What's service branding, and why do we need it? - A Festival Story from Wolff Olins.

Following the biggest Service Design Fringe Festival to date, we're sharing the highlights of our talks and workshops with the global community, so everybody can join in discussions around our industry. Continuing in a series of short stories, Rosie Isbell and Kartik Poria, both Senior Experience Designers at Wolff Olins, write about their talk and workshop at this year's festival, where we discussed how service design can be used in a branding context.

We recently ran a workshop at the Service Design Fringe Festival, and it’s fair to say that people were both pleased and surprised to see an established creative agency like Wolff Olins taking service design so seriously.

But the reality is that businesses are trying to understand how to design service experiences in the age of automation and The Internet of Things. Ambitious leaders are asking Wolff Olins: How can my business cut through all of the noise? What can we do differently?

Anyone familiar with service design will know that traditional thinking says that services need to be optimised - but we worry that this obsession with optimisation is resulting in uniformity and uninspiring service experiences. 

So we posed the question: How can we avoid homogenous experiences where every service looks and feels the same…?

Our experience tells us that it’s through ‘brand’: the layer that addresses a service's core purpose and values down to the micro moments.

These are what cut through an overcrowded market, where everything pings or buzzes for our attention too often.

  Image courtesy of Wolff Olins.

Image courtesy of Wolff Olins.

Our session focussed on how to design stand out services; moments and interactions that lead to a lasting impressions for customers. We shared four of our key tools and then put them into practice with a hands-on workshop. The brief: to design a service experience for a fictional time travel company called ‘Tardis.’

Concepts were out of this world, time flew by as teams moulded, sculpted, acted and sketched out ideas ranging from exploring sensorial moments to emotional acclimatisation.

  Image courtesy of Wolff Olins.

Image courtesy of Wolff Olins.

Our final thought: by adding a thread through service design it’s possible to create a lasting impression and feeling - one that lives beyond the service itself. After all, Brand = experience.

Thanks very much for reading one of the festival stories!

With love,

The Service Design Fringe Festival Team