A couple of months ago, Forma started dabbling in some small scale ads to test how different user groups react to our digital try-on product. We set up a bunch of different campaigns using Facebook’s fancy targeting tools: different countries, age groups, Facebook vs. Instagram, etc. And indeed we saw that the ads performed differently - the beauty of Facebook!
We knew that creative has a large impact on advertising effectiveness (it’s well-researched and documented, including ‘49% of sales lift from advertising is due to creative’ from Nielsen), but as a small startup we didn’t have resources (or expertise) to dedicate to creating fancy advertising videos. So we started with what we had: simple GIFs showing our tech:
Not quite earth-shattering, but this was what we could come up with quickly, and technically speaking it did cover Forma’s unique technology and product. The ads did reasonably well, at least compared to industry benchmarks we’d heard - but the reality was we had no benchmark for ourselves.
Then one night I was having drinks with a college friend of mine, and given he spends millions of dollars on FB per month at his gaming company, I asked him for his feedback. He asked, “Have you tried an iPhone video recording of somebody using your product?” Apparently they paid a top-tier agency 6 figures to create a super high quality ad that they were happy with, and on a whim they recorded a QA engineer playing their game and the latter performed 10x better in ads.
I had heard that creative can make a 10x difference, so we filmed a video of Heather, our partnerships lead, using our app in our office. 10 minutes of inexpert shooting with my iPhone and 15 minutes of inexpert editing in iMovie later, we had our new creative:
We won’t be winning any creative awards with this, but it works: literally changing nothing else, this ad performed Nx better than the previous ad! In our case I would say the new ad is better in demonstrating how our product and tech works than our overly simplified gif above, but it also gives us confidence that we don’t need a big-budget ad for a while.
We think this falls into the broader theme of the importance of authenticity. People are overwhelmed by choices and advertisements in the digital world, but rarely do they come across something honest and real that they can relate to. We see common threads in Instagram/Snap Stories, Tik Tok, and even Hollywood feature films shot entirely on iPhone (Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane) - clearly there’s still a lot of value in high-quality, high-production value creative, but the low-fi iPhone video worked for us. Would it work for you too?
Hello world! We wanted to start our blog by exploring some of the underlying reasons and human desires that motivated various team members to build Forma. While it was obvious to us that visual identity is deeply personal and different for everybody, we see below that even what visual identity itself means also varies with different perspectives!
In the physical world, you are what you were born into. Virtually, you can have many personalities and looks in different online communities. "This is the new world, and in this world, you can be whoever the hell you want."
Computer Vision Researcher
I may not be a typical user. The virtual identity does not mean much to me. Maybe Generation Z is quite different.
In real life, I care about my visual identity such that it reflects my personality. I want to make sure What I wear is proper. For online visual identity, I want it to be able to summarize the current status of me. And it needs to be proper as well.
I think what Forma can help for people like me is to provide material for me to choose in order to have a proper looking online better than any photo I currently have.
I view my visual identity as an ongoing effort to show the outside world the person I feel like I am inside. I want to accentuate my professionalism to investors, energy at work, performance on the basketball court, comfort at home with family. All of those are me, I’m not pretending to be something I’m not - and even if I was, well that is something underlying about me as well.
Authenticity is important to my individuality so people know who I am - so I know who I am. But who I am isn’t simply one-size-fits-all - it varies depending on the setting as above, but also changes over time just as my life changes. That’s what makes my identity unique, a dynamic blend that is different than anybody else in the world.
But this visual identity is in fact limited - by time, money, and access. I can only walk into so many stores or shop online before I’m too tired or run out of money. As a result, what I wear is from 5 brands that are the lowest-risk approximations of my ‘style’. But just as Spotify allowed me to develop a much more nuanced and personal playlist because trying new songs cost me no time or money, I’m excited for Forma to empower me to try on all sorts of styles that I would not have tried otherwise.
I think of visual identity as stretching across the in-person and digital realms. For in-person, it’s the physical, outward appearance of myself - here, I have some control over how I present myself. For digital, there’s a lot more flexibility to shape how others perceive my appearance and demeanor - whether it’s through my avatar’s appearance, the username I pick, the type of pictures I post, who I choose follow, etc.
What I’ve noticed for my online visual identity, is that I tend to pick features that reflect my physical appearance and aspects of my personality. It seems that I’ve consciously and subconsciously decided that my online visual identity is an extension of my overall identity!
As a designer, I’m constantly surrounded by beautiful images and objects, and over the years have really defined my own personal taste across all kinds of visual mediums from clothing styles, to my favorite colors, to photos that capture my feelings. The collection of all these things is what I consider my visual identity. This idea, though, sits mostly in my head, as I rarely fully express my style in my busy day-to-day. I would love to have a space where I can explore and visualize my identity, maybe not as I am living today in real life, but a version of myself truer to my imagination.