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Brand New 2017 Conference Recap with Speaker Amy Schwartz

Amy Schwartz Creative Director Bright Bright Great

—photo credit: Detergent Design

Include your audience and remember less is more — Amy Schwartz

The Brand New Conference is an annual design conference that is organized by UnderConsiderationthe group responsible for the popular design blog, Brand New, that critiques brand identity work. The two-day conference focuses on the forms that brand identity takes onwith eight speaker-sessions per-day. Each speaker highlights a different topic in the brand identity universe, and the speakers themselves come from a broad range of experience from large-scale creative agencies to in-house design, to smaller creative studios.

For those of us in the creative agency worldthe chances are that our own work has been up for critique on Brand New.  

This year, the conference took place in Bright Bright Great’s hometown of Chicago at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park. We were super excited that our Creative Director, Amy Schwartz, was one of the speakers this year.

Amy focused her talk on how to tell jokes visually and how to incorporate humor as part of a brand identity. As a case study, Amy highlighted her work from Cards Against Humanity and urged designers to follow three important steps to land a joke or communicate to a client:

  1. Find The Thesis (and remember, less is more)
  2. Treat design and copy like a comedy duo (and really finesse the relationship between your elements)
  3. Always include your audience (because brands have a responsibility to be good to the people they care for)

Beyond that, Amy’s message was that there is power in having a brand be unapologetically who they are and to have fun in that ownership. If you have a ticket from the event, you can watch Amy’s video recap over at Brand New.

After the conference, Jeanne of Bright Bright Great sat down with Amy to ask her some questions to recap the event:

I love how your speech focused on process and how to achieve results with a framework versus just focusing on the final result of a new branding project. What advice can you give to younger designers about the brand identity process at a creative agency that they might not already know?

Being designers, we often tend to roll up our sleeves and dive into visuals right awaybe it looking for inspiration, creating mood boards, or picking up a pencil or mouse. But I think it’s important to first take a step back and consider the strategy prior to any visual work. This way, the design work isn’t in a vacuum. It is intentional and built upon the strategic framework that you created with your client.

One way we do this at Bright Bright Great is to create a Brand Deck exercise. This involves having the client choose 5-10 words that resonate with their brand. From there, we use the chosen words in different combinations to create unique visual manifestations of the brand.  Exercises like this give you a strategic North Star. You know you’re heading in the right direction for the brand before you even open an Adobe program. And when you eventually do design something gorgeous, it’s easier to explain the concept to your client and sell it to them–you’ve built a strong foundation together.

I’m always really curious about how much the conference organizations want to know about your speech ahead of time. You had to give a topic prior to the event, right? What else beyond that?

Brand New asked for a topic, description, and bio ahead of time. They also requested the slides a few days in advance which meant no last-minute fixes, which was actually a relief.

For those clients not well-versed in the creative process (but experts in other areas), how can creative folks better explain that brand identity is so much more than a logomark?

There are different levels to explaining about brand identity. I think walking clients through what to expect and showing them real-world examples is really helpful. First, you explain the visual brand, starting with color and then the why behind it, i.e. what the color stands for and why it needs to be a certain color. Then, how color and then other brand elements like typography and imagery and layout help to shape the language and attitude of the brand. There is a reason why you don’t see the Coca-Cola logo on blue.

For brands like Cards Against Humanity, their brand identity is very much built upon using humor in all of their communication and reminding people of their brand voice every step of the way. For companies like Pepsi, that puts out a commercial (that people don’t receive wellfor very good reasons)it’s all part of a brand, with intentional choices that have an impact. Think of a brand like a person. And if you put a person in a different shirt it might look different, but it’s still the same person. Changing the visuals of a brand doesn’t erase the brand’s attitudes, communication, and other touch points.

What is one of the best things about a big design conference?

The best part is making friends. I was really excited to meet other speakers, people I was a fan of, and also have casual moments with people who attend the conference to share common ground and maybe a drink.

For those of us that didn’t go, tell us about the atmosphere at Brand New?

It was professional and high-caliber and also down-to-earth and welcoming. It was fun to talk to so many like-minded people in one space. It was big! I appreciated that there was a lot to see and it provided that one-on-one chance to interact with the design community members that might not otherwise be in Chicago.

Did you learn something new or get inspiration from the event?

Ohhhhh yeah. The whole Bright Bright Great design team left with inspiration on what type of projects we are eager to take on next year, and how we might work together to continue to evolve the Bright Bright Great Brand. I loved Mike Reed’s talk about the importance of words in a brand. It was really great reminder for designers to always be working with copywriters.

Next year, New York?

Amy: Yes! The ’15-minute flings’ that Brand New had with local speakers were very well done and great to see. It gave me a lot of hometown pride and I look forward to seeing what other cities have to offer.

Posted By
jeannehenry

Bright Bright Great Welcomes Jeanne Henry as Director of Projects

Bright Bright Great would like to extend a warm welcome to our new Director of Projects, Jeanne Henry. Jeanne will be assisting BBG with all BBG accounts and sales.

Jeanne Henry

 

What is your name and official title at BBG?

Jeanne Henry, Director of Projects. Hello, Hello. I am excited to be here.

What got you interested in (your role)?

I’ve always been interested in communication (the heart of project management), first through my writing background, but that skill set grew when I was working for a book publisher, and I really got to understand the power of design in communication and how important it is to elevate messages. From there, which was many years ago, I got the chance to work in the creative agency space and loved how project management combined so many things that I love from organizing to getting to talk to people across many different industries and fields of expertise. I haven’t looked back since! Project management has really felt like a natural fit for my interdisciplinary background.

What interested you in working at BBG?

I was really drawn to the broad range of digital projects and the high-energy and excitement of the BBG team.

What skills are you excited to polish, or learn in the next few years?

I’m always really excited to learn more about the development process and grow my knowledge base as technology is always changing—it’s important to stay up-to-date and always be looking for different ways to innovate, and to keep knowledge fresh. Outside of that, I’m always interested in trying new ways to run projects and expand on some of the strategy skills that I use as a project manager. I’m always a student.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?

I’m an essay and poetry writer. I love wandering through independent bookstores and finding an author that I’ve never heard of. I like trying to surprise myself by new adventures. Coffee shops, running, and board games with my partner, Edmund, is also pretty high up there in interests.

Who is currently inspiring you the most creatively in design?

Outside of Amy Schwartz and all the lovely work of my colleagues, I really enjoy the human and hand-drawn data visualizations of illustrator Mona Chalabi. I love Claire Wasserman and the whole, supportive and dope community of Ladies Get Paid.

Who is currently inspiring you the most creatively in a field outside of graphic design?

There are really lovely writers and advocates for social change that inspire me and urge me through their work to take as much action as possible for positive, progressive social change and to write better poetry. Those people include Clint Smith, Eve Ewing, and Tarfia Faizulla. Among others. I’m also really inspired by the Blood Orange album ‘Freetown Sound’ from 2016. It’s amazing and never gets old.

What’s the closest thing to real magic?

Love. Love is magic. Does everyone say that? Well, it’s true.

If you were given a one-minute ad slot during the Super Bowl that you couldn’t sell, what would you fill it with?

Poetry, yo. The poetry ads in New York City and here in Chicago show mostly stale poetry from dead white men. I’d love to have a dope ad the represents the real and current freshness of poetry.

Would you rather always be 10 minutes late or always be 20 minutes early?

20 minutes early, for sure. I’m the person that walks around the block because they got to a meeting too early.

Be sure to follow Jeanne:
Jeanne Henry LinkedIn
Jeanne Henry Twitter

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

Bright Bright Great Welcomes Timberlene Gilliam as Design Apprentice

Bright Bright Great would like to extend a warm welcome to our new Design Apprentice Timberlene Gilliam. Timberlene will be assisting BBG with Design and branding as well as with BBG’s Avondale Type Co. type and Mlmtr photography teams.

Timberlene Gilliam

What is your official title at BBG?

Timberlene Gilliam, Design Apprentice

What got you interested in (your role)?

I took design as an elective in high school and was hooked immediately. I haven’t looked back since.

What interested you in working at BBG?

The remarkable amount of thought and expertise that’s clear in each of BBG’s projects is what really attracted me. As a young designer, I want to be learning from and growing alongside the best. I know that’s what I’m getting here at BBG.

What skills are you excited to polish, or learn in the next few years?

I’m most excited to learn about web design and the processes that go into creating effective websites. Up until now, I’ve only had experience with print design, so I’m ready to dive headfirst into digital design.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?

I spend most of my downtime learning Japanese and buying new stationery. I also like to make short animations for fun.

Who is currently inspiring you the most creatively in design?

Risotto Studio, Fabian Fohrer, Studio Feixen, and Alex Proba.

Who is currently inspiring you the most creatively in a field outside of graphic design?

The Madbury Club, Hannah Waldron, Cold Picnic, and Elevator Teeth.

What is your favorite fast food menu item?

French fries. Preferably in waffle or crinkly form, with a side of ranch.

What’s something people are surprised to learn about you?

No movie or tv show has ever made me cry. Even the most famous tear jerkers get nothing out of me.

Were you Prom Queen?

Thankfully, no. However, a handsome stranger professed his love for me and “proposed” at my post-prom dinner. That’s almost as good, I think.

Be sure to follow Timberlene:
Timberlene Gilliam Instagram
Timberlene Gilliam LinkedIn
Timberlene Gilliam Twitter

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

Bright Bright Great Welcomes Kara Shim as Designer

Bright Bright Great would like to extend a warm welcome to our new Designer, Kara Shim to the team. Kara will be assisting BBG on our Design team as well as our Avondale Type Co. type and Mlmtr photography teams.

Kara Shim Designer

Name & Role

Kara Shim, Design Apprentice

What got you interested in (your role)?

I had heard about BBG and was snooping around the website for job opportunities. I saw the position for the role the day AFTER applications were due and applied with my fingers crossed – and here I am. Thankful I made it.

What interested you in working at BBG?

I knew BBG would be a place that would push me as a designer. They had the small studio vibe I was looking for but they still strived for excellence and made great work. I heard they were very hands on and collaborative as well and these were all aspects I was looking for in a job.

What skills are you excited to polish, or learn in the next few years?

Definitely looking forward to developing my UI/UX skills. I had a strong fine arts background before diving into design and there’s a lot of aspects to web that I’m looking forward to learning and practicing.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?

I like being around people so I’m usually hanging out with friends. I love good food so I enjoy finding new, cool places to eat (especially ramen places, I’m a sucker for good ramen). Aside from that I draw and I daydream a lot more than I should – I also adore funky jewelry and will go great lengths for some sweet earrings or rings.

Who is currently inspiring you the most creatively in design?

Currently design crushing on Leta Sobierajski. But also really inspired by a lot of Korean and Japanese designers as well.

Who is currently inspiring you the most creatively in a field outside of graphic design?

Matisse has always been an influence for me.

What is your favorite fast food menu item?
 
Fries, duh. Always get BBQ sauce with them too. Always.

What’s something people are surprised to learn about you?

I spent most of my life growing up overseas – I was born and raised in Illinois and before moving with my family. I primarily lived in Kyrgyzstan and Thailand for 10 years of my life and came back to Illinois for college.

But the real shocker to people is that I was homeschooled for a few years in elementary to middle school. People are always shocked by that because they expect me to be weirder than I am. Little do they know I’m actually super weird I can just hide it really well.

Also I’m left-handed. For some reason people who have known me always lose it when they hear that.

Were you Prom Queen?

My school was tiny so I feel like this doesn’t mean much – but yes I was my junior year. Wasn’t that great.

What would you name your boat if you had one?

The Yellow Duck.

What’s a body part that you wouldn’t mind losing?

I feel like I could live without one of my toes. Do you need all of your toes?

Would you rather always be 10 minutes late or always be 20 minutes early?

20 minutes early – because I’m already usually 10 minutes late.

 –

Be sure to follow Kara:
Kara Shim Instagram
Kara Shim LinkedIn

Posted By
Jason Schwartz

Press: Capitalist Improv – Bright Bright Great Creative Director Amy Schwartz Interviewed by Communication Arts

Amy Schwartz Creative Director

An Interview with Bright Bright Great Creative Director Amy Schwartz on Communication Arts
Posted: Aug 29, 2017

When and how did you find your passion for design?

In my freshman year of high school, I took an introduction to journalism class that covered not only the basics of journalism writing, but also how to create print layouts in InDesign. I became hooked. My junior year, I became editor in chief of the paper and soon realized that while I enjoy writing, my true passion is design. I was completely enamored by the idea that different layouts and elements—photographs, captions, infographics, pull quotes—could directly affect the way a reader understands the information on the page.

My senior year, I became editor in chief of design, and another talented student became editor in chief of copy. Together, we collaborated on the intersection of form and content. It was a truly incredible experience to have before I even turned eighteen. I nervously abandoned my half-finished applications for college journalism programs and applied to college design programs.

Now it’s coming full circle, as I am continuing my career as a designer who writes.

Read the full article with Amy Schwartz on Communication Arts.

Posted By
Jason Schwartz