Tag Archives: design

The Future of Parking Garages

When is the last time you left your car in a public parking garage? It may sound a little crazy to ask this, but what was your experience? Most likely, it just was parking and nothing else. Nothing special. Boring. Repetitive. Unattractive. Expensive. Time consuming.

Now, think of the potential business opportunity to give those car owners something else to enjoy – and spend money on – in addition to keeping their cars safely tended. The parking garage could actually become a ‘mobility hub’ or a ‘silo’ that could provide restful parking for delivery drivers who might need restrooms and food. After all, those large concrete buildings are usually in valuable real estate located next to destinations such as entertainment, shopping, and events venues.

Innovation is now coming to parking garages. In Chicago, an underground parking garage downtown is being converted to an e-commerce delivery center. Los Angeles parking garages house shared commercial kitchens. Denver and Seattle parking garage roofs are being used as urban greenhouses and farms. San Francisco is redeveloping a garage into a mixed-use complex with affordable housing. Other garages are using parking spots for autonomous vehicles and EV charging stations, adding integrated access controls, kiosks, valet parking, and more, all synced through mobile devices.

Technology plays a large role in the future of parking garages. High-tech cameras can read license plates, enabling drivers to buy passes online and bypass ticket taking and payments, reserving a parking spot in advance. Some garages work with car-sharing companies, bikes, food trucks, and scooters to help patrons quickly access transportation. Others are considering how to combine workspace, retail, fitness centers, and housing using pre-fabricated modules.

What would you like to see in a parking garage?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What has been their experiences with parking garages? What is negative? What could be done to improve parking garages?
  2. View FlashPark website: https://www.flashparking.com/products/
  3. Show video – why parking lots will disappear: https://youtu.be/XMt4zEEHxv4
  4. Discuss the impact of ride-sharing services and autonomous vehicles on parking garages.
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a parking garage in the area.
  6. Research the garage, number of spots, footprint, revenue, usage.
  7. Have each team redesign the garage to be more innovative and useful.
  8. Debrief the exercise and select a winning design.

Source:  Axios; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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A Modern Potato Head Family

When is the last time you played with Mr. Potato Head toys? Well, it is still around but Hasbro is officially renaming the toy line “Potato Head” without the Mr. and Mrs. labels. The intent of the rebranding is to allow kids to show the many different faces of family, gender, and inclusion – and of course all in its beloved potato format!

Hasbro is not actually getting rid of Mr. Potato Head, who along with Mrs. Potato Head will retain their honorary family titles. However, the company will repackage the toys into a “Create Your Potato Head Family” set with two large and one small potato bodies, along with 42 different accessories in new colors and more inclusive messaging. The change is viewed as part of a larger movement towards greater diversity and inclusion for children and families.

Hasbro is far from alone in revising its toy lines. In 2019, Mattel launched customizable, gender-neutral dolls called “Creatable World” to allow kids to create their own characters. Mattel also has new more diverse Barbie dolls as well, reflecting the changes in society and women’s roles. And, American Girl dolls now has an American Boy to round out its collection.

Let’s play!

 Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Divide students into groups. Have each group 10 of their all-time favorite toys.
  2. Build the list of toys on the board and challenge students to examine the list.
  3. Are these toys gender-neutral, or are they directed at boys or girls only?
  4. Show the Potato Head site and video: https://corporate.hasbro.com/en-us/articles/create_your_potato_head_family_launching_this_fall
  5. Discuss with students how toys can reflect society and cultures.
  6. Show American Girl dolls: https://www.americangirl.com/shop/c/boy-dolls
  7. Show Barbie dolls: https://barbie.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ba/barbie-dolls
  8. What other toys could use this approach?

Sources: AdWeek; New York Times; other news sources

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More Branding Needs to be Changed

All marketers know that branding is hard to do, and expensive to change. Thus, many brands are reluctant to revise their logos, names, and images. After all, if it’s worked for decades; why go through the trouble and expense to change it now?

The short answer to that question is that society and the world changes (sometimes drastically) and therefore companies have a responsibility to respond to and recognize those events and make changes in order to stay relevant in the marketplace.

A recent topic is that of the use of the name “Jeep Cherokee.” The Chief of the Cherokee Nation has strongly stated that it is wrong of the company to use the Cherokee name to sell cars, and has asked Jeep to discontinue the name.  The Cherokee name belongs to a nation of peoples and they contend that using it for peddling products diminishes it. Jeep has sold the Cherokee vehicle since 1974 and retired it in the early 2000s, then reviving it in 2014. It is a popular model and sold more than 200,000 units last year.

This topic brings to mind the issue of the (former) Washington Redskins NFL team. The team has agreed to drop the name and logo after years of protest, as have MLB team Cleveland Indians. Similar protests last year were made against brands including Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s. Land O’Lakes already dropped its image of a Native American woman from its packaging.

Brands matter.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. This is a tough topic, but discuss racism in business with students. Ask them their views.
  2. Poll students: What products, services, and brands use racist stereotypes?
  3. Discuss the issue of the Jeep Cherokee and show video: https://youtu.be/D6ZrRbS-yxs
  4. Show Jeep Cherokee site: https://www.jeep.com/cherokee.html
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team reimagine a new name and message for the company.
  6. How would they overhaul the image if they were in charge of marketing at the company?
  7. Show all the student solutions and debrief the exercise.

Source: Associated Press; CNN News; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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