The Lovie Awards has been recognising and rewarding online creativity since 2010, spanning a wide range of categories that includes apps, podcasts, marketing, advertising, websites and software. AUFI is a partner for this year’s 13th Lovie Awards, which includes a new visual identity - created by Bureau for Visual Affairs – new honours for responsible technology, web3 and XR, and new Lovie Beyond categories to recognise digital projects with a positive societal impact. 2023 also marks The Lovie Awards’ first ever European Publisher of the Year accolade.
We asked Lovie Awards Managing Director Jacqueline Kavanagh, and the AUFI agencies and clients judging this year’s edition, to tell us why digital design and culture is so important for brands, and what the next five years of the internet could look like. Read on for thoughts from Nihilo, OK COOL, The Digital Fairy, Calling and Olio.
- AUFIThe Lovie Awards mantra is ‘internet excellence’. What does that mean today, in your opinion?
Jacqueline Kavanagh, The Lovie AwardsThe Lovie Awards was launched 13 years ago in 2010, and since then we’ve seen the internet move through a period of intense globalism which prioritised ideals of scale and growth above all else. Now in 2023, we’re moving into a new iteration of the internet increasingly defined by themes like community, sustainability, privacy and a more urgent intention to harness technology for the collective good. I overheard this described as building a ‘softer’ internet and I think that is quite fitting. More and more, we are seeing that the work, the ideas and the policies coming from Europe are at the forefront of driving this charge and shaping this ‘softer internet’ – and inspiring the vision for an internet we want and a world we want to live in. It is why we launched a category called Beyond this year, to recognise outstanding European digital projects with the potential to profoundly and positively impact society on a global scale.
“Internet excellence for us means to delight and engage. Aesthetics and functionality are important, but will not cut it alone – there are simply too many good-looking things that work well out there already.”Emunah Winer and Margaret Kerr-Jarrett, Nihilo
Emunah Winer and Margaret Kerr-Jarrett, NihiloInternet excellence for us means to delight and engage. Aesthetics and functionality are important, but will not cut it alone – there are simply too many good-looking things that work well out there already. We’re looking for surprise, questioning and experimentation. Also, much of what’s being created today feels over-designed. We want to see more clarity and poignancy, not more visual overload.
Jolyon Varley, OK COOLIt’s when you make stuff that’s really good on the internet. It’s also deliciously subjective 🙃.
Efemena Okogba, The Digital FairyI love this question! There has been so much nihilistic and negative rhetoric around the internet and the evolution of technology recently, specifically with the rise of AI experimentation infiltrating the marketing and advertising industry. However, for me the concept of internet excellence is about how we leverage technological advancements and the new opportunities they unlock to reimagine how we connect, communicate, create and consume. So brands, agencies, creators and creatives who are utilising the internet (and technology in general) to push the boundaries of creativity and storytelling are the people who are embodying this idea of internet excellence.
Rani Patel, CallingTo me this means using the internet in the best way possible. Fulfilling a human need or needs, creating connection and engagement in the safest and most authentic way. Being a space where imagination and time is infinite.
Iona Carter, OlioA few themes spring to mind. Creativity and innovation have to go top of the list: projects that go beyond the ordinary, showcasing originality and groundbreaking ideas. Internet excellence should push the boundaries of design, user experience and tech, inspiring us with fresh perspectives and inventive executions. There’s social impact — work that serves a greater purpose, whether it's tackling societal issues or aspiring to effect positive outcomes for our planet. This is about leveraging the power of digital to drive change both on and offline. There’s also cross-disciplinary collaboration. In my view, the best digital projects often emerge from the collective effort of diverse teams, but the true potential of cross-disciplinary collaboration is yet to be fully realised. In my eyes this goes beyond uniting the best talent in design, development, marketing and content creation, and casting the net wider to unconventional collaborators from the worlds of cognitive science, behavioural psychology, philosophy, the arts – and even nature itself. We have to consider user-centric thinking and accessibility: inclusivity should be baked into every design decision, removing barriers to access across all backgrounds, abilities, geographical locations and even connectivity constraints. Finally, from a commercial point of view, business impact has to get a mention. Going beyond aesthetics and usability, the best work should be able to demonstrate tangible outcomes against the creator’s commercial strategy and KPIs.
- AUFIWhy is it so important for businesses to invest in digital design and creative work?
Jacqueline Kavanagh, The Lovie AwardsNot to sound too lofty, but when brands invest in great design and creativity, they invest in shaping cultural identity. From the design of our cities, through to iconic European product design from the likes of Olivetti, Braun or Phillips to today’s beautiful and human-centric digital experiences and technologies - investing in great design shapes the worlds we inhabit and the values we champion. That was part of our thinking when we hired Bureau for Visual Affairs (founded in Berlin and based in London) to rebrand the Lovie Awards. It was critical for us to work with an agency with a European sensibility to be able to incorporate this mentality into our brand.
Emunah Winer and Margaret Kerr-Jarrett, NihiloFor most businesses, the internet is going to be their first point of contact between them and their customer. Brands don’t exist in a vacuum. You need to be able to communicate within your customers wherever they are, whether that’s digitally or IRL. A brand’s digital experience doesn’t need to perfectly mirror its IRL experience, but it should represent the same (or sometimes higher) level of creative execution and not a downgrade.
Jolyon Varley, OK COOLBecause you can’t access the internet through magazines.
“We are all digital a majority, if not all, of our day-to-day lives, which are lived in some sort of digital realm. Design is what enables that to be beautiful and seamless to our human experiences.”Rani Patel, Calling
Efemena Okogba, The Digital FairyIt’s critical to invest in digital design and creative work in order to have a chance to capture (and keep) audience attention and consideration. We all know that we are living in an age of attention deficit coupled with an increasing fragmentation of communication channels meaning that we need to be more creative than ever in the ways that we speak to and engage with audiences. Whilst great copy is important, visual language and identity is in many ways more important, particularly when it comes to ensuring maximum accessibility and inclusivity of content.
Rani Patel, CallingWe are all digital a majority, if not all, of our day-to-day lives, which are lived in some sort of digital realm. Design is what enables that to be beautiful and seamless to our human experiences. Every modern business impacts human experiences so it's necessary to invest in digital design otherwise you are a business of yesterday and not today.
Iona Carter, OlioIn short: it’s about future-proofing your business. In the ever-evolving landscape of digital trends and ever-rising consumer expectations, choosing to consistently invest in design and creative is an investment in growth. But beyond the fundamentals of delivering a high quality user experience that will drive customer loyalty and business outcomes, creative is what builds your brand and competitive moat. In my view, it’s the key to winning not just minds but hearts too – essential to building any organic flywheel.
“Digital design and culture has the ability to shock, uplift, empower, awe, amaze and level us.”Jacqueline Kavanagh, The Lovie Awards
- AUFIWhat can digital design and culture do that IRL projects can’t?
Jacqueline Kavanagh, The Lovie AwardsDigital design and culture has the ability to shock, uplift, empower, awe, amaze and level us in a way that feels deeply universal, hitting at the core of a basic human experience – often transcending language, time, space and borders.
Emunah Winer and Margaret Kerr-Jarrett, NihiloReach the masses. The power we have today on the internet is unlike anything we’ve seen before. Where you used to be able to reach hundreds, you can now reach millions. It would be silly not to take advantage of that. And while there are limitations to our experience with a screen, there are also ways in which a digital interaction can supersede an IRL experience.
Jolyon Varley, OK COOLMeet consumers where they are – on their phones.
“Digital design gives us the opportunity to overcome or remove many of the barriers that exclude people and communities from participating in IRL projects either in front of or behind the quote unquote camera.”Efemena Okogba, The Digital Fairy
Efemena Okogba, The Digital FairyI think that digital design and culture enables a level of democratisation and accessibility that isn’t always possible via IRL projects. For me that’s the beauty of the digital sphere – digital design gives us the opportunity to overcome or remove many of the barriers that exclude people and communities from participating in IRL projects either in front of or behind the quote unquote camera. In addition I feel that digital culture also allows us to explore a deeper level of immersion and world building for brands and their audiences and communities via web3 and virtual reality.
Rani Patel, CallingDigital design has the ability to infect and have an effect at a speed that IRL just can't. It moves people, things, opinions, ideas and feelings.
Iona Carter, OlioA lot! IRL projects are beset with barriers that digital effortlessly transcends. Digital has limitless reach: crossing borders, language barriers and time zones; it’s iterative: you can optimise and fine-tune into infinity; and it’s collaborative in real-time. And it can enable our wildest creative dreams… teleporting users to unimaginable virtual worlds, immersive storytelling experiences and 3D augmented realities… the constraints are only the limits of our own imaginations.
- AUFIWhat are the big digital challenges and opportunities businesses need to be thinking about in the next five years?
Jacqueline Kavanagh, The Lovie AwardsI think one of the biggest challenges facing businesses across industries – from advertising, to video, to podcasts – is maintaining a competitive edge and standing out for a specialism. In a market where the bar is so high, there is a real need to have a sharp strategy for how you are creating awareness about your business – not just from a B2B marketing perspective but also from a talent attraction and retention standpoint. Focus on the specialist area that you want to be synonymous with – and be tactical about how you will be recognised for your expertise.
Emunah Winer and Margaret Kerr-Jarrett, NihiloThe challenges are the same as any new advancement – to do something different. To take advantage of the opportunity.
Jolyon Varley, OK COOLAI. Just kidding. But no, actually AI. Probably.
“The channel mix that brands need to create for has never been bigger but in that lies a significant opportunity for brands to show up for their audiences in really interesting and potentially unconventional ways.”Efemena Okogba, The Digital Fairy
Efemena Okogba, The Digital FairyHow we can play nicely with our AI friends? For me the biggest challenge businesses need to be thinking about is as mentioned previously the continued fragmentation of comms channels. The channel mix that brands need to create for has never been bigger but in that lies a significant opportunity for brands to show up for their audiences in really interesting and potentially unconventional ways. Innovation and disruption for brands is going to become critical to their ability to connect with audiences and drive consideration and sales, so I believe that businesses need to be looking to partner with agencies and creators who not only understand the internet culture and platforms but also who can help them navigate how best to embrace and express their identity in digitally innovative environments and ecosystems.
Rani Patel, CallingHow do you design more inclusively? Yes, we hear it all the time, but the nuances of human experiences aren't finite, so keeping up and being iterative to this reality is a challenge. The flip of that is that when you do design inclusively you have an opportunity to reach and impact people tremendously.
Iona Carter, OlioI’m sure almost everyone will start this answer with AI – presenting both a huge opportunity and a huge challenge. I think most of us (including myself) haven’t yet fully grasped the magnitude of the pace of technological innovation that’s happening right now, or what it really means for our future. The opportunities from a creative and customisation standpoint are really exciting, but regulation to mitigate the darkest risks is clearly urgently needed. Cybersecurity is a challenge that’s only going to become further compounded in complexity, the more interconnected we become. On the upside, there are vast opportunities with blockchain, AR and VR technologies, despite the stop-start progress so far. And given my background, I can’t not give my last vote to sustainability – I do believe firmly that growing consumer awareness of the climate crisis also presents huge opportunities for businesses to create and enable transformative planet-positive impact through digital.