This is how we do it.

In his recent talk ‘How to make brands and influence people’, Chris Maclean, Creative Director at RE Sydney recalled the depressing moment when he tried to explain to a taxi driver what he does for a living. You can imagine how the conversation went. Totes awkward, a couple of confused looks and it ending a little something like this…

Chris Maclean / National Speaker Tour — Brisbane — AGDA

Roll those eyes. Shake that head. And sigh.

For a long time the creative industry has struggled to explain succinctly what it does and how it does it to those unfamiliar with pixels, post-its and pitching. Even within the industry we forever wrestle with the concept of what branding is in an ever changing digital and social landscape. We use words like ‘experience’, ‘problem solving’ and ‘changing lives’ whilst showing mock ups of logos on billboards, iMacs and tote bags.

The disconnect between the reality of what we do and the ease with which a stranger at a dinner party can understand it, stems from the false notion that ‘creativity’ only belongs to a certain type of person. The type of person who spends most of the day locked in a whiteboard-for-walls room, slapping buzz words on post-its, sipping flat-whites until the solution appears.

This of course simply isn’t the case. But like the primary school exercise ‘show and tell’ — the showing is just as important as the words we use to explain our jobs. This is especially the case when those words go round and round in circles like a Mac OS X spinning wheel of death. Force quit and restart anyone?


Over the past few months I’ve been gripped by the refreshing openness of by the people — a podcast about the life and times of a creative start-up agency For The People based in Sydney. Everything from internal differences of opinions to dealings with their ‘worst’ client are laid bare for all (including said client) to hear. This is a fly on the wall insight into the good, the bad and the ugly of agency life and it makes for captivating listening.

DesignStudio of London and San Francisco have also hopped on the podcast wagon this year to supplement their Vimeo project debriefs. Whilst these short films are a little more ‘staged’, they offer an insight into the scale and detail of the process behind transforming a brand. Firsthand accounts from clients on what their needs were and how the process achieved those goals help clarify the power and potential of creativity and design thinking.

Of course, this will never become mainstream viewing for uber drivers across the city. Strangers at dinner parties won’t be rushing to subscribe to these podcasts to find out why timesheets suck. And yes for the foreseeable future we’ll all still be known as the logo guys. But this mindset of opening the doors and shedding light on the post-it notes and conversations might just help remove some of the mystery behind why what we do is so much more meaningful and powerful than just logos. Mate.