Creating Meaningful Futures

Cultural & Semiotic Insight, Strategy & Activation

Space Doctors specialises in cultural and semiotic insight for strategy and activation.

We are experts in helping organisations and brands connect more deeply with culture so they become more meaningful, relevant and impactful.

We inspire and shape how brands show up in the world by using insights unearthed through semiotics, cultural analysis, ethnography, trends, design and consumer research.

We help solve the toughest questions through thoughtful, provocative conversations that challenge standard ways of thinking, opening up possibility and paths forward.

We help you to…

Build Stronger BrandsAnticipate the FutureActivate with Impact

Break out of category or industry clichés to find powerful new ways for your brand to connect with culture.

Develop: Strategies to build cultural relevance – brand purpose, positioning, vision, brand character • More meaningful brand stories – go beyond cliché, revitalize generic benefits, create cultural change • Distinctive assets (identification, creation & measurement)

Lean Cusine Rebranding Lean Cuisine Our insight work helped Lean Cuisine shift from a ‘diet food’ brand to one that focuses on empowerment and strength, directly informing award winning new packaging and creative.

Winner: 2017 Nielsen Impact Award.

$58m increase in sales in year after launch.
Nike Helping Nike better connect with people through local culture Nike wanted to reflect a deep, nuanced understanding of what it means to ‘be a Londoner’ for a new campaign. Partnering with Kelton Global, we delivered rich insights into London identity through the city’s popular culture, neighbourhoods and emergent faces. The work inspired the development of one of the most celebrated ads of 2018 – ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner.’ O2 Revitalising the O2 brand story We developed the new O2 positioning (fueled by cultural and semiotic insight) and turned it into a brand story which encapsulated the core idea – with visuals, language and narrative cues which became the agency brief. McQueen Defining the Alexander McQueen brand When P&G acquired the fragrance license for Alexander McQueen, they needed help to define the brand and understand how to translate this ‘McQueen-ness’ into the first fine fragrance launch for the fashion house.

We identified the the core meanings of the brand (‘cultural assets), explored the emerging codes of ‘subversive luxury’ and defined the brand’s archetypal mix.

Our work led to a re-definition of the brand purpose and key design target, which directly informed bottle design and campaign development.

Understand emerging culture to anticipate the future – and imagine what this means for your business, brand or category.

Harness: Deep cultural understanding that helps frame possible futures • Cultural frameworks for strategic decision making • Future opportunities & innovation white space • Culturally sensitive concept creation and development • Prototyping and speculative design

Quote Slide "Space Doctors is the firm we go to when we need a broader, richer and more up-to-date perspective on key themes like innovation, productivity and empowerment. The exploration of every new opportunity area for the Microsoft brand starts with an understanding of the current and future landscape and Space Doctors are always fundamental to this. Time and time again, they have provided a rich canvas of meaning with which we have plotted where we want our brand to go and how we aspire to show up, in a way that’s compelling and relevant to consumers and customers alike, and true to our brand’s essence and abilities." Susan Betts
Global Director of Microsoft Brand Strategy
Mattel Helping Barbie become a more powerful global role model for young girls In response to changing culture, Barbie needed to re-claim her status as a positive role model for young girls. By exploring the diverse social and cultural issues that are holding young girls back from achieving their potential, we identified powerful new stories that the brand could tell.

Our work directly influenced the inspirational ‘Barbie Dream Gap’ campaign which has been widely praised for raising awareness of key issues which limit girls self belief and future success.
Gillette Helping Gillette understand the future of masculinity Gillette wanted to re-establish ownership of their cultural space. They asked Space Doctors to provide a future-facing, substantiated view of how grooming habits were evolving in five markets.

We called on masculinity experts, analysed popular culture and communications, and carried out live semiotics in barbershops and family bathrooms to deliver a provocative view on the future of male grooming.
"Space Doctors delivered a future-facing system for understanding the changing face of global masculinity and shaving behaviour. This was invaluable in helping us craft our purpose and connect more emotionally with Gillette users around the world." John Mang, VP Gillette, The Art of Shaving at Procter & Gamble

Amplify your brand by building meaningful and impactful activations that cut through the noise.

Optimise: Brand experiences – service, experience design, customer journeys • Activation strategies • New language, visual style & sensory signature • New content creation • Conceptual design – products, pack, environments • Creative briefs and communication guidelines

Braun Designing culturally optimized point of sale for Japan for Braun Braun understands that direct translation from German to Japanese in an information-hungry market is full of pitfalls.

We delivered fully designed and locally-optimised point-of-sale routes which gave much improved test results in Japan. The design work focused on driving purchase through a better POS user experience and display.
Smith Sinclair Brand transformation for Smith & Sinclair We delivered a full brand transformation for alcoholic candy start up Smith & Sinclair, which achieved a powerful strategic evolution, going far beyond brand identity into digital, pack and retail executions.

The brand has gone on to launch an experiential retail concession at John Lewis’ flagship Oxford Street store and has recently secured £2m investment from a VC fund.
Haagen Creating new packaging design for Haagen-Dazs Haagen-Dazs wanted to know the specific cues (imagery, colours, shapes, fonts) that would best communicate the idea of ‘progressive elegance’ through their global packaging.

We looked at how this idea was being expressed in popular culture across four markets before our design semiotics team took the lead, creating the concept and design guidelines which became the blueprint for the new packaging.
IHG Helping IHG develop a groundbreaking new hotel room concept IHG wanted to re-design their hotel rooms to deliver the best night sleep for a millennial audience.

We identified four key cultural stories of sleep the brand could tap into. Two powerful insights were supported by ethnographic observation in hotel rooms: the importance of fluid, flexible space and the importance of thresholds.

We then worked with leading designers from outside the sector, to reinvent the hotel room space in a way that uniquely addresses guests’ real unmet needs.

The design has been so successful, in late 2018 it was patented.
Unilever "Space Doctors team are exceptional experts in distilling and depicting culture and design nuances. Their semiotic findings expanded our thinking beyond the category and usual competitors, and opened new possibilities for our brand to connect into emerging cultures, deep human experiences and design trends. We enjoyed immensely working with this passionate and talented team!" Dannie Zhuang
Senior Consumer and Market Insight Manager in Unilever Food Solutions

Introducing Cymbol, the world’s first Live Semiotics™ platform.

It allows us to gain a contextual, ethnographic understanding of human experiences globally, access expert communities and influencers, get rapid feedback on cultural phenomena, track long-term evolution of cultural spaces, and co-create and validate concepts with leading-edge, culturally-engaged panels.

Find out more about Cymbol

Our Latest Thinking

Embracing the emergence of new ‘China Chic’ Embracing the emergence of new 'China Chic' In the last article, we examined the importance of engaging small communities to enhance brand relevance. ... Read More When local meets digital – The new power of small communities in China When local meets digital – The new power of small communities in China In the last article, we covered the rising celebration of everyday heroes in Chinese society and ... Read More China’s Everyday Heroes – how small businesses are leading the way China's Everyday Heroes – how small businesses are leading the way With imminent global recession further threatening an already wounded world, bouncing back to a flourishing economy ... Read More

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From May 5th Cato Hunt, James Woodhead and our friends at EPIC will be running ‘Semiotics: A User’s Guide to Seeing Differently’, an online course exploring the methodology's many commercial applications.

Interested? Register now to secure your place! https://www.epicpeople.org/semiotics/#schedule

Over the coming weeks Space Doctors will be tracking the fast moving cultural shifts which are reframing our world, to explore how they will shape our everyday lives. https://space-doctors.com/anticipating-the-new-normal-care-connection/ #newnormal #semiotics #culture #covid19 #speculativefutures #care #connection #futures

Registration for the EPIC Course on Semiotics is open! A phenomenal opportunity to learn in a small EPIC cohort with @Space_Doctors Cato Hunt & James Woodhead - global leaders in commercial semiotics (and a heck of a lot of fun). Sessions start May 5 https://buff.ly/2QuVTdG