Balancing Creative and Analytical with Meghan Labot

At the upcoming Visual Connections Expo on October 25th, a not to be missed session on creative process bring together two top leaders in branding to discuss their process, their companies and their passions. This week we talk to Meghan Labot, Managing Director of Spring Design Partners.

In your LinkedIn bio, Meghan, you talk about your balance between the creative and the analytical. This ability to bridge Right and Left brain thinking is invaluable.

We place a lot of value at Spring Design Partners on perspective, believing that great ideas and solutions come from looking at challenges from many different angles. I love the creative process and am truly a creative at heart, but I’m also quite analytical and recognize that sometime the most amazing idea may not be the best thing for the business. I can see value in a solution from both sides. The challenge with many brands is finding the right balance between doing what is right for the brand in terms of reaching the consumer, but also doing what is right for the business. As advisor to many brands, I see it as my job to help find that balance for them.

Can you illustrate/share with us an anecdote about how this has worked successfully?

Working with Van Gogh Vodka was a great example of the challenge that lies in striking the right balance between creative needs and business needs. From a creative point of view, we recognized that Van Gogh begged for an amazing design approach that honored the brand’s namesake (no small feat!) But the brand was also in peril. As one of many flavored vodka brands that were being overlooked by consumers, Van Gogh needed to establish its point of difference and rise above the fray of the category. Our design needed to work hard to not only pay creative homage to Van Gogh the artist, but also differentiate the flavored vodka product as a leader in the category. In the end, simplicity worked in our favor and the final result is a striking presentation both as an acknowledgement to Van Gogh and as a category differentiator.

What about Branding is your greatest passion and where you engage fully?

I really love the role of culture and context in branding. As an Art History student in college, I spent a lot of time studying the context in which a work of art was created to better understand the intent and motivation of the artist creating the piece. Knowing the context helps make sense of the different design decisions the artist made. I see branding in a very similar light. What we create as consumer communication brings to life a “brand” that reflects its context. To create a great brand, you need to have an understanding what is going on in the world and how the cultural context can shape consumer perception of design and communication. I love being able to connect all those dots and influence design that has a real role in culture.

As a top level female executive, what advice do you have for young women entering the field of Brand Marketing.

The best advice I can offer to anyone getting started in branding is to always be on the side of truth. As much as branding is a game of “smoke and mirrors” real brands are rooted in truth. If you are honest with yourself, your clients and most importantly your team members, solutions to brand challenges will naturally emerge. I’ve seen many colleague get trapped by forcing an agenda, and the truth ultimately reveals itself. Being open to seeing the truth in brands and solutions that respect the role of the brand in culture will always take you far.

As for young women entering branding, remember to support each other. Brand Marketing can be a competitive environment and too often we see women holding other women back. Women in branding, and all industries for that matter, need to support one another and pull each other up. I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing women in my career and those that have gone on to be great leaders respected, supported and collaborated with their female co-workers. When we support each other, we all succeed.

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