Andy Harvey, creative director at Moving Brands, gave up a couple hours of his time on Friday 29th of May 2015 for a bit of a grilling.

Andy caught up with Stew in the UK studio, an achingly cool three-storey space in Shoreditch, London. Joining us was Biff, Andy’s best pal and unofficial MB studio mascot.

Andy has driven digital-first identity and experience projects for Barclaycard, Google and Tesco to name a few. He firmly believes that the idea is as important as the execution, and enjoys working closely with clients and creative teams to define, build and activate brands with personality and impact.

Love at first sight?

Stew. What first attracted you to Moving Brands?

Andy. Haha, it was my wife. She worked at Moving Brands years previous to me starting here and only had positive things to say about the studio and its culture. Of course I knew the studio’s work and when Marque Creative wrapped up they [Moving Brands] were the first people I got in touch with.

It was all a bit odd really. I popped round for a portfolio review and by the end of the day I was up and running on a project!

“We operate under ‘stretchy’ parameters…”

The boring* bit

SA_ Let’s talk about the day-to-day studio stuff. I’m interested in how many people tend to work on a project.

AH_ Ok this is a tricky one. It really comes down to what the brief requires. I’m sure you will approach a brief in a similar manner.

First we nail down what the purpose of a project is, we define a spec and figure out how to deliver our best work within the client’s timeframe and budget. This is often a task in itself as what a client thinks they want is sometimes at odds with what their brand really needs. No job is straightforward, every single one has unique constraints or challenges. Truly understanding them and working through them drives the best work from us and delivers the best work for our clients customers.

So in answer to your question; we operate under ‘stretchy’ parameters, [Andy winces here and we discuss pretentious designer terminology] accommodating all of the brief requirements and building the right team for the job. That was a bit of a politician’s answer wasn’t it?

SA_ I’ll let you off Andy! What about locations? You’ve got studios in San Francisco, New York and Zurich. How often do these separate teams collaborate?

AH_ Oh all the time! Similar to your first question it really comes down to what will work for the client and how it will benefit a project. On those occasions where there’s been a call for them, cross Atlantic projects have been really interesting and added real value.

A particular benefit has been the way we worked with the SF team on a recent project. With the time difference you’d imagine this could create all sorts of issues but what we learnt is that we could operate a relay system with handovers at the beginning and end of our respective days. This provides us with an incredible opportunity to work around the clock on a project, not something every agency can offer. It’s been immensely valuable for us and of course the client benefits too.

The fun (scary) bit

SA_ Where does your involvement in a project begin and end?

AH_ My role encompasses the entire project right from its inception. Typically I’d be involved with the client from day one, meeting with them, conducting research and getting to know their industry and target market, building and directing a team here and collaborating with the client throughout.

SA_ How do you deal with the blank sheet of paper?

AH_ I suppose we’ve already touched on this but to be more specific I suppose there isn’t a blank sheet moment. By the time we’ve really gotten under the skin of a brief and know what the driving purpose of our work will be our sheet is already covered in questions and answers. The exciting bit, as your card suggests, is solving these challenges.

You and Moving Brands

SA_ What is the most challenging part of working at Moving Brands?

AH_ Tough question, I think it’s more of a personal challenge than one which directly relates to Moving Brands. I suppose the upside of being driven, and being in a progressive creative environment is that you can always take the teams and the work further than everyone is individually capable. The downside is that you can sometimes (hopefully rarely) be less human than you like to be — as long as you can take the work (but not yourself) seriously then it’s all good.

SA_ What have you learnt from Moving Brands?

AH_ The real lesson won’t come as much of a surprise. Working with ambitious talented creatives is an inspiration and really keeps you sharp. No matter what point you reach in your career there’s always room for improvement, and Moving Brands is full of talented individuals who are all striving for the next great thing. It’s the environment, where professional growth is encouraged from above and below, which has influenced me most. We’re all constantly trying to better ourselves. If you’re only as good as your last project then the next one had better be everything it can be!

The best part is that I feel like I can talk to anyone in the studio, regardless of title or seniority, and they’ll have an opinion.

If you have any questions for the team at Moving Brands tweet director James Bull @jamesmbull with the hashtag #jimspeaks and he’ll gladly reply!

Stewart Ainslie is a UK based brand designer. When he’s not working he can be found stalking the designers, artists and makers who most inspire him.

This article was originally published in June 2015.