Recap: Future of Branding Week 2017

Recap: Future of Branding Week 2017

by Future London Academy

Last Summer I had the pleasure of co-curating the ‘Future of Branding Week’ for the Future London Academy and they’ve been kind enough to invite me back again in 2018. So it’s about time for me to sum up my experience of last year’s programme to give you a better idea of what to expect in June 2018.

First of all, for those of you who have never heard of the Future London Academy, they organise week-long intensive programmes for professionals across a variety of industries.

In this case we bring 25 creative professionals from around the world to London for a week to explore the topic of branding from different angles. We will attend workshops, lectures and cultural events covering creativity, strategy, new technologies, sound/scent branding, typography and design culture. All lectures and workshops are conducted in the actual agencies to give you a better context to their work and allow you a peek behind the scenes at some of London’s leading design studios.

It’s an incredibly rewarding and energising experience. Over the week I gained some brilliant insights, got to see and experience parts of London I’d never been to and met some incredibly talented people. By that I’m not only referring to the speakers but also the participants.

But enough of the pre-amble, here’s a shortened itinerary of last year’s course.

Ricardo Amorim, All of Us

Sue Daun, Interbrand


We started our first day with coffee introductions and Ricardo Amorim from All of Us explaining how they make use of 3-hour sprints to get all the relevant information about a brand before they start a project.

After lunch we made our way to central London to Strand where Interbrand’s Sue Daun gave an in-depth presentation on strategy and how to future-proof your brand.

“Real insights are very rare, and what most people call insights are probably just observations. Real insights are changing behaviour and can potentially save lives.”

To finish off day 1 we got a historical tour of the financial district and a recap over a pint.

Tom Middleton, Sonux

The FLA class at DixonBaxi

Simon Dixon, DixonBaxi

DixonBaxi’s Offices in Wapping

DixonBaxi’s new book

Michael Johnson, Johnson Banks

The FLA class with Michael Johnson outside the Johnson Banks office.


We began the second day with the an interesting talk on sonic branding by sound designer Tom Middleton from Sonux. He showed us his Yotel case study, where one of the most memorable sounds was actually created for the elevator.

We then visited DixonBaxi and Simon Dixon showed us how they approach branding projects, emphasising the importance of working with your client to avoid “Ta-da” moments.

After that, we visited Johnson Banks where Michael Johnson told us about the difficulties and positive sides of creating a brand in the open. Their Mozilla rebrand was done through public voting, sharing every stage of the process and genuinely considering users opinions.

There will be tons of negative comments no matter what you do, but if you listen to every single one, you’ll end up with a very bland and safe design. So it’s better to take risks and be prepared for the worst.

Michael Horsham and Simon Taylor, Tomato

At Williams Murray Hamm

Richard Williams and Ed Hebblethwaite, Williams Murray Hamm

Bryan Edmondson, SEA design

Bryan Edmondson signing the winner of the free SEA book.

Into the unknown, Barbican


On day 3 Michael Horsham and Simon Taylor from the legendary Tomato said that 80-90% of their ideas they use for client work comes from that constant self-learning and experimentation. Always do your own projects. Write short stories, paint, code or whatever else it is that pushes you to learn something new.

We ventured on to Williams Murray Hamm, where Richard Williams and Ed Hebblethwaite brought up an uncomfortable topic. Can you imagine a digital memorial? A place where we can remember people beyond the gravestone – their voice, their best moments. They think that whoever figures this out will have a very successful business.

Afterwards we visited the lovely SEA design office, where Bryan Edmondson showed us some of their recent work and told us his perfect team size is 20, giving him enough flexibility, while still keeping the studio busy.

Ending our third day with the ‘Into the unknown’ exhibition at the Barbican.

Workshop at venturethree

Workshop at venturethree

Seymourpowell showing us how they use VR to generate ideas.

The FLA class at Seymourpowell

Creating our own Gin brand at Seymourpowell

Creating our own Gin brand at Seymourpowell

One of the final serving suggestions.


Day 4 was probably the most interactive and thought-provoking. We spent the morning in a workshop with the Venturethree team exploring how we can reinvent the future. Encouraging us to move away from the idea of branding as a marketing exercise to a more holistic understanding of brands – as a summary of experiences and reputation.

After lunch, we travelled across London to Seymourpowell, where their design team compared successful brands to good listeners and showed us how they use the latest technology to aid their design process.

The day finished on a high with an absolutely mind-blowing workshop from Seymourpowell that involved creating our own brand of gin.

Workshop with Simon Harrop from Brand Sense

Matt Atchison and Kevin Macey, Saffron


The FLA class in front of the Saffron office.

MT Cassidy, FutureBrand


On our final day Simon Harrop from Brand Sense encouraged us to use all our senses when it comes to branding and talked about the concept of a ‘smashable brand’. Apparently, this was the idea behind the iconic shape of the Coca-Cola bottle – even when smashed, the brand should be recognisable from a tiny piece.

The class then wandered along Brick Lane to Saffron, were we learnt everything about relationships with clients. Matt Atchison and Kevin Macey compared them to the relationships people have – from a one-night stand to a long-lasting marriage. And how good your relationship with the client affects how good the final work will be. The overall advice is to be empathic and build trust.

We finished our productive week raising glasses at the FutureBrand office together with all delegates and speakers from the week. But not before MT Cassidy showed us how to deal with copycats and working with their clients in an ongoing discovery to find new ways to engage with people.

Next: Future of Branding 2018

If all this sounds like your cup of tea then head over to the Future London Academy website and reserve one of 25 places in this year’s course. Oh and let them know I sent you 😉

When: 25-29 June 2018

Where: London, of course

Cost: £1,995 (Subject to 20% VAT; if you are paying as an individual living in Europe, UK or if you are a UK business)

If you have any questions you can always reach me on Twitter. Hope to see some of you in London this June.

Glenn Garriock

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