Authenticity in Design
An excerpt from Bring the Real, IDL's biweekly podcast
Bryan Laing: The best brands in the world, to me, are super authentic. The way they hire people and the folks that are on their team, whether they’re designers or marketers, live the brand.
From a design-thinking standpoint, when it comes to designing and creating authentic consumer experiences, how does a creative make something that comes off as real and not phony? How do you capture that authenticity? Maybe it’s a brand that’s not your natural passion, so how do you get into that and create for them?
How do we provide authentic consumer experience in avenues or arenas that we are maybe less familiar with? Sometimes that ignorance can be our best ally. That can put us in a position to be the most open minded, to look at the research and take things very matter-of-fact for what they are. We see things in a much purer way. We don’t have any bias toward them. That’s what we try to do: wipe away any initial bias we have going into something, and open our minds in receiving for what it truly is. That’s what I think as artists we’ve always done.
BL: From an agency standpoint, I love what you’re saying, because my question for you is if you’re trying to hire a diverse team or if it’s process based. What’s fascinating to me is just the idea of empathy versus ignorance and that there’s a process to it: approaching the research methodically to come to an authentic solution.
BB: I’m very fortunate that with the background I have as an artist but also as a Marine. I can approach things and help to cultivate a team with a lot of structure and discipline so that we’re doing the job right, that we’re doing what’s expected of us, and that we’re doing it with excellence. But we’re also artists. Authenticity is the fact that you can change your future but you can’t change your past. That goes for brands and individuals. Having discipline and creativity helps us look to the future and shape what the future is, but the authenticity is remembering where we came from, and ultimately being the person or brand that we are created to be.
BL: You almost couldn’t have been as exposed. The sharing tools weren’t there.
BB: Today, you must be authentic. You’re going to get called out on it immediately. You won’t be accepted. It’s being authentic to your past, being true to what you are, and owning it. Brands need to be able to own who they are. I think that’s what people really look for, and they really appreciate that open, honest communication. It’s obvious that excelling brands are the ones that are having a direct, honest, and open conversation with their customers.
BL: What’s big for you in 2018?
BB: I think what’s going to be big at IDL, and certainly for me personally through my career here, is reaching out and getting more closely connected to our customers where they are. I think as we continue to grow, we recognize that just like the market we play in, it’s not a one-size-fits-all, mass convenience. It’s about special, authentic moments. I think that’s true for the market and for the business we conduct every day. I think we’re going to continue to get a lot closer to our customers, both physically and emotionally, and continue to hone in on what their true needs are. We’re going to be better partners by staying connected and being able to lead them into this next year and into the future.
(This interview has been edited for print.)