For the third year in a row, AIGA SB hosted creative professionals from near and far for Flip! 2017, a three-day brand workshop with Marty Neumeier. A sequel to 2016’s workshop of the same name, this year’s event was nearly mangled by Mother Nature, but everyone involved rolled with the punches (and crazy horizontal rain on day one) to learn the principles of brand strategy from the man who literally wrote the book on it.
That book, The Brand Gap, has since been superseded by its sequel, 2015’s The Brand Flip, also written by Marty. The Brand Flip documents the combination of business strategy and customer experience—how customers now run companies and effectively dictate branding—and how to capitalize on that. This year, I myself joined a smaller group of attendees—nine in total—to learn Marty’s process. We began with the all-important customer identity question and moved through customer aims, tribal mores, company values, strategic onlyness, touchpoint design, and ultimately prototyping and presenting the transformed brand. Readers of The Brand Flip already know those terms, but we got direct help applying each principle 1) from the person who collected and explained them, and 2) from direct peer-to-peer feedback.
We collectively worked through issues affecting our various brands: positioning, customer experience, storytelling, joining over buying, and being over having. This year’s group was composed of seasoned pros, and that combined with the smaller attendance allowed for a much richer collaboration than in previous workshops. This wasn’t a party—it was a lively, tightly-focused give-and-take between knowledgeable equals with tremendous respect for one another and genuine interest in solving each others’ problems. By the end, each participant was unfazed when presenting their work.
For my own brand, I personally took away a few wins and lots of homework; while I nailed my brand’s target and chose an effective niche and purpose, I hit snags when trying to integrate my previous’ six months of brand work with the Flip process—including tagline and touchpoints. While the compromises weren’t ideal, and I still had lots of work to do before launching my brand, nothing was set in stone, it was a fantastic learning experience, and I got tons of support from Marty and my fellow attendees.
However, that intensity doesn’t mean there wasn’t any fun. We endured the bonkers weather on day one with lunch take-out from Metropulos in SB and dinner at Via Val Trattoria in Montecito, then on Saturday trekked to Stearns Wharf for lunch at Moby Dick’s and enjoyed a group dinner at the Lark. So, overall a smaller event but still successful—and just like previous years, there are rumors for next February too. Thanks to Marty for once again sharing his wisdom, event coordinator Patty Devlin-Driskel for pulling together a smooth sequel, and our AIGA SB volunteer board and membership for assistance in a pinch. Last but not least, thanks to our Flip! class of 2017:
Leslie Belingheri (Elle Be Marcom), David Crane (Pirch), Greg Daake (Daake), Dave Hardy (Think Shift), Hae Yuon (Tobi Designs), Joven Orozco (Jovenville), and Wendy Pressley-Jacobs (Pressly Johnson Design). I participated on behalf of my new brand, Tight Ship Design. Special thanks to returning alumna Vicki Strull (Vicki Strull Design). We hope to see you all in 2018!
Photos by Keir DuBois and Patty Devlin-Driskel.