When the guys over at the frequently visited Brand New announced they were holding their annual brand conference in Europe (Amsterdam to be precise) for the first time, it was too good an opportunity to pass. With an abundance of inspiring work and speakers on show, here are 6 things that stood out for me (chronologically, of course) writes Brand Director Chris Killeen.
Branding in five and a half steps – Step 2.5
Michael Johnson of johnson banks (London) kicks of the conference and raises the important issue of bridging the gap between brand strategy and design. It's a tricky area to manage on any project and one that requires a specialist skill set, someone who can understand and interpret the research and create a strategy to point that on the right creative path. A skill set like this is one developed over years, with experience gained working on projects of all scales, which puts Michael in the perfect position to talk about the issues involved. Of course, for any advice on how to best manage this you'll have to buy his book 'Branding in five and a half steps' which will be released later this year...
Quality is key
“We believe in quality because it is the only thing that stands the test of time." That was the message from Marko Salonen of Helsinki based agency Bond. This is something which struck a particular chord with me. The best work we do as an agency comes when we work with a client who trusts us and values what we do. The important part of any project is making sure you set off in the right direction with the right foundations in place, from there it's essential that every detail is considered and crafted. That is the only way to create a brand that stands the test of time.
Good people equals good business
Day 1 closed with the colourful Brian Collins, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of the New York based COLLINS. As well as showing some interesting work for the likes of Eos and Spotify (were they created a bespoke product for design roll out – very cool indeed), Brian talked about creating a culture that is designed to keep good staff. Creating a space in the COLLINS studio for kids to come after school to do their homework or hangout whilst waiting on their parents was a priority. He believes that women shouldn't have to make the choice between being a good mother and having a career and for COLLINS, keeping good people means good business.
Only work with awesome people
Day 2 gets underway with the much anticipated Aporva Baxi and Simon Dixon from the award winning DixonBaxi. A hugely impressive show reel (which must have comprised of years of blood, sweat and tears) was followed by 7 insights as to what they value as a company. The last of these points sounds a lot like common sense but isn't always an easy one to get right, and that is “Only work with awesome people." Simon makes the valid point that everything you create is determined by the people you work with, be that your team, your clients or the end user. Surrounding yourself with good people seems to be a common theme running through the Brand Nieuwe Conference.
If a striker is an expert in escaping a defender, just don't defend him
In an interestingly themed presentation (well, for around 50% of the audience) around Johan Cruyff, Pablo Juncadella talks about picking your battles. This was illustrated by a client asking Mucho for a re-brand but wanting to keep a recognisable element of their logo. If you can work out exactly what it is that motivates your client to make such a request, you can take this and use it to your advantage and (more often than not) create a more effective piece of work because of it. Everyone's a winner.
(No) wining and dining...
Alex Holmén, CEO of Essen International talks about their approach to gaining new work, “No wining and dining – good work creates more work." He claims they don't have huge networks, “aren't very good at partying" and instead Essen let the work drive them forward. An illustration of this point came when they were opening an office in San Francisco. How would they make an impression on a new market, letting people know who they were and what their approach was? They decided to launch with their take on a classic American brand at San Francisco Design Week. They applied their Scandinavian mentality to Bank of America. Red and blue changed to purple (a mix of the previous colours) and the stars removed, breaking down the state lines. They also thought to humanise the name to Bank of Americans. A clever and interesting way to promote yourself in a new market I'm sure you'd agree, let your work do the talking.
For further information on the conference, head over to Brand Nieuwe 2016.