So what’s next?
Transform chats with Nick Monkhouse, co-founder of global branding and design studio A LINE, about Beyond Tomorrow, a conversation series which saw his agency speak with ‘change-seekers’ to help illuminate the future creative landscape.
What were A LINE’s motives behind creating the conversation series Beyond Tomorrow?
The world of creativity and branding is going through an inflection point, driven by an uncertain global economy, shifting perceptions about the relationship between business and creativity, and the emergence of AI. With all these meta trends going on, we felt it was a particularly interesting time to gather perspectives from some of the incredible creative and business leaders and practitioners we interface with on a daily basis. People who are navigating these things every day. We also wanted to showcase this amazing community and highlight the quality and breadth of thinking we call upon for each of our projects
Additionally, even though we are predominantly US-based, our outlook and inspiration are global, so we wanted to capture more of a global perspective, and playback the things we see and hear happening culturally across creative hubs such as London, Sydney, Berlin, Paris, Seoul and Amsterdam.
What kind of people were invited to participate, and what sort of things did you ask them?
We intentionally invited a broad mix of people across both creative and business leadership and in a range of particular disciplines. Everyone we spoke to sits in A LINE’s community, including clients, advisors, team members and strategic partners.
We also wanted to gather thoughts from a range of industries, including design, technology, venture capital, retail, fashion and academia. We felt it was important to hear divergent viewpoints while looking for insights and common themes. And of course, we wanted to speak to organisations of different sizes, which resulted in us including people ranging from smaller independent businesses to Nike, Google and Apple.
With regard to questions, we focused on four primary areas. The evolution and future of creativity, the creative challenges businesses face now and in the future, how creativity can help businesses in a challenging economy, and, of course, how AI is going to affect and change creativity. We purposefully left the questions very open to interpretation, with the goal of getting people to give their own unique perspectives.
What were some of your favourite responses you received? Also, did you find a general trend in the participants' answers?
There were some common trends, and we spent some time condensing those into key insights that we included in the piece. Lots of answers had similar themes, even if people were coming at them from very different perspectives, which was great to see.
We heard a lot about the importance of brands building emotional connections, and how authenticity is absolutely key to this. When we work with clients, we preach about the importance of building a foundational connection through brand purpose, story and personality, so it’s great to see it being reflected back through what we heard!
Another thing was attitudes to AI, and how instead of feeling threatened, people see the amazing potential of these tools to empower rather than replace creativity. In many ways, people see AI as a leveller that can help facilitate more divergent thinking and bring more diversity to the creative industry. Both are obviously incredibly important, and much needed.
I think the big ‘meta-takeaway’ was that creative thinkers find a way to stay optimistic and imaginative even with so much uncertainty in the world. They are fine with this ambiguity, and in fact see it as an opportunity to create the next wave of creativity.
Based on discoveries A LINE made, have your thoughts and feelings about the future of creativity changed?
No. I think we went into this feeling like the future of creativity is in a good place, and this maps to what we heard. Overall, it seems like people are very positive about the future of creativity, and creative thinkers, whether designers, strategists, or executives, are optimistic and excited about the chance to build, even amongst all this uncertainty. There is almost a sense this could be a renaissance period, with the chance to reimagine and recreate the future.
From our perspective, as a consultative agency that sits at the intersection of business and creativity, we see a myriad of incredible possibilities for how creative thinking can not only better connect consumers with the brands they love, but, more broadly, how it can help evolve and reshape our world; maybe creating a more conscious, responsible form of capitalism, and ultimately helping build a better future for all of us.
This article was taken from Transform magazine Q4, 2023. You can subscribe to the print edition here.