On Design, Branding, and Where the “Brand Magic” Happens: Interview with Emotive Brand Creative Director

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Interview with Jane Brown, Creative Director

Jane joins Emotive Brand with over 20 years of experience developing corporate and brand identities ranging from global corporations to startups – bringing both agency and client-side, as well as print and digital media expertise to the table. Jane has built a reputation around delivering high-level thinking and design systems that enable new brands to compete in crowded marketplaces and venerable brands to deepen their relevance.

In this interview, Jane shares her point of view on branding challenges, client-agency relationships, collaboration, and what gives brands that extra “magic.”

What drew you to Emotive Brand?

There are a lot of different understandings of the term “brand.” I’ve been following the agency for a long time and I think the way Emotive Brand defines brand is so smart – and completely aligned with my thinking.

Emotive Brand gets it. Brand isn’t just about customers, it’s also about employees. It’s built from the inside out. It isn’t just about a logo, it’s about the people who work within the company. That’s where it all starts – getting to the heart of what the company stands for and why it matters.

I admire the attention Emotive Brand puts on process. The agency has created a very smooth, buttoned-up, articulate, and clear methodology. And they’ve worked hard to build a culture of collaboration with the client where this methodology works.

What excites you most about your role here?

To assist EB’s understanding of our brand and our place of differentiation. I’m excited to build upon what’s already been created.

What inspires me the most about my job is the utilization of design to explain transformative ideas. My goal is always to leverage this power, and I’m excited to do that with Emotive Brand.

What do you bring to the table that is unique?

I bring an understanding that can fill the gap between agency and client. I can pivot. I understand the pain points and cultures on both sides, and I know how to negotiate the two so that Emotive Brand, as an agency, delivers what is going to make our clients most successful.

Speaking of your in-house experience, how does that inform your agency-side work today?

In a lot of ways, in-house and agency-side are often contradictory worlds. There’s a lot of pressure that internal teams face daily to get work done – now. On an in-house team you’re valued for your collaboration, cooperation, positive attitude, and ability to get things done.

In contrast, in the agency world, we tend to be valued more for our skills and aesthetic. Agencies create the highest aesthetic standard.

There’s a sweet spot. I’m known for delivering delight to clients, and everything I do is always implementable. My in-house experience has taught me that you have to create tools that clients can actually use.

So what do you believe successful design systems should enable for clients?

Transformation – for the employees and the business. The brand must support and align with business goals.

For employees – to live that brand. For customers – to truly understand who the brand is. And that the brand can live up to the standards we’ve defined at every brand interaction.

Visually and verbally, the brand must ring true. It must be authentic. Authenticity is super important to me when measuring success.

What are the biggest challenges you see brands facing today?

The web created a lot of possibilities, but also, a lot of challenges. I see the danger when you look at the heap of templates available online. As a result of this mass availability, everything is starting to look and behave the same. Developing a unique and proprietary brand is a lot more challenging now and more important.

Is that where the value of bringing in an external agency comes in?

As an outside agency you are paid to be critical. It’s easier to diagnose and solve problems because you aren’t living them every day – internal teams can be too close to potential issues.

What does collaboration mean to you?

Shift from me to we-centric. Collaboration means we are all on the same team. You just want to create the best work – together. And on the agency side, this is all about creating the best solutions for the client. It has to be what’s right for the client.

What do you believe defines great, meaningful brands today? Where does the “magic” happen?

How does the brand make you feel? The magic has always been there. Emotive Brand was founded on the idea that feeling is transformative for brands. And I’m right there with them.

When teams pivot from logic to feeling and begin to reimagine and visualize what is possible, that is where the magic happens and where I get super excited.

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy and design agency. 

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