Five minutes with Stuart Lang
Amidst the pandemic, there has been a pivot from competing to collaborating in the brands' sphere. Stuart Lang, creative director and founder of branding agency WeLaunch, looks at how this shift in perspective has come at a pinnacle time for the industry and why creative collaboration is key to new business generation and growth post pandemic.
Amidst the pandemic, there has been a pivot from competing to collaborating in the brands' sphere. What does it mean for this perspective shift to have come at a pinnacle time for the industry?
The pandemic has just opened up more eyes to how transparent and proud businesses could be with the partnerships they have in place. Clients and customers are now interrogating all aspects of how a company does business, so rather than hiding away from talking about collaborations, we are all increasingly realising that they should be brought to the fore. Whether it be someone in their supply chain or a competitor brand that is sharing knowledge/resources/facilities in order to improve certain aspects of their service.
Why are creative collaboration key to new business generation and growth post-pandemic?
When two experts or companies collaborate, they build up a greater understanding of their individual strengths and weaknesses. You intrinsically know what that person or team can bring to the table - so when subsequent opportunities or conversations arise around a specific challenge, having the right people in your corner only adds to how you can approach any solution to that challenge. It cuts to the chase because trust has already been established. It also increases the likelihood that new projects will arise - because rather than one person’s network (within a sector) to call upon, there are two - or more depending on the number of collaborators.
What kind of collaborative approach has We Launch adopted in the past? What have been the main benefits of it?
We’ve always been very proud of the people and companies we collaborate with. From the sharpest strategic minds that have specific knowledge of the industry; founders or brand owners that need impartial, objective advice around the future direction of their brand or sector; business consultants that have been tasked with actioning change at board level; image-makers or videographers that have their unique styles; writers that can bring the most complex products to life for audiences; lettering artists that can craft the most incredible typographic forms; or freelance creatives that can jump in at a moments notice to help us hit a tight deadline. All of these collaborations add that special ingredient to a project - because they combine our skills and passion with a specialist that has built up their own experience over many many years.
What does having design experts across a range of disciplines, from 3D animation to illustration and lettering, who work together as a team bring to a project?
Think of it as a kitchen in a top restaurant. Everyone brings ideas to the table. And as deadlines approach, we all use those ideas and skills in different ways to create something unique. It’s amazing what can happen when you bring different creative minds together - especially when you focus minds whilst allowing them to think freely. If you just have a team that only knows how to design for packaging or creatives that are afraid to sketch and draw on paper - then the output is always going to be quite one-dimensional. It’ll create a limited house-style that can’t surprise or delight people.
What have been the major impacts of Covid-19 on the branding sector?
At heart, creatives work better together. When they can bounce ideas around in person. When they can pin stuff up on walls and all step back to comment on it. When everyone can see where everyone is up to on a project, and when someone might need a hand. As much as we can all deliver remotely, I don’t think it helps us help one another improve. It’s certainly made it harder for graduates and juniors to break into the industry too - because there’s no central space for them to come into. Also, it’s been a lot harder to commission photoshoots during the lockdown. Some photographic approaches can still be delivered of course, but the more people-focused imagery that a lot of clients embrace to tell the story of their people or customers has been incredibly hard to achieve - and I very much hope we can get back to shooting some of those campaigns again soon.