What drives successful design? How does Landor produce inspired ideas for some of the world’s largest global brands? This year, we’re sharing the inner workings of our studios around the world through our Inside the Studio series. We’ll speak with some of our top creative minds, asking what it takes to produce innovative, effective, award-worthy work. Up next: Landor Chicago’s executive creative director, Valerie Aurilio.
Collaborating with Landor’s client partners across design disciplines, Valerie seeks to build big ideas that result in innovative, relevant consumer experiences. With over 15 years in the design industry, Valerie has led myriad teams across Landor’s global network. Her extensive knowledge of the consumer packaged goods space has given rise to highly successful, multiregional launches across categories as diverse as beauty, baby care, home care, and food and beverage for global brands such as Olay, Tide, and Tropicana.
1. How do you provide conditions that allow creativity to flourish in your studio?
I fight for early investment in inspiring and experiential kickoffs. I believe in taking the time—and, yes, the budget—to question the brief, understand the audience, and explore the brand landscape. The creative process is unforgiving; if you cheat phase one, your team will pay the price for the rest of the project.
2. How do you maintain your creative vision and keep our clients involved in the process?
For me, the power is in having an idea with our clients rather than for our clients. The passion and excitement in the moment that an idea is born is contagious. It creates believers, and then evangelists. Shared ownership is somewhat contrary to our design ego, but it is a proven advantage in getting great design to market.
3. What differentiates your design studio from other agencies?
We are a group of people who admire each other’s talent and enjoy the challenge of bringing out the best in one another. Landor Chicago has strong design and verbal practices, and we revel in the push and pull of influencing each other through the entire creative process.
4. What do you do when a client disagrees with the design solution you think is best?
Conviction is powerful—until you stop listening. My rule of thumb is that if I hear something more than twice, especially if it’s coming from different directions or stakeholders, I need to figure out what’s going on. If negativity is coming from a single source or boils down to “it’s harder to do it this way than the way we’ve always done it,” I go to battle. But if the critique is well reasoned, or the resistance is about the business model, then it’s time to reconsider my perspective.
5. What’s your personal motto and how does it impact your work at Landor?
You get the work you deserve. The effort you put into briefing your team shows up in the work they deliver. An effective creative leader pays into the process early, knowing that it will help your designers create better, more innovative ideas. And it leads to the kind of internal crit that we as designers live for: one full of energy, surprises, and heated debate. The kind of crit that makes you happy to be late for your next meeting.
6. What advice would you give to aspiring designers looking to join a company like Landor?
The potential to change the world through design has never been greater. Don’t be afraid to create the path you want your career to take. This is an exciting time in our industry and if you are willing to work hard and fully participate, you can help shape the future.
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