In this month's skills advice section, Erin Leuschke from Plus Two talks to us about using Adobe Flash in the offline world. Plus Two have 25 years experience in the strategic, creative and technical aspects of marketing communications.
Remember when your mobile just made calls? Or when a photo frame just held a printed image? A strange opening for a piece on presentations, you may think - but the common theme here is convergence. A digital approach of marketing may just be becoming mainstream, but the line between online and offline content design is already very blurred. The flash designer who fails to recognize this is missing out on major creative opportunities.
Look around you
For many, the word presentation still conjures up images of death by PowerPoint - with the presentation designer in a subclass on the career spectrum. But offline branded content animates everywhere around us. It's there on the screens we see every day; on the underground, in business receptions, in stores, in meeting rooms, in bars, at events, on your new electronic toy... and the trend is only growing. Luckily, we have Adobe Flash to meet this need.
For most flash designers, the easiest way into this market is via presentations. In the current business climate, sales teams need to make the most of every opportunity. There is also a great deal of pressure on marketing departments to equip their sales people with more effective resources.
The end of PowerPoint
PowerPoint has always been the industry standard for presentations, but 'standard' is hardly a word that businesses want associated with their brands - now more than ever. Flash animated content allows presenters to stand out from the crowd, to be remembered. The interactivity of flash designed content also makes it much easier for a prospect to drive the direction of a pitch - diving in and out of information as questions are asked.
Why you will love it
One thing that designers always feed back to us is that they love the freedom of working on presentations. Designing a good presentation is like designing a micro-site - but without worrying about browsers, back-ends, databases or plug-ins.
If freedom is a key word, imagination is too. In our experience, clients will often deliver a standard text based PPT brief, and it is your job as a designer to find a clearer, more interesting, original way to deliver that message - not to just animate the PPT. Our studios have seen the plainest of briefs turned into 3D offices, 2D dance studios, sketching tools, character animation, typographic adventures, classroom quizzes and board games.
Most of us aren't great at multi-tasking. So another important tip for creating great presentations is to remember that if the audience is reading the screen, they are probably not listening - and vice versa. You'll notice that in most of these presentation examples, the text is kept fairly minimal. Wherever possible, it helps to place the text in context, so that any information displayed is what the prospect wants to hear about, right then.
Pushing the boat out...
For those designers with developer feathers in their caps - there are many ways to include interesting code features in your presentations. The key is to spot the need before your client does, and propose a solution.
How far you push your Flash skills in the branded content environment is up to you. At Plus Two, we've taken it about as far as you can go, building a flash based presentation system called PresentiaFX. We tailor this flash application for our corporate clients, allowing them to harness the power of rich media content while maintaining brand identity and slide editablity.
How far we have come since the days when Flash was a tool for building just web banners. This brings us onto Adobe Air, Flex and flash application development... but let's leave that until next time.
Account Director - Plus Two Ltd