330 South Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21231
p 410 244 7221 f 410 244 7225
Last Friday I had the distinct pleasure of heading to New York for the Brand New Conference. Presented by Under Consideration, Brand New is a one-day master class in modern thinking about brands, identity, and design. And it was, in a word, amazing. There's no way I or anyone else could fully do it justice in a blog post. I think, though, that there's value in sharing some takeaways as food for thought.
Before I do that, though, one quick note: this is admittedly a highly subjective review. Not everything or everybody is covered. Not even close. These are just some of my favorite nuggets that I hope you'll enjoy as well.
With that said...
Simon Manchipp, Creative Director & Co-Founder of SomeOne in London, opened the proceedings with a provocative take on how consistency in branding is "dull, repetitive, and predictable." Instead, he advocates "coherent" branding based on thinking that "The Big Idea isn't the big idea. It's about hundreds of big ideas." From there he went on to discuss why "branding is all fear" (because it's creative which means it's risky), the perils of not sticking to your values, and how "weird works." I don't know how he fit as much as he did into 50 minutes. He set a high bar.
Equally provocative was Miles Newlyn, who argued that we shouldn't seek to tell brand stories. Rather, we should position brands to engage in dialogue. From Newlyn's perspective, "Stories have an end. If you don't want your brand to end, forget about storytelling." Later in the talk he spoke of the importance of knowing when to stop. How does he know for himself? He asks a simple question: "Have I found truth? That's when I know it's finished."
Howard Belk of Siegel + Gale opened with something near and dear to our own hearts here at OE, which was how S+G made a conscious decision to be a relationship-based company instead of a project-based company. They did it (and I love this) so that S+G would always be "positioned to innovate on [the client's] behalf." He went on to discuss how "all good assignments start with an interesting question" before devoting the lion's share of his talk to the importance of simplicity. Agreed on all counts.
After a break for lunch (in my case, Burritoville) we settled in for a treat: a conversation with living legend Massimo Vignelli. His talk was wide-ranging and consistently amazing but I keep returning to one quote: "We don't satisfy a client's wants," he said, "we satisfy a client's needs."
Tough act to follow for sure but Yolanda Santosa from ferroconcrete in Los Angeles came on strong. She highlighted several examples of her firm's outstanding work, all centered on the idea that "brands need personality." Check out ferroconcrete's portfolio and you'll see exactly what she means. They walk the talk.
The event closed with the incomparable Aaron Draplin, proprietor of the Draplin Design Company and creator of (among many other things) my longtime go-to notebook, Field Notes. The biggest thing I got from him was a bellyfull of mad inspiration. Other than that his talk can't really be described other than to say, "just watch it."
Which, you'll want to know, is quite doable. Head over to the Brand New site and at $5 per talk or $30 for all eight you can download them for yourself. Take my word -- that's a serious bargain.
So, get after it and please don't forget to let us know what you think. Agree with these takeaways? Catch something I missed? We'd love to hear your thoughts.