The Brand New Conference this year was my first and I was lucky to be able to go with my two coworkers Greg Matusic and Michael Rivette.
The speakers were extremely inspiring, knowledgeable, empowering, and I learned way more than I thought I would. To sum it all up, here are 10 main things I took away from it.
1. Experience before design.
Would you brand for a laundromat without going to the laundromat? Probably not. Bob Gill explained how you can’t have an original idea without experiencing it first. He talked about how culture plants ideas in our head without us even realising it, and the only way we can avoid these planted ideas is to go experience something new.
2. Know where you stand.
Jason Kline and Casey White of Brandiose know exactly what they want to do and know what they’re good at. Brandiose works a lot with Minor League Baseball teams, creating identities and stories. They explain that they work in the Circus business, and that they are confident in what they do. They are a superb team, have been working together since they were kids, and comfortable knowing that they are “Minor League Guys”.
3. Meeting with clients requires lots of beer, (especially in baseball).
4. Side Projects can fuel your career.
Matthew Stevens showed that all of his major projects have connections to his original for-fun side projects. It was inspirational seeing how he was sought out by Nike because of his AirMax1-a-day project.
5. If you’re not happy, do something about it.
Matthew Stevens explained that he was unhappy with where he was working before he began side projects. He was only happiest when he was working on these projects, so he decided he needed a change and created The Design Office of Matt Stevens. From there his larger scale projects have grown off of his freelance projects.
6. Why myspace was what it was.
Debbie Millman gave a lecture on why social media is such an important part of our culture by beginning at the roots of branding. I’ll explain it as simply as I can. It all began 50,000 years ago with the “great leap forward” separating our brains so the brain could have a creative section (yay science!) which lead to: self decoration for religion, then crests,shields, and flags symbolizing lineage, then branding (marking) livestock. In the 19th century branding started to become what we know it as today. I also learned that the first legal branded product was Bass Pale Ale. I found this particularly interesting because without knowing this I have a saved bottle of bass pale ale on my shelf. When technology boomed with the creation of the ipod, it was seen as our doomed future. Everyone was becoming an ear-bud zombie. The whole social element was taken away, so the human race adapted and created social media.
7. Why there isn’t a large selection of Chinese typefaces.
Bruno Maag explained how difficult it is to create a typeface with Chinese characters. Chinese cannot be used unless it is approved by the Chinese government. To do so, it costs $25K to have it reviewed, and Bruno explained that it is always denied the first time. So, it costs another $25K after changes are made and so on. I never knew it was such a hassle.
8. Being positive, even when your design proposal isn’t picked.
Michael Bierut from Pentagram showed his design brief for the past year that he had only shown to the other Pentagram partners. It included works in progress, failed proposals, and successful projects. It was really interesting to see how the proposals were built and what the client sees. Even when the Pentagram logo wasn’t picked, the client was still congratulated on their new logo, which I personally think is such an awesome thing to do.
9. You can always find positives and good intentions in designs.
Armin politely and sarcastically reviewed some of the logos over the past year including Yahoo, University of California, Wendys, Arbys, and a few others. I came away from that knowing blueprints don’t make logos better (Yahoo! and Mercado Libre), petitions against logos are created by “delusional dip shits” (University of California Logo controversy), not all logos have to be mocked up on shopping bags (Lippincott and the Ebay Logo), Breastaurant is a real genre of restaurant (Hooters), and using 5,000 words to explain why a logo works is a bit excessive (Experimental Jetset and their Whitney Logo). You can watch all of the hilarious opening remarks here.
10. The 2012 Obama Campaign is unbelievably inspirational.
Josh Higgins gave a presentation on his Obama campaign and talked about his experiences being a part of something so large. Seeing how so many designers collaborate for such an important cause was extremely inspiring and heartwarming. Knowing design was such a huge part of the Obama Campaign makes me proud to be a designer and proud that I’m a part of something so important.
You can check out more images from the event here taken by Andrew Ryan Shepherd.
…and here are the opening comments. Wish I could have been there.