Posts Tagged ‘technology’


Introducing On the Future

Thursday, December 4th, 2014


While you may read about a lot of trends as 2014 winds down, we’re happy to introduce On the Future, our first forecast of product and brand trends for 2015 and beyond. As you’ll see, our report is quite different. It goes beyond the coming year to see what brands and products will be up to several years from now. We deliver this in what we call Sterling Futurecasts. Each futurecast in an actual illustration depicting a product, service or item we believe will be brought to life thanks to the convergence of many aspects of our current reality.

Using a cross-section of cultural anthropology, market research, trends observation and forecasting, and industrial and experiential design, some of the Sterling Futurecasts include:

Urban Defense

The over-population of urban environments and the creation of more mega-cities will drive the creation of health and wellness products that help consumers navigate and fight environmental challenges. Sample products include pockets embedded with a silver-based antimicrobial nanotextile that sanitizes your hands on contact.


Wearables that track the steps you take or the food you eat are already falling behind the true potential for the convergence between health and technology. Future products will allow for up-to-the-minute reports on your blood composition in order to recommend changes to your diet and exercise regimen.

Frugeois (pronounced Froo-ZHwa)

Millennials and the generation that follows have each experienced the recent economic recession in their own way, and each has learned that conspicuous consumption and careless spending never ends well. For them, being frugal and finding new ways to reuse and repurpose what they already have is paramount.

We invite you to download the report and let us know what you think the future holds.


Sterling Buzz…

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

americancraftWe’re excited to share the recent success of the Hillshire Farm’s American Craft brand!

Smart marketing tech coupled with smart packaging is a great recipe for success.

Click here to read the full story on Hillshire’s foray into Beacons mobile technology, and to check out our design work.


Get amp’d

Friday, January 18th, 2013

This year, Audyssey launched a new media app that maximizes the listening experience on mobile devices: amp (Audyssey Media Player). Sterling Innovation partnered with Audyssey to manage the strategy, design, and frontend development of the app. Bart Haney, SVP of Innovation at Sterling, led the project.

Audyssey is known for its innovative audio technologies. With roots in R&D, Audyssey solves audio problems across a range of platforms (from IMAX theaters to home sound systems to car stereos) so the listener hears an accurate reproduction of the music or movie to which he/she is listening.

amp takes this offering one step further and delivers Audyssey’s technology in a mobile setting. The app provides headphone-specific optimization and innovative sound controls for the user’s iTunes music library.

How does it work? Audyssey tests and tunes headphones using its proprietary technology and then creates a profile that, when downloaded from the cloud and chosen in amp, provides optimal playback. All you have to do is download the app, choose your headphones, and start listening!

We had an awesome time working on this mobile app and adding yet another cred to the Innovation Group’s digital portfolio.

Visit the App Store to download amp today or the microsite to learn more about how it works!


Why it’s Important to Understand the Difference Between Jeff Spicoli and Snooki: Gen Y vs. Gen X

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012


I was recently at a happy hour with some clients, and somehow the topic of pizza came up, which led to “isn’t it ok to have a little food on our time…it is our time, yours and everyone else’s” which led to Jeff Spicoli. As one of the most senior (in terms of job title and age) people in the room, I was delighted to hear that name again.  But my enthusiasm soon faded as I noticed the blank stares around me. Mr. Hand? Vans? Phoebe Cates on the diving board (well known to every Gen X male)?  And this once again reminded me of the differences we in the world of marketing face: Boomers and Generation Xers creating product, marketing and ideas for Gen Y (also known as Millennials and a host of other creative names).

A more relevant story. Doing some focus groups with a bank client, the entire team was in awe as to how many of their consumers still like to use the phone. They couldn’t possibly understand how anyone would prefer the “old-schoolness “ of the phone to the “new schoolness” of the computer.  Which led the most junior person (25 years old, a Millennial in her prime!) in the room to say: “Guys, the computer is on its way out. It’s all about the phone again”.


It’s not that we as Boomers or Xers aren’t aware of the mobile revolution, it’s just that our frame of context is different.

Millennials are a huge audience, and cannot be ignored.  And generational differences are real. (Ask any company who employs a large number of Millennials – they’ll have a lot to say about it).

Advice for all of us Boomers and Xers: be sure get to know the generic “soundbites” around this audience (“they are entitled,” “they are the CTO of the household”) but then really get to know them by looking at the world from their point-of-view, from their world context.  Spend time with them outside of 6 focus groups, away from your home environment, beyond the latest Mintel report or episodes of Jersey Shore.  It’ll be surprising and inspiring to see the world through their lens.

And ps.  As an Xer, it really hurts that everyone knows Snooki, but not Spicoli.

Sara Schor, EVP, Strategy


A Different Way to View Innovation

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

So often when we think about innovation, we instantly jump to the notion that everything needs to be high tech. Consumers today are looking for rich content and experiences that take their interactions with brands to the next level. Life is no longer about 3D. Now, we’re talking about 5D. At the same time, one growing trend we’ve seen more of lately, is a return to humble materials, a resurgence of real-life experiences, a focus on physicality, and a “back to basics” movement of sorts.

We often work with our clients to think about the impact that technology and the notion of “5D” has on their worlds and their consumers. But it can be just as interesting to look through the lens of the low tech in creating really impactful experiences for audiences. Here are a few examples of ultra-rich “low tech” experiences, recently dug up by Kalyn Ryan, who keeps me honest when it comes to being hip and in the know, here in the Innovation group:

  • Plus One Berlin – A new service where guests can book a stand-alone room in Berlin’s Kreuzkölln neighborhood, but also can connect with a local resident for advice and personalized experiences. When you book your room, you choose from 28 locals who you can hang out with while in Berlin for a non-touristy view of the city. Forget spending hours on websites and mobile apps trying to plan your trip—instead, talk directly to a person who knows the city inside and out for a completely unique experience.


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  • Pop-up Libraries Take Manhattan – This is a fun, new phenomenon that has hit Manhattan, compliments of architect John Locke. Locke took note of all of the unused payphones around the city and started turning them into pop-up libraries complete with shelves of books for New Yorkers to read. It definitely makes an interesting statement about the speed with which technology takes over our world and how quickly a medium can become obsolete. I guess it was too expensive to line those shelves with E-Readers?


(Image from

  • FabCafe – I love Shibuya in Tokyo and here’s just another reason why. FabCafe is a new cafĂ© that is keeping its patrons occupied while they wait for their food by letting them use a laser-cutting machine. It’s so completely random but also pretty genius, and really takes the notion of the “coffee shop as the third space” to the next level. Walk in for a coffee. Walk out with a full stomach and a 3-D object you’ve made yourself. Definitely an experience that a consumer will remember, and one that is very targeted towards a specific type of person.

fabcafe(Images from

All of these examples have some very strong commonalities. They create powerful experiences for those involved. They are completely unexpected and cause people to view their worlds differently. By all senses of the word, I’d describe all of these examples as very innovative, and yet they don’t rely on technology (for the most part!).  As innovators, I think we can borrow from these examples as we think about what truly creates breakthrough change. I think technology is a huge piece of innovation and progress, but I also think there is a time and a place to remove it from the equation. For this is when we sometimes stretch our thinking, and our experiences, the most, and can really change the game.

Amy Meyer, Sterling Inovation


The Instagram User Will Decide

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012


Like many others, I’m still coming to terms with the price paid yesterday by Facebook for the fun, photo phenomenon called Instagram.

And for the average person, the shock is not surprising – I mean $1 billion for a 13 person outfit with no revenue looks to be silly but on closer inspection, the value is clearly all in those 30 million active and fanatical users…and more about them later.

Strategically, the opportunity to offer an Instagram-type product achieves two things for Facebook:

At a general level, it will help keep their competitiveness alive and well

At a specific level, it should play a key role in their efforts to upgrade their mobile offerings

Financially, according to those in the know, the billion dollar price tag is right in line with other recent tech deals such as Zynga. The fact that these evaluations are considered sensible is further evidence that I am in totally the wrong business!! But that’s a separate discussion.

So strategically and financially the deal makes sense but I am not so sure when looked at from a branding point of view. Let me explain. Instagramers (or certainly the ones that I know) are ultra passionate about their brand at a very individual level. And remember, not all of this Instagram tribe are necessarily Facebook fanatics. In the longer-term, this may or may not matter but in the short-term, we should not gloss over the fact that this great, new, fun hobby brand has just been purchased by one of the biggest and most polarizing tech brands in the business. It is almost inevitable that there will be a backlash, not from their 13 employees but most definitely from a segment of their users.

It’s as if that wonderful bed & breakfast inn in Tahoe that you discovered last year has just been purchased by Best Western or Marriott. It just doesn’t feel the same anymore. Most importantly, your relationship with the purchaser is different. And for a more linear example, it would be like Zipcar selling to Hertz.

In the case of Instagram, it will depend on Facebook’s sensitivity towards the Instagramers. Facebook is a huge, mature, adult brand. Instagram is like a new born baby brand. Brands such as these sit at two different ends of almost every spectrum. The emotional connection between a recently discovered embryonic brand is very different from the mass appeal of a titan brand like Facebook with 845 million users worldwide

From a branding perspective, Facebook will have to proceed with great care otherwise those loyal and fanatical Instagramers will simply walk to one of the many Instagram-like services. So, at the end of the day, I see this deal as much about the Instagram user as it is about Facebook and that puts the consumer, as ever, in a very strong position.

Simon Williams


Global Trends: The Big 10

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

We invite you to explore this year’s biggest global trends for business, brought to us by Sterling Brands CEO, Simon Williams.


A Moment for Steve

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

The NY Times takes a look at the career and achievements of Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple, and some world class designers, critics and writers (including Debbie) offer their reflections on his legacy and departure…



The World’s Most Admired Companies – Really?

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

For many years, I have looked forward to studying Fortune’s Most Admired Companies. It was credible, it was influential and it translated positively into building corporate reputation. But that was in simpler times when it was possible to dominate the media with a single study and it suddenly struck me this year how much everything has changed in this regard. And the more I dug, the more uneasy I began to feel. (more…)