Maria Keenan

On Design Conferences & Creating Fulfilling Experiences

Bryony is half of the team that founded Under Consideration and their design conference, Brand New. Both roles involve a lot of stakeholders, as you can see from the length of their attendee list for the upcoming edition of the conference.

Although Brand New takes place on September 13th and 14th this year (that's a week before Admission, for those of you keeping track) she'll be presenting in Chicago on the brand and audience that she and her business partner, Armin Vit, have built together.

I recently got the opportunity to ask her to share some insight into how they run their flourishing business as well as design conferences, and how her hectic life brings Bryony rewards.

For context, Under Consideration has been the leading site for opinions on logo and identity redesigns for the past 12 years which the team maintains as well as their in-demand graphic design studio, though they only take on select client work. There had to be a secret, so I asked:

1) Events aren't your only forte, how do you also manage to get 1.25 million page views a month on your blog?

"It really boils down to hard work and consistency."

Though succinct, this is an intuitive response when you see the quality and quantity of resources available on their site. Everything from redesigns to recent launches are featured, and the team produce two posts every day (save for conference week, reasonably enough) each of which has the klout to bring in engagement and traffic apt to send any author's head spinning. Further to that, the team manages to document their work across their social media.

 

Getting closer to the dream result. #bnconf #2018

A post shared by Brand New Conference (@bnconf) on

 

Other factors that contribute to the blog's success are the diversity of post types. As well as logo reviews, you'll also find curated links on industry trends, company announcements, and a "Friday likes" series (of which there are over 200) highlighting inspirational designs from industry leaders, all in a easily-navigable format:

Brand New Blog

 

As well as success in production and presentation, there is of course an annual conference that the team needs to turn its attention to. Again, I wanted to know the secret behind getting the balance right:

2) Events are often seen as an always-on commitment. How do you manage to orchestrate your events, your writing, and raising your two daughters?

Working moms are the happiest, but I wanted to know how Bryony creates the personal harmony that helps achieve that happiness:

"I have found that not separating them is key, they overlap and interact while respecting each other. My kids help with the conference, they know not to interrupt the morning writing, and I am always at school pickup."

3) How did you sell out Brand New Conference this year?

"We always keep it at around the same number or attendees, but this year the theater has a clear limit that is a bit under our usual cutoff so we had to open a waitlist that was over 200 people long."

As far as I'm concerned, I can't see how anyone who attended Brand New in 2017 wouldn't be ravenous for the 2018 incarnation. On the Under Consideration website, the team have highlighted some of the creative assets and conference design they produced and, if I were the gambling type, I would bet heavily that some attendees would come back for the swag alone:


In a series of posts on the Brand New blog, the team were forthcoming in their capacity. They sold 600 tickets before early birds closed and their chosen venue had 915 seats total. Whether scarcity (although an almost thousand-strong conference is no small crowd) pushed ticket sales as well remains to be seen after the design conference shuts its doors this year and attendees provide feedback. 

Regardless, the team have had huge success in getting swathes of enthusiastic attendees to join them in New York this September. 

To satisfy demand, they've also opened webcast registration so that those who could not secure a ticket, or could not attend in person for any reason, could still enjoy and learn from the design content being presented at the event.

4) I read about your decision to build this year's conference backwards, and your decision to focus on concrete (literally). How do you come up with your conference concepts and themes?

"Each year we try to highlight something about the location that makes it special. We have hosted the conference in NY several times now and one cliché that remained was that of the concrete jungle. We like turning trite ideas into beautiful executions."

The visuals for the design conference are shaping up to be anything other than the cliché you might have in mind. 

 

Concrete grid with silicone gutters.

A post shared by Brand New Conference (@bnconf) on


On
their website, everything from the fonts to the navigation is constructed around the, well, construction materials. The team have also written a long-form post detailing the type choices for the event and other factors that contributed to the final aesthetic and themes. 

And yes, they actually bought a lot of concrete:

concrete

5) How do you rehabilitate the day after you host Brand New Conf each year?

"Usually it means going back home to our kids and one tired grandma!"

And finally, tell us a bit about what you'll be presenting at Admission.

"I will talk about a few key conferences and how the brand and the audience have helped us shape the event we currently host, which is a unique experience from both sides: the making it happen, and the attending."

For some more details about all the talks the speakers have lined up for Admission, our conference for organizers, you can visit the full site here: Admission, a conference by Tito