Memorable Album Covers of 2019

In the digital age, album cover art remains an essential artistic and commercial element of any musician’s work. And 2019 was no exception. As Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You demonstrates, album covers are arguably even more important than they were in the golden era of vinyl. That’s because on apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, album cover art such as Cuz I Love You can be a more viral and potent form of self-expression than it could sitting on the shelf of a record store.

The memorable album covers of 2019 consist of fierce, uncompromising self-portraits. On Cuz I Love You, Lizzo presents her nude self as a fully realized woman exuding power and grace. Cuz I Love You is an important statement of body positivity, and one that Lizzo made often throughout 2019.

On the other hand, the striking close-up of Jenny Lewis’s torso on the cover of On the Line invites curiosity by what it reveals and does not reveal – her bare arms and cleavage complementing a glitzy dress that evokes vintage Las Vegas (in fact, the dress is an homage to one that her mother wore when she performed in 1970s Las Vegas).

Both Lizzo and Jenny Lewis capture images of artists in control of their own bodies, sharing what they want on her own terms. For more memorable album covers from 2019, check out the link at the top of this post (or go here).

What are your favorite album covers in recent years?

New Razorfish report studies consumer purchase behavior

Social media influence consumer purchase behavior far more than you might think.

That’s a key finding of new Razorfish thought leadership, FEED: The Razorfish Consumer Experience Report. The report is available in Flash and PDF download here: http://feed.razorfish.com and on the Razorfish Digital Design Blog. FEED, launched on 20 October 20008, helps marketers design better consumer experiences by uncovering insights into consumer behavior in the digital world. The report documents the results of a 2008 survey that Razorfish conducted of more than 1,000 “connected” consumers (a coveted group who spend money online and have access to broadband). Here are a few key findings from FEED that marketers might find noteworthy

1. Social media increasingly influence purchase decisions. Four out of 10 consumers surveyed by Razorfish have made a purchase based on advertising they saw on a social media site, and 76 percent welcome advertising on social networks. Consumers’ purchasing behavior reflects the larger influence of social media on their lives. About 75 percent of consumers surveyed spend at least one hour a week on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. More than 68 percent of connected consumers are active on two or more social media sites.

2. Consumers are adopting social media and web 2.0 technologies with startling regularity. Nearly 7 out of 10 connected consumers have customized their home pages with content feeds, scheduled updates, and other features. Sixty percent use widgets on websites. The widespread use of widgets is the most surprising finding. We believe the uptake of widgets, mobile devices and social media means that marketers need to design experiences for consumers across a world of fragmented digital media.

3. Video explodes as an advertising format. A whopping 94 percent of consumers surveyed say they watch interactive video with some level of frequency, with nearly a third watching video on a daily basis. We also find that consumers are open to advertising through interactive video, with the majority preferring companion banners to pre-roll as well as new, emerging forms of video advertising such as tickers and interstitials.

4. Personalization and loyalty sway consumers. Razorfish reports that 65 percent of connected consumers say that retail loyalty programs highly influence purchasing decisions. According to Razorfish, loyalty services like Amazon’s Prime or Best Buy’s Reward Zone are essential for retailers to succeed on the eve of the holiday shopping season. Moreover, websites that give personalized recommendations strongly influence connected consumers. Of the total surveyed, 65 percent said that they have made a repeat purchase on a site that issued an automated recommendation based on their previous purchase.

FEED also consists of a series of essays that examine the ways consumers interact with digital media. A few of my favorites are “Putting Jakob Back on the Shelf” and “What’s in a Game?” Both of these firmly assert that simply designing functional websites isn’t going to please a broadband-enabled audience that expects an interactive experience. Instead, designers instead need to ask how to employ concepts like gaming, storytelling, and interactivity to create the next generation of consumer experiences. For instance, “What’s in a Game?” challenges marketers to imagine how consumers could experience one’s product or brand in a playful, game-like fashion. The essay cites Razorfish client work with Lipton tea, where we designed “BrainTrain,” a collection of mental alertness games that engage the consumer while branding Lipton in a subtle way.

Other notable essays include “Twitterific,” “Life after the iPhone, and “Designing Experiences for the Facebook Generation.”

I welcome your feedback.

The inside scoop on Microsoft Surface

On April 17, AT&T worked with Microsoft and my employer Avenue A | Razorfish to launch the first retail application of Microsoft Surface touch-and-recognition table technology at a limited number of AT&T wireless stores. Surface promises to improve upon the often-confusing process of buying a mobile phone in a retail store, and even make learning about mobile devices fun. Until its public launch, though, most consumers hadn’t even seen a Surface table. Few user experience designers had, either. So what was it like to create a user experience design for the launch? Superhype sat down with Rich Bowen of Avenue A | Razorfish to find out. Rich is a user experience lead dedicated to the AT&T account. He lives in Denver, and his work supports AT&T digital advertising and website design across the agency’s Atlanta, Austin, and Seattle offices. His job was to work with a team to design how consumers would interact with Surface tables in the stores. Here is his story.

Superhype: Rich, most consumers haven’t even seen a Surface table. Why are they important?

Rich Bowen: Surface can make the buying experience a lot more fun, especially for products that require high levels of consideration before purchase. With Surface, a salesperson does not need to explain how a mobile device works or whether AT&T can provide coverage to your area of the country. Instead, the consumer and salesperson can sit down at an interactive screen and see the information they need. For instance, using Surface, consumers can review features of a device by placing it on a table. Surface recognizes the device and displays a graphics-rich overview of features. Consumers can also use touch-and-hand movements to explore an interactive map that reveals how much coverage AT&T provides in different areas of the United States.

Continue reading

The inside scoop on Microsoft Surface

On April 17, AT&T worked with Microsoft and my employer Avenue A | Razorfish to launch the first retail application of Microsoft Surface touch-and-recognition table technology at a limited number of AT&T wireless stores. Surface promises to improve upon the often-confusing process of buying a mobile phone in a retail store, and even make learning about mobile devices fun. Until its public launch, though, most consumers hadn’t even seen a Surface table. Few user experience designers had, either. So what was it like to create a user experience design for the launch? Superhype sat down with Rich Bowen of Avenue A | Razorfish to find out. Rich is a user experience lead dedicated to the AT&T account. He lives in Denver, and his work supports AT&T digital advertising and website design across the agency’s Atlanta, Austin, and Seattle offices. His job was to work with a team to design how consumers would interact with Surface tables in the stores. Here is his story.

Superhype: Rich, most consumers haven’t even seen a Surface table. Why are they important?

Rich Bowen: Surface can make the buying experience a lot more fun, especially for products that require high levels of consideration before purchase. With Surface, a salesperson does not need to explain how a mobile device works or whether AT&T can provide coverage to your area of the country. Instead, the consumer and salesperson can sit down at an interactive screen and see the information they need. For instance, using Surface, consumers can review features of a device by placing it on a table. Surface recognizes the device and displays a graphics-rich overview of features. Consumers can also use touch-and-hand movements to explore an interactive map that reveals how much coverage AT&T provides in different areas of the United States.

Continue reading

I love REM’s latest but . . .

Accelerate sounds great but features the worst CD cover art (above) since Robert Plant released Fate of Nations:

And just about as bad as the hideous cover of the otherwise excellent A Bigger Bang by the Rolling Stones:

Why hide one of the most visible and highly recognizable bands in the world behind a blinding flash? (I’m sure Mick Jagger will reply to this post with an insightful reply.) And don’t you think the industry vets would have mastered this CD cover art thing by now?

What are your favorite bad CD/album covers from a major artist?

I love REM’s latest but . . .

Accelerate sounds great but features the worst CD cover art (above) since Robert Plant released Fate of Nations:

And just about as bad as the hideous cover of the otherwise excellent A Bigger Bang by the Rolling Stones:

Why hide one of the most visible and highly recognizable bands in the world behind a blinding flash? (I’m sure Mick Jagger will reply to this post with an insightful reply.) And don’t you think the industry vets would have mastered this CD cover art thing by now?

What are your favorite bad CD/album covers from a major artist?

Harnessing social technologies to energize sales

willitblend.jpg

This blog post comes to you live from the 2008 Forrester Marketing Forum, held April 8-9, 2008, in Los Angeles. The purpose of the event is to take a snapshot of the state of the art in successful marketing.

In an afternoon session April 8, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, authors of The Groundswell, discuss harnessing social technologies to generate sales. The headline here: to use social media technologies effectively, figure out your strategy and approach first for how social technologies will strengthen consumer relationships. Don’t put the cart (technology) before the horse.

Continue reading

Harnessing social technologies to energize sales

willitblend.jpg

This blog post comes to you live from the 2008 Forrester Marketing Forum, held April 8-9, 2008, in Los Angeles. The purpose of the event is to take a snapshot of the state of the art in successful marketing.

In an afternoon session April 8, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, authors of The Groundswell, discuss harnessing social technologies to generate sales. The headline here: to use social media technologies effectively, figure out your strategy and approach first for how social technologies will strengthen consumer relationships. Don’t put the cart (technology) before the horse.

Continue reading

AT&T launches a Surface-level consumer experience

microsoft_surface.jpg

I cannot say I know anyone who would characterize shopping for a mobile device as “fun and engaging.” AT&T, a client of my employer Avenue A | Razorfish, hopes to change things. At the CTIA Wireless Conference April 2, AT&T demonstrated how the company will use Microsoft Surface touch technology for consumers to explore mobile devices at AT&T retail stores. According to Microsoft, AT&T is the first company to employ Surface in a retail environment.

Here’s how the experience will work: consumers visiting AT&T retail stores will sit down at Surface tables and play with the touch-and-recognition technology to learn about mobile devices. For instance, consumers can review features of a device by placing it on a table. Surface recognizes the device and displays a graphics-rich overview of features.

Consumers may also use touch-and-hand movements to explore a map that reveals how much coverage AT&T provides in different areas of the United States.

The Surface tables will be piloted at a small number of AT&T stores in the United States (planned launch date: April 17) and later on at more AT&T stores.

Avenue A | Razorfish provided strategy, user experience, and technology to support AT&T and Microsoft. What’s interesting to me is the test-and-learn nature of the experience. I doubt anyone has mastered the art of designing an experience for consumers hunched over a table and touching it — Surface is just too new. No doubt the designers will learn lessons from the pilot and make adjustments . . . but the designers — and hopefully consumers — will have fun along the way. Meantime, check out this AT&T demonstration of Surface at CTIA.

AT&T launches a Surface-level consumer experience

microsoft_surface.jpg

I cannot say I know anyone who would characterize shopping for a mobile device as “fun and engaging.” AT&T, a client of my employer Avenue A | Razorfish, hopes to change things. At the CTIA Wireless Conference April 2, AT&T demonstrated how the company will use Microsoft Surface touch technology for consumers to explore mobile devices at AT&T retail stores. According to Microsoft, AT&T is the first company to employ Surface in a retail environment.

Here’s how the experience will work: consumers visiting AT&T retail stores will sit down at Surface tables and play with the touch-and-recognition technology to learn about mobile devices. For instance, consumers can review features of a device by placing it on a table. Surface recognizes the device and displays a graphics-rich overview of features.

Consumers may also use touch-and-hand movements to explore a map that reveals how much coverage AT&T provides in different areas of the United States.

The Surface tables will be piloted at a small number of AT&T stores in the United States (planned launch date: April 17) and later on at more AT&T stores.

Avenue A | Razorfish provided strategy, user experience, and technology to support AT&T and Microsoft. What’s interesting to me is the test-and-learn nature of the experience. I doubt anyone has mastered the art of designing an experience for consumers hunched over a table and touching it — Surface is just too new. No doubt the designers will learn lessons from the pilot and make adjustments . . . but the designers — and hopefully consumers — will have fun along the way. Meantime, check out this AT&T demonstration of Surface at CTIA.