My first First round had me eager with coming back to San Francisco, the city I still have listed as "home" on my app from not updating it for the past year. It also served as a reintroduction to the world of branding. First round is a collection of speakers who share their first-round presentation that they presented to the client for the very first time they saw any number of design exploration and it’s very heavily geared towards learning how to present our branding identity work and how to get our best general work implemented.
I saw a pattern of common themes from the presenting SFO speakers and have collected them below.
Learn about their clients
Varies from hosts Armin Vit and Bryrony Gomez-Palacio’s 1 hour conversation to understanding and developing a full strategy before diving into the work of design, or It can can go from knowing who from the client team will be in the initial meeting event by peeking at the Google calendar event, as Amelie Au likes to do. Regardless of the method, they looked to ensure that their work would align with their client’s goals and message.
Include tiny type in presentations
Though some presenters made light of the fact that the presentations were looking about the same, Karin Soukup and Ben Crick talked about how they decided to make the their deck simple because they aimed to shift their client’s focus on the work they were about to discuss and trying to sell ideas on without distracting with unnecessary information.
While talking about their work for Original Pattern Brewing Company, Casey Martin presented alongside dancing text growing and shrinking as a nod to the brewery process. In this case, the solution looked to provide a “motion feel” even in static. Amelie Au backed up animation’s role in their presentations by saying, “We like to use motion whenever possible, especially when explaining concepts.” Kristine Auth, humbly admitted that she is not an animator, but understands the importance of animation before sharing an animation of Loliware’s logo. She mentioned that they, “saw it, and they went apeshit over that” and proceeded to show the impact of appropriate sound design on the remaining elements of the video.
Include multiple directions or concepts
Deciding on the number of directions provided to a client is a difficult thing to master because, as Aaron Poe from Ueno says, “too many can be confusing or muddled and too few can convey lack of direction or point of view”. Most presenters provided multiple directions, with the exception being Character’s work for The Stronach Group, where Ben Pham walked us through an extensive execution of a single direction.
Push boundaries typography
Attempting to moving away from uses of sans serif to convey. People are tired of geometric sans in all their touch points so there were multiple ones utilizing different ones.
Provide beyond what they were asked for
Many feature websites they weren’t contracted for, but wanted to show how it would live. Stating a number of and deliver x concepts. Regardless of these, they went with the intention to over deliver if the remaining concepts fell below the strategy the worked on together.
Optimize for scale
There were a few that showed how that the logo mark would scale down for uses in social and for app icons. I wondered if they looked to optimize some of these illustrations for viewing on the smaller screen. Casey Martin also included a pattern using a typeface provided by Oh No Type Co, and viewing a mock-up on a keynote from the audience, I couldn't tell if a text face was being used. It's worth saying that most large display solutions won't work at the same time for viewing on a smaller scale since you both lose the fine detail while adding difficulty in viewing. It is important to keep in mind that many of these presentations were initial phases so the issue may have simply been they didn't have time to do this.
With expected jokes aside, the included component of seeing the brand on a t-shirt, marked the importance of how the brand can be supported by its intended audience. Whether they be willing to wear the logo as a “badge of honor” Christopher Simmons says that doing so “is the ultimate test. If you’d like to wear it on a T-shirt it does represent you or identify you.” Totes and flags were also among the articles mentioned in playful banter.
Utilize the same set of components for different concepts
When handling any number of multiple concepts, the work presented made a point to even out the playing field, by showcasing each concept on the same set of deliverables.
Look for cues from clients
As they reflected on their presentations with clients, they noted how they would they look for head nods, or if their eyes light up when discussing a certain topic. All of these were non-verbal cues that they were successfully selling their ideas.
Stay aligned with goals while pushing boundaries
Going safe and then wild and seeing how to test the limits of the concept, by pushing how far the client is willing to go with them. Something that kept the concepts unified, was the strategy behind the brand which had to be agreed upon by BOTH parties before going into developing the visual identity.
To review ALL the different options that were presented and compare them. Trying to keep them in the same equity between them and continue the discussion in real time. Boards / printouts were made available.
The published isn’t exactly the same as what was presented in Round 1, as some showed evidence of how the brand evolved after presentation. Katherine shared how the brand Loliware continued to make noise in headlines.
I’m still growing as a brand designer, so it was great to see that despite how different each client and project was there were still some things shared between each project that can help improve our shared design process.
Thanks to include all the speakers from First Round SFO: Armin Vit, Bryony Gomez-Palacio, Tom Crabtree, Karin Soukup, Ben Crick, Danielle McWaters, Brent Couchman, Ben Pham, Takashi Kusui, M Paradise and Faun Chapin, Aaron Poe, Amelie Au, Casey Martin, Kristine Arth, and Christopher Simmons.
Huge thanks to the two ushers on the left side of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, for your patience while our group of 8 waited for your team to fill the front half of the auditorium so we could sit together, in the front of the back half.
If you’re interested in learning more about branding, I strongly recommend attending other Brand New Conference events in one of the other cities.
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