Michael Johnson: there's more to branding than a logo

Barefoot, and in loose-fitting black clothing, Michael Johnson shows the way upstairs in his studio and into an expansive meeting room. His outfit might suggest ninja, but his manner is peaceful. Instead of swords and throwing stars, in two corners of the room stand several guitars and a double bass. Electric instruments are on the left, and acoustic ones to the right. On the shelf: a collection of D&AD Pencil awards.

“Double bass is the best, but funnily enough that’s the guitar I play the least. I’d like to play it more but I get very distracted. I pluck it, in a kind of jazz way,” he says, then points to the acoustic guitars. “These are the things that get played most of the time.” One is by Lowden, a handcrafted instrument maker in Northern Ireland, and as he later explains, his studio johnson banks has helped the company with its brand strategy. “That actually was payment for some work we did for them. Their first fee was paid with guitars – that’s barter, good old-fashioned barter.”

It’s not the biggest job johnson banks has tackled, but it’s one that combined two of Johnson’s passions – music and branding. Usually, johnson banks is working for substantially bigger concerns, including blue chip corporations, major cultural bodies and non-profit organisations. It’s been busy lately, Johnson says, bringing over a cafetiere of fine coffee and some shortbread biscuits.

“We’ve recently launched a project for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and we’re doing a big museum in the Persian Gulf, which I can’t really name – not yet,” he says. “We also did a project that launched this year in Brighton – Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival. And there’s an investment charitable fund in Paris that we’re working on at the moment.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of eight full-time members of staff: Editor Georgia Coggan, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Ecommerce Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Editor, Digital Art and 3D Ian Dean, Tech Reviews Editor Erlingur Einarsson and Ecommerce Writer Beth Nicholls and Staff Writer Natalie Fear, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.