Investing in the brand story

IfThen is pleased to announce the addition of two industry leaders in brand design and visual identity, whose talents will help IfThen transform its creative capabilities.

We’re problem solvers and idealists who believe in the transformative power of design

Say hello to VP & Creative Director Jack Whitman and VP, Client Experience Christina (Tina) Del Rocco — a new team bringing a depth of agency experience and close partnerships with global brands that will help shape the relationship between branding, design, and digital for IfThen’s current and future clients.

In conversation with President Monty Mullig, SVP Creative Stefán Kjartansson, Jack and Tina, they discuss their perspectives on the vision for design at IfThen and share a preview of fresh work that reflects their ambitions.

What inspired this decision to invest in IfThen’s creative capabilities?

Monty: We always look to grow our business by acquiring top-flight talent, which is the cornerstone of our brand, and when the opportunity surfaced to add Jack and Tina to our team we acted immediately.

We believe that design is an essential component of the solutions we create for our clients, and Jack and Tina bring established market-leading expertise with their portfolio of incredible work in branding and visual design. This commitment allows us to build on our prior investment in digital design following our acquisition of Armchair Media in 2017.

As Associate Creative Director at Son&Sons, Jack and the design team led the development of Patagonia’s Global Visual Standards.

Stefán: The addition of Jack and Tina to the design group is strategic. We needed to supercharge our branding and design leadership, and after an extensive search the answer turned out to be right in our backyard. Jack cut his teeth with Michael Bierut at Pentagram where he gained experience on brand projects for The New York Times and Museum of Arts and Design. Back in Atlanta, Tina was steering national PR campaigns for notable restaurant, hospitality, and travel brands in the South. The two of them teamed up almost 10 years ago and have developed a range of agency experience shaping visual systems for clients such as Patagonia, Sonos, and Interface.

After the Armchair Media / IfThen merger, I packed the luggage with our virtuoso creative aspirations and rolled it into the greater digital context of IfThen. The ultimate goal is to shape a stronger, new agency.

Jay-Z wearing ballroom marfa capJack and Tina’s first brand identity project with Ballroom Marfa in 2012 revealed an immediate harmony between one another’s working styles and skills. This fine balance enhances the quality of outcomes in the work and creates a warm and collaborative experience along the way.

If we look at this investment from a brand perspective, how does this addition complement your design philosophy?

Stefán: It’s the perfect fit. Jack and I are cut from the same cloth made of rigorous design foundations and experience, and Tina is the thread that brings texture, warmth, and toughness to the composition.

We’re problem solvers and idealists who believe in the transformative power of design, and I use the word design in the broadest sense. Creativity is embedded in every human endeavor: invention, planning, and extracting the signal from the noise.

 

 

Sonos “You’re Better Than This” global campaign.
Sonos “You’re Better Than This” global campaign.

The notion of Simplicity is a bedrock for IfThen. It applies to every aspect of the agency — technology, design, business — and even our own lives.

The ultimate goal is to shape a stronger, new agency.

To help readers understand how this investment translates into the work you do, can you talk about recent projects that touch branding, design, and digital?

It’s been fulfilling to see how existing IfThen clients who came for digital have felt the positive impact of our creative expertise in brand strategy, identity, and storytelling.

The redesign of the Hiscox website is an ideal example of an existing client that came to us for UX and development. With support from their marketing leadership, the project evolved into a total solution. We captured the image of the modern heritage of the business, providing them with an edge over the competition.

Markforged is a Boston based startup that manufactures a smart platform of 3D printers, software, and materials. We’ve had a special partnership with the company leadership this year, building their core brand strategy and giving them a bold voice that expresses their innovation, industry leadership, and rapid business growth.

Markforged: Brand strategy, activation, UX, concepting, and copywriting.
Hiscox: Concepting, brand story activation, UX, and build.

 

Tina and Jack, you both are transitioning into IfThen at a pivotal and (let’s be honest) an unusual time. Can you describe what you are most excited about in merging forces with IfThen? I’m curious about the kind of work you love to do and aspire to create here.

InterfaceInterface: Global product launch and campaign

Jack: Yes, it’s an odd moment to be on the move! With that being said, I think this is a really exciting time for digital and brand to strengthen and amplify one another. The two are constantly changing by nature, and as designers, we must adapt to formats that are in continuous flux. The cyclical process of invention, transformation, and improvement helps us look at the world and make sense of it so that we can find the best answer for a particular design challenge. I love building systems for brands that have courageous leaders who are eager to push the work into new territories.

A big focus for Tina and me over the past few months has been documenting the projects that have defined our partnership and clarified our passion for this kind of work. I’m really excited to share that our portfolio recently went live and is up and running.

Tina: I have felt this refreshing sense of salt-of-the-earth energy and genuine engagement from everyone I’ve met since joining the team. The focus and rigor embedded in the culture is incredibly exciting. A light came on for me, and I think that’s connected to the exposure to the diversity of perspectives and experiences that IfThen carries. This is a rare opportunity to learn from the best and match our strengths as we put this new muscle to work here.

The most exciting moments happen when knowledge and experimentation collide.

For Jack and myself, helping make decisions about how a brand can function, communicate, and perform in a range of circumstances is where we love to be. We want to stretch the breadth of capabilities together with our new colleagues at IfThen and create career-defining work.

Brand relevance — that is, a brand’s ability to credibly innovate — plays a significant role in a company’s trajectory in the marketplace. How do you approach brand design with that idea in mind?

Jack: It starts by looking through a wide lens into the ecosystem of the client. That reality can include many different things: the audience, the competition, existing forces in the market, the ambitions, and the urgent goals of the business. For us, it’s about deeply understanding the natural behavior of a brand, uncovering and elevating its essential strengths and differentiating qualities, and inspiring people by helping them show up in the world in ways that they never thought were possible. Ultimately, design is a process of decision making. Having mutual trust is vital to the work and creates so many invigorating moments for everyone involved in the process along the way. That is the best part.

Black and white logo of patagoniaJack and Tina’s experience ranges from brands big and small, global and local.

Tina: Design is at the heart of what we do in our lives, not just with work. When we help clients through the journey of redefining a brand, we approach each experience with a grounded understanding that we’re about to move through some change together, and we have one shot to get it right. We’re constantly looking at how our point of view can deliver meaningful outcomes and create a lasting impact on the partnership. And, how all of it can be effectively and strategically applied to real things.

Creating brand systems and design solutions that translate change into relevance is one of our greatest responsibilities as a creative team.

What would you like to make sure is known about the experience working with IfThen in light of this transformation? What will feel different?

Tina: Thanks to years of working with so many types of teams and brands, Jack and I have found a special way of bringing our full attention and commitment to a project. Excellence is mandatory. We are both deeply curious people who love to be embedded in a client’s world, and we help look at the uncomfortable or forgotten places in order to uncover opportunities and new ideas.

From our experience, the best outcomes are rooted in bullet-proof communication, maintaining an open mind, and a collective resilience to fear. We are constant practitioners of our craft and are passionate about improving the creative potential of brands with our partners.

What is a recent example of something that has inspired you to think differently or reconsider your understanding of an idea, experience, or notion?

Jack: It’s all about jazz. I began studying jazz piano as a way to understand how it is possible that such an art form can exist within a structure yet be so completely free. Similar to design, it fascinates me that so much complexity can be created from something inherently fundamental. The most exciting moments for me happen when knowledge and experimentation collide to create order, harmony, and occasional moments of beauty.

Tina: I’m currently reading about Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, a mid-nineteenth century French artist whose long, quiet career eventually marked him as one of the greatest landscape painters of all time. One of the most defining moments of his life emerged from a snag during his stay in Rome — the Italian light was unapologetically different from the light in his hometown in France, throwing him into a spell of misery on the brink of burning everything to a crisp.

Then, in a period of paintings that would later be recognized as his great early masterpieces, Corot did something that broke all the rules established by the greats. Through systematic experimentation, he discovered a way to see and paint all day, every day, from the same spot on Palatine Hill. Corot mastered deliberate practice — a sustained engagement in the work that is bound to the understanding and improvement of the work itself.

This steady intentionality to improve capacity for a business, project, partnership, or simply making a cup of coffee immediately resonates with how much I value presence and awareness regardless of the task. That practice of conscious fascination emits powerful energy and goodness into the world around us.

Jack and Tina have quickly immersed themselves in brand identity projects with the team, and are excited to create big experiences.

See their portfolio here.
Get in touch at info@ifthen.com