Someone comes to you wanting a logo. Where do you start?
I start by explaining their. Really my job is developing a visual language that makes sense to people. And because a brand needs to exist in many different ways, mostly what I design are identity systems. A logo is one part of an identity system – I create a whole system so that clients can walk away with the tools they need.
So how do you know when you’ve arrived at the right idea?
Great ideas have an inherent quality that feels true. It's an emotional link that helps test raw ideas so that they can blossom into more meaningful expressions. I’m experimental by nature, so it’s fun to push the idea as far as it can go. For me that’s the key – conceptualising all the different ways people can experience a brand. If that emotional link extends well, I know we're onto a winner.
Do brands have a shelf life?
It depends on the brand. Like people, it's good for brands to evolve. Imagine if we didn't change a single thing in our lives – how would we grow? It’s important to make something that can be adapted to its time. You want to build in enough elasticity so when customers move in a new direction your brand isn’t left behind.
"I want to light the path for
where they want to head."
What’s your creative process?
I have an overall plan for how I work – part strategic and part intuitive. The strategic part is absorbing all kinds of information about my client and their customers. I need to understand why they do what they do. I don’t want to change something for the sake of it. I want to light the path for where they want to head. And to do that well, ideas need to collide and combine in a way that feels more three dimensional than linear; like a dance between thinking, making and testing. I never settle on the first place we land. I always polish and refine.
What happens after you propose a brand identity?
The other part of my job kicks in: getting the brand in use. Sometimes that’s the biggest part of the job, helping an individual, a group or a whole corporation to see where their brand can go. It takes time before a new brand identity or brand elements are rolled out completely. I’m here to help brands do that in a thoughtful way.
So the logo isn’t the end game?
Creating a logo is never the hard part of the job, at least not for me. It’s persuading lots of people to engage that is.
So what’s the magic ingredient in brand design?
It’s about finding a shared set of values and goals. To bring people from mixed backgrounds and beliefs together, you need to create visible reminders of a common identity, where people genuinely believe that despite their differences they are, together, part of something special. That’s what I find most satisfying about my job: creating something of value, that lives on with more meaning and relevance for people each year.