Franklyn is a creative studio based in New York City. We had some questions for Co-Founder, Michael Freimuth.
EM What’s the story behind Franklyn? What made you guys start your own studio in 2012?
MF We (Michael and Patrick) met at a previous design agency, and were hired as employees 9 and 10 to run the design and account teams, respectively. Initially, we hated each other. We came from different creative worlds where each of us was used to our own way of working, hence the clash. It took Patrick almost quitting before he decided a candid conversation and a walk around the block might help.
Needless to say, we resolved our differences, hugged it out, and have had a lot of love for each other ever since (not that we don’t tussle sometimes, we do).
Franklyn was born out of that relationship, as well as both of us being tired of the smoke and mirrors of the design and agency world. We wanted to start fresh. Franklyn was an opportunity for us to foster open, honest relationships with people we were excited to work with. We try to be real with our clients and have a good time along the way. So far, its working.
EM How has the studio evolved since then?
MF Organically. We’ve gone from an office of two to an office of 10 (plus two dogs, possibly three), and the scale of our projects has changed alongside that. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have worked with some wonderfully talented young designers (and our account director, Ashley) and continue to look for ways to collaborate with people who’s work we love.
The simple illustration style allowed us to 'capture' the character, wit and whimsy of much of the office.
EM We recently featured your fantastic work for Redscout. Why did you decide to create illustrations to represent all of the company’s employees?
MF Your feature was lovely, by the way. Redscout serves as a ‘brand shrink’ to all sorts of companies, organizations, products and brands. The illustration-as-branding was a response to that process and Redscout’s people. They’re an inherently complex group full of some fascinating folks — the simple illustration style allowed us to ‘capture’ the character, wit and whimsy of much of the office… as well as explain what they do to the rest of the world.
EM You’ve had some great fun with the studio’s own branding. Why that approach?
MF Why not? Everyone needs self-initiated, studio projects — and we try to bring that attitude to the Franklyn brand via products, promotions, swag and other trouble we get in to. In fact, look out for an online shop and a few pop-ups coming in the Spring.
EM What’s the most exciting project you’ve been involved with so far?
MF Marz Brewing is a great ongoing collaboration with some of our friends in Chicago. We’re essentially the creative-directors-at-large and have a hand in all of their branding, packaging and marketing — we also make sure they stay weird (in a good way) along the way.
EM What’s the inspiration behind the Marz logo?
MF We have a great answer for this because we already wrote it… I’ll quote it for you:
“Marz — both as a brewery and a brand — is a collaborative endeavor made up of a community of artists, home brewers, beer nerds, and probably your cousin, all united by our desire to make exceptional (and provocative) brew. Each beer is incredibly different, each collaboration unique and bizarre. Since our brand identity needs to accommodate so much weirdness, it’s always changing: Imagine if the Coke logo dropped out of school, traveled around, snorted things, experimented, then got its shit together and slapped itself on a beer. Out of the bajillion (seriously, count them) craft breweries we see out there, no one is taking big risks with their beer or their brands. We’re striving to do that with Marz.”
EM A great example of many flexible identity systems you’ve created is your work for the International Documentary Association. How important do you think flexibility is in creating a successful brand identity?
MF We use that word a lot, but it doesn’t always mean something as literally flexible as the IDA identity. Honestly, it’s a little exhausting to have a logo that can do 1000 things — we get most excited about a brand identity that plays well with itself (insert joke here), its future self, and others.
EM Do you have a process when approaching a new project?
MF We do. Although we’re happy to say its not too rigid, we like having flexibility with the way we work and we often tailor our process to the client and their needs. We certainly have a creative process internally that works well for us, it typically involves some experimentation, play and hopefully making a mess. Then cleaning it up (a little) and sharing.
EM What do you look for in a new designer?
MF We probably look for slightly different things. Whereas Patrick is going to look for an organized, disciplined and dedicated designer who cares about the work — Michael might look for weirdness, willingness to experiment and some extremely strong typography (as well as someone who cares about the work).
EM What other studios and creatives in New York City do you feel are doing big things at the moment?
MF Small Stuff is doing some wonderful work here in NYC, check them out: smallstuff.us