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I think the cool brands initial is very interesting, particularly the way they decide upon the winning 20. The results for 2014 have just come out, and surprisingly (or not surprisingly depending upon how you view them these days) Apple came out on top. This is before the new phone, watch, health system, payments solution etc that they just launched.


Have a look at the list here (link) and have a think about how many service providers there are there (nice to see Spotify there). Have a think also about the ones that are not there, (Starbucks is notably absent for example).


I have become fascinated by the degree of self-expression that todays culture encourages. I have no positive or negative opinion of whether this is a good thing, but it seems to be something that is becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on. One of the examples I often use is how the Beats headphones have become embraced by people as a statement of being part of something cool, and therefore becomes a pointer to being cool themselves. This is nothing new, but it is spreading to almost everything in society.

Over on Brand Republic (link) they had a short piece that sums it up really well, and a service that caters for the need. It quotes Heather Cork, North American vice-president of the Future Foundation, who says:

Consumers are constantly polishing the image of themselves in the real world in order to post it in the online world

Not only this, it has an interesting statistic: 30% of millennials added that they wished they could be more like their online selves. This leads to interesting behavior – online selves become desired selves, and then the real self strives to be authentic to the online self. This is a kind of search to develop an authentic self based upon what is considered an external view of self as viewed online.

Not surprisingly, we are willing to spend a considerable amount of effort and money preening our desired selves, as the Beats example shows. Now, some enterprising graduates have started to help those on their identity and image mission, by providing #noshittyphotos (link). They spray footprints on the ground at famous tourist destinations to help you take the picture that makes you a better photographer (if only they could make an app with super precise GPS, then we wouldn’t have to find the footmarks).

In that way, you can become a better photographer, so that can add to the image that people have of you. Until of course, they ask you to take some photos for them, at a place without footmarks.

The reason I am intrigued by this, is that there must be a huge service potential to cater for this need of refining the online self and linking this to the real world self. Coffee shops do this already, to a degree, but this takes it online – digital services supporting your online image and how this can enhance your real image and self. Now thats an interesting area to explore.



Thanks to Alfred Holmen (link) for this link to a great infographic over at cool infographics (link).  It brings home the size of the service sector in the US. I scrolled down the services section and thought wow! but then realized that the total service sector also includes the public service part too.

It would be great to compare this data with the amount of research funding placed in each sector, or even the amount of design teaching spent on each sector.


OK, it took long enough, but now you can download the cards from the download section, or just click here  AT_ONE_CARDS

Check out the other downloads too, they might be useful also. All are available on a creative commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) copyright (link). This means you can use them free of charge, adapt them but not use them for commercial purposes. You can use them in your commercial practice, as is, if you attribute them, but you cannot sell these downloads. Downloading these files shows your consent to these rules.

The cards are placed 8 on a page and should print well on any printer. Alternatively you can get a local printer to print them on business-card thickness card. There are crop-marks to help you cut them. Print on the stiffest paper that your printer can take – it makes a difference.


We have reduced the resolution to make the download bearable. I have tested the images and they seem fine in this version for printing. If you want a higher resolution version, then get in touch and I can send you a larger file. 

I just saw this on the BBC site (link) describing the connection between movement and cognition.


It seems like finally body and mind are being re-connected, and its about time. I think that Service Design has understood this for quite some time, in terms of how it runs workshops and uses artefacts to improve workshop results. The visualization of ideas is one way of doing this, and so are the multiple tangible tools that are specifically designed for workshops.

I have written earlier and researched the touch-point cards, and each time I use them, I realize how much the physical holding and manipulation of the cards aids memory and cognition. Not only this, the shared visual and physical nature helps create shared understanding. In research terms, these are described as boundary objects – objects that have shared understanding across disciplines. For the researchy among you, here is a (link) to some of the research I have been doing including the touch-point cards.

We are presenting a paper at the ServDes 2014 conference (link) about using tangible objects to assist strategic conversations, and this will be uploaded when published. There are also other things worth noting at ServDes, including a workshop by my heroes Jacob Buur (link) and papers by Eva Brandt (link) and  Mette Agger Eriksen (link).


We are also just about to carry out some work looking at the development of tangible tools that can be used to assist companies in understanding what it means to deliver memorable customer experience as part of the experience centric-organisation (link).  More on that later, but until then, think hard about going to ServDes 2014 to find out more about co-design using body and mind.

experience centric labelled

Ted from AHO sent me this today (link). It’s an advert for a house that is for sale in Oslo, and yes, its very pricey. It’s in Norwegian, unfortunately, but the images speak for themselves. However, what I really like about it is the imagery they use. They have staged and created a story about the house and the different flats (its five flats) to help spark your imagination. Each has been quite cheaply styled, but its the overall concept and each micro-story. From the exotic main flat, to the scientists lair to the old persons basement, they have crafted a fictitious atmosphere and experience for the building.

Have a look at some of these images:-

Kampen 1

Kampen 6 Kampen 5 Kampen 4 Kampen 3

Kampen 7


This, creates together a really positive impression about the flat and some history (however fictitious). Everyone I have shown it to thinks its a cool building, and would like to live there. I doubt if an average sales presentation would give that same instinctive desirability. If you look closely, the first image, with the party in the garden, introduces all of the characters that appear in the following images. Clever.




I have always considered the health information on packaging as being quite abstract. Reading about the calorific content of my morning musli, and the amount of energy in carbohydrate form doesn’t really tell me that much. I have become better at understanding the data, and use it every now and again when choosing different products, however, I have always lacked a visualisation of the information, so that it converts passive facts to active meaning for me.

Image from article, provided by New York City Health Department

Image from article, provided by New York City Health Department

This is exactly what Sara Bleich of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has done, and she has tested the results. This is reported in scientific american (here) and in her research paper (here).

She tested four alternative ways of representing the calorific content of some drinks, and it turns out that converting the information into exercise equivalents had a significant effect.


Image from Dowray et. al. (2012)


Not surprisingly, the transformation of data into meaning had a strong effect, and she states:

When examining the 3 caloric conditions separately, the significant effect was observed when caloric information was provided as a physical activity equivalent (OR = 0.51; 95% CI = 0.31, 0.85).

This is maybe something to consider when considering new rules to combat the unhealthy consumption of sugary drinks, crisps etc.


I have written a bit earlier about using comics to communicate service design concepts (link), using the launch of Google chrome as an example. I recently came across this really great post: What’s Your Comic About?Communicating Complex Ideas With Comics.

This not only describes the importance of using comics as a means of communication, but also gives instructions and guidance about how to do it also. There are plenty of examples, which help communicate the idea, including this one, which fits very well with service design thinking.


use case comic


I like this, not only because it explains the concept well, but also because it is not brilliantly drawn. You don’t have to be fantastic at drawing to make cartoons work, you just have to have a really sharp understanding of what you want to say, and how best to say it.

Recent work abroad, the above example, and particularly teaching abroad has increased my conviction about using evidencing as a means of communicating ideas and concepts. I think one of the legacies of product design is that we have a lot of designers who are great at communicating the object in a stunning rendering. These are increasingly becoming 3D renderings, which make the objects look absolutely delicious.


Look at the rendering of the Chevrolet Astro below, and you would be mad not to want one of those. They simplify the reality of the object and turn up on the desire of the object itself.


Image of Chevrolet Astro 1968 from carstyling.ru

In service design, there probably isn’t one object, and if there is an important object, then its the use context that is as important as the object itself. The experience of the service comes into the foreground, rather than the objects. Its the screens, the buttons etc that help make it happen. This is not to say that screens and buttons are not important, but rather to say that they are enablers (important ones – the devil is in the detail too) for the offering and value proposition.

This is what evidencing is about. Evidencing is about developing tangible evidence from the future. It’s as if you travel into the future, and show a situation where the service exists. It shows the service in use, generally through a touch-point being used by someone, so that the touch-point is shown in context. Not only this, the choice of touch-point, stage of service journey and the experiential message is shown in the image. Since services are about experiences delivered over time,  evidencing often needs to show the  time element, to show the service experience as the narrative that it is. Therefore, storytelling and evidencing are very close to each other. The images used in evidencing include a hell of a lot of design detail, but the detail is secondary to the message and the experience that the evidencing needs to convey. This is where using cartoons come in, since in the above example, facetime video conferencing is shown in use, in an experiential context.

The great site, service design tools (link) has a short section on evidencing and shows this simple but effective example from LiveWork.

An example of evidencing from the servicedesigntools site.

An example of evidencing from the servicedesigntools site.

It shows some work they did for Orange, and the evidencing shows the use context with the hand holding the letter. This allows you to think of the context, for example, coming home from work to find the letter. The letter is folded, as if taken from the envelope, and not shown as a flat pdf of the document. This reinforces the focus upon the context rather than the object, so the letter is not seen as a design specification, rather something supporting an offering. The key part of the image is the text “transfer HOURS to someone else”. This is the key message from the concept – the concept of encouraging customers to transfer unused time to someone else. This is a way for orange to enable gift giving or sharing between people, which is an indirect way of supporting a relationship between the customer and orange themselves.

This might be a far cry from lovely 3D renderings, and might seem a step down for those with such great skills. However, in service design, the medium really is the message.


Its a long time since we added to this blog, but the list of things to write about is just piling up on our desks.

This one has been hanging around for quite a while. The people over at Smashing magazine have been doing some really good stuff recently, writing about personality, tone of voice and many of the other experiential aspects of interaction design. Since interactions are key to services, and particularly the user experience, I am mentioning them here too.



This post (link) by  is a personal and useful list of thirteen aspects of user experience. In fact, they could almost be described as thirteen tenets of the service design experience, since he focuses upon such aspects as the orchestration of touch-points (tenet 1), User Experience as being strategic (tenet 2), and the importance of integrating multiple disciplines and working together on a journey of exploration using trial and error.

I particularly like this one, since I strongly believe that to stand out in todays market really requires bravery. However, that bravery needs to show, and be clearly articulated, and this is something that design is good at.


Great products and services require bravery. Design puts a shape to your courage.

So, if you want something to put up on your wall, and a target for your project team, you can’t go far wrong with these.


I know this isn’t a good time to talk nice things about Apple, but I like this short catchy presentation that captures some of the key things about designing good products and services.

Firstly I like the visualisation of the points. Its maybe a bit too fast-paced to catch everything that is said, but its good to show and tell rather than just tell. Secondly, there are some nice gems in there, such as design also for things that are not in the customers main line of sight, they are important too. Finally, I like the quote from Jonathan Ive about the importance of being light on your feet, inquisitive and interested in being wrong. All three of these are really important and link nicely to research in individual and group creativity by people such as Teresa Amabile (link) and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (link).

Hope you enjoy it too.



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