Beats Tempo: The Story Behind the Award-Winning Work

Our transformative, award-winning work, Beats Tempo, continues to receive recognition at shows around the world — including the D&AD Awards, The Webby Awards, The One Show, and The Art Directors Club. Tempo is a suite of digital tools designed to educate and train a global audience on Beats’s most cutting-edge products, but Tempo is more than a suite of tools – it’s a new approach to product marketing and education. We recently sat down with Matt St. Gelais, Executive Design Director, to get the inside scoop on this work.

What was the business challenge Firstborn was asked to solve?

Beats was preparing to launch their Powerbeats Pro and Solo Pro, the first Beats products built from the ground up with Apple technology. They had a new story to tell and sought an innovative way to transform the training experience for their growing global audience — one as innovative as the products themselves.

 Were there any complications or special considerations you needed to take into account?

 To meet multiple product release dates throughout the year, Beats sought to train employees while the products were still in development. This posed a few key questions: How do you experience and learn about a new product and form factor that you can’t yet hold, or even hear? How do you do all that on a global scale, make the experience personal and consistent for a workforce of 1.5 million, and reach an audience from sell-in to the sales floor? To do this, we worked with Beats product engineers to develop a flexible, digital analog of the real product. This allowed us to adapt to production changes in real time, and brought our audience closer to the final product by educating them on the internal technology and external functionality, fit, and finish. 

 What was our solution?

 Tempo brings complex product features to life in an easy-to-understand digital format, blending meticulously rendered 3D models, custom motion graphics, an immersive lifestyle narrative, and interactive 3D learning modules.

This blend of content types appeals to a variety of learning styles while giving audiences an opportunity to familiarize themselves with new form factors, playback controls, and lifestyle applications — increasing product knowledge, consistency, and retention on a global scale. 

How did you pull this off?

 Tempo was crafted in-house, from concept, to copy, to code taking an approach we like to call ‘Less talk. More rock.’ That means we get to design fast and create prototypes that our client team can react to early on in the process which allows us to move quickly to gain clarity and validate our approach throughout the process. We work closely with Beats’ product designers from day one ensuring that we’re communicating new features as they’re developed.

 What are some of the highlights of this work for you?

 Tempo is a complete expression of our team’s skillset — we do everything —  concept, copy, lifestyle imagery and video narratives, to interaction design and code.

I’m proud of the transformative nature of this work. Tempo redefined the way Beats and Apple engage, connect, and train retail audiences — fundamentally changing how they bring new product initiatives to market. The scale and impact of Tempo is really important —  it launched in over 20 languages, has trained over 1.5 million employees worldwide, and helped raise pre-order channel sales by 2.13x.