Some insight into the successes and failures of brand design and it’s relationship to being human.

Unedited Transcript

Chris Coyier:

It's talk three, of day two. Let's name this file, D 2 D 3.M34. We have I dream of the C E O of Uber, do you want to keep branding for sugar water or do you want to change the world? Chef traveler, the Jeremy, welcome Jeremy

Jeremy Perez-Cruz:

perfects last night I was trying hard to think about what my intro slide should say, and I went through a few thing. I ended back at hello, it seemed better although it literally came was from a friend. And then my coworkers told me to tell a joke in the first ten seconds, so that's any joke. I live in Brooklyn. Weird things happen when I come to San Francisco, first I get a sinus infection, and then my hair gets like this. But I want to say, a quick thank you to Gina and all the presenters, and this is an awesome thing, I'm humble to be among so many talented people. I am the most interesting person in the world. I'm a little more humble than that, I'm Jeremy, and I'm a graphic designer. And specifically I specialize in branding. My first in house gig was for etsy, and then I founded the global brand design studio. And it was my first in house gig and it made me realize that the future the branding is in house. After that I work at Pepsi co. And I managed global brand, seven up, and Pepsi, and here is how I learned about working on a massive global scale. Pepsi has 450,000 please. And you now you work are U B E R, I do lots of communications, specifically for United States and Latin America, and I'm currently manage global. I've only been there for three months, so I'm not going to answer any questions about their rebrand. Being there is incredible and it's an amazing opportunity to be part of something that is the faster growing company in our century. Richard Danne. I'm the only non U.S. person presenting. So hopefully you won't be too bored while I take about brands. So diving into brand system. It's fun work, it doesn't include a lot of acronym, the sense I will be talking about emotive concepts, I will divert away from graphs and are charts, and I won't show any of these brand books and style guides beyond this. This isn't really what is most important to me. The emotion of what I do is the thing that's fun. I will treat you to stock videos and Gifs and metaphors which I'm calling mets today. I put these together so it's light wait and quick, and maybe we can have a little Q and A later. The big question is what is brand. This is something a lot of people debate about. It's similar to the debate about what is design. And there is a ton of smart people in the room and you are mostly design, so who knows what a brand is? Show of hands. That's less than I would have expected. For those of what you were too scared to raise your hands. Brand is defined in two ways. I don't want to say the most important, first, is products attributes it's name packaging, price, and history. I don't believe that's inaccurate. The beginning of that it's intangible. The companies I have had worked for they leave out the tangibles. And as human beings we like that. I prefer Marty Newmire's definition, is that it's gut definition. Brand is identified by individuals, it's not identified by me, or identified by designers at large, or markets so it's really really magical. If you quiz a day to day person or consumer, most people don't know what it is. It's invisible. We as humans, it brings us joy and gives us stories to tell. As a brand designer and manager, I like to think of myself as part of three professions, one is a psychologist because I have to evaluate and study the mental process; designer, look at this line type machine. We are not only the designer of the system, but we have to think about what the visual components are. And my favorite thingamajigs. All sorts of systems work, but they are much less tangible in the day to day brand. I care about people and that's the reason that brand is interesting to me. It's systems design in the direct context of people day to day lives and more importantly their emotions. Which is systems need to be human. So I have experienced brand in different ways in my career. I am give a some quick surface level learnings in these categories. My first job was at a small company called Juicy Temples in Florida. It was a small consultancy with 12 people. And the interesting thing that I learned there that holds true today is the perception that a person has about their brand is different from the reality of what their brand is. For example a hotel opens a camp site. But they want their brand to feel like a hotel, but we all know that the camps aren't hotels. So it was a challenge. Corporate, I mentioned Pepsico, a large company. And I was in advertising for a number of years in a branding department. Same process but it goes really long. It's long in the sense of we'll design something over and over and over again because the scale is large and we want to make sure we get did right. But more so there is a ladder of people and approvals that we have to go through and there are a lot of people weighing in. In the end it could be better, but also diluted. And start ups. Could technically be interchangeable with corporation. U B E R just crossed the 400 million mark. They don't realize they have or need the brand until they reach some sort of scale. Which is interesting because there is a lot of research in the company, and how people envision it. And it's my favorite part of working in the start up word. The biggest issue in start ups, and the design world is lack of real world iteration. And there are many who feel it's a living breathing document, but it neither living nor breathing, and it gathers dust. And instead of being a great brand, people call for a rebrand, and it breaks down and gets stale and it never worked to again with and you didn't know it. So more money and more designs but not necessarily better solutions. So we as a systems brand industry I believe are better suited to smaller scale itertive work. So I mean no black boxing of systems. Real world testing is important. We should work closely together. And we shouldn't be afraid to go back and edit based on what we find, when stuff ends up in the hand of every day designer, or marketer or consumer. We do quantitative studies to develop guidelines. There is no such thing at bullet proof guidelines. Mostly because an emotion in a brand is hard to systematize. So our systems needs to evolve they adapt and change, in the lifetime, and they need to adapt and change in their creation. This should all be based on kicking the tires in real world situation, not in focus groups or testing. Why should you care? Experience is the brand. Experiences live in people. It just means that humans own branding. Which brings us to the title of my talk. Brand in the context of people's lives. We get thing like, logos and colors and typography to work together and how do we do that in an a predictable way to make you feel something. So I have people's lives, when I e mailed Gina, and you have to get me the title. I like replacing real world with human. That's important because it's sympathy. When branding for multiple experience or emotion or language, you have heard a diverse group of people speak and it amazing to hear these same themes regardless of what design discipline comes up. Human, so systems should always be a work in progress. It's constantly changing in the spirit of metaphors.

I put these thing based on the title of the talk. I don't think they are rules or grand realizations but more reminders to get you to deal with what I'm getting to. The first step I have, breathe. Two facets to this. One the guidelines should move and flex. I will have my designers show me work they have done, and it looks bad. Why? They made sure they matched the guidelines to a tea, about you but maybe they weren't built for that particular instance, and I think things should look good even if it breaks a guideline. And we must rely on guidelines but if you stop breathing it you will die. This could be also called "consume." It doesn't sound as nice. That comes to grow. There is a particular iteration. Salesforce defaults to Clarity rather than brevity. You know that you might have to grow over the course of time, and your guidelines will age as well. And learning is probably one of the most important. It kind of goes with grow. We all start as babies, we break it, we eat, and poop. But we have to learn the essentials of what it is to be human, and guidelines should be viewed the same way. You have to test things out, and you won't know if something is hot, until you touch and burn yourself. And you won't know if you rule can be brown. So learn as you grow. My personal favorite which this talk centers around and feel, and part of that is tell the stories that are important to you. And really feel what it is to be human. Get happy, fall and love, and eastern experience heartbreak. Fear is an interesting one. It's one I almost didn't include, but it's important. It two faceted. Newmire again says the most innovative ideas scare the crap out of everyone. At etsy an interesting thing was everything could push code to the website. You could cross your Ts and dot your I, and feel good about doing that. An age is the last one here and arguably one of the most important ones, it's okay to have patina on your system. Humans are good natural bull shit detectors. Everything that is new will become old and will become new again. Then I could come up with socialize or explore or create, share is an important one. All this speaks to systems design and it speaks to us as humans. As people. I think you get the point. With an I'm getting at is beauty is human. And in order relate to each other, we need to share with each other. And we need to create system that are authentic. And tell better stories, and need to love things into existence. So I was looked at the internet this week, and I came across this film called human the movie. And talk was running a bit short, and it still is, maybe we can do more Q and A, I thought it was nice because it speaks to the magic, Simply and humanity, it's not systems related but it about human emotion. But really my talk wasn't about systems to begin with.

[Video with captioning]

Jeremy:

Thanks so much guys.

Chris:

What happened? It felt dangerous.

Jeremy:

Ignore all of it.

Chris:

That was an interesting part of it. How much you talked about iteration in this. And a branding guideline not only can evolve but should evolve.

Jeremy:

I think that's a new thing. The nature of my work, on a level that my team is subservient to other team. And we are building out the real brand, the day to day stuff that everybody is interacting with. And U B E R spent on long time building a beautiful system and it's interesting to see how parts of that stopped working really quickly. And it's up to us, which is the next level of defense if you will, to rewrite it and rewrite the rules and work alongside other people. And it made me look back on my career, and cool we built this thing, and pushed it out.

Chris:

Is it too strict?

Jeremy:

No so must have, it just felt wrong in the way that there was no real real testing, and I greatly appreciate the idea of living systems, you build this thing and push it out. It kind of just really testing it out. I don't know how you do it in smaller groups in a place like PepsiCo where you have like a million bottles

Chris:

you can't just say, I'll make a couple bottles and see how they are.

Jeremy:

The machine isn't really meant to work that way. It's not as real as sitting down, and being handed a drink, and tasting it.

Chris:

Like this candy corn.

Jeremy:

Who likes candy corn? Look at that. Not bad.

Chris:

Do you have an instinct, it's like hi, Jeremy, I designed this? And it's like oh. Not good, but it breaks our guideline or whatever, I'm looking at this thing this isn't quite our brand but I just got done saying brands can change. Is this an example of one that should break our brand or is it wrong in the wrong way?

Jeremy:

There are guardrails for that. The way I look at brand, is there an idea of permanent and you have certain guidelines like Iconography, and you have intrinsic, where you have an e mail, or point of sale piece and then you move into an extrinsic world, that's where you have ad campaigns where maybe they last for a season or for a piece. It's like the stuff on the permanent side shouldn't really change.

Chris:

But if I show you this and the logo changes or if I show you the color change, and that's different.

Jeremy:

The brand will be the visual identity, but stuff like the core tenants of design, like rhythm and composition, and really strict set of guidelines breaks a lot of the principals of design. If you design a piece and the logo has a clear area and the copy is at least this many X, away from this and it has a photo and whatever other element you need, and it has the closures but it's upside down, and there is no way to fix it, then sometimes you have to break that. So that good design sort of works without ruining the brand. And find out why that happened and document it.

Chris:

That's the way that you can bend, and it breaks the rules, and it shouldn't.

Jeremy:

It gets down core design. And what that mean.

Chris:

Your work at etsy and Pepsi, and U B E R, is such large scale.

How much should we think of branding? Can small companies screw up on branding?

Jeremy:

I think a lot of companies are early in their lives, it's a nice time to explore who they are. It's difficult to design the brand before it exists. It's one of the thing start ups are good at. They figure out what they do well, and people have an affinity for them and they build their brand on top of that. It's like when you are branching a new beverage, and it's well, we know we have to put this out here for the market, and we are trying to fill a time or demo and you make a brand and you don't have the experience of that the brand.

Chris:

It's like just launch and figure it out along the way and the brand will evolve. What is the work like right now? Do you have a it was light on the portfolio stuff, probably on purpose. Is there anything cool you can tell us about.

Jeremy:

I think there is anything I can tell you about at U B E R. We got a little flak, on a wired article. The rebrand was done before I was there. We as an industry, we talk about have a seat at the table, and how important it is for design to be considered. It seems to get worse and worse every year, so cool, I think gap was the first big one. Gap redid the logo, and it was terrible.

Chris:

Do you sit on the fence with those fights.

Jeremy:

As I start to work at more and more time, I take more time. For the U B E R rebrand, we launched and sent out the tweet, and 15 minutes are later, a blog at the 5,000 page break down of the new brand. We knew it was coming. It was interesting. There is no way you can understand a brand which is a feeling in 15 minutes. And you certainly don't know what anyone was to create the brand. And a lot of that has to do with U B E R is a huge company that people like to talk about. And we are in the press a lot. I think as an industry, we could be more empathetic to each other. And Travis, the C E O is excited about the design, he was super involved in the development. It was like someone mentioned it like buy in from the top. It's an exciting place for design to me. You look at all the highly valued brands, like I B M, and it's a design focused brand, and you should champion C E Os being evolved in the design process.

Chris:

I think we are going to watch a video. We are entering the lurch phase of the thing. We will show a video from one of the sponsor, about project comment, it's Adobe design tools. Is photo shop the right tool for design or not? I think they are interesting to watch, in that they are a huge company but they are able to change. They are taking stabs at building new tools for designing. It's not a probable one anymore, it's X D experience design. And there is a video about that that we will show you.

It's interesting to watch design evolve in the last ten years, the screens we use now are so different. You give a four year old, no problem, they except to be able to interact. The software we have needs to.