02 November 2021

Meet Executive Creative Director, Steve Conchie

What made you want to be a designer?

For as long as I can remember I’ve had pencil and paper in hand. I just drew, painted and made stuff from day one, so it seemed like a natural thing to do. Art and design was just what I loved throughout school and I was lucky enough to have teachers that recognised this and encouraged me daily. In secondary school, my art teacher used to regularly take me to the Walker Art Gallery and the Tate at weekends with his wife. It was such a lovely gesture that I never got chance to properly thank him for.

Rept0n1x, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, by Rept0n1x

My journey into the industry was standard. I completed an art foundation course and quickly realised I wasn’t going to get by painting grapes in a bowl or people in the nude, so I applied for a graphic design degree at UCLAN – although it was a tough decision and a toss of a coin between graphics and advertising (I’ve always had a great affection for copywriting and the ability for ad people to create stuff that completely knocks your socks off). It was a still life painting that helped to get me through the selection process, and it even got a laugh from the interviewees. It was a painting of a table with ceramic wear and fabric – standard still life set up. In the centre was a solitary grape still attached to its small vines. It was titled “who’s nicked my friggin’ grapes”. In hindsight, it was that thinking that got me in, but I didn’t realise at the time. I thought it was just me not wanting to paint 20 grapes, but there you go.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I look everywhere to get it – something I learned from my time at The Chase. I know that sounds like a massive cliché, but I just don’t know how else to put it. I think as a creative it’s your responsibility to always be on the lookout. Everything you see, hear and do is fuel for your next big idea. You bank it all, note it all and then draw on it to help you make the connections for maximum impact. Some people call it ‘sponge theory’. Don’t get me wrong, I still look at design trends in and beyond the world of packaging, but I tend to browse for stuff that lives outside. Contemporary art, film, animation, you name it. It helps you pull something new out of the bag rather than a ‘me too’ solution. I’m a big sucker for great copy and tv commercials too.  

What’s the best part of your role at Brandon?

That’s a tough one.  I know I’m saying more than one here so apologies. Firstly, it’s getting a great sense of pride seeing the designers progress and grow as we help them along. I know that sounds like something Peter Andre would say, but if you know me, you’d know it to be true. I’m incredibly proud and equally protective of every one of them. Secondly, it’s the variation. One day I’m in the world of FMCG and the next I’m looking at brand identities or copy for campaigns. 

What piece of work at Brandon are you most proud of and why?

Another tough one! I loved Horlicks given it gained us our first creative awards, however Napolina just pips it. It was a springboard for the business and such a massive win for us going up against big competition. From beginning to end it was a pure collaborative effort between client, strategy, client services and design. Oh, and it looks bloody great too.

Napolina range shot

What category would you love to work on that you have yet to do?

I’ve been around the block a bit and covered most. However, I think booze. It’s an exciting category at the moment with lots of brave challenger brands, not to mention the variety that requires sampling. For inspiration purposes obviously...

What is a typical day at Brandon like for you?

05.30 – hot yoga. 06.30 – Tibetan gong bath. 07.00 – Nootropic super smoothie (tastes of success). Yeah right!

Honestly, typical days aren’t really a thing at Brandon. We have the core meetings that never change (Monday kick off sessions and design huddles) but it varies widely depending on what projects we have in the studio. It tends to be an early start to get ahead on messages, then it’s straight into a design team huddle (to check in with everyone, identify any bottlenecks and simply check if everyone is ok). Then, sprint sessions and client meetings. We then add into the mix 1-2-1 sessions, or copywriting and ideation/brainstorming if required for any new projects or brand campaigns we have on the go. Friday always ends in an agency wide virtual catch up where we share work from the week while we have a beer. It’s a great way to shake off the week, celebrate all the good stuff with some pats on the back and have a belly laugh. Definitely good for the soul. The end of the day tends to be a quick dash to the gym to decompress. I do however steer clear of the section where the big boys hang out. You know, the ones trying to make their arms look like legs.     

What do you love about working at Brandon?

Again. The variation in briefs. The continual push to make things that bit better as we go. However, I’m going to sound really corny here, the main thing is the people. We’re just really tight as a unit and get on so well. As a leadership team, we’re eager to maintain this as we grow as a business. We have ‘Better Together’ days monthly now (due to Covid) where we all hit the office for the day, share breakfast, lunch and post work drinks. The energy is through the bloody roof! 

Just for fun questions

Guilty pleasure: It’s a bit of a combo. Spin class and Kit-Kats. The former helps cancel out the latter (well so you’d think).

Fave movie: Argghh!! Too many to choose. I think though if I look to one that sticks out more recently, it’s Joker. Phoenix just completely blew me away and the cinematography was just bloody gorgeous.

Fave brand in the world: Again. So many, and people may think I’m weird in choosing this one, but it’s IKEA. I think they just nail their vision, ‘To create a better everyday life for the many people’. Everything they do makes me smile and they’re ridiculously on the ball with their social media (find Bernie Saunders ad and kits for lockdown). The TV commercials continually blow me away too – Ghosts and ‘The Hare’ were just bloody brilliant.

Joker on stairs

You can take 3 things (not people) with you to a desert island what would they be:

  1. Hugh Hefner’s super yacht
  2. Lifetime supply of Beavertown
  3. Factor 30

Steve Conchie