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Carl Lamerton

Carl Lamerton on drawing from authenticity

By Carl Lamerton

Owner & Director - Lamerton Creative Ltd.

In the 30 years since Carl Lamerton began his profession in branding, he has designed for the likes of blue-chip ad agencies Saatchis, McCanns, and CDP on projects including the design for the World Cup; as well as developing meaningful brands for companies including Deutsche Bank, Lockheed Martin, and the University of Surrey.

But regardless of project scales and sectors, Carl’s approach to branding remains consistent at its core: connecting people to their passion to create evocative and authentic brands reflecting businesses’ true identities.

Now, in his pursuit of redefining brand as business personality, Carl is penning his insight into a book encompassing an abundance of expertise in brand creation, artistry, and visual storytelling.

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At Lamerton Creative, you use the term Brand from the Heart. What qualities make a great brand?

Brand from the heart was my original opening statement. You’ve got to brand from your passion and be authentic to who you are because that’s what gives you integrity. That passion is something that is key to any business and to any person.

Be passionate and if you're not passionate, you're doing the wrong thing – do something that really gets you up in the morning, something that makes you feel alive.

If you've not got a story that lights that fire in your belly, there's something missing or there's something you're not expressing.

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You’re accomplished at extracting the emotional side of businesses to create authentic brands, what’s your process for doing that?

I try to take people back to the reason why they first started their business. It’s a very simple step-by-step process, but I think it comes down to not just the questions, but how I ask them.

I start by asking the business what they do. Then I start to delve a bit deeper and ask them how they do what they do. How they do it is the differentiator; it starts to uncover the nitty-gritty of the personality of the business.

Then I delve again, and I ask them the why and that’s when I really get under the skin. What is the real and absolute reason that they are doing that job? You can just see that moment in a person’s face – that childhood memory or reason that connects the business to them.

Then I talk to them about the benefit of what they do to not just themselves, but to their customers, and to the world – recognising what they do beyond the micro level. It’s amazing how people miss that point and don’t realise how valuable they are.

I’m a good listener. I do branding, design logos, and illustrate, but anything I design is based on their story. Everything that I design gives people an aide-mémoire as to why they get up in the morning.

What’s your process for creating a brand once you have the emotive story behind the business?

I’m surrounded in my studio by big A3 drawing pads, and each book is full of a brand. After I’ve got all my notes from speaking with someone, I distill what’s been said, I write it all out again, and then in that writing, I see pictures. Their story creates an image in my head and I draw until I get an idea – an image that fits with all the words I’ve heard.

The process is completely and utterly creative – I draw, I write, and I absorb the personality of what I’ve just heard.

What’s your take on AI in the world of branding

I’m very human and I need design and brand to be human. The concern I have with AI is that it’s just more speed. Things can be done quickly, but what’s missing is the whole process and the story. I’m a big supporter of going through the almost painful process of defining who you are. I want businesses to understand who they are as individuals, and not compromise on that.

"Everything that I design gives people an aide-mémoire as to why they get up in the morning."

Can you tell us about your book?

People can shortchange brands because people often think it’s just the logo. I’m writing a book about redefining brand as a personality because my work is actually 80% psychology and 20% design.

The book is about business personality following the stages of growing up: from the baby stage to infants, teens, moving out, being a parent, the mature years, and then buyout.

In business, you go through different phases where you’re facing different challenges like you do in your life, and that’s what I wanted to capture.

It’s also a cathartic process for me because the reason why I do what I do is based on incidents that happened to me in my formative years. Authenticity is so important to me and the reality of why I brand is because of my own experiences growing up.

What are you passionate about outside of your work?

I played rugby from the age of five and I later played county rugby so I’m a big sports fan. I also love swimming and I’ve done marathons.

I still draw, I love art, I love galleries. I also volunteer at the Kadampa Meditation Centre in Southampton.

I’m very close to my sons who are 25 and 22, and we’ve got great friendships.

And I love my wife to bits, we’ve been together nearly 30 years and we’ve got a wonderful relationship: she’s the big love of my life.

"The process is completely and utterly creative – I draw, I write, and I absorb the personality of what I've just heard."

Carl Lamerton - Owner & Director, Lamerton Creative Ltd.

Do you have any mentors who have guided your professional journey and what did you learn from them?

My mentor was Dan Gipple, who sadly died about a month ago. He taught me all about brands.

I used to sit in on meetings with him with big businesses like Lockheed Martin and he taught me never to be worried about the scale of a project, he gave me the confidence to take on anything.

He taught me the process of understanding the emotional side of a business, authenticity, and listening to the client.

Dan used to say to people Carl can do it: that was his thing. He gave me that sense of self-belief; he totally trusted me and believed in me.

Carl Lamerton