Eric Huang: Made in Me
by Annabelle Rose
Branding. It’s one of those advertising words that should span across every industry but is some how neglected by many. The importance of branding is what I am going to take from Developmental Director Eric Huang’s lecture on Tuesday 20 October 2015.
He is a rare breed of man that can leave behind the allure of industry powerhouses like Disney publishing and Penguin Random House to team up with the small, yet highly creative company Made in Me. His aim? Simple: to inspire the next generation to learn, grow and simply have fun through digital technologies.
I’ll admit it, I had never heard of Eric Huang or in fact, Made in Me before this lunchtime lecture. When I left, I did some research more into their company and Eric himself and the first thing that stood out to me was the passion that so obviously seeps into everything he does. Even when working at Penguin Random House, he could not be swayed by a tempting McDonalds Happy Meal contract for the nations beloved Peter Rabbit because it was not the ‘right fit’ for the brand. That kind of approach to business is what maintains longevity in characters that have spanned over generations.
I read an article which describes Eric Huang as having “a rare combination of creativity and commercial instinct”. I think this could be a perfect descriptor. Eric Huang looked at the Moshi monsters app and read between the lines, delving deeper into what every character could be and even into the possibilities of that the background scenery could bring. To then be able to successfully create a whole other spin off app and a range of books for different characters is the most perfect example of highly commercial branding with an almost child like level of creativity. See the Buster's Lost Moshlings trailer below!
The communication that Made in Me has with the child consumers is what makes their product lines so special. I can imagine it could be hard in children’s publishing to not become tempted to make what the parents want for their children, after all, they are the ones buying it. Eric Huang bought a point to my attention that I had never even considered, having digital technology for children as a shared experience for both parents and children. The way in which technology is often used can be very isolating. You stare at a screen by yourself, scroll through Facebook or Twitter or whatever it is that you do. To have it as a combined experience filling in the waiting gaps whether in a restaurant or in a car, Eric has opened my eyes to digital technology being something to share with the family.
I’ll conclude in the same way that Eric did in his lunch time lecture, with three important points to consider when creating any product for any audience. Always Iterate and Pivot, you know if you have had a good idea but still be flexible to make it work, seek opportunities and act on them quickly. Keep user experience and discoverability at the heart of everything. Talk to the consumers, how are they finding your products and how could you make them better? Finally, the importance of the story and of course branding to keep consumers attention always.
About the author of this article
Annabelle Rose is a second year undergraduate studying for the BA Publishing Media.
See Annabelle's LinkedIn page
Last edited: 27 10 2015