NEWSLooking Back: DesignThinkers 2016 Branding with Deloitte’s In-House Team

DesignThinkers stage. The screen is showing a silhouette of a woman with a confession written over her headshot.
1. What did taking on the DesignThinkers Conference branding mean to you and your team at the time?

The Deloitte team was really excited to be selected to develop the brand for the 2016 DesignThinkers Conference. As an in-house team it was a really exciting opportunity to create something outside of our typical corporate brand and push our creativity in completely new directions. It was also unique in that we structured the project to be open to the entire team to participate and work together, from Vancouver to Toronto to Montreal and even Hyderabad, India—everyone collaborated together on this one project. It opened us up to collaborating and working in new ways and broke down some of the barriers of distance. It let the designers see one another’s work in a new light and built a lot of mutual respect and camaraderie.

 

2. Explain your concept and how you and/or your team got there?

The concept that was ultimately chosen was a bit of an outlier, and we had to tweak it somewhat from the original idea. It came from a quote one of the designers had come across on the RGD website, stating that the conference is attended religiously every year by some attendees. From that, we started thinking about design as a religion, and how passionate designers are about their work. We ultimately steered the creative in the direction of confessions. Inspired by criminal investigative interviews where the interviewee is shown in silhouette to protect their identity, we photographed our design team in silhouette and applied hand-lettered confessions over them to create a series.

DT stage with the main screen in focus. Screen features a silhouette headshot with a confession written overtop

3. What was your biggest challenge being the Design Partner for DesignThinkers?

I think the hardest part was finding the time to create everything; there were many hours invested by the design team, mostly on our own time, as our regular workload was quite full. However, the team at RGD is incredibly organized, supportive and worked closely with us to provide everything we needed to ensure everything kept moving along smoothly.

 

4. How did it feel to present your work to a bunch of designers? And then see your work live during the event and witness people’s reactions to it?

It was somewhat daunting to present to a board of fellow designers, including some very well-respected industry leaders! Unlike many client presentations, the board didn’t provide too much immediate feedback, rather they took the concepts away for review and discussion and ultimately came back to us with their selection and a few comments.

It was really exciting to see the work live. I remember at the end, as some of the posters around the venue were being taken down, many attendees were crowding around asking if they could take the posters home. It was nice to see that people enjoyed the work and that it resonated.

 

5. What are you most proud of from your own experience? Is there anything you would have done differently?

At first, I know the team was a bit daunted at the idea of taking on the conference design on top of their regular work load, but they were so amazing and came together to pull it off. I was really proud of what an amazing job the team did, and how much heart and soul they put into the project. One aspect that sticks out in my memory is the hand lettering – a few team members researched different techniques, from traditional tracing paper and markers to iPad Pro with Apple Pencils, practicing and perfecting the style to get it right.

Looking back, I can’t really think of too many things we’d do differently. We did try out a “Confession Booth” concept where designers could take their own silhouette photo and apply their own confession to share on social media. I don’t think it got as much traffic as we would have liked – I think for something interactive like that, we possibly could have promoted it more.

The main lobby of the Sony Centre in Toronto. The big digital sign reads, "Confession booth" with an arrow pointing upstairs.

 

6. What has been your favourite DesignThinkers branding, besides your own, and why?

This is a tough one. There have been many really great designs over the years. The one that seems to stick in my head was the “Awakening” concept by TAXI from 2014. I like that it didn’t take itself too seriously; rather there were many clever design references and really fun video promos—I still remember a line up of little humans getting picked up into individual space capsules, but then one just jumps. “Freelancer!” Still makes me smile!