Camilo Suarez predicts key design trends for 2019

· Content Marketing, Trends

Australian consumers are exposed to thousands of ads every day, but our senior designer, Camilo Suarez, can always find a way to establish a genuine bond between audiences and brands.

Today we took Camilo away from the drawing board to chat about how graphic design has evolved over the past 10-years and the best way to engage a digital audience in 2019.

So, tell us a bit about yourself Camilo

I’m originally from Colombia. My father is an architect, and my mother is an interior designer, so I’ve always been surrounded by art and it was easy for me to follow my passion.

I studied graphic design in Bogotá, Colombia and am also an illustrator, specialising in drawing and animation.

After university, I started working at an American company which was a great opportunity to learn about the industry outside my country, especially at a time when the digital industry was just beginning.

How did you get to Keep Left?

About two years ago I was featured in an Australian article about the best illustrators from around the world. That put Australia on my radar, and a friend said that if I went anywhere in Australia, it had to be Melbourne.

Despite working in the industry for more than ten years, I had no local contacts in Australia and had to build my network from scratch. I was very lucky to find Keep Left and am so happy to be part of the team.

How has design evolved since you first started?

Creative industries are always evolving so every day is different. The biggest change I experienced was the transition from old school technology to the digital world we live in today, where anything is possible. Another change is that anyone can claim to be a graphic designer. It’s part of life now. You are fed images all the time so, as a designer, you really have to innovate to stand out.

Has it been hard to transition onto more digital design?

I kind of worked backwards. I started my career in a digital environment, then moved into a Creative Director role at an advertising company that mass-produced billboards and TV commercials. So for me, the new is like the old, and vice versa. Transitioning back to digital design at Keep Left has felt like going back to my roots.

What’s the best way to engage the audience on digital platforms?

I would say the best way to engage audiences online is to create emotional bonds between people. You should aim to make your audience laugh or cry, because that’s the best way to form a connection and seed an idea. But it must be real. People can tell when you are trying to sell them something so as a marketer, you should try to entertain, rather than persuade.

What do you love the most about your job?

Every day is different. You never know what the next challenge is going to be, so you keep thinking and learning and that’s what makes you feel young.

What’s the key design trends for 2019?

I think the next trend will be bringing design back-to-basics. We have been living in a special-effects driven world for the past 10-years, and I think people are getting tired of it.

Bringing design back-to-basics requires focussing on the details. For example, typography is so important now. You can’t just leave the text as an afterthought in your design, and you need to put your soul into your work.

In 2019, we will shift the message from just product characteristics to experiences, dreams and inspiration. We will bring humanity back to design.

animated storytelling

Harnessing the power of animated storytelling

· Content Marketing, Trends

With a concentrated media landscape, it’s never been more important to take an integrated approach to client storytelling.

Since formally expanding our services to include content production two years ago, we have met a number of talented creatives who visually bring our client’s key messages to life. One of those artists is Kate Tartsus, an experienced video producer with a passion for visual storytelling and multimedia production.

Today we took Kate away from the computer to talk about the power of animated storytelling and how businesses can use this tool to effectively communicate complex, boring or sensitive ideas in a visually engaging way.

Tell us a little bit about yourself Kate

Where do I begin…I was born in Estonia and moved to the UK in my early twenties to complete a Public Relations degree at University of the Arts. When I graduated, I started working as a film publicist at a global communications agency in London. This is where I discovered my passion for visual communications. The company I was working for helped me enrol into several courses and before I knew it, I was a qualified video producer who knew she had found her calling.

What is animated storytelling?

It’s a design technique that puts storytelling at the heart of animation. You can tell a story by shooting a live action piece or create a whole world from scratch, using animation. Shooting live action is fun, but sometimes there are elements that are totally out of your control such as lighting, location availability and talent. With animation, you can design, light and animate characters however you choose.

While each method has its own challenges, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing your vision come to life after hours of toying around with different character rigs. You have complete creative control of how a message is visually portrayed which means everything is there by design and nothing is left to chance. For a brand it means that every character move, every bit of typography, colour or shape is intentional, and part of a bigger picture.

Why should businesses embrace animated storytelling?

We have used animated storytelling initiatives for a variety of our corporate and consumer clients over the past 6-12 months. It is a great option when there are elements of your video that you cannot capture using live action such as when you are making a forward prediction or want to communicate a futuristic concept. It can also be effective when you want to say something sensitive in a way that your audience can easily digest.

When done well, I believe animated storytelling adds an extra layer of satisfaction to a viewer’s experience.

Orthodontics Australia by ASO explainer animation

What are your tips for animation?

The most important part of your animation is the script. At Keep Left, we work with a team of very talented copywriters who perfect this part of the workflow before production begins. For a designer, it can be tempting to jump right in and start devising visuals, but you need to make sure you have a strong, clear and logical script first.

Another thing I always say to our clients is to make sure they focus on one or two key messages. When it comes to visual communication, you don’t want to bombard your viewer with superfluous information because they won’t be able to grasp what you are really trying to say. As a rule of thumb, stick to one or two key messages per 30 seconds of visual information.

Something that often gets overlooked when it comes to animation is the quality of sound. I recommend hiring a professional audio producer as having someone who is specialised in sound can make a real difference and elevate the creative work.

FlickPay explainer animation

Any final words?

Animation brings together the strengths of multiple communications specialists, but we always build on the foundations of storytelling by leading with a strong character and helping a brand connect with their audience in a meaningful way. We create commercial films that take viewers on a journey with a brand’s product or service and when it comes to content marketing, there is nothing more powerful than that.

Spreading the GoodSAM message

· Trends · , ,

It’s not often our work impacts lives in such a direct way.

But this week, Keep Left had the privilege of working with Ambulance Victoria to launch a lifesaving smartphone app, through an integrated campaign which included tear jerking videos, action orientated media coverage and a huge government, stakeholder and media event.

Ambulance Victoria's GoodSAM app

The innovative GoodSAM app alerts qualified registered first responders, such as off-duty paramedics, firefighters, doctors and nurses to a nearby cardiac arrest after a call is made to Triple Zero (000).

Its already helped save the lives of two Victorians through the pilot phase where more than 1000 Ambulance Victoria paramedics volunteered and through our campaign to drive more registrations, we’ve helped grow the army of Good Samaritans ready save more lives.

Ambulance Victoria GoodSAM app

The technology can alert up to three nearby responders, using GPS to direct them to the patient and the nearest publicly accessible defibrillator to start the chain of survival before emergency services arrive.

Why the big deal? Every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces someone’s chance of survival from cardiac arrest by 10 percent, so while an ambulance is on its way, the GoodSAM app connects patients with first responders to start the chain of survival.

GoodSAM defibrilator Keep Left campaign

Keep Left and Ambulance Victoria worked together to deliver an integrated approach to the campaign, which had three vital stages

1. Driving defibrillator registrations through targeted Victorian metro and regional media and social content amplification

2. Increasing registrations amongst the first responder community through engaging insights-led video content

3. A significant launch event with a well-coordinated package to raise awareness of the app (and why a paramedic in their PJs could save your life).

Showcasing the functions of the app, stories of cardiac arrest survivors and an emotive case study demonstrating the power of GoodSAM, our film production helped add heart to an important technological development (and we’re pretty sure a tear in The Hon Premier Daniel Andrew’s eye.) He wasn’t the only one though – grab the tissue box and take a look for yourself:

And the results have been powerful.

Key messages delivered through hundreds of pieces of high quality metro and regional TV, radio, print and online media coverage.

Thousands of video views. Millions of eyeballs reached.

But more importantly, a huge increase in registrations for life saving defibrillators and first responders amongst the Victorian community to hopefully save many, many more lives.

Well done Ambulance Victoria.

Read more about Keep Left’s recent work.

Google Maps Beta fox companion showing the way

4 exciting tech announcements from Google I/O

· Trends · , , , ,

Google’s recent annual developer conference, Google I/O, gave us a sneak peek into the inner workings of their empire. We saw how in the not too distant future, Google Assistant will be making calls and writing emails for us, and how augmented reality will seriously level-up Google Maps.

On one hand, the conference was a not-so-subtle reminder of the tech giant’s continued oligopolistic reign over all things internet. On the other hand, it was really cool.

At Keep Left, we love tech. We love the way it makes our lives easier and better connected, but also the way it makes us more efficient at what we do best: getting the right messages in front of the right people, in the right way and at the right time.

After much internal debate, here’s a run-down of some of our favourite (read: coolest) technologies unveiled at this year’s Google I/O.

1. Google Duplex

One of the most widely discussed technologies revealed at Google I/O was Google Duplex, which enables the Google Assistant to make and hold a phone conversation with a real, live human all by itself. The most impressive part? It doesn’t even sound remotely robotic.

As Google CEO Sundar Pichai alluded to during his presentation, the ramifications of this technology are incredible. It goes beyond making an appointment at the hairdresser or booking a table for dinner. It could help small businesses without an online booking function. It could help people who cannot make phone calls due to disability or anxiety. Down the line, it could make calls in other languages.

It’s a technology that has the power to revolutionise the way we live, work, travel and communicate with those around us, and for some of us it could be at our fingertips in the next few months.

2. Google Lens Beta

Google Lens has been around for a while, but the new version is even beta (unlike our puns), analysing everything your phone sees before you even capture an image. If you point your phone’s camera at a piece of art or a beautiful building, Google Lens can tell you what it is. If you point it at a dress you love, it’ll tell you where to buy it. Point it at a photo of a musician and it will offer you the option to play a music video by the artist.

But what got our team even more excited is that Google Lens will also be able to interpret written words. If it’s the page of a book, it’ll allow you to copy and paste the text it sees. If it’s a handwritten note or a menu in a restaurant, it’ll allow you to copy text from the real world to your phone. Think of the time saving after those whiteboard sessions! Think about how much more legible V’s handwriting will be.

Plus, Google Lens will be built inside the camera app instead of in Google Photos, so you won’t even need to open a new app to use it. Google Lens Beta will be rolling out across 10 different Android phones in the coming weeks (WEEKS!), so if you have an LGE, Motorola, Xiaomi, Sony Mobile, HMD/Nokia, Transsition, TCL, OnePlus, BQ, Asus or Google Pixel… watch out!

3. Google Maps + AR

Google Maps has been assisting the hopelessly lost and the directionally challenged for years now, but the latest updates will make it even easier for people to navigate areas they don’t know well. Google found that GPS was no longer cutting the mustard, and so have been investing in a new technology called VPS, or Visual Positioning System. It uses the visual features in the environment around you to recognise local landmarks and get you back on track.

But it’s not all about the destination. Google will pair AI with Street View to give an interactive AR experience, enabling you to make your journey from A to B with more knowledge and confidence. Whether it’s giving you information about the shops along your route or a friendly companion to show you the way, the new Google Maps will help you feel like a local in no time.

Google Maps Beta fox companion showing the way

4. Gmail

One of the core Google products which is being redesigned with AI is Gmail. Google announced it would be adding a feature called Smart Compose to Gmail, which uses machine learning to draft your email as you type. It understands the subject you’re talking about and makes recommendations based on it, and will use the information it knows about you, such as your address, to make suggestions. To accept a suggestion, all you need to do is hit tab.
It’s a bit like predictive text but a million times better.

Smart Compose Gmail gif


So there we have it. Google will soon be writing our emails, calling our hairdressers, and advising us on our home interiors. Is it scary, or is it cool? OK Google…

A tent in the woods at Kathmandu's hidden retreat

Experiential marketing: bringing brands to life

· Trends, Tricks of the trade

Over the past six months, the Keep Left team has brought more than 20 events and experiences to life, from topping out ceremonies for our property clients and hydrating guests with FIJI Water at Melbourne’s Diner en Blanc, to entertaining the public at park cinemas and playing host to happy campers at Kathmandu’s Hidden Retreat.

A tent in the woods at Kathmandu's hidden retreat

Experiential marketing is a great way to bring a brand to life, and with 65% of consumers stating that events help them to better understand a brand’s products or services, the benefits are clear.

Interested in finding out more? Check out our Head of Consumer Engagement Johanna Murray’s compelling case in B&T  for why brands should harness the power of experiential marketing.

Data-driven storytelling

· Trends

Future-proof your communications with data-driven storytelling.

One thing’s for sure, there are already enough buzzwords in this world.

We didn’t intend to introduce another one when we launched our data-driven storytelling methodology a couple of weeks back.  We did it because we think it encapsulates how the most successful communications campaigns will be built, delivered and evaluated in the future and as an agency, wanted to be ahead of the curve.

So by way of unpacking it, here’s what we mean by data-driven storytelling and why you should care about it too, if you want to elevate and future-proof your communications:

Our commitment to data-driven storytelling means you’ll always start with the right story, informed by insight and analytics, and we’ll take responsibility for seeing that story through to make sure it reaches the intended audience at the intended time.

It’s high impact communications that can be measured.


Multimedia storytelling

· Trends

Storytelling via earned media continues to change. See how Keep Left is taking the humble survey mechanic to a whole new level for its clients.

ME case study

Consumer research is a tried and tested part of the PR toolkit. But nowadays, research on its own is not enough to cut through and tell a compelling story. Stats bounce off a reader and don’t have a lasting impact. Good storytelling connects with the heart as well as the head, so we’ve started developing editorial packages that aim to do both. We call this multimedia storytelling.

Multimedia storytelling

Our PR and content teams work together to determine how to build the best package, including:
· The narrative: Omnibus research often throws up a plethora of stats which can be overwhelming on mass. We decide what the crux of the story is and build a narrative around it to explore the key point in more depth.
· Creative mechanic: Vox pops, stunts, infographics. There are a myriad of ways to creatively tell a story these days using video, design or even audio. People prefer to watch and listen than read, and with the increasing dominance of digital, it stands to reason storytelling should be more creative – not just written words.
· Distribution: Earned media (PR) is still the main vehicle we use to get our clients’ stories out there, but we equally consider our clients’ owned assets (website/eDM), social channels as well as paid amplification. We produce a suite of assets that work alongside a static media release or pitch note, to control the message and take the audience on a journey.

Putting it into practice

We commissioned an Omnibus study recently on behalf of bank ME to better understand financial literacy and where the gaps existed, as part of ME’s commitment to helping Australians get ahead.
The research revealed some patchy knowledge, so after speaking to ME and understanding what was really important, we decided to deep-dive into the area that’s of most significance – home loan interest rates. The video we made was real, authentic, relatable and just a little bit funny. It was also extremely topical with interest rates fluctuating rapidly at the time (June 2015).

The results

We sold the research results and video package into Fairfax Money who published a multi-media story on 9 June across the print Money section (Melbourne / Sydney) as was syndicated the online story – including our branded video – to 150 Fairfax publications online.  The story performed so well, that it was promoted up to The Age’s homepage during the lunchtime peak, where it remained for a few hours.

This approach took dry statistics and through insight gathering and the development of a central narrative, developed it into a full-bodied story that was interesting, relatable and connected emotionally as well as rationally.  We can’t wait to do the next one.

A wrap of SXSW Interactive 2016

· Trends

South by Southwest (SXSW) is an interactive, music and film conference held in Austin, Texas each year. We packed our cowboy boots and crossed the Pacific last month to attend the interactive component, and hear about the technologies set to redefine the way we think, live, work and do business.  From virtual reality to the re-emergence of GIFs, there’s a lot for communications professionals to evaluate and start experimenting with in 2016.  Here’s a wrap of the standout technologies and trends.

Virtual reality

The breakthrough technology for 2016, VR or ‘immersive storytelling’ is something you’ll be hearing a lot about in 2016 if you’re aren’t already. According to SuperData Research the VR market will be worth $4b by the end of the year, consisting mostly of hardware (VR headsets), and $9b in a couple of years’ time once the software catches up.

We were lucky enough to experience some great examples of VR in action. Lufthansa demonstrated how it’s using VR to promote its business class service and drive sales.  What better way to influence a customer to upgrade to business, than give them a taste of the service?

Of course there were some wacky demos too. We rode a virtual rollercoaster and were invited to take part in a virtual shark attack.  While the business case for VR is still emerging and there are issues like motion sickness to overcome, early sign suggest huge potential for it in property, design, sport, gaming and the behavior change space.  Needless to say plans are already underway at Keep Left to experiment with immersive storytelling this year.

GIFs 2.0

First established in the 80s, GIFs are now making a comeback. It used to be that designers would require Photoshop to produce GIFs, but advancements in technology means we now have the tools to do this easily. What’s more, Twitter recently introduced a GIF library you can use when composing a Tweet, in response to the fact that people shared over 100 million GIFs last year.  Yes, they’re popular again.

Why are they so great? Because GIFs can represent clearly how we’re thinking or feeling. A GIF can make you laugh or cry in just a matter of seconds, where it would take thousands of words to achieve the same effect. That’s because the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. With animated GIFs taking approximately 5 seconds for our brains to process, they can be the happy medium between a single photo and a longer (and costlier) video.  And they’re a pretty good way to deliver a keynote presentation too.  The entire presentation at SXSW was delivered in GIFs.



Podcasts aren’t often the first things to come to mind when you think about the myriad of ways a brand can build its profile and tell a story these days, but this also means the first mover advantage is still available. In the U.S. audience numbers for podcasts are trending upward on the back of hit programs such as Serial, and Australian audiences are slowly but surely tuning in.

Should they be considered as part of the corporate communications mix?   While the barrier to entry is low, the commitment levels are high and you’ll need a producer to keep it sharp.  But ultimately, a podcast will only work if you have great talent.  So if you have a charismatic CEO who is never short of an idea, this may be something to consider and is definitely something we’re looking at for start-up clients who have successfully grown there businesses, gone global and can share the learnings.


Another technology we heard about was Jelly. The brainchild of Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, it’s being billed as a human-powered search engine specifically for answering queries such as ‘Is Qantas a safe airline?’ Still in beta phase, Jelly is earmarked for launch soon and it will be interesting to see if it can do what others haven’t, and gain market share from Google.  And whether it gives rise to a new breed of influencer.

Video 2026

If you haven’t already started experimenting with video as a storytelling mechanism, this is something to consider given its potential to connect with and influence the intended audience, as well as the SEO benefits of rich-media content.   The good news is it’s never been easier to make and edit video. There are a myriad of new tools available for things like animation and special effects in the Adobe suite, which previously required specialist skills and computers. And while Google Glass didn’t take off, the experts suggests the next big thing we should look out for is bodycams that allow people to capture the moment as it happens with no hands. How many times have you gone to get a shot but been too slow to get your phone or camera out?  Like Google Glass there are some privacy consideration to work through, but look out for bodycams in the not too distant future…

Beyond the buzz word: why storytelling is here to stay

· Trends · , , ,

If I received a dollar for every time I’ve heard the word ‘storytelling’ over the last few days, I’d probably have my SXSW ticket covered. The reality is, we’ve been telling stories for thousands of years. The first book was printed in 1454. So why all the fuss now? One word: technology.

Technology has given us the tools to tell stories beyond black text on white, and the ability to share these stories far and wide through the Internet.

There’s certainly been a lot of talk about the different technology that’s adding to today’s world of storytelling; from virtual reality and interactive video, to the re-emergence of GIFs.

Here’s a closer look at how technology is revolutionising and what we expect to see and hear more about over the next 12 months:

Virtual reality

The breakthrough technology this year, it feels like every second SXSW session has been about the ‘immersive experience’. According to SuperData Research’s Director of Research and Insights, Stephanie Llmas, the VR market will be worth $4b by the end of the year, made up mostly by hardware, and $9b in a couple of years’ time once the software catches up.

We’ve definitely seen some great use of it already, with Lufthansa’s Head of Digital Innovations, Torsten Wingenter, taking us through how the brand used VR to promote its business class service. What better way to try before you buy and know exactly what you’re getting for your money.

Once the software catches up to the hardware market, there’s no telling where VR will take us. However there are three challenges they’ll need to address:

Video 2026

The marketing and communications industry has sure been banging this drum for a while. Video can connect people in ways that were never possible before, which is why it’s the most engaged medium online. According to Adobe’s Dave Werner, it’s never been easier to edit video. There are a myriad of new tools now available for things like animation and special effects, which previously required a specialist. And with augmented reality, virtual reality and interactive video coming on the scene, video in the future will only get more entertaining and inspirational.


First established in the 80s, GIFs are now making a comeback. Why? Again: technology.

It used to be that designers would require Photoshop to produce GIFs, but advancements in technology means we now have the tools to do this really easily.

Why are they so great? According to Giphy founder, Alex Chung, GIFs are like the Lego of visual communication – the building blocks for how we talk to each other. It represents clearly how we’re thinking and feeling. A GIF can make you laugh or cry in just a matter of seconds, where it would take thousands of words to achieve the same effect. That’s because the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.

In a mobile world where many of us are now connected 24/7, our attention spans are significantly shorter – a recent Microsoft study revealed this has now dropped to 8 seconds. Even a goldfish can hold a thought longer, at 9 seconds.

With animated GIFs taking approximately 5 seconds for our brains to process, they can be the happy medium between a single photo and a longer (and costlier) video.

Chung gave his entire presentation through GIFs (more than 200) – and it kept my attention for a full hour. Here’s a snippet of it filmed on my iPhone:


SXSW: Inspiring social change through a connected world

· Trends · , ,

“The world has seemingly never had so many problems. On the other hand, there’s also never been so many causes designed to solve them with technology that enables people to contribute with just the tap of a finger. It’s an amazing time to be in the business of creating change-yet these developments have bred new challenges. It’s never been so difficult to break through and have your cause noticed.”

It was this preamble to my last session at SXSW yesterday that had many in the audience (myself included) arrive half an hour early, eagerly waiting to hear what the panelists had to say. All of us wanted to know: in today’s increasingly connected world, what does it take for a cause to get noticed in a way that actually influences behaviour and ultimately, drives action?

I loved the way this session started, with Droga5 showing us a campaign they had just launched for the Y (YMCA of the USA). Check it out:

The campaign was also amplified through earned media (PR) and engaging influencers to help spread the word online.

Here’s the new candidate! Zoe might not be running until 2064, but the Y will help her and all kids reach their full potential.  #ZoeForPresident #YMCA #ad

A photo posted by Alyssa Milano (@milano_alyssa) on

There were four main points discussed about what makes a social campaign successful:

·         Put a face to the cause: Every cause needs someone that people can connect to. Clearly Zoe was someone that was extremely relatable. Let’s face it – who doesn’t love a cute baby?

·         Activate your true believers: While Zoe certainly caught people’s attention, and the idea was clever in the way it hooked into an extremely topical issue, the element that made this campaign a huge success was the involvement of all of the Y’s stakeholders – the local Y’s. Through engaging the entire network in the creative process (sometimes there would be more than 800 people tuning into a conference call!), it inspired all of them to participate and amplify the message. The night the first commercial aired, every single local Y owner tuned in and immediately shared it on their social media channels.

·         Make sure people understand what the cause is about: Zoe represented very real issues that the Y is trying to solve – the trick was doing it in a unique and fun way that would actually make people sit up and pay attention. The TV campaign was supported by a campaign website that delved into the issues in more depth, along with the ability to donate to Zoe’s campaign and buy Zoe merchandise.

·         Make it easy to get involved: Last but not least, don’t make it hard for consumers to get involved. Droga5 actually restructured the Y website before they launched the campaign; before, it took 11 steps to donate.

It’s still early days, but it will certainly be interesting to see how the campaign pans out and whether it delivers any meaningful results for the Y.

What do you think? Will Zoe actually inspire action, or is this just another clever social change campaign that’s creating noise online?