Tim Girvin is one of the world’s foremost logo designers and corporate branding gurus. For three decades, he and his staff have worked on everything from movie ad campaigns to complete “identity packages” for products and companies. He has offices in New York and Tokyo; we met at his main office on Stewart Street.
On business challenges in this economy:
“The thing that is really interesting to consider now is two words. One is “intention.” The other is “attention.” They both come from “tenet,” and tenet is principle. In this tough time, what do you stand by? What is the guiding factor by which you brand your business? The ones I’ve found most successful are the businesses that have this clear. The ones I find having the most challenges are the most chaotic.”
On his current projects:
“We’re doing local things, supporting local businesses—like creating a new restaurant design, a new perfume, a new retail concept, helping a local university, and doing some charitable work.
“We’re working on repositioning luxury products in Sweden, new brand storytelling strategy for Japanese cosmetics in Tokyo, international hospitality and hotel/resort work, global food and beauty assignments.”
On the essence of branding:
“The idea of the brand really is about the commitment to passion and focus. A lot of the work that we do is about how that story can be told. I find more often than not the real power of the brand is with the people who drive it.”
On how he would rebrand Belltown:
“I’ve found, by living and being in different cities around the world, the richer they are the more nonstop they are. Everybody doesn’t go to bed at 10 o’clock; there’s lots of things happening all the time. Some of those are incredibly good, amazing, wonderful. Some of them are less so.
“As Seattle grows, and as Belltown evolves, we start moving into that fuller cycle where the action is going on all the time ... part of it is there’s more action, vitality, more restaurants, more places to be; and then there’s the other side of that.
“The more the time gets extended, the more mobile you become. I know I have to sign on to international conference calls at 4 in the morning or link to Tokyo at 7 or 8 at night or looking at emails from friends in Europe or the UAE at sometime after midnight. There’s so much creative actionthat’s happening all the time. I think when a city begins to extend its hours it begins to live in international time, which is a more creative way of looking at every waking moment.”
On my suggestion that Nordstrom restore the full name “Brass Plum” for its teen boutique, instead of those now-unfortunate two initials:
“I would totally agree. I worked on the original design program for the Brass Plum identity and signage ... I’ve been working as a freelance design consultant to Nordstrom since the ‘70s. I think that is a very astute position.”
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