Brand New Conference: 27-hour adventure
If you didn’t hear, I was one of the lucky four people to win the Brand New Conference ticket give-away (video). Of course dropping everything and flying to San Francisco for the day isn’t always the most practical thing to do, but it’s tough to pass up the opportunity.
I’m just crazy (and busy) enough, that I decided to fly out and back the same day.
I’ll be chronicling my 27-hour adventure on this “live blog” – assuming my various devices will have enough charge to make it happen. Wish me luck.
6:58AM – in-flight wifi, thanks to US Airways and Gogo. I’ve been up since 3:15 already, but this morning couldn’t have gone any more smoothly. Roomy exit row seating + wifi = awesome.
7:05 – almost forgot. This “free” ticket was “sponsored by the first ever Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and one of the conference’s Presenting Sponsors.” Thank you so much to SVA and Brand New!
7:15 – Attendees. It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that most of the attendees of this conference in San Francisco are from California, but I was somewhat surprised just how few people are from anywhere besides CA or NY. Of course, Jacksonville is well represented (as always). Looking forward to seeing Russel, Varick, and Katy!
7:26 – Speakers. I’m not sure anyone will top the over-the-top presentation last year by Erik Spiekermann, but I’m definitely looking forward to hearing branding experts: Christopher SImmons, Marina Willer, and let’s not forget, Matteo Bologna’s facial hair.
7:32 – Let’s pause for Station Identification. Just realized a flaw in my time code posts… I *was* on Eastern time (probably flying over Central right now). So in case you’re keeping score at home, the time I show will be whatever “local” time I post from. Capiche?
7:40 – Hooray for turbulence. And the captain has turned on the “fasten seat belts sign”, so please have a seat. Fortunately, turbulence wouldn’t appear to be impacting the wifi.
9:05 – Planning to meet BART. I just figured out how to take the “BART” once I land at SFO. Seems simple enough. Wish me luck. As a side point, seems kinda silly that their logo isn’t, uh… BART. Go figure.
9:15 – Prepare for landing. Making a pit-stop in Phoenix for a battery charge, and hopefully an Egg McMuffin.
10:53 – Rut Roh. Stuck in PHX with a two-hour delay. Going to miss at least the first few presenters. Dang.
11:50 – What? They’re starting to board! Here’s hoping they leave earlier than promised…
Saturday 6:40 AM (O’Hare Airport, Chicago) – A little catch-up. Okay, my bogging platform didn’t like me using the iPad to update it. It was stripping out all of the styling, so without power for the laptop, I gave up on live-blogging.
Ultimately, I arrived near the end of the third speaker in the morning. So, I completely missed Vince Frost, Christopher Simmons, and only got to see Marina Willer’s garden hose videos. Not exactly sure what that was about…
However, I did take notes on my phone for the following speakers. So here’s what I’ve got. Contact me if you need more info on these, because the iPhone notetaking became a bit of a short-hand.
12:30 – finally here. (Back to Friday Notes)
Notes from Paddy Harrington
- Brands are for cows, stories are for people.
- Branding= burn
- Brand helps people notice the product, but the product still had to be great
- At one point marketers realized, if the brand was beautiful, it would sell more product.
- Brand and story became even more important than the product.
- Kraft sold to Phillip Morris for 6x the value of the assets on paper, because of brand value
- Designers by nature, think holistically, and in systems
- Stories are part of what make us human beings.
- Stories stick because they hold true value.
- Companies “survive” over time by being a deep part of the world around them
- Fogo island inn.
- Brand Design changed drastically after visiting, and experiencing it.
- Big reveal= potential of big failure. We like little steps, so at most you get knocked down one step
- BOOM: Configuration gave residents a chance to inform what to build
- Dorado Puerto Rico
- World’s first eco-resort
- NY group revitalized it
- Dorado clock image as a brand compass. Hands read: Sleep, eat, golf, sex, sleep, eat, etc.
- Marian bantjes did the secondary pattern (very nice!)
- Don’t forget about texture. You can’t just rub your scene and say, “oh, that feels awesome.”
- Any project can be an awesome opportunity.
- OWN – interesting to hear his mixed feelings on the work. Proud, but Paddy seemed somehow disappointed. Didn’t necessarily elaborate why / how.
- OCADU – Start was very “serviceable”
- Involved the students in a meaningful way
- This identity was “Freedom within a framework.” < love that.
- Beautiful, flexible identity! (note: this was my favorite project that he showed)
(outta juice – I’ll drop more notes in Saturday from Indy)
3:00 pm – Sunday post zzz… Apparently, flying across 3 timezones twice in one day really takes it out of you. Go figure. Here’s the rest of my notes.
Lunch: I hung out with the Jacksonville crew, and hit up a crepe place called Honey Honey. I had the Miami Heat, which had sala, chicken and avocado, maintaining my commitment to eating avocado every time I visit CA. Tasty.
2:37 – post- lunch
Notes from Jonathan Notaro – Brand New School.
- Brand New School is a motion graphics studio launched by Jonathan 10 years ago
- “We design for anything with a screen”
- Clients: Brands, agencies, Architects, marketing & interactive firms
- Sample work: Jack Daniels Old #7 TV spots
- Focused on Jack Daniels’ history, amazing stories
- Label told the story.
- Filigrees created a black and white cinematic tone
- Outdoor, print, stadium graphics
- Sample Work: Cartoon network
- Checkerboard logo informed the grid for animations
- Positioned as “Tv for kids, not kids’ tv”
- B/w icon set
- Defined program set – collect download, define you.
- Showed a great cartoon network trailer
- Interesting note: Some clients are “Victims of a small rebrand. Repaint the car, not just redesign it.
- Sample work: Fuel TV: “The network eats itself, then throws it back up.
- Side note: Although all of this motion work was incredibly impressive, as a branding firm, I think I related the least to Jonathan. Their process seemed to require some speculative “pitching” and more of an “art” than a collaborative design process between them and the client.
Claudia Boggio & Alfredo Burga from Infinito
- Interesting statement: Peru was a great design colony until 16th century
- Great sources of inspiration: Nazca lines, Machu Picchu, 80% of the worlds microclimates, Andes, Amazon, Surfing, 3000 potatoes
- There are “many perus” that make us Peru what it is
- First organic coffee maker
I loved how Claudia talked about “rescuing” elements of the Peruvian chocolate company, and reintroducing them to the brand.
- They showed very charming work for Punto Organico.
- Gorgeous brand and environmental graphics for “Coffee Box” – coffee stain inspired illustrations
- We think in food, so Tai Loy looked like a Chinese restaurant than office supplies.
- Impressed by the flexibility, and breadth of execution from traditional to modern design showed by Infinito. Definitely one of my favorite presenters.
Ben Barry & Everett Katigbak – Facebook
- Side note: kudos to Armin and Bryony for bringing in a very mainstream, ubiquitous brand like Facebook. Their presentation was a refreshing contrast to all of the “design firms”. While few of us will ever work in a place quite like Facebook, much of what they talked about inspired me in thinking about everything from teamwork to office space and timelines.
- Another side note: My notes get pretty light here. Sorry.
- Move fast & break things
- On the Facebook brand: A universal wrapper, but rebellious and disruptive.
- UX, minus content, was cold and not very human
- showed a cool “Token” – donation on behalf of their top advertising clients
- Gorgeous poster, emboss, foil
- Defined a “Hackathon” as a team-building, positive experience.
- Sweet poster… Love the HACK art
- Building everything
- Have their own design wiki tools for sharing brand assets and standards
- F8 Developers Conference appears to be their most serious duty at FB. Hosted for developers of anything that sits on FB, like: Farmville, CNN.
- This year they’ll expect 1750 attendees
- Social graph poster id (kinda reminds me of my poster design)
- Mark Z: – “This (F8) isn’t about us, it’s about the community.”
- “processing” allowed them to make the social graphs more quickly and programmatically.
- Name badge as conference book – great idea!
- RFID token posted to FB when you checked in to a session at F8
- Internal print studio
- Analog poke notecard – love it.
- Lockdown: a 60 day hack
- A push towards emotional storytelling in videos, even though many were not used.
- The term “Hacker” is a good thing internally. Just a disruptive positive thing.
- What’s your daily duties? Kinda like college. Reg semester, brakes, final exam.
- Lots of storytelling and “figuring it out”
Final Speaker: Matteo Bologna
- Matteo has fantastic facial hair in person too.
- He jokes about being “Nervous up here… like a virgin.”
- “I’m the guy who she just introduce you”
- Branding: repeating themes from Paddy. And a repeat shade of blue.
- I’m the guy running and yelling at cows
- I’m a procrastinator
- I spent the last 2 weeks designing a typeface. Because I’m an idiot.
- Been addicted to type since the first version of Fontographer
- Jokes that although he’d rather just speak on type, he’s “Getting closer” to speaking about branding.
- Type speaks without saying anything. Even without real words. Adds nuances to the message. Shows two examples of “non word” typography.
- Shows an example of another type design done by someone he knows. It “Destroyed the content, but is super cool.”
- I like to use “Visual brief” becaues if Joe Duffy says it, it must be cool.
- Matteo talked extensively through his design process for Brooklyn Fare. An identity system for a local food market, driven extensively by the custom typeface and “voice” of the brand.
- I enjoyed how similar his process sounded to ours! Positioning, Voice, Visual Brief, Identity, Execution.
- Probably doesn’t translate from my notes, but Matteo was hilarious – nearly as funny as Erik Spiekermann.
- Next year BNConf will be back in NY, and will be in NY every other year, with another interesting location as the even years.
- Hoping to find an international location in the future.
San Francisco was awesome. The theater worked out very well. Next time, I’ll need a few extra days in SF. It turns out, 27 hours isn’t enough time, but definitely was an adventure!
The identity for the conference was a somewhat odd choice for me. The hand painted type aesthetic worked really well to the brochure, and even worked okay on the website.
What confused me was applying it to the souvenir bright red t-shirt and bag, making the cost of the shirt and bag the primary visual. To me it really undercuts the likelihood of anyone who wasn’t at the conference to ever know what the heck the shirt was for. And coincidentally, reduces my chances of ever using or wearing them. Maybe that’s really picky, but that’s my two cents. So if the worst part of the conference was having a less than perfect $4.15 shirt and a $2.45 bag, I’d say Armin and Bryony still get a A+ for this conference.
Traveling home, I just missed my “BART” and had to wait 15 minutes for the next one. I thought for sure I was going to miss my 10:51 flight from SFO to ORD. I managed to skip the entire security line, and reach my gate with time to spare!
My flight to Chicago was on a 777, with another awesome exit row aisle seat. Unfortunately, they guy next to me tapped his iPod against his tray table at 120 BPM the whole way home. My nerves are still a little on edge.
By contrast, I flew a tiny plane home from Chicago to Indy, and the lady next to me literally slept on me most of the way… And not a word when she woke up. People are strange.
From Indy the trip was fairly uneventful. Final trip clocked in from 6AM on the first flight, to 8:30AM on the arrival back in Indy. Total round trip, 26.5 hrs, and including the car, about 29 hours of total travel.
Of course, it’s good to be back home.