The Brand New Conference, now going into its tenth year and created by husband and wife team, Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio, is a conference focusing on the practice of corporate and brand identity. It offers a broad range of points of view with speakers from around the world practicing in different environments, from global consultancies, to in-house groups and small graphic design studios.
Each year, by coincidence, there are common themes. In 2017, there was a clear focus on encouraging failure and how it betters the end product, whether its a logo or a website or a brand experience. The speakers discussed how failure can go hand in hand with a fruitful ending. This year, with talks ranging from graphic design for filmmaking to redefining one of the oldest and most trusted news outlets in the world, 3 key themes emerged.
Many of the talks centred around the successes of large-scale branding projects, but this year more than any, no team member was left unmentioned. Some even did videos to show off their staff and the people behind the wonderful work. My take-away from this is that it is crucial to show gratitude and acknowledge the masters behind the work. As we get lost in the deadlines and meetings, lets come up for air and thank those who make it happen.
Typically, a graphic designer’s disposition is to make our work pixel perfect, aligned and never deviate from the branding guidelines. This year was all about breaking those rules, about breathing life into brands beyond their comfort level by showing them how else it could look. Breaking rules isn’t just about doing it for the sake of it but for longevity and diversity of the brand. Whether its through modifying the tone of voice, creating new swag ideas or switching up the colours entirely, trying something new was highly embraced.
One of the biggest takeaways for me was the idea of brands that conduct themselves with authenticity. This isn’t anything radical from what we’ve seen in the past few years, but this year it felt more engrained. Almost all speakers touched on the idea of everything that we create must be true to the brands’ vision, true to the customer experience and most commonly today, true to where they stand politically, whether they want to or not. This is something that allows brands to connect on a real and thoughtful way to their audience and it was certainly a profound theme. Without truth, consumers will call your bluff, disengage and sometimes call you out. As we brand many companies we must pay close attention to what they believe in, how they want to be perceived and make sure they walk the talk. By doing this they will be more human and honest to their own values that can be carried for years to come.
These themes only scratch the surface in terms of all the wonderful things that were talked about, but it allows for a framework that we can utilise and share with our clients.