Clarity Conf: Living Systems: Brand in the context of peoples lives.

At Clarity Conference in San Francisco, Jeremy Perez-Cruz talked about the human elements that go into great brand systems. Here are my notes:

  • Jeremy founded Etsy’s global brand design studio, and he believes the future of branding is in-house. After that, he went to PepsiCo and ultimately to Uber.
  • What is Brand? There are two definitions. Ogilvy’s, which is “a product and it’s attributes.” The other definition is more intangible: “A person’s gut feeling about a product or company.” Brand is an invisible art that’s instinctively felt.
  • As a brand systems creator, you should be a psychologist, a designer, and a magician. There’s a slight of hand involved as you’re trying to get people to feel the way we want them to feel. All three of those things involve human perception.
  • Types of branding work: Studio work (doing work for clients), corporate (bureaucracy, global in scale), startups (many startups don’t establish an actual brand until they reach a certain point)
  • Iteration is crucial. A great brand should be seen as a living, breathing investment. There shouldn’t be a black box around the brand system and it should be tested in the real world. Brand and product designers should work closely together.
  • Brand in the context of human lives means exhibiting sympathy. How do we design for human lives?
  • Breathe -Brand guidelines should move and flex. Sometimes you have to break the guidelines in order to make something look good. Feedback is one of the most important aspects of a successful design system.
  • Grow – Define the guidelines and grow and make more comprehensive over time.
  • Learn – We all start with the basics. Test things out. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you actually try it out.
  • Feel – Emotional aspect of the brand. Laugh, cry, etc
  • Fear – A great idea scares the crap out of everyone. At Etsy, anyone can push production code to the live site, which is a scary concept.
  • Age – It’s ok to have a patina on your system as it leads to authenticity over time.