København, Denmark. Kristian Duvald Friis, Managing Director and Allan Aurelius, Creative Director of Shape A/S
What was the case with which your agency obtained the most awards this year, and which made you the agency of the year according to the TopFICE global rankings?
We’ve actually managed to win several awards in a broad range of categories and with very different cases over the year. That actually makes us the most proud, as this tells us that our digital mindset and culture can bring a lot of value to our clients. Our mindset is driven towards creating a consumerization of everything we work with – it doesn’t differ if that’s within B2C, B2B, internal tools or other types of digital products. We believe that all digital products should have the ambition of being consumer great, as when they’re being adopted it should be with satisfaction. If that’s not the case the risk of failure will be too big and we typically advise the client that they then properly should invest their budget in other initiatives. We only want to work on something we also believe can make a difference.
But if I’m to bring forward a couple of cases – it will be that we’ve successfully delivered and won the ‘Commerce’ category within several awards shows in 2020 – ranging from B2C fitness to a B2B sourcing company. That does of course require a specific set of competencies, but what makes us proud is that we have been recognised for our Augmented Reality and Innovation capabilities, for our ‘IKEA Place’ deliverables , which is something very different from delivering a great commerce product. The strength in our mindset is though that we can deliver across these very different projects.
How does the concept “Less is more” work?
We believe that the Customer Experience is crucial to establish digital success – as everyone’s competitor will only be one or two clicks away. That requires a very different mindset within the organisations than competing on scale of i.e. physical stores. The recipe for digital success lies in executing the details of the products greatly – and not overwhelming the users with information. Finding the balance between commercial interest and user needs can of course be time consuming, but when delivering on that we can also see how the customer loyalty is increasing massively. For us “less is more” lives very much within the UI, as we always aim at focusing the users attention towards the value creating aspects of the product. We should never expect that the users actually wish to use our product in itself to anything else than fulfilling a higher purpose within their lives. If that higher purpose is an interaction with a fitness chain to gain better health or get a more fine-tuned body or buying a product to fulfill a task or increase the convenience within your life.
A digital product should never be done, so we work with our client in creating a version of the product that’s great enough to stand out within its industry, but also holds a potential for further development. This process have several times taken us to bring digital revenue from 0% into becoming our clients core business. That’s something we’re profoundly proud of.
How do you apply digital Craftsmanship?
We believe in bringing the specialists together, so generalists doesn’t lead the projects. We’re therefore also working closely together across disciplines and without any hierarchy between strategy, design and development. We believe that this team structure creates the best opportunities to create
digital products that makes a difference for both the business and the users. We believe in our people and we’re all passionate about digital products, which traditionally creates a high ambition level around our work. This means that we’re trying to do what’s right for the digital product, when it’s brought into the market. This sometimes makes us spent extra time on small details to get the ‘feeling’ of the product right – either to decide friction or to entertain the user through i.e. small animations.
How do you know whether you are doing the right thing even when you do not yet know the results of a project?
The honest answer is that we don’t. But we do of course have a lot of experience from more than 10 years as an agency, bringing hundreds of digital products to the market. That gives us an anchor point for when a digital product “feels great”. Beyond that we’re first and foremost all users of a lot of digital products and gain a lot of experience from using them. These good and bad experiences with other products,are keeping us updated on what’s technically possible is something we draw on, when we create the digital products. Before we propose anything we ask ourselves if we would like to use the digital product ourselves – would it make any difference in our/or others lifes? If it doesn’t, we’ll go back and start over again. We believe in being people first in how we craft our things – the technology should adapt to what we wish to create and not the other way around, but technology should not be neglected as if the vision can’t be executed it will only be a vision and not a digital product.
What traits are needed for building a war horse instead of a unicorn?
That’s a hard one…, because the formula can rarely be copied 1:1, but if we are to say a few things, we believe that the company should have a clear purpose for why it’s within the market – and that purpose should bring excellent value to the customers/end-users. The company need to have the best or at least second best digital product within the market, if you don’t want to compete on price/marketing. You’ll need to continuously be able to develop the company in alignment with its customers needs and hold a great convenience within your product to reduce churn. Therefore it’s super important to have an infrastructure that’s making it possible for you to scale, change directions etc., when you’ll gain the momentum.
How do you create products with a purpose?
We’re mainly focusing on two aspects – the business and the users needs. If we can find the sweet spot between this in our strategy, we believe that we have something of great value to bring into the market. The recipe is simple the execution of it is the hard part. A lot of questions is needed to be asked to outline the right scope for the digital product that balance the business and the users. You’ll need the users within your digital product to be able to realize the business’ potential, not the other way around. That mindset is something we’re always trying to keep the flag high about.