The Biggest Brands in Culture, Goods, Tech at HOW Design Live

HOW Design Live has always drawn designers who work in corporate creative environments, so the conference planning team recruits creative managers from top brands to speak to those in-house attendees.

But you don’t have to be an in-house designer to learn from leaders with brands like Coca-Cola and Hershey. And you don’t have to work within the same market category to find new insights on how your design work can support a strong brand and solve business problems.

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This year, HOW Design Live has assembled perhaps the strongest lineup of presenters from some of the world’s top brands in the fields of culture, entertainment, packaged goods and retail. Here’s who you’ll hear from in Chicago:

Pharrell Williams established the brand i am OTHER to celebrate individuality and create products and experiences across music, film, TV, tech, multimedia and apparel. The brand’s manifesto defines OTHERS as diverse, curious, energetic, influential people who want to be different — and to make a difference. Mimi Valdés is creative director for i am OTHER, working closely with Williams on every aspect of the brand, and she’s delivering a keynote presentation on May 7.

Working at The Hershey Co. sounds like a pretty sweet gig. And Ron Burrage, head of global design at Hershey’s, would tell you that it is. Yet even working for a chocolate company has its creative challenges. During his session, Burrage will talk about how to design fearlessly — to elevate your work in the face of conservatism, cynicism and criticism. That’s advice ANY creative pro can use.

You might not think of Facebook as a content-creation company (all those stories and photos come from users, after all). But content strategist Jonathan Colman will take you inside Facebook to share how the company develops new tools and products based on a content-first mentality. As a designer, you may focus on the visual/experiential aspects of your digital projects, but you’re a content creator, too.

James Sommerville, VP of design for The Coca-Cola Co., says that every big, consumer-facing company is a design company. What does that mean for designers? It means that you’re increasingly being asked to think far past aesthetics. With the lines blurring between branded content and design, design and consumer experience, and design leadership and cultural leadership, what do designers need to know to be prepared? Sommerville will take you inside a company that’s leading the way in this trend — Coca-Cola — to explore the shifts that are changing the way designers work, collaborate and develop their careers.

These are just a few of the leading brands represented on the HOW Design Live program: You’ll also hear from creative managers at The White House (yep, the White House), Kraft Foods,
Pfizer, Publix Super Markets, Herman Miller, Poketo, United Pet Group, Farrar Straus & Giroux, the United Nations and Etsy. Whether you work for a big company — or you admire the way these big brands manage their design expression — you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn from the people who do it best. Remember to register by March 31, and save $200 off your all-access Big Ticket package.