Google Cloud Next 18

  • Julian Rad

I was the lead Creative Director for the main keynote stage for Google Cloud Next 2018. I led the creative for the experience, the environment, the onscreen presentations, developed the brand, creative directed the multi-camera livestream, directed the onstage action and onscreen and social videos. And I choreographed the cubes. I am now an experienced cubeographer.

In 2018, Google Cloud had an opportunity.
Google had spun off its cloud vertical to become a separate business unit. The search giant was evolving the platform upon which all its services ran into a tool that anyone could use. At the end of 2017 Google Cloud was the fifth most popular cloud service, and a favorite of the developer community. But in order to grow, Google Cloud needed to make a play to a larger audience and to do that, it needed to become a brand people remembered.
​​​​​​​Google has famously favored experiential to illuminate its marketing and communications goals and Google Cloud was no different. Over the years, Google Cloud had been running a developer conference that had grown exponentially, and in 2017, it had begun outreach to executives, marketers and C-suite directors. This set the stage for 2018 to be the year to make its strongest brand statement yet, and a typical tech conference wasn't going to get there. During our input meetings, the Google Cloud team stressed wanting to move beyond the typical tech tropes of massive LED screens and a sea of repeater screens across the audience. Philip McDougall challenged all the creative teams that our aim was to build something that made sense only for Google Cloud. Not Google. Google Cloud specifically. This perfectly finely tuned focus would prove crucial in aligning my research.
In 2018 the event would feature more than 100 new product announcements, ranging from Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms to security features and CRM optimizations. The trick was to frame this broad spectrum of messaging, products, ideas, concepts, positioning, and tutorials with a single cohesive gesture that would support the overall story: Whatever you want to do, Google Cloud is here to help you.
I quickly learned as much as I could about cloud computing and how the Google Cloud Platform worked. Fortunately for my research, I had access to some pretty amazing experts in the field! I homed in on a cloud compute concept that was going to be a cornerstone of their architecture: "containerization." So I made containers the cornerstone of the creative.
I brought this gesture to environmental designer Camille Connolly, and we designed four rotating containers, each with two LED surfaces for content, one side with a sculptural lightbox showcasing the event logo, and an open interior.
Each of our individual containers had a unique surprise inside:
With 243 speakers scheduled, the big question became: how do you present content? Art Directors Andy Babbitz and Kyle Watson and I worked with the Google team to develop a graphic design system that elevated the brand and took full advantage of the stage picture we were creating.
This also meant that we would never "cut to graphics" on the livestreams for any of our presentations. Camille and I both have a background in broadcast television and we had designed and optimized the stage for multi-camera shooting. I storyboarded creative beats, directed presenters and worked with our webcast directors so that our speakers were framed within their presentation imagery.
Three different facets of our messaging architecture were contained across three keynote sessions on three different days. The opening keynote, "Building a Cloud for Everyone" was anchored by CEO Diane Greene who gave us a look at the vision for Google Cloud moving into the future. The second, "Bringing the Cloud to You" focused on providing an insider's view on the latest Cloud innovations including demos by Chief Scientist of AI/ML Fei Fei Li. And the third, "Made Here Together" the Developer focused keynote headlined by VP of Developer Relations Adam Seligman and featured live demos of new products and deployment scenarios. Big huge ups to my partners Content Producer Irene Boschetti and Screens Producer Kelley Kieckhefer for keeping everything on point.
We had such a fantastic time.
23,000+ attendees in person
The Opening Keynote was attended by 5,700+ in the room, over 10,000 watching the livestream in realtime and a subsequent 65,000+ total views on YouTube.
451 sessions, all broadcast live and archived on YouTube
105 new product announcements.
290 customer speakers
Alphabet’s stock price increased 7.5% over the week of the event. The volume of shares traded tripled during our opening session. By 2018 Q4, Google Cloud climbed to 3rd most popular cloud service.
It all came together beautifully, thanks to my brilliant collaborators, our tireless team and wonderfully talented crew, our partners, our incredible clients and especially the +23,000 people who came and brought it all to burbling, buzzing, cacophonous life.