We are more connected than ever. But how does that impact design?
With this brave new world of hyper connectivity, a global aesthetic has emerged: Sleek, streamlined, and pared down to the essentials (think Apple and Google). This kind of style has led to an increasingly recognizable approach that doesn’t always align with the market audience on a personal level that design used to. Where focusing on selling to the global audience creates a uniform style, hyperlocalization inherently fosters a sense of creativity and local pride. People deserve a customized message, and catering to an audience can produce better results.
The global aesthetic has been decades, if not a century, in the making. The rise of the industrial revolution set us on a path of worshiping the uniformity of an object rather than the craft that went into it. It became a race of the newest, the best, and the brightest. The digital age has made us more connected and familiar, but it also means that design can fall into the familiar and comfortable. Great design offers something bold, something different, and something that speaks to you. David Ogilvy once advised marketers to talk to a person, not a stadium. When it comes to your own product, service, or website, you want your customer to feel like it’s made for them. Build that wonder and curiosity, and use hyperlocalization to do it.
A great example of design hyperlocalization is Uber’s new logo scheme. The rebranding is three years in the making and reflects the fact that the company is a global brand made of up thousands of small markets in cities across the world. The app’s home screen differs based on the country of the user. The differentiation of the brand from country to country using patterns and colors tied to the local and historical (in Mexico, the tile work served to inspire the pattern created for the app; in Ireland, it was the architecture and landscape; in Nigeria, it was the textiles). This deft move serves to acknowledge and connect with the market audience on a deeper and more personal level.
Yahoo Weather App
Another prime example of hyperlocalization and design is the Yahoo Weather App, which pulls from Yahoo’s Flicker service based on the person’s location or set city, to incorporate local and gorgeous photography as the backdrop of the app. Again, this is a type of personalization that speaks to the user in a way that makes them come back to the app, again and again.
One of the best examples of how hyperlocalization and design can unite to create something beautiful is Starbucks. With the 2008 market crash came a change in the coffee giant’s senior management, and with it, a change in priorities. Research into the company’s brand and image showed that Starbucks would soon be on par with fast food companies. To help pull away from that image, the company brought in local designers from the areas that the coffee shops would be in to help bring a local aesthetic. While it is a huge overhaul on the company’s part, it seems to have worked because close to 6,500 new stores worldwide have been opened since the recession as of 2015 and they show no signs of slowing down.
The global aesthetic has its uses and is great in certain situations, no question. But there is a point and time where the new becomes the old. While a global aesthetic reaches more people–and that’s certainly one measurement of success–hyperlocalization not only fosters creativity but also creates a unity and pride among people in a local area. It’s time to celebrate the things that make each region, brand, and product unique.