Studio Profile: Interbrand

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Published:  January 11, 2011
Studio Profile: Interbrand

Who made who?

The term ‘global presence’ is one I’ve often found misused in the agency world, yet Interbrand truly is worldly in a global sense with nearly 40 offices spanning six continents. Chris Doyle is design director at Interbrand’s Sydney outpost, joining the company in November 2009 after leaving the Moon Communications Group, and before that the Saatchi design team. While at Saatchi, Doyle worked with big names such as Toyota, Lexus and Westpac, and apparently he was the guy who found the piece of Nutri-Grain that looked like ET and sold it on eBay for a thousand smackers. Nice work if you can get it.

Christopher Doyle Identity Guidelines

Christopher Doyle Identity Guidelines. Images courtesy Christopher Doyle.

In the present day Doyle’s life is no less interesting, with his role at Interbrand keeping him firmly out of trouble during the daylight hours. Yet having worked for the big guns from the get-go, what we want to know is – what’s the attraction? “I was excited to get into a team like Interbrand. The pros certainly outweigh the cons,” Doyle explains. “The challenge can be staying connected to a huge network and maintaining a clear and consistent offer. But of course the immediacy of communication today allows us to speak to offices the world over and the global network opens us up to clients we would not necessarily be exposed to otherwise.

“Other benefits are the freedom and opportunity to develop a culture within a local office that can become part of Interbrand’s offer,” he adds. “Locally, being part of the DDB Group also means exposure and partnerships with a huge range of clients. We have a great relationship with the creative department. The downside is trying to get friendly with a couple of hundred people. I’m making a start though.”

A brand’s place in the market is often a hard won position, and of quite a tenuous nature in the fickle world of the ‘now’. One false move can see it instantly falling foul of the critics, both privately and, more devastatingly, publicly. So obviously you want someone who knows what they’re doing when launching your new brand or rebrand. “It sounds simple but for me [success] has always been great work done by passionate, honest people. I’d argue great work accompanied by arrogance is generally work that will dry up. Similarly, you can’t just be the most charming person in the room, you have to be the most clever.”

Similarly, Doyle argues that a strong and effective creative is all about the concept. “Designers and art directors will always salivate over new (or so old that they seem new) image treatments and typefaces, but once you’re talking about communication on a commercial level, ideas are the key,” he says.

“Interbrand’s focus is on strategic and creative branding,” Doyle continues. “We want to challenge… businesses to think differently about their brands and partner with big ‘blue chips’ to get them on the front foot, using their brands to successfully engage with their stakeholders. It can be a challenge, but in the corporate environment there’s real scope to help brands break away from the traditional path to increase their competitive edge.”

Award branding

Award branding. Images courtesy Interbrand.

Award branding

Award branding. Images courtesy Interbrand.

Like most creatives who’ve poured their heart, soul and man-hours into a project, nothing drives Doyle up the wall more than ‘creative theft’ or ‘referencing’ as it’s usually sold as. “Nothing frustrates or angers me more than seeing work that has been done before, then reappropriated or repackaged for a new client. It is the height of laziness. I understand there are only so many ways to crop an image or photograph of a car, but now more than ever, as we have access to the best work in the world, there is no excuse for plagiarism. Creatives are paid, some of them very well, to create new and interesting ways for our clients to communicate. To use existing ideas to do that job is appalling. If it were up to me there would be some sort of court system to address it.”

On the other hand this is a great excuse for pursuing the original in a world where sites like fffound.com are seen as places of worship for all the wrong reasons. “Put simply, we strive to create innovative, ideas driven work for a varied client base that communicates and looks great. We are hugely passionate about ideas-based design and its potential to add value and transform businesses. Great ideas come from great strategy.”

So when it comes to this original thinking – we ask Doyle who he thinks is doing good work outside of the Interbrand fold. “I loved Wolff Olins’ work for NYC. It’s a couple of years old now, but still feels new and fresh. This was one of the first identities for me that really ‘came to life’. It does a brilliant job of visualising such an incredibly diverse offer. It’s big, crowded, loud and bursting with energy and inspiration, just like New York. I’m not always sold on Wolff Olins’ stuff, and as usual they were criticised quite heavily after it was launched, but I thought it was bang on.”

interbrand-4

Ausenco branding

Ausenco branding

In coming years, Doyle expects great things from the creative industries – from communication through to advertising, marketing and, of course, Interbrand’s speciality, branding. “I think we will start to see true innovation, in branding especially,” says Doyle. “Designers will need to figure out new ways to deliver consistent, manageable branding systems that allow for dynamism, variation and growth. It’s no longer enough for logos to live in one colour in the corner of the page (although they will still need to of course). We’re already seeing huge allowance for variation and change within the traditional parameters of identity design.

“Wolff Olins’ work for AOL is an example of this,” he continues. “It’s the antithesis to the traditional static mark. Melbourne’s new identity system is also a good example of this approach (although I read recently that the city hasn’t adopted the logo in all its publicised variations). Designers’ desires to break free from the conventional approach must still be underpinned by relevance and a clear positioning. Similarly, clients who want to take risks and redefine the traditional idea of identity must be prepared to commit to managing potentially more complex implementation programs.”

Griffin branding

Griffin branding

Griffin branding

Griffin branding

All images copyright Interbrand.

From Desktop magazine.

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