John Owens: Why wasn't I consulted?

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

John Owens (@Instruct ) was talking about brand identity at #TIDE, these are my notes from his talk.

Working with big brands you can see the complexity of them. Brands sought to find consumer needs, patterns and behaviour - it was one way behaviour, you had items pushed onto you. This worked for years and built up one way empires telling you how to live your life. The internet changed all this, it made everyone social - it became a conversation. Brands could now listen to people. People then feel empowered to talk about things.

As creatives we put ourselves up as targets when we put our work out there.

Big brands have huge insight departments to target their advertising. They listen in to social media and generate loads of data. Out of this complex systems fuel the design process. As a creative you need to link into these processes. We have never been under so much pressure and we have to post-rationalise evey single decision - clients expect this now. We use every medium to enforce our ideas and answer to multiple stakeholders.

We end up with design mockups based on stock photogrphy that look very similar, these can mislead the purpose. You can stick any old shit on most mockups and they look good. We should be showing designs in context. Also: why do we show everything full screen in a Mac?

There's too much bullshit. Call a spade a spade.

Working in-house can be really rewarding, it doesn't have to be a dirty word. However: Yahoo!'s rebrand was an attempt to put off all the people who would go onto dribble and in an evening do their own version of what is actually a complex brand identity. Unfortunately they then revealed that their process wasn't that much better and the result reflects that. A great opportunity missed.

The University of California announced a new brand identity but there was an enormous amount of (undeserved) vitriol unleased on the internet. "Worst logo rebrand in history" ~ SF Times. The new brand was scrapped before the rollout. How much influence do we want to allow brands have over us?

When consumer reach is so wide and complex - should we even try and keep everyone happy? Destination branding is interesting, you are creating an outward and inward identity. People have a very strong idea of the identity of where they are from (and it's often negative) and they have to live with it everyday. The City of Melbourne did a really good job of this. Their logo is a geometric 'M' but they allow the space within the logo to be filled with anything. Shown in context on a parking ticket - this is a real example of how the identify will be used. They printed things out and took photos of these real objects rather than using photshopped stock photos.

Good design is a s little design as possible. You may need to talk it up to sell it but it should be simple.

  • Be clear
  • Be confident
  • Be honest
  • Be simple
  • Be flexible

Designers need to be confident in how they present their ideas. Cut the bullshit and the ideas will shine through.