Embrace September’s Optimism

Evoke International Dubai

The fall has never hit so hard or fast before. A second ago it was summer. Two seconds ago it was March – when it all happened. Between then and now, many of us have had a burst of social normality during the July-August season after the still waters of lockdown.

For some that meant a domestic staycation (or for the fortunate and brave few, a far-flung escape), the return of a popular Netflix series (Dirty John just got a whole lot dirtier in season two) and the biggest back-to-school sentiment we’ve ever experienced after over six months of DIY education and working from home.

But still, instead of buying new stationery and setting ourselves some end-of-year goals, we’re faced with the brutal reality of an unpredictable end to 2020 – and the shocking realization that the cogs on this year are still in motion.

Evoke Optimism

Now we’re asking ourselves if our offices will reopen? Will our jobs remain? Will the recession continue into 2021 and after? Will our cities lockdown again? Will there be a second wave or will cases continue to peak and trough? Pre pandemic, September used to be the time for a positive reset, now we’re too busy contemplating how this beyond strange boxset called 2020 is going to end.

With a litany of unknowns, it doesn’t seem readily fitting to make anything resembling a plan. However, in the spirit of soldiering on and moving with the tide (and avoid washing up on dry banks), we say it’s time to embrace the usual optimism of September and find the green shoots that yield sure-fire results against this climate instead. For companies, that might be a deep look within to enable a fresh and considered outlook. To use an appropriate adage, knowledge is power. When you understand where you are and where you want to be, take that moment as a win in the right direction. Business sustainability is the requisite demand to ensuring a safe and future-proofed position in the current economic climate. Right now, Digital Transformation is the linchpin of growth. Building up digital capabilities, strategies and initiatives is akin to being on the pulse of change, which ultimately increases revenue and reduces cost. Think of leveraging on new technologies as renewed optimism for fostering stronger connections between businesses and customers as well as businesses with themselves. Whether on a company or individual level, being brought closer to your core is a catalyst for moving forward and effecting the right kind of change. If this all sounds like a lot of pressure, ‘at ease’, we say. When you have the experts to take the load off and deliver real-time analytics, reports and plans, the path is paved already. All you need to have is some fist-pumping readiness to take that road map and follow the directions to your destination – while keeping an open mind for revelatory forks in the road.

This September has been a realization that shift happens – as unknown as it may feel, it’s the most known unknown. Let’s embrace the shift.

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Framing and Reframing

Creativity shouldn’t be stifled. In as much as we are educated on literacy, humanities and science, creative design is equally deserving of academic attention, too. The scope of creativity knows no bounds – anything should be possible in the digital age.

When tasked with developing a new online experience – amongst other things – for a rock band, the initial thought of “oh yeah I can make this freaking gnarly” is the one that catches you. It’s only in the following, and almost totally consuming, mental sketch that the reality of what you actually need to do becomes clear, and it certainly isn’t always straight forward.

By very nature a band has character, so, I wanted this to be represented online. Now, the existentialist in me wanted to create a masterpiece of expression in the site itself but the realist in me wanted something less visceral and more semiotic. I conceptualized four fairly basic avatars of each of the guys that slide into the page as the user enters the social media area. Obvious, right? Well not quite.

As a team we collectively determined that the idea was a winner. The execution on the other hand, needed work! We already knew we wanted these very obvious characters and through several rounds of reiteration – including the addition of a backdrop of comic book-esque elements – we landed on the avatars we have now!

Design thinking – as reductive as this is, is about problem-solving. Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed (thanks Wikipedia!) So what is my problem, then? Create something that IS the band, something that screams who they are and what they’re about. It’s blasphemy to me to present something that is by definition creative in a way that is somehow mine and not theirs. The band are the guys and they have created themselves. They have learned, loved and laughed – this is who they are, it IS their character. Who am I to change that? So within a problem comes another problem which only creativity can solve…

It was important to have some kind of synergy between the site as a whole and their virtual envoys. In the footer they’re forgotten and in the header they take over – i.e. another problem! So thinking socially, where do the guys belong? Nailed to the social section, seductively sliding in when the user arrives. It might come across as basic but it is almost certainly where they should be.

Creativity to me isn’t ALWAYS about innovating it’s about what I have learnt. Although I could go into the anatomy of a homepage (I might do so sometimes), it’s much purer to distil and find what works. To me creativity and problem-solving are symbiotic and integral parts of almost all of us – even if we don’t realise it.


Phil Shaw Digital Director

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