Making Technology “Human”

By Erin Berkenmeier 3D design Branding Graphic Design Photography Video January 15, 2016

Technology is woven into the fabric of our daily lives. From function to fashion, it has become something that most people cannot live without. But when a business is tasked with marketing a new tech product, how can they shift the consumers’ perspective from thinking of hardware as a complicated piece of metal to believing it’s an essential item to bring warmth and convenience to their lives?

The Challenge

This is the challenge often presented to advertisers and marketers. Associate Creative Director Andrea Voskanian explains that at PETROL’s intitial kick-off’s the team will, “pull reference on how we can interject humanity into the piece without just using a Shutterstock model holding the product. We’ll pull from all areas of life including art, product design, and fashion especially.” This level of imagination and detail is essential to building an eye-catching image that resonates with the viewer in just a few seconds.

Senior Illustrator Anthony Karaboghosian adds that, “everything has to have a relationship. You’re trying to constantly remind the consumer of the values of the product and how it fits into their daily life.” It’s this artistic continuity that will add the je ne sais quoi that holds someone’s gaze just a few seconds longer, and create an aspirational desire to attain the lifestyle promised by the image.

In 2016, with the average attention span shrinking to 8 seconds, every moment counts when developing million dollar advertising campaigns. With the growing number of ads both online and in the streets, consumers are often overwhelmed. Because of this, it is important to focus your creative on strong emotional cues that draw the viewer in and convey the information they need quickly and simply.

The Approach

There are a myriad of ways that an artist can approach a tech product like a hard drive. Over the course of our relationship with Western Digital, we had the opportunity to innovate several approaches that spoke to different concepts and audiences around the world.

Abstract Interpretations of Brand Values

In one concept, pieces of a hard drive were put to new use through the creation of unexpected objects like a Formula 1 racecar and hummingbird—both built in 3D entirely out of component hard drive parts. These objects evoked the idea of speed, and the textures and lighting used elevated the simple hard drive parts to a futuristic design sensibility with luxury appeal. So although the product was not shown, we captured the imagination of viewers and gave them a sense of speed, innovation, and luxury—all of which were key tenets of the brand itself.

Add Humanity, Literally

Another approach involved female models whose faces were painted or illustrated. The audience here was not the core tech user, but the artists, photographers, and digital technology enthusiasts who use tech hardware to enhance their work and lives. Again the product was not featured, but these pieces appealed to the high aesthetic expectations of this audience while also inspiring the same ideas of innovation and luxury that were inherent to the brand itself.

Sparking Imagination

Yet another example is inspired by the idea that creativity is more than the sum of its parts. Through a series of videos, we were able to imagine a variety of fun, playful objects that were made from the parts of a WD hard drive. These videos appeal to the desire of artistic types to build and create. Through watching these objects come to life, users themselves are left with the impression that they too can create amazing things with the help and support of technology from the brand.

Showing the Consumer a Reflection of Themselves

Lastly, to refresh and refine the user’s understanding of the full hard drive product line, we developed a breakthrough, graphically iconic approach that allowed viewers to quickly understand which product was for them and why they needed it. Through a series of videos using the universal hexagon shape and one of five colors, each product revealed the use-cases custom to that audience. In the example below, for WD Black, we see the hard drive as a 3D modeling tool, Wacom tablet, video editor and camera. All of these objects will be recognizable to artists and strengthen the association that this is a product purpose-built specifically for them.

Specializing in the Unexpected

In an era of flat text, minimal designs and advertisements on every available surface and screen, it’s important to keep pushing the landscape to see what is possible and what cuts through the noise.

Through our 360 partnership with Western Digital, PETROL has brought the brand into a realm where they had never gone before, and the results have been nothing but positive. This dedication to communicating the intangible is the secret sauce of PETROL’s creative teams and their technical skills continue to push the agency and industry forward.

Erin Berkenmeier

Erin Berkenmeier

An avid explorer of internet culture, Erin has spent the past 6 years building successful digital experiences and creative campaigns for social media.