Fast Company Innovation Festival Day 4 - Kanye Day

Hello friends,

Day four started like any other day, I got a coffee and headed to my first session of the day with the BBC. That was a great session.

Then, as I was leaving the BBC, I got an email from the Fast Company team telling me a surprise guest would be on the main stage in an hour. There have been impressive names at this conference so I knew it must be someone really big if they were a surprise and there was an email about it. 



Before Kanye, I went to a talk with the BBC. 

Session one, a look at how BBC Two created a brand identity the brit's love 

The session was with the head of BBC Brand, Michael Lean and the agency that worked on the rebrand, Superunion. 

The Background:

  • BBC Two has been going for 55 years, 
  • They give access to all the experimental and new creative shows like The Office, Peaky Blinders and Great British Bake-off.
  • The brand identity hasn’t changed for 27 years.
  • BBC Two commissions more new content than any other British broadcaster.

The Problem:

  • When you say BBC Two, people think old, safe, boring. 
  • When you tell them what shows BBC Two has funded and puts into its programing but the content people are shocked. The brand needed to match the new face of the content.

The brief:

  • A new brand identity that stays true to what BBC Two is about.
  • A brand that can exist in a streaming world.
How they did it:
  • Super union had two homes, they were at BBC working with them on the project as well as in a secret meeting room at Superunion. 
  • They met 3 times a week and had to really collaborate with the client. That meant less slick presentations and more work in progress and live notes as the work was being shared.
  • They worked with 15 collaborators along the way to get the visuals and sound right. 

They learnt a few things:

  1. Collaboration is uncomfortable. Sharing the full creative process with the BBC was uncomfortable for the agency. Sharing work at its early stages was challenging. On reflection, they now know that collaboration requires empathy. 
  2. Deep understanding of the client delivers good work. Superunion was a new agency for BBC Two so once they decided on the creative territory they pitched four ideas of how the creative could be executed but they were all too technical for the BBC. The final idea they landed on married the creative direction and the parameters the BBC  could work within.
  3. Look for every opportunity. The research that Superunion did to understand what the audience wanted from the brand had lead to a change in the way the BBC program. Sharing those insights from the audience across the whole business has helped shift the whole business into a more modern way of thinking.
Here is the new brand:

Surprise session, Kanye West and Steven Smith 

Kanye was there to talk about Yeezy.

Yeezy is a huge brand, it did $1.5 Billion in sales last year and it's 100% owned by Kanye West. They were there to talk about Yeezy as a brand and what's next. 

Key takeouts:

  • Steven calls Kanye "Yey"
  • Kanye is funny. But he still doesn't smile much. 
  • When the first shoe came out it sold out in 6 minutes 
  • He talked about his friendship and rivalry with Balenciaga and how that helps give them a deadline to bring an idea to the world first. 
  • He sees Yeezy as the apple of apparel.
  • While they were there they showed their next shoe which is partly made out of algae. 
What else was said:
  • Steven said working with Kanye is liberating, all the rules are gone. There isn't a process, a focus group, a pitch to executives, ect. It's just GO!
  • Kanye's interested in the physiology of design. He read out what blue as a colour does for the human mind and therefore where he's thinking about using it. 
  • He compared himself to Da Vinci. 
  • They are moving the Yeezy HQ to Cody, Wyoming. He wants to create jobs in the USA. 
  • They are also looking at how they can be more responsible from an environmental impact point of view. 
  • Kanye says he's a real true and living founder who cares about humanity. 
Finally, Kanye said he will run for president in 2024 and Yeezy will have created so many jobs in the USA that he won't have to run for president, he'll walk. 

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