Designer Interview With Jeremy Miller
Jeremy had an untraditional path into branding and fell into it out of necessity. It happened when he watched his family’s business almost hit rock bottom, after hundreads and hundreads of sales calls later Jeremy said to his dad “If this is what it’s like to be in the family business, i can’t do it! It’s garbage!” after saying this his dad gave him the best advice he’s had in his entire career.
His dad said to him “It’s not about the business we have built, it’s about the business we are building, what are we going to build next?”
This is what Jeremy needed to hear at the time and it gave him permission to move forward, and this forced Jeremy to to take a hard look at how his family’s company was being run, and the industry as a whole.
While doing this Jeremy realised that it was not the internal sales people or their actual marketing process that was failing, it was the brand as a whole: their customers could not distinguish them form others in the industry.
This insight caused Jeremy to stop, rethink, reposition the company and rebrand the family business. The strategy worked, and it took a year for the company to turn a corner and go full-steam in growth mode.
In 2013 Jeremy sold the family business to focus exclusively on what he does today: Building Brands!
The Logo Creative — What does your day consist of?
Jeremy Miller — I’d like to say something like, “Thinking. Writing. Branding.” But the reality is far less peaceful. I run a bustling strategy agency, and my days are varied, working on client engagements, speaking at conferences, and doing the day to day work of a busy entrepreneur.
The Logo Creative — Are you a morning person or night owl and is there a reason why?
Jeremy Miller — I’m a solid afternoon person. My creative juices kick in around 1pm. I like to workout in the evening, bed by midnight.
The Logo Creative — What was the first logo you ever designed?
Jeremy Miller — LEAPJob. I renamed my family business from Miller & Associates to LEAPJob. I designed the logo and all elements of the brand myself. This was the project that got me started on my career in branding.
The Logo Creative — What is your favourite logo you have designed? (Include if you like)
Jeremy Miller — The Sticky Branding Bee. This was a project of love to create a bee that could work as a stamp, and not be too cutesy or scary.
The Logo Creative — What’s the best logo you’ve designed that clients DIDN’T go for?
Jeremy Miller — All of my designs have been for my own brands. I am not a graphic designer or a logo designer. I am a brand strategist who gets too controlling about my own brands. I created my own logos out of a desire to realize my vision, but I work with brilliant designers from around the world on my client projects.
The Logo Creative — What is your favourite logos of all time?
Jeremy Miller — I have to just pick one!? This is unfair! CN, Twitter, Big Ass Fans, Apple…
The Logo Creative — Can you describe or give us an overview of your brand strategy process?
Jeremy Miller — Since I work on the brand strategy, I try to get the truths that can be used in the brand identity from name to logo to slogan. In the brand strategy we look at a few key ideas:
- How does the name and logo need to perform? How will it be used? What are the criteria for success?
- What is the competitive landscape? How do you make the brand stand out like an orange tree in an evergreen forest?
- Who is the target audience, and how do we convey a story through a brand?
Ideally, we want to distil this strategy into a set of clear guidelines that empowers a logo designer to do their best work. I generally don’t ask for a lot of iterations of versions of a logo. We want to see a few big concepts, and then work them into something that’s clean, compelling, and timeless. (You don’t want to have to change the name or logo in three years because it didn’t work or it’s out of fashion.)
The Logo Creative — What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your creative thinking?
Jeremy Miller — I love the whimsy and boldness of Big Ass Fans. They own their position proudly. Brands like Apple, Porsche and Twitter have set a standard of excellence in brand identity. Tesla is pioneering a category that is changing the world.
I am drawn to brands that are disrupters that work to own their category or sub-category. These are companies that are challenging convention, but are also taking pride in their brands. From the name and logo to the products to the customer experience, they sweat the little things, and it shows!
The Logo Creative — What are your recommended design books to read?
The Logo Creative — Which software do you use frequently and is there any you would recommend to designers?
Jeremy Miller — There’s the standard design stuff, but I think designers need to also think like marketers to promote their work. I use ActiveCampaign for CRM, marketing automation, and CoSchedule for social media scheduling. Both apps save me a ton of time, and help me stay engaged with my community.
The Logo Creative — What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?
Jeremy Miller — I am partial to simple, clean designs, but I don’t think one design fits all. A brand has to find its own unique identity that speaks to the ethos of the brand and helps it stand out in the market. Sometimes that means a designer has to stretch from what they like to create truly iconic designs.
The Logo Creative — What is your daily inspiration when you design?
Jeremy Miller — Blogs and books. I find I need to be learning to get my creative mojo flowing. I subscribe to a couple hundred blogs that I can scan daily. When in a pinch, Harvard Business Review is my go-to source for ideas.
The Logo Creative — When you’re not designing do you have a favorite free time activity you like to do?
Jeremy Miller — In the winter, I snowboard. In the warmer months I mountain bike. I love spots that get the adrenaline flowing.
The Logo Creative — What’s your favourite design quote or quote in general, and do you have a mantra or saying you live by?
Jeremy Miller — “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” It’s attributed to Albert Einstein, but it’s likely he never said it. Regardless, I love the quote.
The Logo Creative — In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
Jeremy Miller — Graphic design is communicating ideas visually.
The Logo Creative — Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have changed early on in your career?
Jeremy Miller — No. Every mistake has been an opportunity to learn. I think we need to embrace our messy pasts.
The Logo Creative — If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Jeremy Miller — Building a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient and enjoy the journey.
The Logo Creative — What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
Jeremy Miller –At a very dark moment my dad said to me, “It’s not about the business we’ve built, it’s about the business we are building. What are we going to build next?” This has stuck with me for many years. You always have permission to change and evolve.
The Logo Creative — What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
Jeremy Miller — Focus on getting to the essence of the brand in your design. This might mean pushing the client to realize what the brand really represents. Too often we start designing before we have true insights. Take the time up front to get to the truth so your designs truly resonate.
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Originally published at The Logo Creative | International Logo Design & Branding Studio.