The Brand Identity

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Private View(s) is a podcast that focuses on the thinking, not the work, of the world’s leading creative studios. The first 5 episodes feature in-depth conversations with Collins, Made Thought, Base, Koto and RoAndCo, with 5 more to arrive before the end of 2019.

The podcast is the brainchild of creative matchmaking agency Ask Us For Ideas (AUFI) and is created in collaboration with former Monocle managing editor David Michon. We caught up with AUFI co-founder Nick Bell to find out more about the project.

The Brand Identity: The podcast focuses on the why not the what. Why that direction?

Nick Bell: Press, podcasts, online publications: when they profile agencies they tend to focus on the work – the end result – the output. We’ve spent 10 years getting really close with the industry’s most talented creatives, and through that process have realised that often the most interesting elements of a studio are actually in their working process’. Not the polished end product, but how they get there. That’s what really separates Made Thought and Base Design, for instance. On paper they’re both world-class, top-tier branding agencies, working in a similar space, with similar clients, offering similar skill – and as an outsider, it’d be hard to note down many differences. To us though, given our relationship and knowledge of them both, they’re totally different. We wanted to give listeners access to that level of intimate knowledge. We find the conversations we hear by virtue of our job super interesting, this is just a platform to showcase that.

TBI: How did you connect with David Michon and decide to do the project together?

NB: David’s incredible. We met him through our agency network and have worked with him in the past. We only really had the seed of an idea – we knew a podcast was the right format – but we were also acutely aware that we needed someone to come in and do what he does best. We’ve always been big believers in hiring/collaborating with people who are smarter and sharper than we are – and he’s the perfect realisation of that. Given his background helping launch Monocle Radio and as editor of a number of wicked magazines/publications, we knew he’d be able to take the conversations in the direction we wanted. We shot him a mail and he was down.

TBI: What is the most memorable thing you learned from your guests so far?

NB: Super hard to say. As small business owners ourselves, a quick piece of insight from Caroline at Koto has stuck with us. She’s talking about how they’ve grown as an agency so quickly and flags that the best thing to do when making decisions that feel quite crucial to your business is to just make them quickly, rather than letting the ‘fear creep in’ as ‘there’s always a solution’ if something goes wrong. Easier said than done though. On the Koto train – I was also blown away by James’ insight into what makes British designers special – tall poppy syndrome, who’d a think it. Brian from Collins’ angle on it being the ‘duty’ of designers to take their clients into the unknown is super interesting too. The Made Thought gangs completely authentic passion for pushing the sustainable button as hard as they have is obviously inspiring… Base’s culture is amazing (few agencies come close actually) and hearing Min and Geoff unpack that feels cool… and Ro – she was one of the first agency’s to support AUFI, and what she’s done with her business is unreal in an industry dominated by 99.9% male-owned firms. Exploring what it takes to be that 0.1% in the creative sector (that’s actually the number) is special.

“We’ve always been big believers in hiring/collaborating with people who are smarter and sharper than we are.”

TBI: On a practical level, what’s it like organising, recording and releasing a podcast series?

NB: With David involved – a breeze. Just work with him. That said, we had a bumpy launch day – note to future podcasters – don’t upload an episode above 200 MB onto iTunes – Apple don’t allow listeners to hear it unless you’re plugged into Wifi – not that they tell you that. We’re also really lucky to have the support of the agencies that we do. It was just a simple email to them asking them to get involved – straight yes’s from everyone which was nice.

TBI: Is the plan to carry on beyond the first 10 episodes?

NB: For sure. The second 5 come out in a month or so (they’ve already been recorded and we can’t wait to share.) Beyond that, we’d like to shine the light on the client landscape a bit, we’ve met some mad impressive founders over the years, and have a few other angles we’d like to explore too.

TBI: What’s the thinking behind the colourful, modular identity system?

NB: Made Thought are the minds behind that. I shan’t try and express the creative vision that they’ve developed as I’ll sound like an idiot, but I can say it’s a teaser into a new broader identity that we’re rolling out in the next few months. It’s been amazing to work with them.

TBI: Is there anything you’d like to add?

NB: At 17.45 on the 2nd October 2019, Private View(s) was more popular than The Archers. My mum has never been prouder. 

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Thank you!

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