Someone comes to you wanting a logo. Where do you start?
I start by explaining their brand is bigger than their logo. 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 this inherent quality that feels true. This type of emotional link helps to test any raw ideas we have, so that we can develop them into more meaningful expressions. I’m experimental by nature, so it’s fun to push an idea as far as it can go. For me that’s the key – conceptualising all the different ways people can experience a brand. If we can show that the idea extends well, I know we've made the right connection.
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.
What’s your creative process?
I have an overall plan for how I work. It's part strategic and part intuitive, and feels more three dimensional than linear. For us it's fast-paced and highly collaborative – like a dance between thinking and making, so we can test and refine our ideas as we go. We've found this kind of iterative process invaluable for brand building; to create something great it's important that we remain open to all possibilities and look for new ways to improve.
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?
Not for us. Capturing the hearts and minds of people, persuading them to engage 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.