Reflective Essay

This past semester, in the Experiencing the Creative Economy module, I was working on the D&AD  brief. Though, I put a lot of focus into managing the project I also learnt other valuable things on the way. We looked into how to present ourselves and what our body language tells about us, I did several personality tests that helped me understand myself better, I have learnt how to make my CV attractive and what not to mention during the interview. Additionally, I have learnt the theory behind the Agile Project Management and how it can be implemented nowadays.

The aim of this module was to prepare us for the professional work and deliver a high standard project to a particular creative industry. Creative industries ‘(…) have their origin in the creativity, skill and talent, having the potential for wealth and job creation through generation of intellectual property’ (BOP Consulting 2010, p.16). My work so far focused mainly in the Performing Arts Industry, however this time I took the opportunity to become a designer for a few months. I picked a brief set up by Rexona that aimed to get the world dancing. As a dancer and choreographer, I thought that it was the perfect opportunity for me to elaborate more on this idea, undertaking research driven design. According to Visocky O’Grady (2017), research should cover at least two strands at any given time; one provides a scenario within which the design needs to exist and potentially a surface on which to work, the other provides a visual language to employ.

When I started the project, I imagined it was going to be easy because it was related to something I know the most about – dance. However, I quickly understood that there was so much more below the surface. Initially, due to my expertise in choreography, I wanted to show this concept through dance when I realised that this was not what I was asked to do. This time, I had to create a concept that would encourage people to dance.

I started my project by understanding the brand and the environment around it. Surprisingly, it occurred that the brief was not about Rexona at all. Rexona is a part of Unilever therefore it follows their values and strategies. Additionally, Rexona’s partnerships DanceOn and NowUnited were main determinants of their branding. Therefore, Unilever, DanceOn and NowUnited were the main core of my research.

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Figure 1. Unilever’s Values 

 

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Figure 2. Unilever’s approach to advertisement

 

In 2016 Unilever launched a campaign against stereotypes in advertisement called ‘Unstereotype’. They found out that 85% of women don’t identify with what they see on the ads. Unilever decided to move away from ‘interruption-based approach’ in marketing to content that people really want to see (Brandchannel ,2018). Their mission is to create more inclusive and diverse content.

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Figure 3. DanceOn and NowUnited

 

NowUnited offers commercial dance music videos and tutorials. Those videos offer mostly commercial dance on a basic level. DanceOn, on the other hand is a community of professional dancers and choreographers, who share their dance videos. This platform offers different forms of dances from all over the world on a professional level. Additionally, I found out that even though both platforms have their own website they share videos on Youtube and this their main digital touchpoint. Based on this information, I’ve decided to create a new platform that would become main digital touchpoint and a place for Rexona’s future activations. This concept offers what is missing from the NowUnited and DanceOn: dance styles from all over the world for beginners and professionals.

Understanding the brand was quite important to start the project but there was so much more I had to find out to build the core of my idea. I researched about dance in UK and found out that there are not enough dance activities in schools.  According to Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2016), dance is the least popular activity with only 35.9 % engagement, while film and video activities reach over 80%.

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Figure 4. Department for culture, media, sport (2016). Taking Part annual child report.

 

I immediately thought, how can we grow a healthy population if children’s interests are moving towards digitalisation? According to Global Creativity Index, ‘Nations that invest in creativity have more equal societies and, conversely, more equal societies tend to invest more in creativity.’ (Florida 2015, p.3). Having the statistics in my mind, I knew I had to envision why young people would like to dance and in which circumstances. My task was to spread the love for dance and encourage young people to move more, not only in the UK but globally. To understand young people better, I designed personas and placed them on the empathy map. This approach was introduced to me during one of the design thinking classes. An empathy map is a tool to help us synthesize our observations and draw out unexpected insights (D.School,2010).

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Figure 5. Empathy Map adapted from D.School 2010

This was one of my key insights that led me to my solution.  Additionally, I researched online user behaviours and current trends, coming across with the information that dance challenges, games and in game experiences are very popular among the public I wanted to reach, my target audience. Young people respond to dance challenges, feel comfortable to record themselves and are more likely to share the videos online.

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Figure 6. Trends research – online

Key insights and research led me to my first idea about sustainability. I wanted to spread the awareness of global warming through dance and the idea of dance challenge came up. This challenge aimed to show people the metamorphose after tiding up fouled places and recording themselves dancing afterwards. After some time, I realised that this was not the best response to the brief and that I should create something exciting for young people. Eventually, I came up with an idea of a dance game.

The only thing I did not include in the video was the explanation of how this concept could help the brand collect data.

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Figure 7.Data role in the concept.

 

Once the concept was ready in my head, I had to figure out how to visualise it. I faced a dilemma between creating a video and delivering jpegs. I really wanted to express the dynamics of dance therefore, making a video seemed like the only option. My first attempt to design a website and the video was not successful. It looked flat, old-fashioned and was not attractive.

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Figure 8. First design of the website.

 

In order to achieve the desired results, I used four different programmes and dozens of hours. It was time consuming but it was worth the hard work.

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Figure 9. Second design of the website.

 

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Figure 10. Final design of the website.

As mentioned at the beginning, working on the brief was not the only aspect of this module. I was encouraged to do the Agile PM course. Agile PM is a product development methodology that helps to deliver the product on time in the best possible quality (ILX group, 2015). While learning the methodology I understood that the project I was delivering was based on Agile PM’s principles. During the process I was encouraged to deliver the best possible quality on time, build incrementally, develop interactively and focus on the business needs. Weekly presentations were a great practise on continuous and clear communication too. Firstly, I was a bit nervous but after some time it became a norm and I believe it was a great practice of verbal and nonverbal behaviour. According to Ganguly (2017), proper understanding of nonverbal cues is important for the candidate in order to be successful on the interview, as body language communicates 55% of our expression, paralanguage 38%, while verbal communication only 7%. This experience helped me to be more aware of how to project my voice and my body while presenting.

 

I must admit that this module was challenging and my creative process had its ups and downs but, in the end, I achieved the desired result and I was proud of myself as I was able to deliver a project according to industry standards.During the entire process I discovered my strengths and weaknesses, learning from that o improve myself as a person and professional. I have always seen dance as a form of art and not as commercial object, struggling to change my beliefs. I had to be honest with myself and ask what I agree on and to which extend I can push my comfort zone. It became easier when I put my emotions aside and finally understood that delivering a project to the client is not about me but about client’s requirements. I could not create whatever I wanted as I usually do in choreography. I had a brief with constrains that I had to follow. When I choreograph, I always have a vision. This time, my vision was blurred because there were too many unknowns and it took a lot of research and going back to the brief to fully understand it. I understood that hanging to one idea does not bring good results and I should have been more flexible sooner in the process. I was trapped in my own marketing myopia which means I was short-sighted, more focus in my own ideas and wants rather more than my public needs.

On the other hand, I had a chance to prove myself as professional. I managed to deliver on the weekly demands and bring the idea of Rexona Dance Studio to life. This project had a big impact on my personal and professional development. I changed my perspective on many things and gained confidence. I developed my creative skills but more importantly, I gained new knowledge and managed to successfully applied it to the creative process. After completing this module, I changed my perspective on many things. I started thinking about choreography in terms of design, something that I have never thought before. This module inspired me to think about creative processes and in result led me to my dissertation topic.

 

 

References:

BOP Consulting (2010) Mapping the Creative Economy: A Toolkit. Available at: https://creativeconomy.britishcouncil.org/media/uploads/files/English_mapping_the_creative _industries_a_toolkit_2-2.pdf [Accessed 27April.2019.]

Brandchannel (2018). Cannes Lions: Unilever Fights Stereotypes With Dance Pop. [online] Available at: https://www.brandchannel.com/2018/06/19/cannes_lions_unstereotype_youths_now_united_dance_/[Accessed 4 Mar. 2019].

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (2016)’ Taking Part 2015/16 Annual Child Report’. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/539029/Taking_Part_2015_16_Child_Report_-_FINAL.pdf [Accessed 4 Mar. 2019].

Dschool-old.stanford.edu. (2010). Empathy Map. [online] Available at: https://dschool-old.stanford.edu/wp-content/themes/dschool/method-cards/empathy-map.pdf [Accessed 28 Apr. 2019].

Florida, R. (2015).Insight: The 2015 Global Creativity Index. [online]. Available at: http://martinprosperity.org/content/insight-the-2015-global-creativity-index/ [Accessed 4 Mar. 2019].

Ganguly,S.(2017). Understanding Nonverbal Cues: A Key to Success in Interviews. IUP Journal of Soft Skills, 11(2),62,64-72.  Availabe at:
http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.kingston.ac.uk/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=db367261-01c7-488d-89bf-841e845d2759%40sessionmgr103 [Accessed: 27 Apr. 2019]

ILXgroup (2015). [online] Available at: https://www.ilxportal.com/sites/bestpractice2/startproduct.asp?first=false&pac=10dbb154D39& [Accessed 28 Apr. 2019].

Visocky O’Grady,J.(2017). A designer research manual: Succeed in design by knowing your clients and what they really need( Second ed.), Rockport Publishers

 

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