Why going to Brand New Conference 2013 saved me from me


written by Sophie Masure on September 13, 2013

First of all, I really didn’t want to go to the Brand New Conference 2013. Of course I did want to go a few weeks ago when I bought the ticket, but yesterday night I had cold feet. Very cold feet. (and a very comprehensive husband who supports me, even with cold feet.)

I felt that I would not be in my league

Not that I didn’t want to listen to the speakers or that I was too lazy to go to the venue (literally 6 minutes far from my home, by walk): I felt that I would not be in my league. Which is weird as I work as a designer for 10 years now, including 8 years as a freelancer.

Sky brand identity

Since I moved to NYC, I worked mainly as a UX/UI designer, being part of an awesome team, designing iPhone/iPad apps. Exciting and challenging projects, but doing very few branding and always small ones with almost anything except a logo.

I’m also working for 3 years now with a startup, talktala:_ (online therapy) where I designed, with my co-workers, the branding, the product itself, the website and the iPhone app. And still improving features and UI all the time. Very challenging and exciting adventure with the small team (we began at 4 and now we are 6-7 plus a team of amazing Romanian developers).

I am having fun and overall the job I am doing today is my dream job when I started 10 years ago. Perfect team, innovative products/clients and good money.

But I miss designing brand identities.

So hard. That’s why yesterday I was feeling under the weather: having to go this conference where I would meet other designers that do branding everyday just reminded me how I forgot to push myself to find new clients for branding (or create new projects that will lead me to new clients). And I felt guilty about it like I sabotaged myself, like it was too late.

Here we go! Brand New Conference 2013

Here we go! Brand New Conference 2013

So here I am, it is 7:30pm. It has been a bit more than an hour since the conference has finished and I already have new open roads in front of me. This is what I remember from today’s talks (I will print and pin those bullet points near my desk):

1. Get out and watch real life to get ideas

Bob Gill will give us a huge lesson, I am sure of it.

Bob Gill giving us a huge lesson

Bob Gill gave us a really energized talk about how we all are formatted the same way with the culture we put ourselves in our brains, and how we should stop being in front of the computer thinking about how a logo should look like but just watch what is happening in the area we have a work to do on (like going to the cleaner room if we have to design a logo for a cleaner).

He also insisted on how it is important to listen carefully to the statement because the statement designs the solutions itself.

2. Dig up for stories

Jason Klein & Casey White from Brandiose about branding baseball teams from drawings to in stadium events

Jason Klein & Casey White from Brandiose about branding baseball teams from drawings to in stadium events

When Jason Klein & Casey White from Brandiose started their talk about the branding design for baseball teams, I was not really sold to it. And then, they started to talk about how they met the fans of the teams, the players, how they drank beers and discovered the specificity of each town of each baseball team and how they went deep on the stories in order to get a real brand identity that fitted the fans and the players.

One of my favorite talk of the day because they talked more about stories, emotions and people than branding, logo and technique. I loved it and it really explains what branding is.

3. Love your clients so select who you want to work with

Brandiose makes me love baseball with their stories and empathy. And mustache, sure.

Brandiose makes me love baseball with their stories and empathy. And mustache, sure.

Also from Brandiose talk: what really appeared to me is that they love their clients. They even said they wouldn’t work for Major League as they love working with Minor League because there is real people behind.

I wish I will always have clients relationships good enough to be able to talk about them the way they did. There are in love with them.

4. Enjoy working on a personal projects as if you were a kid drawing on the floor of your mom’s kitchen without seeing time going

One more time: personal projects is THE key. The key for being proud, to follow your instinct, to experiment, and sometimes it brings you clients, and not any clients but perfect clients because they will hire you for doing something you love doing.

Matt Stevens about his recent freelance way of life after years of being senior designer in an agency

Matt Stevens about his recent freelance way of life after years of being senior designer in an agency

Matt Stevens showed us how he designed a few personal projects over the past 2 years (he started freelancing 2 years ago after 12 years on agency and already designed 35 projects!). How he kept going on the projects and at the end he got awesome jobs to do for Nike, asking him to do exactly what he was doing, but even better because they have the money to push stuff forward.

About me, I discovered the feeling of this kids loosing track of time by learning how to sew last December and I am creating a bunch of stuff with my sewing machine since then. Is it a personal project, even if it is not in branding field? I am asking you!

5. Forget the visual results and techniques and just explain your ideas in a simple way

Best slides' style ever by Bob gill

Best slides’ style ever by Bob gill

Again Bob Gill. And this time I’m focusing on an answer he gave to a question from the audience about what is his technique to draw logos. He just looked shocked and then said that it doesn’t matter how you design your idea, you just have to explain it. Even a marker and paper is enough. You just need to get the idea by going out and observe. Focusing on the final result is killing the idea process.

Get me bored!

So that what I learned today. And I feel it will guide me for the next months, until I will forget and freak out again. Every time it’s one more step ahead and one day, maybe, I will grow bored of doing branding – and then I will look for something else to do!

And then I bought books

I promised myself not to buy books ever again when we moved to NYC last year. We had to sell or give away a sh*tload of books in order to arrive in NYC with only 4 suitcases. But it seems that after one year and a half later, books are calling me again. They are very good at reassuring me so I bought two today.

Couldn't resist... but I bought *only* 2 books! *running away from the stand before it's too late*

Couldn’t resist… but I bought *only* 2 books! *running away from the stand before it’s too late*

Either I am lazy or too focused, but the thing is I’d rather use 1-3 hours of my time once in a while reading a well-made book than “wasting” an hour everyday looking at blogs that show beautiful works. I like being deeply inside a subject. I think it is a weakness as I miss new stuff and sometimes I am out of “ideas” but now that I reached the thirties, I think I need to face it: I am me. So do I when I rob a library and immerse myself in books. That is what happened today but I managed to control myself as I bought only 2 books.

The 2012 Brand New Awards Book

The first one is a 2012 selection of branding and logos with for each a short note. As I want to go back to design more branding, I wanted to immerse myself on a curated variety of branding, showing the logo and all the applications of it.

The 2012 Brand New Awards Book

The 2012 Brand New Awards Book

Flaunt: Designing effective, compelling and memorable portfolios of creative work

As I am still not sure if I need an online portfolio or not, I bought this book. It seems to have a lot of good advices on how to show my work in a way that will fit me.

Flaunt: Designing effective, compelling and memorable portfolios of creative work

Flaunt: Designing effective, compelling and memorable portfolios of creative work

And I met them

Out of the crowd, I managed to have very interesting conversations over the lunch with Victor Ng who works as a designer at Pinterest, Raewyn Brandon who designs the whole wonderful branding for Behance 99U Conferences and Matt Corea, co-founder of Behance.

Trying to push myself to be less shy and to talk more to people, I told myself that I would be proud of me if I talked to 2-3 people during the day. I am proud of me.

How cool is that? Just met Raewyn Brandon @raewynbrandon who did all @99conf brand design

Oh. and I got a kiss from James Victore.

Got a kiss from @jamesvictore

Got a kiss from @jamesvictore

And meatballs. Of course.

Great branding conference & Meatball shop with new folks! Perfect day.

Great branding conference & Meatball shop with new folks! Perfect day.


Leave a comment

  • Francis

    Really nice feedback and I’m proud of you for talking to these people, that’s never easy ;-)

  • Yasmin Marquez

    Great post, thank you for sharing! It’s amazing the things we can accomplish when we go out of our comfort zone. Wish I could have gone this year!

  • Laura

    I found this post via Twitter after looking up the #BNConf and I’m so glad I did. Thank you for giving us a jist of what each talk was about. I was really touched by the Matt Stevens portion. My day job is currently an Interactive Designer, but I miss branding so much.. I want to go back into it and what better way to start than with personal projects. Just reading that someone was able to do 35 projects in a year has definitely got me motivated. And I’m loving the books, I need to get my hands on the Brand New Awards book, awesome design!

    L.