium packaging Haeckels' zero-impact mycelium packaging

Margate – Natural skincare brand Haeckels has launched biodegradable packaging for selected products.

As part of its continuing efforts to make its packaging plastic-free, Haeckels has developed two plant-based materials to package its candles and oil sets. The UK brand’s mycelium packaging uses mushroom roots, which grow in a mould around a mix of sawdust, flax and hemp husks, and its seed paper is made from recycled paper pulp mixed with wild flower seeds.

Both materials are used to create packaging that adds vital nutrients back into the ground as it biodegrades – a concept that the brand calls ‘biocontribution’. The mycelium packaging can be re-used, composted or planted in the garden to improve soil quality, while the seed paper will germinate and grow if placed on top of a pot of compost and watered. According to Haeckels, these all-natural packaging solutions mark ‘a huge step in a positive direction for us as a brand’.

In our Material Far Futures report, we consider how innovators are using material science to turn environmental excess into valuable new resources.

British Airways is using VR to calm nervous flyers

London – The airline is trialling virtual reality (VR) to improve and modernise its in-flight entertainment offering.

From now until the end of 2019, first class passengers travelling on selected British Airways flights from London Heathrow to New York JFK will have access to headsets from VR eyewear specialist SkyLights. In addition to being able to watch a selection of films, documentaries and travel programmes in 2D, 3D or 360-degree formats, British Airways has worked with experts to select a range of therapeutic programmes, including guided meditation and sound therapy for those who have a fear of flying.

‘We are always looking at the latest technology to enhance our customers’ experience on the ground and in the air,’ says Sajida Ismail, head of in-flight product at British Airways. ‘Virtual reality has the power to revolutionise in-flight entertainment and we’re really excited to trial these new glasses as they should create a unique and memorable journey for our First Class customers.’

As technologies such as VR mature, brands are exploring its therapeutic potential. For more, read our interview with Sarah Hill of Healium, an immersive stress management tool.

British Airways

Banana Story is demystifying supply chains

Banana Story by Björn Steinar Blumenstein and Johanna Seelemann
Banana Story by Björn Steinar Blumenstein and Johanna Seelemann
Banana Story by Björn Steinar Blumenstein and Johanna Seelemann

London – The conceptual project visualises the journey of bananas from their origins to supermarket shelves.

Created by designers Björn Steinar Blumenstein and Johanna Seelemann, Banana Story is a collection of alternative ‘made-in’ labels for the world’s most popular fruit. While the small stickers used by exporting brands cannot communicate the complexity of a banana’s journey around the globe, the project’s proposed labels seek to illustrate the entire supply chain and people involved at each stage.

Now on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Food: Bigger than the Plate exhibition, the project calls for supermarkets to embrace the complex back story of a foodstuff that’s easily taken for granted. ‘A journey, halfway over the globe, is lost in the bananas’ new magical scenery: the supermarket,’ reads the press release. ‘Any evidence of the 33 people that handled it along the way remains hidden.’

Our global supply chains, hidden from sight, are made to seem less vulnerable than they are. Our macrotrend Uprooted Diets explores how brands can educate consumers on the processes behind the food we eat.

Stat: Day in the life video content booms in popularity

People are increasingly turning to user-generated video content to learn about the lives of others, according to a US study by Google and Omnicom Media Group. While online video content is often used as entertainment or news sources, 51% of people say they feel the need to connect with – and better understand – others through video content.

According to the study, this desire to learn about the lives of ordinary people is exemplified by the rise in uploads of day in the life videos on YouTube, which show the mundane moments of people’s daily routines. According to Google, creators of these films range from college students to celebrities, who have uploaded more than 50,000 such videos to date in 2019.

As a push back against glossy entertainment and influencer content, viewers are finding solace in relatable content created by and for ordinary people. Read our microtrend Everyteen TV for more.

Thought-starter: Will sound branding become hyper-personal?

Steve Milton, co-founder of sensory experience company Listen, says previously generic sounds will soon be branded – and tailored to our ears.

Over the years we’ve worked with some of the biggest brands, including Microsoft and Virgin, to help them understand both strategically and creatively what their sound is and how it comes to life,’ explains Steve Milton, co-founder of sensory experience company Listen. We’ve also worked with automotive companies, helping them figure out what the future of the vehicle experience is with regard to sound.’

According to Milton, branding and experience need to work in tandem, along with all touchpoints and channels. ‘You need to have a holistic approach,’ he says. ‘You need to think about how your animation lines up with your haptics and your sound. Phone companies are starting to do this.

‘Visually, our world is very cluttered, and I don’t think the sonic landscape has caught up. But a lot of sounds are used by default because no one thinks about it. Why do we design generic sounds? There is an opportunity to create something more, maybe even a branded moment in a hotel experience, which is exciting.’

Look out for the full Q&A here.

Feel The Pride, Listen
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