Brand New Conference: The Wrap

Written by in Events

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Brand New Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Helmed by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit of Under Consideration, the event was a tightly run ship where speakers from around the globe shared insights on branding and logo development, while showing off some amazing work.



All 700 name badges were printed on Neenah Paper,
and hand-assembled by Bryony Gomez-Palacio. When wearing the badge,
users can simply flip the cards over to see the rundown of each day’s speakers.

While Bobby C. Martin Jr. and Jennifer Kinon of OCD, extolled the virtues of working in “systems,” Sebastian Padilla of Anagrama showed bleak images of his hometown, Monterrey, Mexico—basically an oversized industrial park run by wealthy businessmen—but explained how he turned it into an opportunity, by working with the “bored, rich housewives,” in the area. These women had money to spend and they opened cafes, and clothing and jewelry stores, and Anagrama seized these branding opportunities.


Dawn Hancock of Firebelly Design, showing different identity concepts for Chicago’s public bike sharing system.

The 15 Minute Flings, which were shorter presentations by local designers, were great insights into local branding efforts, including Divvy, Chicago’s public bike sharing system that was named and branded by IDEO with Firebelly Design. Dawn Hancock of Firebelly walked us through the entire naming and branding process, even revealing some early names that included references to local sports legends Mike Ditka and Michael Jordan. The light blue bikes certainly stand out and add a respectable design layer to the streetscape.


Final Divvy bike branding concept, beautifying the streets of Chicago.


Day two of the conference kicked off with hilarious logo observations by Armin, who twisted the AirBNB logo into an X-rated kama-sutra comedy. His impeccable timing and seemingly off-the-cuff observations had the crowd roaring, which is commendable at 9:00 a.m. on day two of any event! This warm-up act paid off nicely for Adrian Shaughnessy, who had a perky, captive audience ready to roll with him.

Shaughnessy’s talk was admittedly depressing at first, as he discussed the near death of graphic design book publishing—at least in the traditional sense, when buyers visited local bookstores to purchase design books. His publishing company, Unit Editions, took matters into their own hands by selling all their books on their website without third party distributors. He’s able to write and produce the kinds of books he loves, without compromising on quality.


Mario Eskenazi showing street banners for the public
transportation branding system he designed.

Mario Eskenazi, from Barcelona, took the audience on a virtual tour of his beautiful hometown through the various branding systems he has created in the city from the public transportation system, to several gallery exhibitions and restaurant identities. Several of his bold identities, were entirely comprised of custom type solutions that created drama and suspense as he took liberties with the perspectives and angles of the letterforms.


The conference wrapped with none other than Malcontent’s Mark Kingsley who has an opinion about everything. When discussing the new logo for the World Trade Center, he says, “There’s a degree of cynicism around building a logo that will get approved — i.e. appealing to the stakeholders involved in the project and their concerns for political optics, rather than truly considering how it will exist in the world and what it will say to the general public.”


Overall, the two-day event at the Harris Theater in the Windy City was much more than an international show-and-tell. It was packed with inspiration and insights into the daily manifestations of truly great creative minds at work. Armin and Bryony know how to package this event for their reading audience. Chicago was also a gorgeous backdrop for the event, with warmer than usual fall temps and sunny skies, beckoning attendees to seek out the abundance of eateries and take in the beautiful architecture—and possibly, grab a Divvy bike and take a ride through the city.

Don’t miss next year’s Brand New Conference in New York City! For more information on the event, visit UnderConsideration and the Brand New Conference.



  1. 10
    Amy Graver said:

    Sorry I missed the Conference this year – and grateful you were there to give me the highlights, Emily!

  2. 10
    Matt Porter said:

    Emily is all about the conference watch, Amy. Glad she was able to attend to let the Neenah fans know what happened at Brand New.