The best of brand experience at Mobile World Congress 2018

There's a clear minimalist approach at MWC this year, with clean, defined designs coming to the fore, and tech is being incorporated in more seamless ways than ever, says the senior experience designer at Freeman XP.

Mobile World Congress has kicked off in Barcelona and as always brands are looking to activate their presence at the event in new and interesting ways. While tech is the name of the game here, the activations that have really caught my eye so far are those that combine the latest tech – whether their own, someone else’s or a combination of both – with cutting-edge design.

The event offers some great examples of effective experience design, one where a brand’s space is designed so as to complement its messaging, help it achieve its event objectives and importantly, catch the attention of the bustling crowd. Here are a few of my favourites.

Android

Android has taken a linear approach this year, creating a number of different experience-led spaces, with each devoted to a certain product or service offering.

I like this activation in particular because there is consistent architecture throughout, yet at the same time each structure is slightly different, whether that be in shape, size or colour – you can tell they are all interlinked. It reminds me of Barcelona’s iconic La Rambla strip, where there are different stalls interspersed with seating areas for people to mingle.

IBM

The tech company’s stand is very simple with straight, sharp lines throughout. They act as an effective platform for the brand to communicate it’s "what if?" theme, which is designed to showcase the possibilities of its cloud, data, AI and security solutions.

Here the demo stations are seamlessly integrated into the architecture, and they aren’t simply white tables. There are interactive maps and models that people can engage with to gain a better understanding of real-life applications of the tech, and they are complemented by glass panels which hang overhead and are used to projection map different films.

Samsung

Samsung has opted for a minimalistic, black and white themed stand, and the presence of large frames make it feel like an open, welcoming space.

The stand has two distinct areas – one is dedicated to products, both old and new (there’s a wall that showcases Samsung handsets through the years), and then there’s the Galaxy S9 Smart Home. This section includes some real-life kitchen and living room props, and screens are used to fill in the gaps. For example, there’s a fridge in the kitchen, however the cupboards located behind it have been created using screens.

T-Mobile

The telecoms brand is known for its consumer-led approach to its stand designs, and this year doesn’t seem to be any different.

While it’s a fairly busy space from the outset – think an octopus-shaped installation hanging overhead, bright lights and busy prints, it catches the eye and compels most people to step onto the stand.

The demo stations are particularly interesting as they take their inspiration from retail and each is different from the other, plus there is an interesting mix of materials at play here, such as timber, steel and transparent screens for showcasing content.

Visa

The Visa experience is effective because it brings to life the different ways that the brand’s payment technology – an intangible product – can be applied to daily life, and it functions as a premium, welcoming lounge space where guests can experience the brand through a number of architectural elements.

These include the ceiling, which acts as a physical representation of Visa’s dynamic flag logo, where the LED lines embedded in the fins express the movement of the flag through the light. The attention to natural and simple materials, details and colours also add to the atmosphere and complement the overall look and feel of the stand.

Sony

These days consumers want to know more about companies than just their offering, so it’s now more meaningful for brands to celebrate and showcase their unique heritage through brand experience and other forms of marketing.

The Sony stand appeals to me because it has taken this route, opting for a super minimal design with features such as exposed wood, a less is more approach to branding and use of a material that resembles that which is used to create Japanese screen panels.

It reflects the brand’s roots and helps bring its Japanese culture to life – it’s almost like stepping into a Muji shop.

Gianluca Santosuosso is senior experience designer at Freeman XP

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