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“An Illustrated Overview of the 2-Day Event”

Here is this year’s breakdown of the 16 sessions of the 2017 Brand New Conference that took place this past September 14 – 15 in Chicago, IL, and which was awesome. (If you are looking at this in an RSS reader head on over to the real thing, too much heavy formatting). This is a very long post with a photo of each speaker, very brief summaries from me and my partner Bryony, collected tweets from the audience, and a preview of their video/session, so give it a good time to load. A few other things worth bullet-pointing:

That’s it. Enjoy the post. There is a lot of great content from all the speakers.

Photos by Caleb Hamernick.

Joe & Joseph Duffy / DUFFY / Minneapolis, MN

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A 30-plus-year trip through the past and present of DUFFY as told by father and son.

Bryony’s summary

From Joe and Joseph we heard that we should know what our priorities are and to stay true to them. Sometimes the choice is a hard one or it means taking a step back, and that is ok. Be open to evolution and change while pushing your creative solutions beyond the expectations. Test the limits and push the boundaries using design trends to your advantage and as inspiration knowing you must imagine, design, and activate.

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5 quotes from #bnconf 1/5

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@bnconf is kicking off with a father and son presentation from Joe and Joseph Duffy of the legendary design firm @duffydesignx !

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Iván García / Futura / Mexico City, MX

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A charmingly philosophical yet grounded call for embracing mistakes, rejecting fear, and taking risks with our work.

Bryony’s summary

Through a series of case studies Ivan shared a few opinions and life lessons with us: Adulthood is misunderstood. We don’t need to join the system and become part of what others think we should be. Why limit ourselves and our creativity in lieu of the status quo? Don’t be pussies. Even when life sucks and you think you are one with fear, remember that danger is real, but fear is a choice — it is up to you to decide who is more powerful. Surround yourself with people who have experience, talented people, and learn from them — thus becoming an expert. And never forget that everything is fixable, even business cards.

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Best thing about today s/o to Ivan for being my spirit animal. 🙏🏼 #bnconf #thisreal #weareallfucked

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Scott Stowell / Open / New York, NY

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Note: At his client’s request, there were no Tweets or Instagrams of Scott’s presentation, which is under embargo and is not available for purchase yet. Anyone who buys the full set of videos, we will send you this video once it’s been released.

Armin’s summary

An in-depth case study of rebranding a major organization and all the trials and tribulations that entails. This video will be available soon.

Bryony’s summary

Scott shared a top secret project with us and while we can’t talk about what it is, we can realize that a project may be huge and full of approval levels, with a level of complexity that is hard to grasp while being incredibly fulfilling for the design team– these two do not exclude each other. We also got a reminder that one of the first rules of a new logo, is you don’t ask the public what they think of the new logo.

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Mike Reed / Reed Words / London, UK

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A first-time (for #BNConf) presentation on the power of words in branding and identity and how they complement design.

Bryony’s summary

Words matter. A lot. Did I say words matter? And the context does too. Context has the power to change meaning. As does the partnership between words and design. Any opportunity you have to bring both practices to the table from the beginning of the project, jump on it. A brand is much more than just a logo, we all know this, yet we often forget that words help communicate what we are trying to convey visually. Mike wants you to remember that words are beautiful and complex and we should consider them long before we obsess over their kerning.

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Laura Stein / Sid Lee / Toronto, ON

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A showcase of three strategies used to approach projects, each illustrated by a case study from Laura’s time at Bruce Mau Design.

Bryony’s summary

For Laura simple is not enough. Simpler is better. (But so is complexity.) And to do so she has developed a system that begins with creating a baseline, an anchor of sorts from which to riff. From there, a distinct dialect, or unique language, should emerge from mixing and remixing, leading to a connection where no two solutions are the same. To each its unique problem, dialect, and solution. Her wish, in the end? For you to your freak flag fly.

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Killer branding work from @ellestein for @sonos #bnconf

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Brand Identity Strategy for Sonos #bnconf

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Mig Reyes / Trunk Club / Chicago, IL

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A tale of becoming an in-house brand expert not by following a playbook but by living the brand and enjoying it.

Bryony’s summary

Following a career path that is unexpected or unplanned is a great way to learn, embrace, and grow as a designer. Working in an in-house environment makes you a part of the brands you are designing for, therefore your own client. If you are a happy designer you will be a happy client — an ongoing dynamic, one full of rewards for all.

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Eileen Tjan / OTHER Studio / Chicago, IL

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

An overview of OTHER Studio’s thoughtful process and work for Spectrum, a new safe sex shop opening in Detroit.

Bryony’s summary

Sex is beautiful, sex is fun, and sex should be embraced and celebrated instead of whispered, scorned, or reserved for bad design. We should all be inspired by Eileen’s openness, courage, determination, and creative response towards her challenge, where branding, as a predecessor to brand experience, plays a huge role.

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Amy Schwartz / Bright Bright Great / Chicago, IL

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A serious look at how to be funny in branding and the three key steps needed to land a good joke.

Bryony’s summary

There are 3 key steps to a visual joke: Find the thesis… what is the essence of what you want to communicate. Treat design and copy as a comedy duo… let them play off from each other. Include your audience in your joke… and let them be part of it. More importantly, live the joke, and you won’t mind the long hours needed to land it.

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Susan Archie / World of anArchie / Atlanta, GA

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A peek inside the world of custom box sets for independent music labels by a Grammy Award-winning designer who started her career as a secretary.

Bryony’s summary

I love finding people like Susan who show me that If I want dry flowers, I should get them or if you have something that nobody has done before, that is ok — it is actually an awesome opportunity to embrace and run with. Approach your work through love. Love the challenge. The team around you. The client. The process. The solution–not what you might get out of it.

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Miski Noor / Black Lives Matter Global Network / Minneapolis, MN

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

An overview of the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement and what role branding plays in the organization.

Bryony’s summary

To wrap up the day Miski challenged us to think of design as more than just business cards. If you are inspired and don’t know where to start follow her instructions: Partner with organizations. Offer your talent and knowledge to organizations and movements. Uplift brand strategies. Become a teacher. Share your capabilities with others so that together we can all build stronger solutions while supporting each other. Don’t be a spectator. Be an active participant for the future you dream of.

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Ended the day with a powerful inspirational speaker! #bnconf #blacklivesmatter

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Celebrating 4 years of the #blacklivesmatter movement at the #bnconf.

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Sharon Werner / Werner Design Werks, inc / St. Paul, MN

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Armin’s summary

A glimpse at how this office of three designers works and the effervescent work they produce in branding and packaging.

Bryony’s summary

Go grocery shopping, look at everything, and take your time. Sharon urges you to question the problem, challenge the strategy, and think like the consumer. She believes good brands are built by trusting strategy alone but great brands require that you trust your gut. And she suggests you get a ticket to the wild wild west and do things that you have not done before, knowing that your lack of understanding might be your biggest asset.

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Amazing work and great talk from @wernerdesignwerks – #bnconf

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Yes. All the yes. Hell to all the yes at @bnconf #branding #brandstrategy #bnconf

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At the end of the day, it’s just cheese. (Or something like that) Sharon Werner #bnconf #chicago #design #designwerks

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Tosh Hall / Jones Knowles Ritchie / New York, NY

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

An insightfully personal talk about letting go of the pressure designers feel to be perfect punctuated by fantastic, near-perfect projects.

Bryony’s summary

Listen to Tosh. Don’t be afraid to get fired, it’s ok. Seek perfection without losing sight of the balance–keep the dials in equilibrium. Everyone loves it when you make something that looks good, but if you strive for absolute perfection and control you will never be satisfied. Don’t hold on too tight. Learn to let go. Question. Change. Eliminate doubt. Be excited. Let go of fear. And the process. Don’t have expectations. Let go of ownership. Let go of assumptions. Don’t seek control. And things will happen.

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Richars Meza / IS Creative Studio. / Lima, Peru

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A demonstration of all the things he loves — color, food, stress — through a hearty sampling of projects spanning print, identity, and cooking.

Bryony’s summary

Richars likes to embrace stress, something that gives some of us life. He advices to seek revenge on your failures and to make that revenge big — drop some weapons of mass creation! Among other things he said: Embrace your culture. Find a space to create without judgment. Design full experiences knowing that making people happy is priceless. It doesn’t matter if life is black and white or gray, you can always add color. A LOT of color.

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And women of color designers and #lgbtq designers and and and #bnconf via @iscreativestudio #greatbranding

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One way of getting attention… @iscreativestudio #BNConf

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@iscreativestudio went all the way and that’s almost all of us at #bnconf #chicago

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Jacquelyn De Jesu / SHHHOWERCAP / New York, NY

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A behind-the-scenes look at how a truly innovative product was launched and how design played a role every step of the way.

Bryony’s summary

If you want to make something, find yourself a problem that needs a better solution and set out to improve it, as Jackie did. Own it, work it, fake it if you must. Learn along the way, look like a million dollars while valued at pennies. Approach the challenge and the process with confidence. Be and feel your best self. Don’t settle. Be strategic and a hustler. Do it your own way. Don’t think small. Don’t dream small. Get yourself into the MoMA store, if you can.

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“I played a game of pufferfish, we always made ourselves look big.” @deejayzoo #BNConf

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Kurt Volk / El Rey Network / Austin, TX

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A highly enjoyable tale of becoming the in-house designer for Robert Rodriguez and meeting every challenge with gory chutzpah.

Bryony’s summary

Every millisecond is worthy of good design. Kurt embraces these challenges with all his heart, tools, and openness to figuring things out. Not letting a particular style dictate his designs has placed him in a unique career path that keep his creativity challenged on a daily basis. Don’t let “I don’t know how” define your work because being able to do something yourself can be a game changer. So say yes, and get back to work.

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Joerg Metzner / Rand McNally / Skokie, IL

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A look at how Rand McNally evolved its identity and how it stays flexible for its diverse applications beyond maps.

Bryony’s summary

Honor your history, especially when you’ve been in the public domain for over 150 years. The inhouse job might not be sexiest but the work is very rewarding. Joerg suggests you focus on enjoying your team and the projects and to believe in the product.

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Kim Knoll + Kyle Eertmoed / Knoed / Chicago, IL

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A small range of case studies presented to illustrate four key approaches Knoed uses to improve their creative process.

Bryony’s summary

Work on mood boards to help get what’s in your head in front of the client. Don’t take things directly from them, but strive to keep the relationship between it and the final product. Knoed also suggest spending more time with your clients. Get more insight from the relationship than what you can get over meetings and phone calls.

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Jodi Navta / Coyote / Chicago, IL

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A fresh perspective from a non-designer on how to build a brand from the ground up, starting with a strong internal culture.

Bryony’s summary

From Jodi we learned that brand can’t just be beautiful or smart; you have to find the right balance. Brand can’t be manufactured, it has to be created from the inside and when you have a team that responds to a love letter from their CMO, you know that that brand has a strong foundation to build upon. Also, find an image that you can build powerful branding around, even if it’s a coyote named Brad, and proceed with credible creativity and fearless execution.

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Tom Crabtree / Manual / San Francisco, CA

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A confirmation that the design scene in San Francisco can move a too fast but Manual’s work remains a testament for slow and considered design.

Bryony’s summary

Tom urged us to take things slow. To not sprint, but jog. Jogging allows you to slow down, contemplate, and take things under consideration. Sprinting is stressful and leads to injuries. He also suggests that neither us, nor our clients should chase the minimum viable product. Instead, chase the maximum first impression.

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Jennifer Kinon / Hillary for America / New York, NY

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin’s summary

A heartfelt, no-holds-barred presentation on the grueling and demanding work done for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign.

Bryony’s summary

When you are doing work on a public scale, where every designer thinks they can do better… Don’t let that scare you, just do it. And Do better. Like Jennifer who jumped right in with her full heart and no days off in 77 days. Jennifer soon realized that when the going gets difficult the only way out is through, that the criticism coming her way should not be taken personally, but seriously. Even if she thinks she failed, I deeply admire her for taking on a challenge that would scare the fuck out of most of us. Don’t forget to celebrate the risks, the failures, the victories, celebrate them all along the way, because you don’t know what the end holds for you.

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Thanks Chicago!

2017 Brand New Conference: Photos, Tweets, and Videos

Armin and Bryony’s summary

As usual, this is the highlight of our year. We love doing this conference and the energy from each event fuels the hard work that goes into the next one. Chicago delivered on inspiration (with the Cloud Gate as the basis for the identity), on being a host city (with pitch-perfect weather), on location (with a great venue and staff), and on experience (with a great time had by all). Many thanks again to our speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and attendees and web streamers for being part of #BNConf.

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