Feb 2, 2024
Crafting motion identities: A Conversation with Andrew Vucko, founder of Vucko.
We sat down with Andrew Vucko, founder and creative director at Vucko, a brand focused motion partner. This description alone piqued our interest in the studio. What actually IS brand focused motion? When we take a look at their site, Vucko aims to create holistic boutique experiences that are intentional and express the heart of the brands they work with, such as Spotify, IBM, and Google.
In this interview, we’ll dive into one of their latest collaborations with Google, for Next 2023. We’ll talk about the ever growing importance of motion in brand design, collaborating with a global brand, and more. Enjoy!
Hi Andrew! Thank you for joining us, can you tell us about Vucko?
Absolutely. We’re a global studio headquartered in Toronto, Canada. We build motion identities, systems, and applications for leading brands.
Vucko has been around since 2015, nearly a decade, and has organically grown from a director model to a fully operating studio. We approach each partnership in a holistic and boutique way - working as an extension of client teams.
“We're not just thinking about motion, we're thinking about strategy, we're thinking about design, business objectives and outcomes at the same time.”
The Vucko team
A relentless focus on motion in branding is not something we see often. How did this focus for Vucko come about?
Working with clients of all scales, we’ve seen that motion is no longer an accessory, and that it’s now a key expression for brands. This truly reinforced our commitment to a brand-led approach to motion. All of us at the studio have a deep passion for branding - we’re brand builders at our core.
We strive to be involved as early as possible, which allows us to have constructive conversations on how to build outcomes that brands want. That means we're not just thinking about motion, we're thinking about strategy, design, business objectives, and goals at the same time.
It sounds like Vucko has a pretty holistic approach, even when focused on the motion aspect of brands. One of those brands is Google, could you tell us about how your collaboration with them started?
Our partnership with Google started in 2022 - directly with the Cloud brand team, really amazing team of people. They engaged us for their annual event ‘Next’, to solve how the event would move, cohesively from DOOH, social, and all digital touchpoints.
Google Next is an event that Google has done over many years, celebrating the future of their platform, technology, iteration, and evolution. To figure out how to communicate that through a motion identity was a really nice challenge.
How do you approach the concept of motion? Does the Google brand team provide a clear vision, or is it a joint effort?
It really looks different based on the client and also on a per-project basis, but ultimately we look at each engagement as a partnership. When we onboard on a project, whether it's starting at zero or with established designs, we always enter with a holistic mindset to truly understand what the goals are. Next '22 was not the first event, there was a history of success to grow and build upon.
The cloud team are great leaders, incredibly talented, and came with an understanding of the value of motion. Because of this we had a strong start, and were able to build trust quickly between the teams.
“The ask was to formulate how this event would move.”
We always delve into what makes the brand tick, and what choices led them to us. We constantly pull at threads to truly understand what we are trying to communicate, and then shape that into distinct behaviours. We’ll also consider how to stand out in a crowded marketplace, and this involves strategy, brand auditing, and a real exploratory period.
For a large-scale project like Google Next, what does the first version or draft presented typically look like?
A first draft varies, but the key is to consider the end goal as we don't apply a one-size-fits-all approach. Using a standardised process wouldn't yield the best creative or business outcomes.. we focus on what each project specifically needs for the brand to grow sustainably.
In our industry, the trend has always been to follow a set process, but we believe in customising our approach to ensure the work is impactful and tailored to the client's objectives.
Google’s brand seems well defined, naturally there are some constraints to work with. How does Vucko find inspiration for a project like this?
We strive to be inspired by words, verbs, and adjectives before bringing anything visual to it.
For example, we’ll look at the word ‘change’. A very broad word that's open to interpretation. We’ll challenge ourselves and our partners to look deeper within that word; what does change really mean for your brand and audience? It continues to deepen down into ‘evolution, growth, iteration’ and you continue to peel back the layers to see how deep you can go.
For us, that's a really interesting exercise, because once we tear everything away.. we find words that are specific to a movement or an action.. And we very naturally can pull visuals that relate. That's where we start to create the most unique work.
What was a key takeaway from this collaboration?
So much of the success comes from the setup on these projects. The strength of the partnerships, the mutual value of motion, and the shared trust of the process. A constant for us is to embrace workshops instead of presentation-style check ins. We really pride ourselves on having a truly collaborative, workshop mentality and strive to drive decisions together with our partners. We’re very proud of that closer way of working.
To close off; any advice that you could give to designers and creatives looking to get into the space of branding, and specifically motion in regards to branding?
Embrace strategic angles when it comes to telling brand stories - motion is no longer an execution or deliverable. Purposeful thinking, exploring, and being curious about what makes a brand tick is so important - motion artists now need to look beyond the best plugin to use.
A big thanks to Andrew and the Vucko team for this peak into their process. If you would like to learn more about this, and their other projects, make sure to check out vucko.co