Podcast

Credibility by Design [Applied Theory Series]

Bennett Farkas

Chief Operating Officer

In this special Applied Theory Series episode, we reveal how our agency leverages design to build credibility among healthcare providers for the tech companies we serve. Cofounder Bennett Farkas shares real-life examples highlighting the impact of effective design in creating a strong pipeline. Together, we explore the world of design in enterprise health tech, uncovering the challenges, triumphs, and brand movements championed by our team for leading tech companies today.

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Transcript

Introducing Bennett Farkas and His History with Design

Jessica Head:

Okay, well hello again to those tuning in to our applied theory series. This is a monthly video podcast from our team to share practical insights and some of the latest marketing strategies we’re deploying for tech companies we serve. And I am very excited to be chatting with Bennett today, because for those of you who don’t have the unique pleasure and privilege of working with Bennett, or Kyle actually for that matter, we’ll have to have him on the show too as well, they host the most fun meetings because we’re always looking at really cool design solutions. And I know as John our CEO has shared with people before, it is very rare, if not ever, that we don’t just stick the landing on brand for health tech companies. And let me tell you, healthcare is complex and this is a hard thing for people to do.

So I’m really excited to be joined by Bennett Farkas, one of our co-founders, who arguably wears many hats here at the agency but is certainly known for his branding and design expertise among the clients we serve. And so for this episode we’ve decided to explore the world of design and healthcare. And before we dive in, Bennett, I’d love for you to take a minute or two to share your personal journey into the world of design and just provide our audience with some insights into our branding and positioning movements. Because we do do this a little differently at our agency, and I know you’ve played a large role in how we go about our design process for our clients. So take it away, tell us.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. So I’ve been… I don’t know, my history with design is I guess relative to my whole life a fairly long one ’cause I’ve been in it for a long time. I think as far as vocation is concerned I’ve always kind of known two things. It’s like, one, it was wanting be able to have the flexibility to make cool things. So I think that’s some of why going the agency route and being a founding member of an agency was appealing.

I think going back, design I think specifically is the only thing that, to me, never really felt like work. It always felt exciting to me. It felt like the thing I got to do in school, as opposed to a lot of the other things that didn’t come, I feel like, as naturally or felt as fun to me.

So I did go into college focusing on design communications with an administrative emphasis. So it’s kind of a joint degree of business and design. And I think that’s the space I occupy, is that intersection of… It’s what is practical and effective meets what is artful and good. And I think that’s kind of where we hang out most of the time. So ever since college, I mean, we founded this agency when Pete and I were fresh out. So it’s been just over 10 years of doing the same thing for the same types of companies. So we have dialed it in quite a bit.

Jessica Head:

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s certainly, I think, just the merriment of exactly your background showcases so much about our branding and positioning workshops and how those inform thoughtful design and thoughtful solutions that really help to, again, stick the landing on branding.

Designing for Experience and Activation

Jessica Head:

So I want to talk about, a little bit, just designing for experience and activation. Something I think I saw a lot at the conferences our teams attended in the spring, particularly ViVE and HIMSS, was this notion of patient-centered design. And to me it’s no wonder that people have adopted that language in the healthcare universe because I think that tech and design world has influenced much of that commentary based on the whole notion of human-centered design.

And I debated on whether or not I should share this, but I think our audience will appreciate it. Our team secretly, or maybe not so secretly now, has a Slack channel called Worst Health Photos Hall of Fame. And I think anyone tuning in knows exactly what we’re talking about. It’s those gut-wrenchingly terrible medical stock photography… Or on the contrary, which I think even SNL makes fun of quite a bit in some of their skits, but is like, this woman in a sundress skipping through a field among flowers like, “See if this medication is right for you.” And neither of those solutions really strike a balance between lifestyle and medical.

So Ben, I’d love for you to talk to us a little bit about really how you solve for these challenges and achieve that balance with our clients, because I’ve seen it time and time again that you’ve done that. But talk to us a little bit about that exploration and experience.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. So the space we occupy is a really tough one in the market. I think the companies that do the type of work that we do, that get put on the top shelf as considered the best in the business, most of them work with companies that have an easy thing to visualize and sell. And most of them are B2C companies that have a product that you can get really sexy photos of, and that does a lot of the legwork for the broader marketing program, the broader advertising strategy. And we just don’t have that in the B2B health space because the product is this software solution that is more often than not undergoing some form of substantial update.

So there’s not really a hero thing to show, and even if the product is in good shape the dashboards that we’re working with aren’t marketing-forward necessarily. They’re very in-the-weeds and you kind of have to know what it is in order for it to be compelling, unless it’s just a very strategically honed shot of that product.

So that’s kind of the problem that’s in front of us. The space that we, and the method that we have employed to keep us relevant in the space is that… We have that sole-focused component to us, which makes… We really focus on what is really unique and important about our clients, and then finding out ways to bring those things to the top. So it’s a sole-focused, and that unlocks other opportunities like having a more concept-driven brand as opposed to a brand that relies on a product in particular. So we find ourselves, I think, focusing more on visual themes to communicate a lot of interest in the visual space, because we don’t have those products and those hero shots to lean back on.

So it’s focusing on the soul of the organization, who they really are, and really crafting a concept-driven approach. So maybe the concept of a client could be… We’re working with a client right now that enables a smart hospital. Basically it’s a platform that enables clinicians and people in the hospital to have much better visibility and be empowered by AI within a smart hospital ecosystem. And again, their product is mostly dashboard views, but there’s this whole deeper concept of basically sight and being able to see, and this whole eye motif that we’ve worked to spread throughout their brand and gave us some actual content to work with in this scheme of stepping up, or I guess proposing their visual identity system.

Jessica Head:

Yeah, that’s super well said. And in regards to design touchpoints, what are the experiences that a prospect or client will have with a health tech solution, that you factor in when you’re thinking about the design system needed to be successful? Maybe sharing some context on how that might also differ from different verticals or enterprise SaaS verticals.

Bennett Farkas:

Sure. Yeah, I think a lot of the thing that I see with our clients is this underlying need to communicate to their market that they hang out in the medical space. For the work that we do, that’s only mildly important because the people that we’re selling to, they’re only in the medical space.

So I think they’re seeing all these different websites and they’re seeing, in the marketing anyway, they’re seeing a million stethoscopes a day ’cause it’s like, the trope. But that’s also not the way that a lot of these places work anymore. That’s a stock photo kind of like, “This is a medical thing.” And I think that’s its own micro use case of the problem, right? People need to communicate, “This is a medical photo, so I’m going to put this symbol in it to say it’s medical.” And it’s just overkill for how savvy our market is.

So it’s much more… I mean, it’s now transitioning into much more of traditionally a B2C approach where the typical touchpoints we’ll hit will be, you might see a social post that will lead you to a compelling bit of content that might answer a question that you have. And that post and that piece of content and how it’s correlated to the website, they stitch together this journey that has design considered at each component within each stage.

So in that way it’s kind of like being smart and thinking about, okay, what is the actual experience of the person buying this medical product from us? They’re a real human, so they’re really interfacing with real B2C brands in their real life. So that’s where they’re anchored in their heads, but they exist in this B2B space where it’s all in the medical realm. And so I think kind of finding your niche, being okay with not saying, “This is medical,” because it’s all medical for our buyers, that’s kind of, I guess, a thing I would encourage people to think about.

Jessica Head:

Yeah, I love that you-

Bennett Farkas:

[inaudible] your question.

Building Credibility in the Provider Ecosystem

Jessica Head:

No, it totally answers the question. And I love that you referenced that these are people, so they are accustomed to experiencing things from a B2C perspective, not exclusively B2B, I would say more traditional, potentially not as innovative or progressive on the design front. And even just speaking to the overuse of medical iconography.

I want to talk briefly about, and you’re talking about it already but maybe iterating on this, building credibility among the provider ecosystem. So we’re recording this on a day actually that we just released an episode on our podcast Healthcare Market Matrix with Bill Russell, the founder of This Week Health. And he colors a pretty vast picture in terms of competing priorities as a CIO, the day-to-day experience of a CIO. And so how do we use design to build that credibility with those communities, knowing that they’re some of the busiest people in the world? And you’re speaking to that, but maybe if you had any additional thoughts on how we navigate those commentaries. They’re certainly probably not interested in seeing some medical iconography that seems pretty basic.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think to that end I find… So my background is as a designer, which I consider that a little bit different than an artist in that a designer is usually one that hones and solves problems. And as a designer I find most of what I have done historically is cut. Whatever there is there’s usually too much and it’s about focusing. This crowd, they’re getting all the emails from all the companies and they don’t have the time. So when you take your shot it needs to be very strategic and it needs to be the only thing that you’re really pushing. So I think it’s that idea of less is more, especially for this crowd.

And then on the art side of it it’s being intentional about the problems that they’re encountering and creating a visual identity that puts those at ease. It’s like, the impression should be visually, when I encounter this brand it’s like, “Oh, this is in line with what I want to feel when I solve this problem using the solution.” So there’s a lot of trickery in there, but also opportunity for symbolism and metaphors to communicate concepts that get at some of these solutions that will help these buyers feel more comfortable pursuing whatever direction is being represented by this visual identity.

Approaching Brand Guidelines and Overall Brand Direction

Jessica Head:

Yeah, yeah, no doubt. Very well said again.

I want to offer our audience a few takeaway considerations as they explore their design solutions, or hopefully even reach out to us if it aligns. So touch on brand guidelines, dos and don’ts. We use style tiles at our agency, and we also leverage brand guidelines to inform and create some more structure around how the brand could be applied. But talk to us about that. I see also a lot of companies going through a rebrand for the sake of a rebrand, purely for aesthetics’s sake. So maybe what questions should you ask as you embark on identifying whether or not that’s the right path, and what does that include?

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. So certainly as it pertains to brand guidelines, and I guess overall brand direction, I think thinking through specific use cases is really important and really does vary from company to company depending on the strategy. So I think obviously there’s a lot of very cool brand identities out there that people might prop up as some of the best of all time. And when you think about it practically it would be very, very difficult to continuously push out assets that are in-brand that are differentiated enough. Some brands are just very technically difficult for designers to implement. And at the same time, those tend to be the more compelling pieces.

So having a brand that can almost have levels, where base level your average marketer can employ these elements and put together something in-brand, all the way up to your senior product designer can really do some magic with the top tier. So having a brand that is flexible enough and at its core is simple and strong enough to be able to facilitate different levels of design I would say would be really important.

Certainly thinking about the future. So the reality is your product is your product, and ultimately your market is going to want to see your product before they buy it. So I think even for those companies that are actively working on updating their product or milestone, the next milestone might be the one where the visuals are ready, planning for how you’re going to display your product is really important within the brand. Making intentional decisions like what devices you put it in to both make it feel modern, but also not quickly age every asset you create.

So there’s a lot of considerations in there for a… ‘Cause we’ve seen brands that we’ve launched and then we’ve stayed in relationship with for north of seven years, and so we’ve seen the brands that are able to be effectively wielded by internal teams. But there’s no doubt that the thing that goes the furthest in all of this is having an internal brand champion that really cares and gets it, and understands what the organization is trying to do from a brand perspective. Which is one of my favorite things to do, is help work with and empower those people because they’re the people that… They’ve really got the skin in the game and they’re really trying to impress the people around, and they’re the ones that they’re holding the line, they’re making sure that the consistency is happening, they’re making sure that the strategies are staying intact. And I think on the agency side that’s the best, because we have an ally that we can work to empower within their org.

So I think having a solid brand champion to have those hard conversations internally in the org to make sure that things stay good is the most important thing. And then having a brand system that has thoughtfully considered future use cases would also be really important.

Bennett’s Favorite Tools for Design Exploration

Jessica Head:

Yeah, yeah. And speaking of brand champions and those brand masters, you are the tool master of our agency. So talk to us about maybe some of your favorite tools for design exploration, and maybe that could be helpful for those that are on the other side there for finding innovative solutions.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. So kind of talking through more or less our tool stack for creative [inaudible]?

Jessica Head:

Yeah, yeah.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, so we are-

Jessica Head:

Only the [inaudible], it doesn’t have to be all of them. Because we do use a lot.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, and definitely different tools are more optimized for different tasks, there’s no secret about that. I think at the core we’ve always been an Adobe agency, ’cause they’ve been the big one in the space for a long, long time. Now we’re particularly still Adobe because they bought Figma. So Figma is the main tool we use for a lot of the more systems-oriented stuff like websites. And I’m sure a lot of health tech companies are using Figma for their product, we’ve seen that quite a bit. So that’s a really good interactive prototyping, building tool. It’s a little bit more systems-focused and a little bit less freeform than some of your Photoshop and Illustrator and InDesign will be. But we have been using Figma for a lot of the digital stuff.

One of the new tools that we’ve been using a lot of is Midjourney, which is the AI generative visual tool that’s out there now. It’s very promising in terms of the future abilities of what AI will be able to facilitate in the space. And at the very least right now it’s a super effective brainstorming tool, because I think one of the harder things that we do is just come up with some visual anchors of how to think about concepts. And it’s roughly equivalent of a Google search for a phrase, and just hitting images and seeing what pops up, only there’s a little bit more to it. There might be some visual themes that AI explores that hadn’t occurred to me, or ways to arrange objects in a way that communicate something that I hadn’t thought of before. So that’s definitely another one.

A small win for us is we typically are… well very frequently provided low res imagery because it’s the best version of this photo of this person that they’re okay with using on the internet. There’s been some really impressive AI upsizing tools that we’ve been able to use to basically just up the caliber of each of those branded touchpoints. Because the moment you see a fuzzy headshot on a website it communicates something different than a more polished, crisp one does from an overall quality and perception of the product.

So I think being able to tap tools like that have been a game changer, certainly over the last several months, and I look forward to as they get more and more integrated, ’cause right now there are a bunch of point solutions for specific use cases. But as some of the bigger companies start enveloping and integrating some of these AI tools it’ll be really interesting to see what it will unlock for people.

Closing Thoughts

Jessica Head:

Yeah, I am very excited to see the progression of some of these AI tools in relation to things that we’re already using at the agency, and hopefully we’ll have more access to in the future.

I could talk about this stuff all day, Bennett, with you. I thoroughly enjoy our conversations and thank you so much for being on the show with us so that we can hopefully spread this among some of the other marketers and branding people out there. Hopefully this has added a pep in someone’s step over a lunch break and given them some ideas for how they might navigate the world of design and healthcare. So we look forward to having you back on the show soon.

And for our audience, if there are questions we didn’t get to, feel free to add it in the comments below. We’re always looking to hear from you on what topics our team should cover next. And if you did enjoy this session, be sure to like and subscribe, and most importantly share with a colleague or a friend. And we will see you next time, thanks.

Transcript (custom)

Introducing Bennett Farkas and His History with Design

Jessica Head:

Okay, well hello again to those tuning in to our applied theory series. This is a monthly video podcast from our team to share practical insights and some of the latest marketing strategies we’re deploying for tech companies we serve. And I am very excited to be chatting with Bennett today, because for those of you who don’t have the unique pleasure and privilege of working with Bennett, or Kyle actually for that matter, we’ll have to have him on the show too as well, they host the most fun meetings because we’re always looking at really cool design solutions. And I know as John our CEO has shared with people before, it is very rare, if not ever, that we don’t just stick the landing on brand for health tech companies. And let me tell you, healthcare is complex and this is a hard thing for people to do.

So I’m really excited to be joined by Bennett Farkas, one of our co-founders, who arguably wears many hats here at the agency but is certainly known for his branding and design expertise among the clients we serve. And so for this episode we’ve decided to explore the world of design and healthcare. And before we dive in, Bennett, I’d love for you to take a minute or two to share your personal journey into the world of design and just provide our audience with some insights into our branding and positioning movements. Because we do do this a little differently at our agency, and I know you’ve played a large role in how we go about our design process for our clients. So take it away, tell us.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. So I’ve been… I don’t know, my history with design is I guess relative to my whole life a fairly long one ’cause I’ve been in it for a long time. I think as far as vocation is concerned I’ve always kind of known two things. It’s like, one, it was wanting be able to have the flexibility to make cool things. So I think that’s some of why going the agency route and being a founding member of an agency was appealing.

I think going back, design I think specifically is the only thing that, to me, never really felt like work. It always felt exciting to me. It felt like the thing I got to do in school, as opposed to a lot of the other things that didn’t come, I feel like, as naturally or felt as fun to me.

So I did go into college focusing on design communications with an administrative emphasis. So it’s kind of a joint degree of business and design. And I think that’s the space I occupy, is that intersection of… It’s what is practical and effective meets what is artful and good. And I think that’s kind of where we hang out most of the time. So ever since college, I mean, we founded this agency when Pete and I were fresh out. So it’s been just over 10 years of doing the same thing for the same types of companies. So we have dialed it in quite a bit.

Jessica Head:

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s certainly, I think, just the merriment of exactly your background showcases so much about our branding and positioning workshops and how those inform thoughtful design and thoughtful solutions that really help to, again, stick the landing on branding.

Designing for Experience and Activation

Jessica Head:

So I want to talk about, a little bit, just designing for experience and activation. Something I think I saw a lot at the conferences our teams attended in the spring, particularly ViVE and HIMSS, was this notion of patient-centered design. And to me it’s no wonder that people have adopted that language in the healthcare universe because I think that tech and design world has influenced much of that commentary based on the whole notion of human-centered design.

And I debated on whether or not I should share this, but I think our audience will appreciate it. Our team secretly, or maybe not so secretly now, has a Slack channel called Worst Health Photos Hall of Fame. And I think anyone tuning in knows exactly what we’re talking about. It’s those gut-wrenchingly terrible medical stock photography… Or on the contrary, which I think even SNL makes fun of quite a bit in some of their skits, but is like, this woman in a sundress skipping through a field among flowers like, “See if this medication is right for you.” And neither of those solutions really strike a balance between lifestyle and medical.

So Ben, I’d love for you to talk to us a little bit about really how you solve for these challenges and achieve that balance with our clients, because I’ve seen it time and time again that you’ve done that. But talk to us a little bit about that exploration and experience.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. So the space we occupy is a really tough one in the market. I think the companies that do the type of work that we do, that get put on the top shelf as considered the best in the business, most of them work with companies that have an easy thing to visualize and sell. And most of them are B2C companies that have a product that you can get really sexy photos of, and that does a lot of the legwork for the broader marketing program, the broader advertising strategy. And we just don’t have that in the B2B health space because the product is this software solution that is more often than not undergoing some form of substantial update.

So there’s not really a hero thing to show, and even if the product is in good shape the dashboards that we’re working with aren’t marketing-forward necessarily. They’re very in-the-weeds and you kind of have to know what it is in order for it to be compelling, unless it’s just a very strategically honed shot of that product.

So that’s kind of the problem that’s in front of us. The space that we, and the method that we have employed to keep us relevant in the space is that… We have that sole-focused component to us, which makes… We really focus on what is really unique and important about our clients, and then finding out ways to bring those things to the top. So it’s a sole-focused, and that unlocks other opportunities like having a more concept-driven brand as opposed to a brand that relies on a product in particular. So we find ourselves, I think, focusing more on visual themes to communicate a lot of interest in the visual space, because we don’t have those products and those hero shots to lean back on.

So it’s focusing on the soul of the organization, who they really are, and really crafting a concept-driven approach. So maybe the concept of a client could be… We’re working with a client right now that enables a smart hospital. Basically it’s a platform that enables clinicians and people in the hospital to have much better visibility and be empowered by AI within a smart hospital ecosystem. And again, their product is mostly dashboard views, but there’s this whole deeper concept of basically sight and being able to see, and this whole eye motif that we’ve worked to spread throughout their brand and gave us some actual content to work with in this scheme of stepping up, or I guess proposing their visual identity system.

Jessica Head:

Yeah, that’s super well said. And in regards to design touchpoints, what are the experiences that a prospect or client will have with a health tech solution, that you factor in when you’re thinking about the design system needed to be successful? Maybe sharing some context on how that might also differ from different verticals or enterprise SaaS verticals.

Bennett Farkas:

Sure. Yeah, I think a lot of the thing that I see with our clients is this underlying need to communicate to their market that they hang out in the medical space. For the work that we do, that’s only mildly important because the people that we’re selling to, they’re only in the medical space.

So I think they’re seeing all these different websites and they’re seeing, in the marketing anyway, they’re seeing a million stethoscopes a day ’cause it’s like, the trope. But that’s also not the way that a lot of these places work anymore. That’s a stock photo kind of like, “This is a medical thing.” And I think that’s its own micro use case of the problem, right? People need to communicate, “This is a medical photo, so I’m going to put this symbol in it to say it’s medical.” And it’s just overkill for how savvy our market is.

So it’s much more… I mean, it’s now transitioning into much more of traditionally a B2C approach where the typical touchpoints we’ll hit will be, you might see a social post that will lead you to a compelling bit of content that might answer a question that you have. And that post and that piece of content and how it’s correlated to the website, they stitch together this journey that has design considered at each component within each stage.

So in that way it’s kind of like being smart and thinking about, okay, what is the actual experience of the person buying this medical product from us? They’re a real human, so they’re really interfacing with real B2C brands in their real life. So that’s where they’re anchored in their heads, but they exist in this B2B space where it’s all in the medical realm. And so I think kind of finding your niche, being okay with not saying, “This is medical,” because it’s all medical for our buyers, that’s kind of, I guess, a thing I would encourage people to think about.

Jessica Head:

Yeah, I love that you-

Bennett Farkas:

[inaudible] your question.

Building Credibility in the Provider Ecosystem

Jessica Head:

No, it totally answers the question. And I love that you referenced that these are people, so they are accustomed to experiencing things from a B2C perspective, not exclusively B2B, I would say more traditional, potentially not as innovative or progressive on the design front. And even just speaking to the overuse of medical iconography.

I want to talk briefly about, and you’re talking about it already but maybe iterating on this, building credibility among the provider ecosystem. So we’re recording this on a day actually that we just released an episode on our podcast Healthcare Market Matrix with Bill Russell, the founder of This Week Health. And he colors a pretty vast picture in terms of competing priorities as a CIO, the day-to-day experience of a CIO. And so how do we use design to build that credibility with those communities, knowing that they’re some of the busiest people in the world? And you’re speaking to that, but maybe if you had any additional thoughts on how we navigate those commentaries. They’re certainly probably not interested in seeing some medical iconography that seems pretty basic.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think to that end I find… So my background is as a designer, which I consider that a little bit different than an artist in that a designer is usually one that hones and solves problems. And as a designer I find most of what I have done historically is cut. Whatever there is there’s usually too much and it’s about focusing. This crowd, they’re getting all the emails from all the companies and they don’t have the time. So when you take your shot it needs to be very strategic and it needs to be the only thing that you’re really pushing. So I think it’s that idea of less is more, especially for this crowd.

And then on the art side of it it’s being intentional about the problems that they’re encountering and creating a visual identity that puts those at ease. It’s like, the impression should be visually, when I encounter this brand it’s like, “Oh, this is in line with what I want to feel when I solve this problem using the solution.” So there’s a lot of trickery in there, but also opportunity for symbolism and metaphors to communicate concepts that get at some of these solutions that will help these buyers feel more comfortable pursuing whatever direction is being represented by this visual identity.

Approaching Brand Guidelines and Overall Brand Direction

Jessica Head:

Yeah, yeah, no doubt. Very well said again.

I want to offer our audience a few takeaway considerations as they explore their design solutions, or hopefully even reach out to us if it aligns. So touch on brand guidelines, dos and don’ts. We use style tiles at our agency, and we also leverage brand guidelines to inform and create some more structure around how the brand could be applied. But talk to us about that. I see also a lot of companies going through a rebrand for the sake of a rebrand, purely for aesthetics’s sake. So maybe what questions should you ask as you embark on identifying whether or not that’s the right path, and what does that include?

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. So certainly as it pertains to brand guidelines, and I guess overall brand direction, I think thinking through specific use cases is really important and really does vary from company to company depending on the strategy. So I think obviously there’s a lot of very cool brand identities out there that people might prop up as some of the best of all time. And when you think about it practically it would be very, very difficult to continuously push out assets that are in-brand that are differentiated enough. Some brands are just very technically difficult for designers to implement. And at the same time, those tend to be the more compelling pieces.

So having a brand that can almost have levels, where base level your average marketer can employ these elements and put together something in-brand, all the way up to your senior product designer can really do some magic with the top tier. So having a brand that is flexible enough and at its core is simple and strong enough to be able to facilitate different levels of design I would say would be really important.

Certainly thinking about the future. So the reality is your product is your product, and ultimately your market is going to want to see your product before they buy it. So I think even for those companies that are actively working on updating their product or milestone, the next milestone might be the one where the visuals are ready, planning for how you’re going to display your product is really important within the brand. Making intentional decisions like what devices you put it in to both make it feel modern, but also not quickly age every asset you create.

So there’s a lot of considerations in there for a… ‘Cause we’ve seen brands that we’ve launched and then we’ve stayed in relationship with for north of seven years, and so we’ve seen the brands that are able to be effectively wielded by internal teams. But there’s no doubt that the thing that goes the furthest in all of this is having an internal brand champion that really cares and gets it, and understands what the organization is trying to do from a brand perspective. Which is one of my favorite things to do, is help work with and empower those people because they’re the people that… They’ve really got the skin in the game and they’re really trying to impress the people around, and they’re the ones that they’re holding the line, they’re making sure that the consistency is happening, they’re making sure that the strategies are staying intact. And I think on the agency side that’s the best, because we have an ally that we can work to empower within their org.

So I think having a solid brand champion to have those hard conversations internally in the org to make sure that things stay good is the most important thing. And then having a brand system that has thoughtfully considered future use cases would also be really important.

Bennett’s Favorite Tools for Design Exploration

Jessica Head:

Yeah, yeah. And speaking of brand champions and those brand masters, you are the tool master of our agency. So talk to us about maybe some of your favorite tools for design exploration, and maybe that could be helpful for those that are on the other side there for finding innovative solutions.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. So kind of talking through more or less our tool stack for creative [inaudible]?

Jessica Head:

Yeah, yeah.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, so we are-

Jessica Head:

Only the [inaudible], it doesn’t have to be all of them. Because we do use a lot.

Bennett Farkas:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, and definitely different tools are more optimized for different tasks, there’s no secret about that. I think at the core we’ve always been an Adobe agency, ’cause they’ve been the big one in the space for a long, long time. Now we’re particularly still Adobe because they bought Figma. So Figma is the main tool we use for a lot of the more systems-oriented stuff like websites. And I’m sure a lot of health tech companies are using Figma for their product, we’ve seen that quite a bit. So that’s a really good interactive prototyping, building tool. It’s a little bit more systems-focused and a little bit less freeform than some of your Photoshop and Illustrator and InDesign will be. But we have been using Figma for a lot of the digital stuff.

One of the new tools that we’ve been using a lot of is Midjourney, which is the AI generative visual tool that’s out there now. It’s very promising in terms of the future abilities of what AI will be able to facilitate in the space. And at the very least right now it’s a super effective brainstorming tool, because I think one of the harder things that we do is just come up with some visual anchors of how to think about concepts. And it’s roughly equivalent of a Google search for a phrase, and just hitting images and seeing what pops up, only there’s a little bit more to it. There might be some visual themes that AI explores that hadn’t occurred to me, or ways to arrange objects in a way that communicate something that I hadn’t thought of before. So that’s definitely another one.

A small win for us is we typically are… well very frequently provided low res imagery because it’s the best version of this photo of this person that they’re okay with using on the internet. There’s been some really impressive AI upsizing tools that we’ve been able to use to basically just up the caliber of each of those branded touchpoints. Because the moment you see a fuzzy headshot on a website it communicates something different than a more polished, crisp one does from an overall quality and perception of the product.

So I think being able to tap tools like that have been a game changer, certainly over the last several months, and I look forward to as they get more and more integrated, ’cause right now there are a bunch of point solutions for specific use cases. But as some of the bigger companies start enveloping and integrating some of these AI tools it’ll be really interesting to see what it will unlock for people.

Closing Thoughts

Jessica Head:

Yeah, I am very excited to see the progression of some of these AI tools in relation to things that we’re already using at the agency, and hopefully we’ll have more access to in the future.

I could talk about this stuff all day, Bennett, with you. I thoroughly enjoy our conversations and thank you so much for being on the show with us so that we can hopefully spread this among some of the other marketers and branding people out there. Hopefully this has added a pep in someone’s step over a lunch break and given them some ideas for how they might navigate the world of design and healthcare. So we look forward to having you back on the show soon.

And for our audience, if there are questions we didn’t get to, feel free to add it in the comments below. We’re always looking to hear from you on what topics our team should cover next. And if you did enjoy this session, be sure to like and subscribe, and most importantly share with a colleague or a friend. And we will see you next time, thanks.

About Bennett Farkas

Bennett Farkas is COO and Partner at Ratio, a growth marketing agency headquartered in Nashville, TN. Spearheading design and marketing operations, he is dedicated to empowering revolutionary healthtech enterprises to drive transformative change within the market.

Connect with Bennett to explore innovative operational strategies, design-infused approaches, and collaborative opportunities to shape the future of healthtech.

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Healthcare is getting all the emails from all the companies in compressed timelines. So when you take your shot, it needs to be very strategic, and it needs to be the only thing that you're pushing. The idea of less is more is wise for this crowd.

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