The Brand New 2012 Conference was the third annual branding & advertising conference organized by the people at UnderConsideration.com. It took place on September 7th at the New York School of Visual Arts. UnderConsideration is a graphic design project that runs a number of blogs, publishes books about design, and organizes various events. “Brand New” is also the name of their most famous blog, which focuses on critiquing brand identities.
This year, the speakers were a diverse bunch. As a designer at NJI I’m always looking to learn more and hear about the philosophies of other designers. Below, I’ve shared what I thought were the highlights of their presentations.
1. Simon Manchipp – SomeOne | London, UK
Simon Manchipp, whose portfolio includes the Royal Opera House and the London 2012 Olympics pictograms, gave us his 10 rules concerning branding and logos:
- Coherent not consistent. People desire stimulation; consistency doesn’t work anymore. Things change; branding isn’t static.
- Logos don’t lead the way. The logo is dying.
- Can we brand without badging it? This reinforces the previous point that “logos don’t lead the way,” there are many ways to create a brand that doesn’t rely on a logo alone. Patterns, typography, colors, or even a photographic logo–all this can create a more interesting brand.
- The ‘Big Idea’ isn’t the big idea. Brand worlds enable ideas to connect, tell a story!
- Find ownable moments, be innovative.
- Branding is all fear; designers are seen as crazy weirdos. There’s no trust anymore and everyone thinks that they are the designer. Design is not seen as a business and creativity is no longer a sure thing.
- Weird works. Weird stuff creates monopolies. Trust the risky weirdo called creativity!
- We believe that we are not in the design business, but in the people business. We need smart clients. Clients who benefit from believing.
- Move from being a cost to an asset.
- Chase the opportunity, not the money.
2. Yah-Leng Yu – Foreign Policy Design Group | Singapore
Yah-Leng Yu is a designer who originally started her career in NYC, but later moved to Singapore to start her own business. Her work is like a breathe of fresh air, very clean, open, and minimalist. She presented four case studies: Wanderlust Hotel, Darryl Wee, Sifang Collective, and The Space Program.
3. Miles Newlyn – London, UK
Miles Newlyn has an interesting design process. He begins with ugliness. “How can you make something better if you don’t know what’s wrong with it?” he asks. Then you must understand the beauty it possesses. Once you have a good understanding of the positives and negatives of a certain product, only then can you fix it.
4. Howard Belk – Siegel+Gale | New York, NY
The main point of Howard Belk’s presentation was SIMPLE IS SMART. Basically, in a world of complexity–simplicity is great. Simple is clear, simple is beautiful, the answer is simple.
5. Massimo Vignelli – Vignelli Associates | New York, NY
This is a designer that needs no introduction, a man who has over 50 years of experience. Massimo Vignelli has done work for the New York City Subway (map), American Airlines, Knoll, United Colors of Benetton and the list goes on. He had a few words of wisdom to share:
- Don’t work with bad clients.
- Make clients understand that they need design, to show who they [the clients] are.
- Design is the greatest pleasure, both for the manufacturer and the owner.
- Design as a language, not as a style. Design styles come and go, but a design language is pretty much forever
6. Yolanda “Yo” Santosa – Ferroconcrete | Los Angeles, CA
Yolanda “Yo” Santosa presented several case studies of her amazing work as a designer and art director for: Pinkberry, Hustler Sex Toys, TBS, and Fruute. Her overall design philosophy is that brands need to be entertaining and that they must have a personality.
7. Mike Rigby – Interbrand | Sydney, Australia
Mike Rigby has a clear understanding about what branding is and should be. Here are some of his main ideas about the subject:
- Communication, not decoration.
- Branding is like designing something you can’t see the edge of.
- Branding is in a sense designing for other designers, so it needs to be flexible.
- Brands have the power to change the world. An extraordinary brand is needed for social change. Having a clear focus is essential. (Example: Alzheimer’s Australia).
8. Aaron Draplin – Draplin Design Co. | Portland, OR
Aaron Draplin should have his own reality TV show. Not only does his design work speak for itself (it’s awesome), but he was by far the most charismatic and entertaining speaker. He is very honest, passionate and, in general, a no-nonsense type of guy. With his presentation, which was mostly the story of his life, he tried his best to inspire designers, young and old, to be the best that they can be. And to not only be the best, but to have a blast doing it. Design is certainly about making a living, but you also need to set aside time for projects that are simply worth doing, even if they won’t bring you any money.