Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar people and their best practices at work. We’re kicking off 2017 by featuring brand, design and marketing strategy experts to help you “thrive in the new brand reality.”
FUSE 2017 Co-Chair John Silva is President and Senior Creative Director at design innovation agency DuPuis Group, where he leads national campaigns for Hormel, Anheuser-Busch, Frito-Lay, Dole and WD-40.
John has been in design for 25 years. As an author, artist and diplomat, John brings design thinking to organizations as a culture shift toward more vibrant problem solving.
As a preview to his presentation, John shares his insights on how design thinking inspires new and meaningful propositions:
Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How did your experiences in design shape your character and career?
John Silva: For me it came in a different order. I think the character I was born with is what compelled me to design, which then manifested as a profitable lifestyle (aka “career”). I’ve always been vastly optimistic and curious about how everything works and was that kid with “Yeah, but WHY?” Then that became, “Well, how about THIS?” But once I found that creativity and resourcefulness could make things in our world more beautiful, exciting and useful, I knew what I was going to do with my life.
PB: What role does design play in the performance of a brand?
JS: Small d “design” is fundamental to how a brand looks, smells, feels and is the trigger and incentive for engagement. Big D “Design” is underneath and inside how a brand inspires, moves, relates and evolves. It is this higher purpose of design that forms strategies that win over time and triggers activation that provokes and disrupts.
PB: How can design thinking drive innovation?
JS: Both of these terms have been beat to death, so I’ll rephrase as, “How can emotional intelligence spur new, meaningful propositions?” That new question answers itself.
Emotional intelligence forces non-linear, human qualities like empathy, desire and optimism into how we problem solve and build stuff. Innovation on the other hand is often dumbed and numbed too often to be only iterative change.
Meaning is what fuels the type of innovation that your original question is poking at. It’s a deeper vibration than simply “new” as it alters the relationship between people and products.
PB: What are some of your most notable marketing projects?
JS: I’ve been fortunate and privileged to work on great, global brands, but the noteworthy programs (aka “meaningful”) are not always the most visible.
Working with PepsiCo, for instance, has allowed us to contribute on many brands with high-expression, yet a very notable initiative involved designing solutions that are behind the obvious. In this case we pulled together environmental scientists, logistics and supply chain experts to assess and rethink how PepsiCo could approach the PET plastic life cycle in more sustainable, less costly and even consumer-excitable ways. Recycling was the baseline, and we blew up the entire model from there to create new, non-waste streams and behaviors that not only could solve the problem but create fresh, inspiring drivers for their business.
Another example is our strategy and design work on a wearable technology for women by Cyrcadia Health that can detect pre-cancerous cellular activity as advance warning of breast cancer. Very human and very inspiring in purpose.
PB: What is the best part of being the Co-Chair of FUSE 2017?
JS: It’s a privilege that gives me the chance to elevate the dialog around design as a driver of not only business, but more inspired living. I appreciate the opportunity to share what I can and meet others who have the same fire for fresh thinking and growth mindedness. FUSE to me is like opening day of Design Season.
Want to hear more from John? Join us at FUSE 2017. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in brand, design and marketing. Stay connected at #FUSEdesign.