How To Build A Strong Brand Image


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Table of Contents

  1. How they create a brand strategy for brands
  2. The value of good brand design

*PS. Below you will find an auto-generated transcript of this episode.


Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Making sure everything goes to plan and talking to the client. You need to have a production manager who makes sure the planning and schedule is right. You may need to have the creatives. Whatever creative you need, if it's a brand strategy is copywriter.

Arek Dvornechuck: Hey what's up branding experts Arek here at Ebaqdesign and welcome to On Branding podcast.

And today I have two guests on my podcast, Fredrik Öst and Erik Kockum. And they are both partners at Snask. They're joining us from Sweden, and Snask is an internationally renowned creative agency that makes kick-ass branding, design, and film. So today we are gonna talk about how to build a strong brand image.

Hello guys. Thanks for joining us today.

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Hello Arek, thank you so much for having us. Pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Arek Dvornechuck: Thank you so much. I'm super impressed. And by the way, for you guys who are listening just go to, s n a s or just search on Beacons because Snask is, I'm super impressed by, the amount of work you have and the quality of work you have in your portfolio is amazing.

On this podcast I just wanted to talk about your process. How a typical client engagement process looks like, and maybe you can give us some tips on how to, because you are not a typical branding agency, right? You combine film videography with photography, with art direction and with branding and other film things like illustration and so on.

Can you talk to us about a bit about how did you guys, how you started your agency and then you can maybe take it from there.

How they create a brand strategy for brands

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Yeah, I mean we started the agency straight from university, so we had zero years of experience and people in the industry told us, oh, you need 10 years of experience to start your own agency.

And then we thought, whose experience is it they were going to get, and probably white old men, the conservative world's experience. So we thought why not fuck it and just start our own agency, make all the mistakes ourselves, and find our own way of doing things. And basically that's how we started out.

Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah, that's awesome.

That's awesome. I've read some of your story and so basically, everyone was telling you, Hey, you, you need 10, 15 years experience before you even think about starting your own agency, but this is not, it's actually the best way is actually, to learn on your own, by doing things, right?

By working with clients, by doing the design work and figuring out yourself and so yeah. Yeah, go ahead.

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: No, but like that, we are so happy today. We're so happy that we did it. I mean, the thing when you do it like that is that it takes more time. You know, It's like it takes some effort and it takes some time.

But if you manage to do that, you create your own thing. And like, I think if we would've gone in to get 10 years of experience, we would have so easily become like everyone else. Because then we would've been, taught you have to do it this way, and even if we would've started 10 years later and been like, no it's time for Snask, then we would've liked, but we know how you should do it.

And that would've been based off someone else.

Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah, definitely. So you're doing a lot of things, working with a lot of different, you know, companies and what is your favorite project? What is your favorite client? What type of client do you like to work with?

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Depends on, I mean, the creative freedom versus, of course, ambition and budget is always the case, but one of our like favorite like project is Malmö Festival 2014, where we got to do a racial identity.

That became a whole area of a festival. So it became, like thirteen meters long and nine meters wide, typographic insulation that we went up 30 meters up in the air to, to shoot from above. And then it was used as a whole area for kids during the festival of eight days. Now, I think like a reason for that, it's like both a, it's the design driven thing that we, you know, like even if we take it out, like in many ways in photography, et cetera, it's based from like a design idea, and also that they are not a commercial client, meaning that they were much more appreciating like sort of an, an expression that maybe it was more about the emotions and art and, and they didn't need to, we didn't have to sell something at the same time more an experience, let's say, than a product.

Arek Dvornechuck: I see. So, so it gave you basically more creative freedom. So there were no constraints, sometimes send these clients. Yeah. No, but

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: it's funny with that because I think when we presented that idea for them, for example we did the classic rationale of explaining everything like you have to for commercial clients but if we do this, you can use it like for this as well.

And if we'll be very effective and, use, trying to speak their language a little bit. And then after the presentation interview is like, yeah, but why don't we just do it? Like, why do we need to have all this smart details in it? Like why don't you just express it in a nice way, like they, they didn't care about those like rational arguments.

They just wanted to express art, and yeah. So it was very a fun project in that way that like we were behaving more commercial and they and them almost in the start.

Arek Dvornechuck: That's interesting. And you touched upon a, an interesting thing that I would like to talk about because I think that, creatives and designers who are listening as they're probably wondering like, how is that possible that you are so unique, you're so original with your work, and at the same time you are able to, convince clients that, hey, this is what we should do.

Because it's very artistic. It's very creative. It's very unique. Can you just walk us through your ideation process? Like how do you come up with ideas and then how you sell those ideas to clients. So they can buy it, they buy into the, into those original ideas, rather than just going with something, conservative.

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: I think the first a good question. The first thing is that we only put projects in our portfolio that we would like to do again, meaning in the long run, companies contact us to do bold projects where, so that's an important factor here because if companies contact us to do bold projects, that means we know that we can push a lot of that in a project.

Secondly, when it comes to the process of a client, we very much push them before we start doing ideas and checking their ambition with the project, that we really want to do something bold with you. We want you to stand out, be unique, et cetera. And making them understand that is super important, even before you start presenting ideas.

Arek Dvornechuck: So you basically set this stage first for what's coming. So to prepare the client that, hey, this is what we want to do. It's going to be something unusual, something probably unexpected, something different. So get prepared for that. But these are our recommendations and if you want to work with us we'll be glad to work with you.

So there is there is okay, so if you set the stage like this, I'm wondering like, Okay, that's fine but, you have an awesome portfolio, right? But you didn't start like that. So how to start like that because clients who approach you now, they can see your work, right?

But for those designers who are who are maybe just starting out or they're out of school or they have a, like a small agency and they want to do some more creative stuff, more artistic. What would be your recommendation to, to how to do that? Do you really have to have this type of working portfolio before you even try to create something original with your next client or?

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: But I think if we started with the student side the student years is such a great opportunity to try things out, like to do things that are not client project, to do whatever you want to express and maybe like find your style, find your passion within the field, which is something that we did. So we had an idea of what type of style Snask should be and where we wanted to go.

And then, like Freddie mentioned, it's a lot about creating that portfolio next step and put effort into that. Even if you make a small project in terms of just decide the budget or the type of client or whatever it is when you start working. Still make it look big, put effort on the documentation of the project.

Create more assets than needed or than what was asked for, and document it in and make it into a beautiful portfolio case you know then, then again, if you show that from its best side, that's when people are gonna be like, I want that, you know, and yeah don't put out a boring commercial corporate project that you don't want to do.

Put that into the drawer and present the stuff that you want to do.

Arek Dvornechuck: That's a great tip. That's an awesome tip. Yeah, that's definitely your priority as a designer, as a creative, because that's how you get, you are getting hired based on your portfolio based on past work. So you really need to pay at most attention to what you put in your portfolio, as you mentioned, right?

You don't put every every single client in your portfolio, you only select this, the work that you want to be recognized for that kind of a match your, your vision for your creative agency in the future. What the type of clients you want to have in the future, right?

Yeah. So that's extremely important.

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: It's super important. And then you need some time to let you know that grow. Because if, like you said from the start, and maybe we did, I don't know, 20 percent or of our projects were maybe the things that we wanted to do, but that was all we showed.

And then if that percentage grow, over the years, so like after five years. So working, maybe it was 80% even that like we got in, that was the style that we wanted to do because, but you need to start somewhere and of course you need to maybe, get some money in as well and so on. So it's nothing wrong with taking a project as well that is maybe not your style, but still to make things, the wheels turn and then you can maybe use some of that money to create stuff that you want to

Arek Dvornechuck: show.

So a great for creatives designers who are listening to us, to basically your priority is to work on your portfolio, but don't sacrifice the money because the money needs to come you need to pay the bills and so on. So you can still take on clients that, make a good profit for you.

Even if they're more conservative. Even if you don't show this work in your, on your portfolio you still can take on these clients. But then eventually, as you mentioned, at the beginning it could be only 20%. So you can have money coming in and then you can just focus on, showing the type of work that you want to do in the future.

Yeah. I'm really wondering how you guys, like how big is the team, first of all, because you guys are partners, right? So you're a creative directors you talk to, i, I assume you talk to clients and then brief you a team of designers, animators, filmmakers and so on.

So how do you guys collaborate together? Is it more of open like a brainstorming environment, like a meeting or is there are perhaps teams or are director of a copywriter or something like that who work on different concepts and then they come together and, select the best concept and then work together towards finalizing that concept.

Can you talk to us about that? The process?

The value of good brand design

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Yeah. So all in all, at Snask, where there roughly 10 people, in different roles. And we have an extended family that we call Snask Supreme, which is our experts within everything in, within film, design, copywriting, whatever. And for every project, we put together a team of experts that we feel is suitable, most suitable for the project and that part of the project.

Because sometimes a client project can be a one team that's doing one part of it, and then at another point it can go over and be another part. But no matter where we are in the process, you need to have an account director, for example. Making sure everything goes to plan and talking to the client.

You need to have a production manager who makes sure the planning and schedule is right. You need to have the creatives, whatever creative you need, if it's a brand strategy is copywriter, art director, designer, et cetera. So it's like you need all these animals in a team and then directors of different sort.

To make it like into a good, and don't re don't forget that the client is often also part of a team in a way, because you always do a project with a client. So it's it's a big team and you always put together the best team possible

Arek Dvornechuck: for the client. So based on, okay, so based on the client, you put together a team and then you work with the client.

So when you work with your clients, do you work with your clients like super closely? Can you talk to us about, the discovery session, the strategy a, a bit about, what precedes the design because we started talking about, setting the stage and so on. But can you just give us some more detail and in, in some depth into the strategies the discovery phase.

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Yeah, of course. We do a lot of brand strategy and for us it's very important that it comes before the design because it's basically all the insights that we need and the direction of the brand, and no matter what we deliver, we can deliver brand platforms, tone of voice, messaging, et cetera. But it's always a direction, creating a personality of a brand. A personality, a tone of voice, like what does this person say and how does this person say it? And the personality together is very important to, in order to know what to design, you can't choose an outfit for a person you never met. So it's very important it always precedes the design.

Arek Dvornechuck: Okay what do you think. How does what do you see any trends coming up in 2023? Because, we are approaching the end of the year, 2023 is coming. There are a lot of, trends coming up every year. Different, different visuals, whether it is phones, color schemes, or whatever.

Do you have anything in mind that, you think we are gonna see more in 2023, or you would like to try more with your clients next year?

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Well, funny thing with that is from our perspective, we, we almost been looking more at ourselves and like what we like doing and what we think is fun and works well for our clients, et cetera.

And then we, it's funny because we've been going on now so for so many years, so like during 15 years of creating like our type of expression in design and film and photography, and so on. We've been like in and out of trend several times, S o I'm not sure if we are in and out of or trend like now, but or in 2023, but it's it's never really been our focus to adapt to it, so we don't pay too much attention on it.

I don't know what it feels like, what everyone's talking about is the AI creations and stuff like that, but I feel maybe its more gonna be a backlash on that. Yeah well It's kind of interesting because what's happening in 2023, no human on earth can tell us what's gonna happen in 2023. And trends is kind of like, everything from this second and backwards in time is a trend. So you can might think that a trend is something that is coming, but actually it's already been. Either it is already been like in fashion, oh, the seventies is coming back, or it's something new which we like. Then you can't tell what's gonna come.

So you can't say what a trend is before it's already here. And for us, we much rather look at what's what hasn't happened. Which means you can't say what's going to happen and find inspiration in that. While as if we take AI, which is funny, ironically, a trend AI's only look at what already happened. They take that data and they try to create something from that.

So that's our long answer .

Arek Dvornechuck: No, but it's that's very true. So you're just making a point that, trends are, you know, if it's trend, that's something, that's something from the past anyways, right? So we cannot really predict trends, what's gonna happen. But are there, and do you think you will experiment at some point with AI or, or generative design or anything like that?

Do you think you will have a, you know, a project in your portfolio, you know that might be using AI? Or do you totally dismiss that, and you just want to focus on doing what you're doing? What do you think

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Maybe, of course, we will at some point use AI, but always in combination with a human.

So for us, AI will be a tool, just like a computer, a hammer, a painting, whatever. It's a tool that a human can use to create something. But when it comes to AI doing it all by itself, we don't really think that it's going to, yeah .Yeah and it feels like it's so early, it's like now it's only about look, an AI can make that like sort of like a human can or like it is just like translating it in trying to like, almost make a process shorter or easier.

I don't know. It's like, it would be more interesting if it was some like value-based version of it, you know, something that was, we were creating something new with a reason that was not about the, the craft or, you know what I mean? It would be based on some type of other exploration where we wanted to find something.

I don't know exactly what, but you know, then it maybe it could be more interesting than like just producing an image through

Arek Dvornechuck: AI. No, but that's exactly what I meant using it as a tool. Like I would imagine, for example I don't know, you wanna create a set of graphics in a specific style whether it is like cubism, for example.

So you could ask AI, Hey, we, can you generate us a library of, photos you know, or images, in the cubies, in Picasso style or something like that, right? Okay last question I have for you. Since you are so creative and so original and you are saying like, it, obviously it comes, it all comes from you, right?

You focus on yourself and your work on doing great and unique work. There might be, I assume there are things that inspire you, perhaps other agencies, perhaps, you look into the history as you mentioned, into the past, try to get inspired by, styles like you mentioned from the seventies or sixties.

So how do you find inspiration? Where do you look for inspiration? Can you talk to us about that?

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Yeah. Simply put we try to live as good lives as possible with the most meaning for ourselves. Meaning we spend time with our loved ones, with our best friends, our family pets. We watch films, we consume culture,

we read books, we read the news, we talk about politics, we these things that is everyday in life. And trying to be inspired in that because to us, that's the, that's closest to our hearts. That's what makes us want to live the most. And we believe that if we are super close to the reason for us existing then we can find inspiration in that.

It's much more that than looking at someones's style or what another agency did, et cetera. It's much more trying to lead lives that we feel is meaningful, and from there, finding inspiration. You can even find inspiration from horrible things like this. War's going on now. There are right wing extreme politics going on, and you can find.

Like energy in making something against that, for example, or trying to bring topics up. So there are always interesting things happening right now that you can find inspiration in that doesn't have to be visual. Mm-hmm.

Arek Dvornechuck: Awesome. No, that's a great point. So basically just, keep your eyes open and just soak in what you do in everyday life. Reading books watching movies, hanging out and stuff like that's gonna, make you feel present and inspire your creativity, right? As we are approaching the end of our..


Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: No, but you then don't be afraid to mix those with your work. You know? It's like sometimes people live that life and they do things, they read books and watch movies or go to a museum, but they like, don't take, then they go to work and they like close the door to it and oh, I'm at work.

Forgotten about that. Exactly. And it's like, always, that's what makes it more fun if, yeah, if we talk about politics at home and we feel something, and then you go into work and be like, I felt this about this. Can we, you know, that's the inspiration then you can like maybe express it somehow during your day, and, or, in a project or whatever. So it's yeah, it's also to, let that happen a little bit or that sort of thing.

Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah. So just being in a moment, basically, not just like going to the museum and then you go back to work and you forget about that. Just being present, thinking about that, thinking about life, thinking about what which you, what you are doing and just being and soaking in all this inspiration from, our everyday life that's gonna inspire us more than just trying to like break other projects. Because at the end of the day, we need some balance, right?

So we cannot spend every single minute in front of the computer looking at other people's work and breaking it down and see what they've done that is so amazing because it can actually come from us, from the inside, when we allow for it to happen. So that's awesome. I really appreciate it.

I think that's, our audience will enjoy these tips and, of course, I'm gonna look to your link to your portfolio, which is Again, and you have so many awards on Beacons. I have never seen any agency with so many awards. So it's 70 or so I don't even remember.

It's unbelievable.


Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah, check out Snask on Beacons as well. Do you guys, how we can connect with you? Are you active on social media?

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Yeah Instagram.

Arek Dvornechuck: Instagram is the best. So thanks again. Thanks Eric and Frederick.

Fredrik Öst & Erik Kockum: Thank you for having us Arek. Yeah, thank you. It's our pleasure. Super nice.

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