“This was a fantastic night with Dockers, WeWork and the amazing speaker panel. BBG thanks all involved for putting this together. Furthermore, free pants!”
— Jason Schwartz, Managing Director
About Dockers Always On Sessions:
Dockers Always On Sessions is a speaker series designed for you. Docker’s has teamed up with WeWork on a series of happy hours featuring up-and-coming entrepreneurs and influencers, covering everything from technology to travel.
Include your audience and remember less is more — Amy Schwartz
The Brand New Conference is an annual design conference that is organized by UnderConsideration, the 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 on—with 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 world—the 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:
Find The Thesis (and remember, less is more)
Treat design and copy like a comedy duo (and really finesse the relationship between your elements)
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 away—be 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 well—for 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.
In January, Bright Bright Great turned 10 years old.
Starting as our my personal freelance moniker in 2007, BBG has grown to a multi-million dollar adventure, serving clients around the world and producing amazing creative and tech for all those we have worked with.
It’s been an amazing ride so far and we aren’t planning to quit anytime soon. Thanks to everyone for the support and exciting projects we’ve been a part of over the last decade. Our journey continues.
Bright Bright Great is excited to announce the launch of Black Spectacles revamped art direction and website, blackspectacles.com.
Bright Bright Great has been lucky enough to work with the Black Spectacles team over almost 10 years, assisting with brand, design, strategy and more. We have also worked with Black Spectacles’ community products such as Super Simple, ARE Prep and ARE Live.
After the presentation, Jason and Nick stuck around to answer questions and talk one on one with some of the attendees, learning a little more about the ideas that are being developed at CIE, the issues they’re running into as entrepreneurs, and helping to provide answers where possible.
Both Jason and Nick look forward to continuing to help some of the attendees with their projects and getting better acquainted with more of the participants at CIE.
If you’d like to have BBG speak at an event you have coming up, say hello!
Bright Bright Great to continue in 2016 as an agency of record for AIGA Chicago.
AIGA Chicago has asked Bright Bright Great to continue on in 2016 as an Agency of Record. As always Bright Bright Great is honored to be chosen to be one of those agencies and to be given the opportunity to apply some of our creative vision to AIGA’s programming for the Chicago community this year.