Brains Behind the Brands: Meet Nina Janzon

Today we’re talking with Nina Janzon, a Creative Director who sees value in having a big-picture vision for how to visually bring brands to life, but also how we can better work together to create awesome outcomes for our clients. She’s also here to bring “a little crazy to the table.” And if you ask her about her special skills, she’ll tell you that she loves doing skits—if you ever need someone to do anything crazy or embarrassing, Nina’s your girl. Whether it’s inspiring the team and getting the momentum going or just adding plain old energy and enthusiasm, Nina’s here to shake things up a bit.

Where do you turn for inspiration?
First, the client. I love how passionate they are. Hearing their vision and excitement for what they want to accomplish inspires me to come up with really unique solutions for them. All the hard work is paid off when you see their eyes light up when presenting the work. There is just nothing better.

Second, the world around us. As creatives, all of the things we see around us become graphic: architecture, colors, landscapes, clothes, the texture on a leaf. That’s the kind of stuff that makes you think ‘How can I turn that into something?’ Where others see a shadow, we might see a beautiful pattern that inspires a unique brand element.

When you were younger, what did you think you were going to be?
I wanted to be a teacher. Although that’s not what I do today, I think it still captures the essence of who I am and what I do. Bringing groups of people along on a journey and serving up a new way to look at something while inspiring that sense of unlimited potential is a magic thing to be a part of. I taught a branding class for a few years at a university in Denver, and I loved it. Maybe I’ll come back to that sometime later in life again.

What originally brought you here?
There are a lot of levels to that, but what ultimately brought me here today is my love for exploring and experiencing the world. Taking the long journey from Sweden and ending up in Denver via Texas was kind of a strange route, but it was derivative of that passion for exploring.

How would you describe what distinguishes Monigle from other agencies?
Monigle is different from other agencies in that we don’t just create beautiful and cool work but we tell a story founded in strategy, which results in something that truly works in the real world. We are very thoughtful in how we execute a brand so that it has longevity and meaning, and so that our clients can easily take the torch and run with it.

What are you working on these days?
One client we’re currently working with is Hilliard Lyons. The interesting part about them is that there’s so much legacy and history—they’ve been around for over 160 years. There was lively debate and conversation around how far to go because of that legacy, but we ultimately helped them get somewhere which is a dramatic, yet appropriate shift from where they were before. I love the fact that they were open and willing to take a big leap. As a result, we helped to create a brand that is true to who they are today and has what it will take to be successful in their industry in the future.

We had to rethink the audience to some extent, focusing more on their financial advisors and the role Hilliard Lyons plays in helping them serve investors. Without the resources to compete against national advertising campaigns, we focused on bringing the advisors closer and more connected to the communities they are part of. From a visual perspective, this unique strategic idea around “supportive family” became the core idea we built the brand around. Our pathway symbol is a visual representation of not only a banner under which we unite, but also a pathway to success, by providing the right relationships, tools and services.

What’s special about what you do every day?
I get to come in and work alongside an amazing team of people every day. Every day there are opportunities to better integrate, and ultimately solve the client’s problem in a better way. I also try to make work fun because I firmly believe that creativity is interlinked with fun, plus everybody should have fun at work. I guess I would describe my role as an inspirer and a challenger. Some might call me a loudmouth, others a pain-in-the-ass, but given it’s all for the greater good, I can live with that.