Moment’s Andrew Pollak on creating international identity systems for Marc Jacobs, Nike and more
Moment is a San Francisco-based design and branding studio that specialises in building clean and concise identity systems; counting Marc Jacobs, Nike and Twitch as clients. On the back of rebranding the studio, and with plans taking shape for 2022, we caught up with founder Andrew Pollak to hear all about his background, process and day-to-day practice.
EM Hi Andrew, how’s the new year going for you so far?
AP Hello Elliott, the new year has started out good in terms of new projects and exciting collaborations. I am definitely feeling optimistic moving into this year as we continue to grow. We also wrapped up some interesting branding projects at the end of 2021 and hope to showcase them soon!
EM Can you give us an introduction to Moment and your team there?
AP Moment is a small brand building studio based in the San Francisco Bay Area. We specialise in building brand identity systems and then working with our clients to apply these systems to packaging, websites, and other touchpoints. We have a team of amazing consultants and freelancers we have collaborated with at Moment and now that the studio has moved to an ‘at home’ work environment, this suits us well. The team includes Andrew Schroeer – design, Evan Dull – illustration and design, Nertil Muhaxhiri (Deep Yellow) – motion design, Ann DeOtte Kaufman – brand strategy, and more...
EM What was your background prior to starting the studio?
AP My design career started at an American toy company called Wham-O toys. I was hired as a design intern and moved my way up to an art director position managing and rebranding well-known brands like The Frisbee®, Hacky Sack® and Morey Boogie Boards® – this was my introduction to building branding systems and I was hooked. I then moved on to work with branding agencies and creative studios such as Moving Brands, Duncan Channon, Elephant, Seven Design and Manual to name a few. This is when I began to truly understand brand strategy and system design.
EM What are the biggest challenges you face running a design studio?
AP The biggest challenge for Moment is getting into the pitching process for clients and projects. We seem to be pitching for work a lot and this process takes a lot of time out of the studio. You win some and you lose some and if you do fail to get the project it can be a bit of a setback. I guess that is the nature of running a design studio.
EM Do you pitch for free or only if it’s paid?
AP A lot of our early pitches were done for free, not so much now. I will say that losing projects to other studios only helps you grow. You learn what works and what doesn't.
The biggest challenge for Moment is getting into the pitching process for clients and projects.
EM I’ve recognised Marc Jacobs as a standout client of yours ever since we’ve been following you. Can you tell us about the work you do with them?
AP Marc Jacobs was one of our first clients and really the reason Moment was formed. We flew to New York and met with Marc Jacobs and his team to discuss designing the identity and packaging for his new line of apparel named ‘The Marc Jacobs.’ At that time, Marc was really trying to reinvent himself and our design approach was a key part of this. Working with Marc Jacobs and being in New York was a very exciting and fun experience. We became an extension of his fashion design team and worked closely with them to ensure the identity and packaging was in line with Marc's vision. In the end, we delivered on time and the results were well received.
EM If you could only show one piece of work on your site, what would it be?
AP It would have to be the work that was done for Nike. It was amazing to work with their internal brand team and see their openness for experimentation firsthand. We would love to collaborate with Nike again sometime in the future.
EM What was the process of working with them like?
AP We loved working with the brand team. We felt like an extension of their team fairly quickly. They opened it up so we could work with both legacy Nike assets or more current Nike assets. This allowed us to offer a spectrum of options ranging from simple to a bit more experimental with the use of logos and typography. We also loved how buttoned up their creative briefs were.
EM Are there any specific brands or companies you’d love to work with?
AP We like to work with brands that have great energy and in many cases are willing to take risks. Some brands that come to mind are Rivian, Patagonia, Space X, and Apple.
EM What do you think is the most important skill a designer can have that isn’t design?
AP Good writing skills. Being able to articulate design is just as important as design itself.
EM How do you think a designer can improve in that area?
AP I think the best way for a designer to improve in writing is to just write! Write down your strategies and creative concepts as you work. Over time you will learn what works and what doesn’t. Like any skill, it takes practice.
EM What one piece of advice would you give to someone looking to launch their own studio?
AP Good work begets good work. When your studio wins work you need to deliver at an extremely high level in order to stand out in the sea of other talented studios. Oh, and network, network, network!!!
Networking is a key component to running a successful studio.
EM What’ve you found to be the best way to network?
AP Networking is a key component to running a successful studio. Moment approaches it a few ways. Before COVID, we were attending trade shows and events, now we use places like LinkedIn and social media channels to network with people. Word of mouth through friends has been the most fruitful, but you have to let friends know that you are actively seeking new clients.
EM When you first started, how did you learn how to properly plan and charge for projects?
AP Working for other studios is where I gained most of my knowledge about project planning and how to properly charge clients. I would highly recommend working at a busy studio for a few years as it will help you round out how internal operations should function.
EM What are you hoping to achieve in 2022?
AP In 2022, Moment will be looking to evolve how we work as a studio in a couple of ways. From a systematic standpoint, as in how we structure studio marketing, business development, and pricing models. Also from an internal studio standpoint, we will be looking to get more experimental with our work.
EM To wrap it up, what typeface are you using for every project if you can only use one?
AP Tough question! I guess I would have to go with Neue Haas Grotesk. A nice solid sans serif with a big family – designed by Christian Schwartz and Berton Hasebe based on an original drawing by Max Miedinger.