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In this episode Remilla (Senior Brand Designer) and Damien (Creative Director) give us the behind-the-scenes details on collaborating with the product team on new feature launches, designing sub-brands, and what it's like having fellow designers as a target audience (we're a critical bunch after all...)
0:00 - Introduction to Figma
1:25 - Brand Studio team structure
3:45 - Collaboration with product design on feature launches
6:00 - Where a new project starts
10:20 - The design process for marketing Figma's new commenting feature
13:50 - Brand enablement and review
16:30 - The Figma brand pillars
18:45 - Figma's approach to sub-brand design
22:45 - Role responsibilities for Damien and Remilla
27:00 - Project management
29:50 - Making time to work on the brand itself
31:40 - Web design & development at Figma
34:05 - Metrics of success and iterating
40:00 - Marketing design system and style guides
44:15 - Using Figma at Figma!
46:10 - What Remilla and Damien are most proud of
48:35 - Wrap up
Charli: Welcome back to Inside Marketing Design for the last interview of season two. I'm Charli, I'm the Creative Director at ConvertKit. And I can't quite believe we're at episode 11 already. We're gonna end the season with a bang though, by speaking with Figma's Creative Director, Damien Correll, and Senior Brand Designer, Remillia Ty. I'm sure you all know that Figma is a digital design tool. It's the one that I use every day in my work, as do many other designers in the tech industry. As a company, Figma is at around 600 employees now, but you might be surprised to learn in this episode just how small their brand design team is, in comparison to that. Damien and Remillia shared loads of great insights in this episode about how they get their work done efficiently as a small team, including ways that they invite others in the company to dive in and use Figma themselves to create assets, which I thought was really interesting. Before we get into all that, though, let me tell you about our season sponsor, Webflow. It's called a no-code website building tool because it actually writes the code for you as you work in the Webflow design area. And you add elements and change settings, just like you would in a design tool. The CMS makes it really powerful for working with dynamic content too. So if you are a designer on a small team, it could be a great choice for your marketing website. Check it out at InsideMarketingDesign.co/webflow.
But now let's get into the episode, and take a look Inside Marketing Design at Figma. Welcome to the showroom, Remillia and Damien, really excited to have you here. I'm a big fan of Figma, just yeah, big fan. And so looking forward to digging in on the marketing design side of things, 'cause a lot of the stuff that y'all do is really cool. Let's start by talking about the team structure, the team that you're on, how that team fits into the wider marketing, the wider design team. Give us the lay of the land.
Damien: Sure, so Remillia and I are both a part of the brand studio team, and we are a small but mighty team, that sits within the marketing side of Figma. So you think of design at Figma, there are probably two core functions. There's the product side, which ladders up into product, and there's the brand side, which ladders up into marketing.
Charli: Cool, and how many people are part of that brand studio team?
Damien: Did I say it was small 'cause it's...
Charli: We're seeing it? This is it, right here?
Damien: At the moment, there are four of us. We're gonna be adding a few new folks to the team before the end of the year, and we're growing. So, hopefully by next year it will be around 10 people, but fingers crossed, that's the hope.
Charli: Nice, so aside from you and Remillia then, who are the other two that are currently on the brand studio team? What roles do they fill?
Damien: Sure, we have a strategist on the team. So, they've newly joined the team, and they're helping us think through when a project comes in, how do we conceptually tackle that project? What are some of the moving pieces that we need inside the team, outside the team, who are those cross-functional partners that we need to rope in? And then we have a design producer who really helps us get the things done. Because I think without her, we would very much just be lost at sea.
Charli: That's great that you have a producer, even though right now, there's just Remillia here, as the IC designer, right? But I'm assuming that's an area that you're definitely doing a lot of hiring for at the moment.
Damien: Yeah, for sure. We need to help out Remillia. She's very busy. We also work with, in full transparency, we do work with some studios and agencies to help us achieve some of the goals that we need to achieve, especially with the small team that we have. They often just augment our brand team, and are essentially an extension of that.
Charli: Cool, well, I definitely wanna go into that in a bit, but first, Remillia, do you wanna tell us a little bit about how you work, or if you work with the product designers. What's that relationship like, and how often do you meet or talk to them and share work?
Remilla: We usually work together when we're working on product launch features or assets. So I usually go to the product designers to explain to me like, how does this work? What am I looking at, and what is it for? And that helps inform me what the design is gonna look like at the end, how to bring this story to life. So we work together closely in those moments.
Charli: Maybe we could go into that right now, 'cause I know that there's a recent launch coming up as we're recording this, but it'll already be out by the time this goes live, of a commenting feature. Do you wanna take us through where that started, maybe? Let's start there.
Damien: The commenting feature is actually an interesting one, in that it's an update to our core commenting functionality. So it has some huge sweeping changes that are going to affect everyone that uses the product. So what we are doing with this launch is, we're announcing it, we're gonna be talking very openly about it, some of the new visual changes, and we are going to then be rolling it out over the course of a month. So our more typical launch is, we have a kind of day and date approach, where we launch it on social, we talk about it on social. Everyone, usually as they open up Figma that day, they'll maybe see some sort of modal, explains the new feature. Our team usually creates those assets. So we often work with the product design team to understand the feature pretty deeply, as deeply as we can. And we will collaborate with them, as well as another team that we have that works on product education. So they will perhaps help us out with animation, or other kinds of assets that we might need to create, to truly explain that feature.
Charli: And where is, or is there even, a brief that comes as part of this, or is it kind of like, you know this feature is coming down, you know that you're gonna have to do some brand design stuff for it, so you start talking to the product designers? Or is there someone on the marketing side who is like, "Hey, brand studio, I need this thing from you".
Damien: It's an evolving and changing process, but we often work with a PMM, our Product Marketing Manager, and they will come up with a go-to-market plan. And then within that plan, there will be some tactics that we often look at, and try to derive like, what is this, how are we gonna communicate that, and be true to the brand, and be very clear and cogent with whatever we're delivering. So it looks like the product, but it also has that sort of layer, or lens of brand on top of it. And sometimes a creative brief will be drafted out of that, and we will receive that, and go over that, and then have a kickoff to talk through that. We have been moving more to a co-authoring process though, which has been pretty exciting. And in this process, we come to the table really, really early days. We don't really ask the PMM or the requester to have a ton of prepared answers. We're really looking at, what are the goals of this? What are some of the dates, if it's tied to a launch? Really high level questions. They may have those answers with them. And then together, we start to think about, well, what shape does this take? And this allows us to be a little bit more collaborative, and it kind of removes us from being a more transactional based relationship, which I think creative briefs can tend to do that. It's often on the onus of the requester to really answer all those questions, have a really specific request, and good, and well-intentioned. They wanna make sure that the lift is pretty low on our side, but what we wanna do is we really wanna be creative collaborators and we want to have an opportunity to come together and really think about, what should this thing be, what shape should it take?
Charli: I like that. So is that something that the whole brand studio team is involved in those conversations in that early phase discussion?
Damien: It depends on the project. If it's a bigger project, we'd like to get as many folks on the team. We're small, so it doesn't really take much, I guess, but we wanna be sure that there's no game of telephone that we're playing. So if we've identified, Oh, Remillia's probably gonna work on that project, it's important to have Remillia in the room, talking about the project, when we're all talking about the project.
Charli: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So Remillia, I'm assuming you were the designer on the things for this recent commenting feature.
Remilla: Well, Damien and I both collaborated on it. Since we're small, we tend to stretch a little, so Damien will say, "Hey, I'll take this", and then pass it on. And I'll say, "Okay, let me finish it". But I think what I wanna add to this process, with the briefing process is that we, like Damien said, we try to be as crystal clear in the very beginning about not just deliverables, but what we're trying to solve and what the shape of that is gonna take. And lately we've been trying to hand off these marketing assets as enablement resources for our partners. So we're not just constantly creating the things that they need. So think about like sticker sheets or illustration component libraries, templates, like all the things that they can easily grab to create extra deliverables that might've not been on the list. But the way that I also like to work in this process of collaboration is, guess we'll have like the kickoff brief, where we'll all get together, and we'll talk about the goals we wanna achieve. But then there's those tiny conversations, those early and often conversations where it's like, "Hey, can I just get a gut check from our partners, "our collaborators, is this even a great idea? "Am I hot, am I cold?" And then we have check-ins with our own team. We have crits twice a week where we come together and we share, like, hey, this is where my head's at, this is what I'm thinking. How can we make this better? And so there's just this, it's kinda like a rhythm or like a dance. So we're just continuously talking to our partners and to each other, making sure that we're walking the same path towards the same goal, because at the end we don't want to be too far misaligned, totally missing the mark, 'cause that would just be terrible. So we try our best to work as collaboratively as possible.
Charli: Yeah, that's fantastic. So what about the design process then for this? Well, first of all, what did you create for the release of this commenting feature, and what was the design process like for it?
Damien: I think a standard deliverable for a feature like this is, if there are in-product animations or visuals that we need.
Charli: Like on a modal?
Damien: Yeah, yep. So we'll have, for this one there's, I think three of them that we had to deliver and they're articulating some of the bigger changes. So the shape of the commenting pin is actually a part of this, but how you interact with it, or how you unfurl it, is something that we wanted to demonstrate. Also, we're introducing this idea of commenting clusters. So if you're zoomed out quite a bit, you'll see, basically, a circle with some avatars in it. And then that kinda just tells you that there's some conversations that are happening within maybe multiple comments. So we have an animation to satisfy that. Another thing is the commenting feature is on by default, which is a change for us. It's usually hidden, or it was hidden, to kinda avoid clutter and other reasons. But research was showing that people would miss comments, so they would miss notes. But one of the modals that we had to create is, what's the shortcut to hide them, because I really don't want all these pins constantly on my frame. So how do I remove them quickly? And the third one was a new feature within the commenting functionality, which is where you can isolate a particular zone. So you don't have to just drop a pin, but you can draw a rectangle around a piece of content to show that you're talking specifically about that. So those are three different modals that were in that in-product. Then we have a blog post. So we need some sort of hero asset. We leaned in on the new shape of the pin. It's clear clear story there, clear evolution of the pin. And we also created some social assets too, that were derivative of some of the in product stuff. But really again, showing the evolution of the pin shape, showing it slightly more abstracted on social. But again, we are talking about this feature in a rollout capacity, which is kinda of interesting, cause we announce it. We say it's happening. It's not happening to everyone right away, but you can see these changes. Yeah yes, yes, yes.
Damien: Cause it is a pretty jarring thing. And we wanna make sure that, folks that use our product are comfortable and aware of like these changes and have a decent heads up as well.
Charli: Yeah, and it makes a lot of sense that your team is working on the, like the design of these models and like the graphics for it because the main audience for this communication and for this like you're marketing to users of the product already, right? So that's a key place to reach them.
Remilla: I wanna shout out to our designer advocates, our DAs, because we also collaborate with them as well. Like when we're creating these social assets, we create the branding of these feature launches, but our DA's, they go out of their way to make demos, like little gifts of like how to actually use it. So they're taking the system that we've created and they're implementing it on something else that we can share to our community.
Damien: A lot of the energy around the given launches usually generated by them and the things they make. And yeah, they do really support these launches in a huge, massive way.
Charli: So those are the people that design advocates that using the sticker sheets and like illustration sets that you mentioned creating before, because when you said that I was like, that sounds terrifying for me to just create some assets and be like to the marketing team, go ahead, do whatever you want with them.
Remilla: Yes and it is, but we actually have a brand review channel, a slack channel where our partners, they can share the work that they're working on that has anything that's brand facing. And we can give it the green light or red light.
Charli: Nice, so that's like a flow that you have with them is like, we're gonna provide you with these assets and templates for you to make things yourself that we ask that you share it in this channel so we can give them the thumbs up, thumbs down before it goes out, I like that.
Damien: Yeah and it's mostly just a gut check. Cause I think they'll often interpolate some things that we've done, and generate stuff that we haven't really provided, but really brings up a good point of brand enablement, which is creating those resources. It's a thing that as a brand team, we can continually get requests for very low level or small tasks. And one of the things that we're trying to do is enable other parts of the company to be confident in using the brand in ways that are both effective, but true to the brand. And we do have that channel, which helps us see that, see the output of those resources, but perhaps cause we're we created a design tool. We have a lot of people obviously that are really comfortable jumping in there and making stuff, which is great. So how do we sort of use that energy and use that to, to our benefit really, to allow us to think about more strategic plays or bigger projects and not be so consumed by the smaller requests?
Charli: Yeah, absolutely, that makes a lot of sense. And it's getting more people at Figma into the product, learning the product. It gives everyone, I think everyone on the team, a better view of what this product is that you're marketing, if they can be using it themselves, that's cool. Okay so now I understand why you can trust them to do that. What are the animations you mentioned, who on the team is creating these animations? Do you have a motion graphics person somewhere? Is that something you worked with an agency on?
Damien: We'll often work with a contractor for some animations, but some of that is done in-house too, though we have a relationship with our product education team and Phil builded longer form YouTube videos out to help explain a new feature or how to accomplish a certain goal. And if we get there early enough, we can talk about the feature at the same time. And often we'll be able to use them as a resource to get animations. And they'll be able to use us as a resource to get some of those designs that are a little bit more dialed in on the brand side.
Charli: That helps to have that resource in-house as well to pull from for sure. We've talked a bit about the marketing side of things and like how design applies to marketing, but let's zoom back out and talk about the Figma brand, Remillia, I don't know if you can tell us a little bit about how you would describe the Figma brand.
Remilla: Yeah , so I can give a little context first before I go into that. So prior to joining Figma, the brand team was already exploring the shapes that you see today. So they were exploring shapes. They were exploring color palettes inspired by UX UI design. So like bright colors against like black backgrounds, but there was no real point of view quite yet. So when I joined in 2020, the company had just refreshed. The brand team had strategized a brand language. So think illustration guide, color palette, typography style guide rules, all of that was put into place. So when I joined, I was kind of the tester of how can I bend and break this brand, but how can I also evolve it? Which so far has been very good. So the thing, the brand itself starts with our core pillars. It's curious, it's vibrant, honest, and bold. And these pillars really represents our north star and source of truth, which informs how we might communicate strategy, our visual systems and so on. So whatever story we're trying to tell, should inherit our pillars in some way, but as we grow and evolve, which brands always do, it's important for us to make sure it's still feels good. So we tend to ask ourselves, does this still feel curious? Does this feel honest and so on? And so however that's manifested, those are some pillars that we like to speak to.
Charli: And how did you come up with those pillars? Was that like an exercise that the brand team went through to define together?
Remilla: Yes, so prior to my time, the brand team worked with our leadership team to strategize those pillars and through, I think they sprinted on a few ideas and even like mood board, like what this could look like. And that's how it came to be.
Charli: Nice 'cause I mentioned, those appeals that apply not just to brand design, but like, in many areas of Figma as a brand and as a company. What about the sub brands? Cause this is something that like, I notice a lot in Figma and maybe it's because you're a design tool, there's more room for freedom or like curiosity, like you said, I feel like the sub brands for conferences for things like Coffee with Charli, for example, the series that I host on your YouTube channel, they have like a slightly different look, but they're obviously still very tied to the Figma main brand, but they are like, there are different brands, there are sub brand, right? Can you tell us a little bit about how you approach the design of those?
Damien: I think as a sub-brand is a good opportunity to really explore and experiment where the edges of the brand may exist. I talk about this a lot in like always, we're always trying to find, where are the edges of the brand? 'Cause I believe that a good brand has a ton of texture to it. It's not this sort of like singular aesthetic vision. There are facets to it. It evolves and changes for sure, but depending on what is trying to accomplish, it will stay true to those core values, but it will be expressed to maybe slightly different ways. So a sub brand, I think the latest one, we had a conference a few months ago now called Schema. So design systems conference, and that definitely deviates from the brand, the core brand itself. But we do use some brand elements typeface that we often use for our brand expressions, lives there, some other elements, as well as some like chronography. But really we wanted to create something that when you saw it on social or when you experienced the conference, you knew that you were at the conference and not necessarily remove the thing we're branding in any way, but just really make sure that you have some, some wayfinding to know where you're at or what we're talking about. And because it was a design systems conference, there's rich vernacular to kind of dip into as well. So we really wanted to explore that with our color palettes, some of the techniques that we use, and we know that it's also like a finite thing, like it's an event, so it happens. There's a lead up to it, it happens. And then there was a post event experience and it allows us to maybe be a little bit more experimental because we know it is a little bit more contained than say some of our core branding, the core branding visual language might be a little bit more universal or a little bit more componentized to build a live in different surfaces over time.
Remilla: Sub-branding, we've done a ton of that in-house. I think about our friends of Figma brand. That was actually one of the early sub-brands that we created right after the refresh. And so it was like really close to with the Figma brand looks like. So we were using shapes, similar colors. We grabbed select colors from our palette. And we went with another typeface that looks similar to our in-house type face, because we were sharing this out to the community. So we wanted it to be as accessible as possible. Thinking about that yeah, we were like, how can we still make this feel like Figma, but really special to our community? And so like playing with these really fun shapes and fun colors and just thinking about our community were ways that we kind of evolved it, but it still stayed true to Figma.
Charli: Thinking about this, about like yeah, when you started talking about the community, made me think about how does it feel as a designer to have designers as your target audience? Do you feel an extra layer of pressure with your work? I don't know, is there anything around that you feel okay?
Remilla: I feel all the things... like I'm excited, I'm super proud of the work that we've been able to make, especially for our designer community, because I see like how much our community values Figma, but it's also like, there's this pressure like, ooh, everyone has an opinion. So we have to make sure that we come to the table with, with one as well.
Charli: I like that approach to it, yeah. Everyone's got an opinion. So we've got to have one as well. So we've heard, like, I dunno, I think maybe throughout this Damien, I feel like I'm surprised to learn that you are like designing more than maybe I would have expected, which makes me happy to hear, 'cause I am also a creative director who is still designing things myself. So I'm like, I don't know, I'm like phew, I'm not doing things completely wrong. I would love to hear about how you describe what your responsibilities are as a Creative Director and then Remillia for you as well as Senior Brand Designer. Let's start with you Damien.
Damien: Sure, yeah. I'm probably getting my hands dirtier than I should be.
Charli: I always feel like that too.
Damien: Since we are a small scrappy team, I'm really trying to create space for the team to do their best work. And if that means, okay, I can maybe take this off your plate and I can kinda work on this while you focus on that, then that's what it calls for. I think as a creative director, that is my responsibility, be a store to the brand for sure, but empower the team to be a store to the brand and really think larger than anything we've ever done in the past. But also give folks space, give the team space to really think about these ideas and think deeply about the problems we're trying to solve for. And allow space for experimentation. So yeah, if there's something that I have to kinda jump in on, I'm more than happy to. I'm a creative director because I used to be a graphic designer and I love making, I'm an image maker at heart. And if I wasn't doing something or fussing with something, I definitely would feel like I'm missing out a little bit.
Charli: And Remillia, what about you?
Remilla: Yeah so like Damien said, we're pretty scrappy, but for the most part, my role as a designer or a team is brand strategy, art direction, a lot of image creation, but I tend to stretch as well. So there's also like presenting to the company or onboarding and all, you know, all those other responsibilities. And the projects that I work on range pretty fast since brand is a major partner with all the teams. So we get to work on anything and everything that's brand facing. So examples of projects that I've worked on, our product launch branding and marketing assets, conference design, sub-branding, landing page creative, in product asset creation, marketing campaigns, and swag and more. I think the...
Charli: All of the things.
Remilla: All the things, yeah. And actually one of the weirdest things I've worked on at Figma is creating a dance that we created a dance for our campaign that we didn’t quite launch, but it was something I never imagined myself doing because I don't do that. But I think like when we're telling Figma story, there's so many creative ways to bring these ideas to life. And in interesting ways, of course. Yeah and I also wanna say that it is so often the Damien comes in when we need him. I most recently we worked on a FigJam campaign and I was like creating all of these ideas and he was like, this is just an idea, you don't have to use it, but he came into my file and he like made some really cool and wild designs. And I was like, oh, that's all I needed to like go further and think bigger. So I think there's definitely like great collaboration happening, like within our own team.
Charli: That's awesome to hear. And obviously awesome to hear that you're using Figma through enable that collaboration as well. I mean, it'd be weird if you didn't quite frankly. So that makes a lot of sense.
Remilla: Yeah sometimes it's too fun, we'll like chat and be like, hey, I can have it going. And then like, just draw on the canvas. So it's a lot of fun.
Charli: I feel like that's almost like a requisite, if you spot someone else in the Figma file, right that you feel a little like I see you.
Remilla: Yeah, do I say hi or do I just let them look?
Charli: I always do that when I'm working with the developer on the marketing team, we can bucket. When I see him like coming into pool assets, it's super fun. So how do you determine who works on what, I suppose you mentioned that you work with agencies sometimes, and obviously you've got Remillia and you'll have other brand designers joining as well. How do you decide who works on what project? Like first of all, whether it's something that you keep in-house or outsource and then like, which designer would take it on?
Damien: We have a resource meeting once a week to talk about upcoming projects, projects that need to get done within the next week or two, stuff that's in flight, et cetera. And we'll just look at what the bandwidth is like. Essentially we do work with agencies to help get a few things done. We have an agency right now that's on retainer for us and the Fuzzco, you don't have to be cagey about it. Fuzzco, they do brilliant work. And they've been really helping us out on a lot of projects. Anything that needs some larger resources, we'll work with the agency on. Anything that we feel like we need, a very like intimate knowledge of Figma or the feature we often keep in-house mostly just cause it's a little bit easier that way. If we don't understand a particular like animation that happens within a product feature, we can just reach out to the project designer, get a screen cap of it. It's very quick and easy that way. So yeah, often we'll try to keep those a little bit more in-house. We are being a little bit more self-sustaining though, as we go and trying to find ways that the team can work on most things in-house but yeah, we're always limited by bandwidth. So that's usually the limiting factor or the ways in which we organize ourselves around staffing projects.
Charli: That's interesting to hear that you do like a once a week planning meeting essentially, which leads me to think as well about what else can you share about project management at Figma? And are you planning things on a quarterly, like two weeks sprints? What's your framework for arranging the work?
Damien: So for planning, because we are often working with other parts of the company, we often have to raise our hands and say, "Hey, what are your quarterly priorities "and how do we knit into them?" So our producer Mika, she's amazing. She sends out a paper doc, essentially, that just says, hey, you have like a week to kinda fill this up, to see what your quarterly asks are? And that gives us a pretty good, still rough, a pretty good idea of what the upcoming few months are gonna be like. That's how we've been doing planning to date, but we often have, a few dates that are out into the future that we know that are gonna affect us. So if it's a larger product launch or if it's a conference, for example. So we'll start to create some work backs to kind of track towards that, to make sure that we aren't super duper like bandwidth constraint once we get closer to those projects. We also have been showing up a little bit more proactively than we have in the past. And, you know obviously we need those inputs. We need to know what other parts of the company are doing, but we are starting to establish our own campaigns and we are starting to establish our own ideas around what we could be doing as a brand.
Charli: Cool I was just gonna ask you about that too. It sounds like there's a lot of work like needed by other people at the company and obviously being a small team. I am known from being in a small team myself, that it's hard to like manage all the priorities of everyone else, as well as the stuff that, you know as a brand team you need to be working on. So how do you make time for that? And in what ways does that show up, in ways that you wanna be evolving the brand or like, I dunno that you're seeing a change that needs to be made. How do you make that happen?
Damien: Yeah, it's very tricky at the moment as we are small, but you have to be a bit bullish. You have to sort of make the time. We have a couple workshops plan for us, just the brand team for a few before the end of the year to start thinking about some things that are happening next year, how do we start to establish or organize ourselves around those things? How do we do, are we developing a strategy? Are we thinking about, hey, what are some of the brand assets that we currently have that are getting a little dusty? Do we have anything new there? Do we have any new thinking there? Can we start to push that? What are we being asked? What can we be a little bit more proactive about? So we constantly ask ourselves those questions and we're getting better at finding the time for it, but it's an evolving process. And I imagine as we get larger, it will be easier to create that separation between the things that we wanna see accomplished as a brand team and the things that other teams need and the things that the company needs.
Charli: Am I right to assume that figma.com - the marketing site - that is the responsibility from the design side, at least of the brand studio team?
Charli: I would love to talk more about this because I'm a big nerd for web design. So that's like specifically the type of design I always like to talk about. I would love to know how you work with engineers on this, like say you've designed a new landing page. How does it get built? What does that process look like?
Remilla: There is always a ton of landing page asks that we get for SEO purposes or just for our own goals and our schools. But we usually work with, we have a developer in-house developer and we have a web manager and we actually have like these templates that we call Flego. So Figma Legos, essentially, it's just a basic templates and modules that are, it's based on this component library that we're able to use. And so we can pick through those. We can also propose new ideas to communicate, the content better, but I'm essentially like, those are more of the quicker ways that we've been able to work with our web team. Although our homepage was not, we didn't use the Flegos, we kind of like customize that to tell the bigger story. So it all really depends. So we'll create the assets in-house again like going through critiques and we'll reach out to our developer kind of in between that process and then when we are ready to ship, we just hand off and then it gets created.
Charli: What other tools come in as part of the, either the web design or just like any sort of brand design process, obviously you using Figma, you mentioned Dropbox paper before. Is there any other tools you use as part of your process or like for project management as well?
Damien:- We use Asana, that's a tool we use. I'm trying to think of what else we use. We've been doing a lot of FigJam lately, which I know is like my mild advertisement here, but it has like, it has taken the place of some other tools as we start to plan or come up with strategy. Even our stand-ups, we've been doing our stand-ups and FigJam, which has been kind of fun and a little bit more expressive than in a doc. We did some blind drawings the one day we did like, I think it was Garfield 12 Garfield from memory, like those types of like activities and exercises.
Charli: That's super fan, I another great way you can use your own product for your own work that you're doing on the product. It's all very magical, isn't it? What about metrics of success at Figma? Like do you individually have OKR KPIs, some other acronym that you're held like accountable to, or are they do they come in at a team level, keen to hear more about this.
Damien: We actually in the midst of planning next year, so it's sort of top of mind or fresh in my mind. The brands in your team works with a lot of other teams are responsibilities and metrics are related to other projects and goals that have maybe metrics attached to them. So I wouldn't say we have like really specific ones that are brand specific. That being said, we need to set some outcomes for ourselves as well, and we need to make sure we're telling a bigger brand story. And those are essentially our goals. But what we often do is we see where the opportunities are with the rest of the marketing team and try to sort of slot in where brand can be an effective partner or where brand needs to tell that story, or be a bigger participant in that, in that particular objective.
Charli: Yeah, so it's almost more like your responsibilities as a brand team is to ensure that all this work happens to a high standard, so that the other teams can meet their metrics driven goals that they have.
Damien: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it could be just being a more of a strategic partner and figuring out, okay, we know what we're trying to accomplish. How are we doing that? What are some levers that we have on the brand side of things? What are some ways that we can kind of amp the brand expression in a particular, within a particular project, things like that. We have to be very proactive about that and find those opportunities. Sometimes they come to us, often they come to us, but it's important for us to find, find the opportunities and really kind of blow them out into as big of a deal as we think they should be.
Charli: Yeah, this is interesting through a lot of these episodes of Inside Marketing Design, there's been talks about centralized model versus decentralized model. How do you make the internal agency thing work? And it sounds like, I think you're in a really good place with it at Figma because you are taking requests from people and like people know you're there for them. And like, you can complete the work that they need done. But I think internal agency models kinda break down where you just like blindly do that and you just treat it as churning out the work. So I love that you're also thinking about the strategy side, cause that's where I think the in-house, in-house agency is really key and you know, quite powerful. What about improving on metrics or things like not to go back to the website, but I'm gonna go back to the website. How often do you say iterate on the homepage or like look at the data of how that's performing? Is that something you do as a brand studio? Do you pay attention to that data or will that sort of rise up from marketing, if they notice something off like a conversion rate that could be improved, will they submit a request for it?
Remilla: Well, I, feel like our marketing, our marketing team does a really great job of like bringing those metrics in full transparency with the team. I think about some ads that we ran, some like campaign ads, our marketing person that was in charge of that was able to share with me like, hey, this is how it performed. It's hard to measure the metrics. I feel like it's just more like how are we strategizing with our partners? But I feel like our marketing team does a really good job of like sharing those metrics. When we think about as a team, like how brand does affect that and how that impacts us for maybe another rev on the future homepage or like more ads, like what could we do better? Like what went well, what didn't, were we communicating the right things?
Charli: Yeah that's another case I think we're the in-house part of this in-house agency thing again comes into play, right? 'Cause you get to learn from the work that you do. You get that feedback. Whereas I feel like in an external agency, it's sort of like you do it and it goes off into the ether and you don't hear from it again.
Remilla: So we're trying to get better at that. Yeah that's the thing I really love and I appreciate from our marketing team, and I feel like as a brand designer, you have to wear these hats, like these many hats, you have your product design hat, you have your marketing hat, your brand designer is on your hat. You have all these different hats. And when you're able to understand what you're designing for or what it even means, like I've learned so many marketing acronyms that I'm like, oh, what? I think when you're able to understand those things, it helps inform the design a lot better and maybe it'll get better, in the next rev or in the next round, when you continuously understand it better. So that's something I do appreciate about our marketing team is that they're able to share these things and explain it. And there's no judgment. I think we all kinda work together towards the same goal and that makes our collaboration feel special, especially that like internal agency studio feel that we're trying to go for is, we truly are partners and we're not just here to give you your assets and then going back into our corner, I think we wanna learn like, how did this impact and how can we make this better?
Damien: We're able to revisit things. And I think Charli, that's what you were saying with being an in-house team, you get to kinda like, be really close to the material. You're close to the client, you are the client. But you also just get to revisit it when you do a revision and you get to think about, okay, well, let's look back like what worked, what didn't work, where do we wanna do it differently? And I love that. And I think that's sort of historical knowledge within the team is really helpful. And we try to be as data informed as possible. And our marketing partners are really good at getting us up to speed when we're working on something new.
Charli: Now, another assumption that I wanna make, because I know I'm talking to Figma here. Can I assume you have a really solid design system, like component library in place in Figma for your brand and marketing design work?
Damien: It's yeah. We do, one of the things that we've been developing more recently is when we talk about a new feature, we're often using some sort of level of abstraction and illustration to do that. We're not showing screenshots and that's to make it a little bit more aligned with the brand, a little bit more of a clearer story to kind of strip away some of the surplus stuff. And what we've been doing is we created a component library that is essentially our product UI, but in our illustration form. So we can kinda roll out those changes or add to it as we go. And this is again as a part of our initiative to make more brand enablement resources. It also speeds up our process. So if we have a new feature launch, but we need to have this sort of Figma Chrome in there, or we need to have some sort of panel in there, whatever it might be, we can kinda pick and pull from these. We can play product designer for a moment, but use cartoons instead. And yeah, it really it's starting to help sort of speed up that process a little bit and has been kind of interesting to see. These a tool that is often used for, with product design or for product designers and using specific part of that tool that is used for design systems practitioners, and using that for our own needs, but very related in that we are creating this sort of visual language design system.
Charli: Yeah and really you were talking before about the system for the Flegos, I assume that those are components set up within Figma as a design system for your to pull from.
Remilla: Yes I also wanted to add that we have a lot of style guides. Our style guides are like living documents and it's something that we're continuously refining and defining to what Damien said like one of the challenges we had early in the year, it was like, how do we illustrate product representation versus product illustrations? How literal do we get? When are those moments where we can just like, amp things up and be super expressive? But when do we need to be literal? So have an illustration style guide. We have a shape, style guide library. We have our style guide. We have all the style guides, but I think as we continue to grow, we're thinking about like how do we onboard other designers or even like new folks coming into the company? Like how do they navigate through the system that we've built? Like how can we make it better and also easier for folks to use? So it's something that we're continuously refining, but yes, we do have a system and it's just gonna get better, from here right, Damien?
Damien: It is, it is. And I think those style guides, I think it's often this sort of pinnacle artifact of a brand or marketing team is to create those things. But often when we're creating them, we're creating them in Figma and they're actually usable resources. So they're there to pull kinda of a double duty where they tell you how we want you to use them. But also they're really just sort of like a grab and go sort of situation. And how do we kinda of lean into that as much as possible? How do we lean into that tool that, and meet tour other Fig mates where they are. And they might just need to put something together for a deck and need a couple of illustrations to illustrate a concept. How do we kinda just make that at the ready and update it too, as things evolve and change. And it's a constant, it's a work in progress, but we are getting better at it too.
Charli: As I've learned through Coffee with Charli, a design system is never finished. It is always evolving and it always be improved.
Damien: And when it's done, you're thinking about how to break it and create a new one so.
Charli: Yup, yup, before I go into my last question for you, is there anything we haven't covered yet that you think we need to tell people about marketing and brand design at Figma?
Remilla: I just wanna share and like, I'm just so proud that we can make all these things in Figma, that's all. I think that's super special that there it's rare that we have to use illustrator or like even photoshop. When we make our motion videos, we use after effects, but for the most part, like we're illustrating in Figma and when we can't figure it out, we have a community page. It's a free resource to open design and you get to dig into the files and learn how folks have created certain things. So I think I've just been able to learn how to use Figma in new ways through the community, but also like the challenges that we've been tasked to, like in-house, as a team.
Charli: I love that, yeah. For me, as soon as I discovered that there was a plugin that did image trace, I don't think I've opened up illustrator since that was the only thing I was using illustrator for.
Remilla: You're gonna have to share that with me, 'cause I haven't found that yet. That would be awesome.
Charli: Yeah it's a great one. As part of the ConvertKit brand, there's a lot of like hand-drawn things. So I'll like draw them in procreate and then would bring them and make them a vector. So I'd open illustrator, do the image, trace, copy it into Figma. Now it just all happens in Figma, it's fantastic.
Remilla: Oh, that's awesome. Yeah a lot of the things that we, well, actually when we created the FigJam brand, we were experimenting with a lot of hand drawn doodles. How else can we, think of ways that what you can do in FigJam, it still feels like Figma and so doodles was like one of those explorations. And I we're like, how do we make this in procreate? Did we bring it into illustrator to live trace? But there's just so many ways that we're able to translate that style using FigJam and Figma. So always learning.
Charli: Well, let's end on a really positive note. Cause I feel like we've shared a lot of great stuff here and normally I ask about challenges that you're facing. But I feel like I've already heard that throughout this, that there's like the making time for your initiatives, growing the team, working on the design system. So let's end on something that you're most proud of from your time so far at Figma.
Remilla: I'm really proud that I've gotten to see Figma grow in these different seasons. I feel like every three months is different. Like it's never the same and I'm really proud of our brand team and how we've been able to adapt to those times, especially being really small and still creating really great work. And I'm also proud that we have Damien. He's one of the, one of the my proudest moments of 2021 is having Damien as like our creative director, because of just like all the things that we've been able to do all the year, this whole year and just having that leadership guide us guide us through. So I'm just so proud that I've been able to see Figma grow and have our team adapt to the different seasons, we've been in.
Charli: What about you, Damien? Are you feeling awkward now?
Damien: I'm blushing. I'm very proud of how much this team has put out into the world, given the limited resources. My second day, there was a kickoff about our design systems conference and they told me, and it was like two, we're gonna have this design systems conference in two and a half months. And I haven't created directing a design conference for the past six years in my previous role. And no that two and a half months is way too short of amount of time to pull this off. But the entire team rallied and got it done and it was beautiful and it looked great. And it was a really important opportunity for us to engage with that part of our design community, which to me is also a really important part of this, this job in this role. We have a very engaged community. Our work often resonates with them and that's really exciting to see.
Charli: Yeah, I think people are gonna be very surprised maybe in watching this episode to hear just how small the brand studio team is at Figma and the work you've been putting out over the past year that it's been coming from this very small group of people, is super impressive. And just, yeah, thanks for everything that you shared. This has been a great episode, I appreciate you.
Damien: Thanks Charli.
Remilla: Thank you.
Charli: I'm always super impressed with the quality of design work that comes from Figma. So I really enjoyed getting to hear how team makes that work happen. And I hope you did too. There's links in the description to follow both Damien and Remillia, if you'd like to see more of their work and as well, there's links to some of the other things we spoke about in this episode, including Coffee with Charli, the series that I make on the feed me YouTube channel. This may be the last interview for the season, but it is not the last episode, coming up next week, I'm gonna do a recap of some of my favorite takeaways from the season of Inside Marketing Design, because I truly did start this show for my own education, as well as yours. I would love to hear from YouTube as always. What have you learned this season? Is there anything that you've taken and applied to your own work? What trends did you spot throughout these interviews? Feel free to tweet me and share your answers or tag me on Instagram. I'm @charliprangley on both of those. Thanks again to Webflow for sponsoring the season. Thanks to you for listening and I'll see you next week for the last episode.
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