William Watson — Founder, Watson & Company
William talks to TheNextGag about why real estate developers need to think about design, why culture gets more important as your company grows and why we should all be students of Apple.
William Watson is the Founder of Watson & Company, a creative studio, in the USA.
Founded on the belief that there is no greater luxury than a sense of place, Watson & Company builds brands that connect people to places and places to people.
Clients include Four Seasons, The Ritz-Carlton, Hudson Yards, The Dean, The Marlton and The Ludlow Hotels, Andrea Rosen Gallery, Annie Leibovitz and Helmut Lang, among others.
Based in a four-thousand square-foot penthouse atop Manhattan’s Chinatown, Watson & Company blends strategy, naming, art direction and design to create elevated brands that connect to the most sophisticated audiences in the world.
British born creative director, William Watson brings eighteen years of experience in Design, Fine Art, Real Estate and Hospitality to his design/branding agency: Watson & Company. There he leads a twenty strong team of the best creatives, designers, producers, strategists and entrepreneurs that New York City has to offer.
THENEXTGAG: WHAT DO YOU THINK ATTRACTS PEOPLE TO WATSON & COMPANY ?
WILLIAM WATSON: It’s the potential for growth. In terms of clients, this is done by simplifying complex ideas, creating really elevated brands and getting them out in the world in highly engaging ways. In terms of employees, it’s a cultural thing; we’re a close team which allows us to have the more challenging conversations around what the best solutions are to client needs.
TNG: HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF WHAT KIND OF LEGACY YOU WANT TO LEAVE FOR YOUR COMPANY ?
WW: A feeling that our brands and culture have enriched lives and changed the world in some small way.
We all know that it is hard when starting a new venture. At what point does it gets easier ? What do you struggle with the most?
Culture is the glue that binds and it gets easier once you get past ten employees. That culture starts to really cement things, in smaller groups that’s harder.
TNG: WOULD YOU SAY THAT WATSON & CO HAS A CERTAIN HOUSE STYLE ?
WW: Absolutely not. Style is not a solution; the brands we create are diverse and bespoke because no two clients are the same. We focus on solving the problem first, and if we feel the brand needs to connect to a certain audience, then a certain style might become a byproduct of that solution.
TNG: WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN INSPIRATIONS FOR YOUR WORK ?
WW: At Watson & Company we are all artists in some respects. We focus on hiring practicing artists on the creative side, as often they are greater polymaths when it comes to communicating an idea or a feeling. Artists in general put the most astute and interesting lens on the zeitgeist, so we look to that work and world for cues.
TNG: TALK TO US ABOUT THE COMPANY’S INSTAGRAM PAGE. WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACHIEVE WITH IT ?
WW: For us, Instagram is a platform to showcase projects, client achievements, and get across our visual point of view. It has also bought us a lot talented team members which is fantastic.
All brands, whether it be a toothpaste or a car company, can be elevated and aspirational regardless of the price point.
TNG: IS THERE AN AESTHETIC THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IN YOUR WORK ?
WW: This goes back to my point on style. If you employ one singular aesthetic point of view you are not necessarily solving the problem. I do, however, believe that all brands, whether it be a toothpaste or a car company, can be elevated and aspirational regardless of the price point. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but everyone can appreciate something done well.
TNG: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE BRANDS THAT HIT ALL THE RIGHT NOTES IN TERMS OF DESIGN ?
WW: The brands that really get it right are the ones that realize that brand and product are inextricably linked. The obvious and now somewhat clichéd front runner is Apple. I think British Airways in now doing a great job, particularly having just redone their experiential including their inflight safety film. Switzerland have done a pretty good job over the years, The City of Detroit is doing better. In our place-making exercises we’re excited to have started tackling some bigger city and national brands.
TNG: ARE THERE ANY PARTICULARITIES TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN DEALING WITH REAL ESTATE OR HOSPITALITY BRANDS ?
WW: When it comes to real estate, you have to remember it is the biggest purchase we as consumers ever make, and the branding and advertising standard is way behind that of other luxury goods and services. That’s something we’re changing. We’ve been focusing on not just the intellectual and factual relay of information that is so prevalent in the sector, but on our emotional connection to places and homes. I fundamentally believe there is no greater luxury than sense of place and the feeling of belonging. How we create that feeling can be something as tactile as beautiful stitching down the spine of a soft bound cotton book, the gentle, ambient animation of a sheer curtain moved by an ocean breeze in a digital ad, or the lighting and custom scent in the lobby of a hotel or retail experience.
TNG: IF YOU WERE TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN MAGAZINE, WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE ?
WW: You’ll see.
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