Q&A: Lloyd Blander on design inspiration and motivation

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This article originally appeared on DesignRush.

Lloyd Blander is an expert at creating strategic designs and using them as effective marketing machines. Now a creative director at Siegel+Gale, a leading global brand strategy, design and experience firm, he has worked with top clients such as American Express, Facebook and Microsoft, and lead campaigns of all sizes.

He sat down with DesignRush to share where he finds his inspiration, how he motivates his team, and what businesses can do to ensure a successful partnership with a design or marketing company.

DesignRush: You’ve worked with incredible brands as a creative director at Siegel+Gale. Tell us about your day-to-day tasks.

Lloyd Blander: Working in a creative agency tends to mean no two days are the same. My number one goal each day is to ensure our team is stimulated and energized about projects so they can generate fresh and innovative work. Creative ideas have the power to change how people feel, challenge how they think and, even change the world. We need to go the extra mile to deliver something unexpected and fresh.

DR: What are some of your favorite designs or campaigns that you or your team have made and why?

LB: I’ve worked on a wide variety of projects for clients across industries. Recently, I’ve had a number of exciting brand and product innovation assignments for American Express.

SAP Illustrations Lloyd Blander Artwork

Earlier this year, our team created a disruptive new visual experience for SAP. We developed a rich palette of iconography and illustrations that simplify how AI, machine learning and blockchain are changing businesses and consumers’ lives.

We also worked on a series of events for SAP SuccessConnect, which opened with Oprah Winfrey in Las Vegas. It was incredible to drive the overall experience with and push content out live to event attendees and on social.

Last year we partnered with GE to create an exciting brand experience for GE Ventures, which recently launched their new identity and a new way to express who they are, how they work, and why they’re different: GE Ventures helps their clients, find, launch, and grow exciting new ideas that are at the forefront of change.

Some of my past experience includes working on the rebrand of American Airlines and Florida Lottery, as well as partnering with such brands as Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Oculus by Facebook.

DR: What are some of the biggest considerations for your team when working on a design engagement?

LB: Brand experience is critical for every designer in our studio. The most memorable brands transcend identity to become experiences. It’s all about being immersive these days—and with new service design, and new technologies like AR and VR, it’s only going to become more so. That’s why it’s critical for companies to clearly define what they stand for and focus on the most important touchpoints of their brand experience. At Siegel+Gale we create four-dimensional brand experiences to deliver: visual, verbal, sensorial, and interactive experiences that are immersive.

Partnering with clients is also essential to a project’s success. Presentations are the new workshops: it’s a creative, agile and iterative process. We lay the foundation for our clients so they have the tools to understand and champion the work. I try to balance being an inspirational leader, a champion of the work and a partner to everyone involved.

DR: Where do you find inspiration?

LB: Inspiration is so easy to access today. I’m inspired by art and fortunate to live in the Chelsea gallery district, so I’m surrounded by astounding contemporary and conceptual work. I love the classic work of Donald Judd, Richard Serra and Olafur Eliasson. But I’m also fascinated by architects like Zaha Hadid and fashion designers like Tom Ford who have created their own unique visual languages that transcend two-dimensional experience. I’m an avid photographer, love films, cooking, and have the friendliest 12- year-old American Staffordshire Terrier you’ll ever meet. His name is Andy and he I go sight-seeing around the city.

Lloyd Blander Art Galleries Dog

I also believe that collaboration inspires great work, I’ve partnered with Carl de Torres, an American illustrator and graphic designer, who specializes in the creation of vibrant and unique visual languages and information graphics—he’s been an amazing partner to work with.

DR: What are some of your favorite brand logos? What do you like about them?

LB: Apple’s logo, although it has evolved over the years, remains such a transcendent classic. It’s striking for its simplicity and. The bite out of the Apple is such a friendly, relatable metaphor that reveals what’s possible when you combine user-friendly design and technology. It’s a call to take a bite out of life.

Siegel+Gale has recently done some work for CVS that I think re-envisions the health category. I’m also a big fan of the work we’ve done for the HPE element. The symbol itself is so simple and yet it’s visionary—it feels like something out of the future.

I admire Lyft’s brand for its simplicity, it’s iconic and approachable use of language and it’s bold and dynamic choice of color. Lyft’s brand is such a great example of a brand that wasn’t just born out of millennial values but also visually captures the culture of a generation that is all about sharing and bending gender norms.

And the Google Assistant logo is fun and playful and challenges conventional stereotypes of AI. We’re going to see a whole lot more focus on building actual personalities for the various AI to make them more relatable, engaging and, dare I say it, human.

DR: You’ve won some incredible design awards. What advice do you have for creating an effective campaign or design that is also beautiful and cutting-edge?

LB: Dive deep to understand the business strategy and ask lots of questions at the outset of an assignment so you can create a simple idea. Then understand the context, space and how it relates to cultural references—past, present or future—to make it powerful and relatable. Then develop something disruptive that takes that simple idea and magnifies it.

What advice do you have for creating a brand identity that is creative and effective at capturing consumers at the same time? What things should designers and/or businesses keep an eye out for in order to achieve both?

On the organizational side, get everyone “in the same boat” and agree on what you’re trying to do at the get-go so everyone’s clear on what the goals are.

Then, do something with humor or humanity. Personality will always stand out and speak to people with more resonance than something that’s completely abstract. It’s a balancing act between delivering on the scope of work and winning the hearts and minds of people.

DR: What advice do you have for clients who are hoping to hire an agency for a design project? What questions do you wish they would ask or information you wish they would provide to make the process easier?

LB: It often helps when clients share not just their marketing challenges but their business challenges, too. This enables us to address the bigger picture and get brand aligned with the business strategy which ultimately impacts the creative expression. In many situations, what we need to do goes beyond the initial scope of work.

Logistically when partnering with an agency, ensure you have alignment organizationally with leadership engaged at the beginning. Clients need to embrace collaboration internally. Brand lives across the organization—well beyond the marketing organization—that old model limits the ability of the organization to reach its full potential. Today’s best brands are firing on all cylinders with the brand being expressed through user experience, through user interface design, it’s helping to redefine how people work and how human resource department engage with their workforce.

Teams need to work in tandem. We should be collaborating on how to address problems, not working in silos. Staying organized and communicating openly allows organizations to innovate faster.

DR: Any final thoughts, comments or words of wisdom?

LB: I keep coming back to this: keep an open mind. This always leads me to fresher, unexpected creations.

Lloyd Blander is creative director at Siegel+Gale.  

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