While Ford is busy designing cars (questionably) around a mythical Italian female persona called Antonella, it and other companies need to be adapting themselves to interact with another group entirely.
They may seem virtual, but they're very real, and they come with loyal, influential followers. And they don't wait to be hired - they crave to be hired and have more useful insights along the way than most who already are.
Drew Smith is one of a new generation of commentators, driving conversations online about the future. Subject experts, independent of mind and building their careers around a portfolio - of experience, opinion, connections and commissions. He edits the Downsideupdesign blog.
Amy talks to him below. Listen carefully, because he's exactly the kind of person who is starting to influence how brands are perceived, design conversations happen, and connections are forged. In the past, people either got jobs in an industry or didn't. Once they were in, they got locked behind walls for years, until they got onto a press spokesperson list. Now they can dive into and across industry projects, often hired because they've already articulated problems publicly. They can build their own unique identity, online content and networks of supporters, share their ideas and work together more easily with others than many who work in siloed departments. Many are cross-discipline, combining understanding of product, service and interactive design.
Drew is a vehicle designer and expert in making sense of the future of the autombile and car brands. Check out his views from earlier this summer on the failure of car companies to interest the 'digital generation'. It's important stuff that doesn't usually get talked about.
Drew is unique, but of course he's not - he's one of an emerging group. You might be carving out a similar purpose - in urban planning, product design, social software, interactive design, service design, environment technologies or services. The sky's the limit. If so, we'd love to get to know you.
Amy Johannigman aka @amydoesdesign interviewed @drewpasmith from The Movement Design Bureau in London. Drew was in the Australian outback, on holiday. Monday, 3 August 2009. Want to know more about Amy? Then read her views about the future of design in this piece here.