We were there on a balmy March evening to hear his pearls of wisdom - delivered with panache, a healthy dose of irreverence, and a pirate flag too (more on that later).
His incredulous credentials
First off, Brian’s credentials - which make the rest of us feel like a bunch of sluggish underachievers: He’s won almost every award going, has a client list of the best, biggest and brightest brands in the world, and has even spoken at Davos.
He is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of COLLINS, a brand and experience design firm which has been named by Forbes as one of the companies transforming the future of brand building. He has worked with Spotify, Nike, IBM, the Walt Disney Co, Levi Strauss, Airbnb and Bose, among others.
So what did he say? Here’s 3 of our top takeouts:
1. The future is your competition
He said that companies need to stop worrying about their competitors because their real competition is the future. If you can’t be fit for an ever-changing, fast-changing world, you will be irrelevant. He predicts that soon brands will be needing to update themselves annually to stay in the game.
2. The boldest voice travels further
He had some scathing criticism for the homogeneity of today’s brand identities, whether that be tech-based giants like Google and eBay, or luxury fashion brands like Saint Laurent and Burberry. Why is everyone looking the same?
Maybe it’s a factor of the ruling business philosophy of Minimal Viable Product - a far less inspiring vision than Steve Jobs’ mantra of making things ‘insanely great’.
Brian is a firm advocate of new ideas to ensure you are remembered.
3. Learn from the pirates
Lastly - we know you were waiting for this - Brian used a story of 1730 pirating as a hilarious, fresh illustration of true branding.
The message to take away is that it’s not just about having a good brand mark (the iconic skull and crossed cutlasses). More important is that you behave consistently as an enterprise to deliver the promise of your brand mark. Only then does your brand become powerful with your market. Jolly Roger That.