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Branding is for Cattle (Stories are for People)

Written by in Events


{Brand New Conference Photography by Steven Maller Photography}

The Brand New Conference website offered high hopes: “After a successful inaugural conference in New York City last year we wanted to take the show to the opposite side of the United States and San Francisco felt like the best hub for a West Coast gathering of brand and identity designers and aficionados.” We know the food was good. We are sure the weather was unpredictable. Diversions? A-plenty! Ruby Slippers? Check! But, Armit Vit, tell us how things went!?

Neenah is a proud supporter of the Brand New Conference which wrapped up in San Francisco this September. We provided paper for these sensational conference materials and enjoyed the experience again. We asked Armin Vit to share his thoughts on how this, his and Bryony’s Sophomore Year Brand New Conference.


Who came to this conference?

Most everyone who came is involved in identity and/or branding. About 50% of the audience were Californian.  Of those, 50% were from the Bay Area. Still, we had people from all over the US: New York was well represented with 40 strong. Utah, Washington, and Illinois sent double-digit representation. We overestimated the amount of audience we would have built-in, as opposed to our New York venue where the audience was 60% New York where we also were able to attract  Europeans. A large portion were designers, but we attract a lot of more senior level staff like Creative/Design Directors, Brand Managers and Partners, Presidents, and Owners.  There were a lot of designers from corporations, probably more than last year, but our main audience is still designers either working on their own or at design firms — Landor alone sent 20 of their best people. (Thanks!).  Overall, we don’t attract many package designers, or web designers, or illustrators. It’s the branding  niche who comes.


The Marine Memorial Theater is a beautiful place to see and watch any performance. Did you get many Right Coasters out to the Left Coast?

The travel distance appears too far for that to lure many across that pond. The venue for the conference was the Marines Memorial Theater, which holds 426 attendees. We were extremely happy with the theater, a cool old school vibe that set the mood. Seating was comfortable and we brought in a giant screen and a projector with more lumens than that venue had ever seen.


Product is King. A conference is only as good as its speaker’s bureau. Brand New’s speaker line up was again first rate. Among those who spoke, who were the highlights—gimmicky facial hair does not count.


You know I am going to say this: they were all great. I cannot choose a favorite. Here are some top line assessments:  Vince Frost (Frost Design, Sydney) showed why he is one of the best, he listens to the client and looks for the clues embedded in each brief and even though he felt bad about preparing a rather short lecture, some of the best insights came from him answering audience questions. •  Christopher Simmons of Mine San Francisco showed a single project, from start to finish, so it was great to get that very in-depth case study.•  Marina Willer’s of Wolff Olins London (one who cross the pond and the Lower 48) is so fantastic and hearing her articulate her process and goals so precisely was a treat. • Paddy Harrington of Bruce Mau Design gave a Brand 101 speech that incisively explained what it is we do and how we have to do it, plus he was one of the biggest proponents of the conference’s unexpected theme: story telling. •  Jonathan Notaro Creative Director at the Brand New School (LA, NYC, London) explained where the pow and the wow comes from in their animation work and how a “school-like” approach leads to their output. •  Claudia Boggio and Alfredo Burga co-founders of Lima Peru’s Infinito were one of the biggest surprises of the conference, they were passionate about their work and about their Peruvian context. •  Ben Barry and Everett Katigbak from Facebook provided a human glimpse at what happens behind the neutral, public-facing world of Facebook, and it’s pretty damn awesome.•  Matteo Bologna, of Mucca in NYC,  with his sexy accent and disarming charm was able to both get the audience laughing out loud  but, he also explains a very effective way of creating brands.


Was there a showstopper at this year’s conference?


{Conference Photography by Steve Maller Photography}

Yes. My wife Bryony’s red pumps. (See above) They were the talk of the After Party.

It pays to wear good shoes. And in the Land of Oz, Ruby Slippers are always welcome. Any after thoughts?

Our sophomore conference was great. And with each we learn more. We are already planning the 2012 version (whic will be back in New York) in order to make it better and more comprehensive.  We want everyone to come.

How’d They Do That!??? Paper Specs: Poster and Program COVER: UV/ULTRA II, Radiant White, 17 lb Text; Program BODY: CORONADO SST Stipple, Infinite White 80 lb Text