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Conjure: Insight to Idea

  • by Barb Langfitt
    Strategist
  • September 10, 2020

In this ongoing series, we invite our clients to sit down with members of the Character team to talk about building a new brand and the pivotal insights that led to great work.

Daniel Ramírez-Yunqué and Aditya Khilnani, co-founders of NYC-based furniture rental company Conjure, sat down with Character’s Associate Design Director Gabby Lord and Strategy Director Lauren Wong. The interview below has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Barb: Daniel and Aditya, tell us about a moment from the project that was particularly memorable.

Aditya: I think that first [kickoff] meeting was great—when you asked what we want on our tombstone. I remember one of us said ‘a good IPO price’ and then someone else’s response was very much about the brand and how people perceive it. So, it’s a good question.

Daniel: Our first and only in-person session.

Gabby: I think a lot of things from that workshop were really memorable because we got to be in the same room and have that energy that can’t be synthesized through Zoom. But something that has stuck with me through the whole process is this idea of the mustard couch.

Barb: The mustard couch?

Daniel: Okay, so you know how a mustard couch is one of those pieces that you wouldn’t necessarily have the audacity to buy but would love to have in your home? And maybe not as a forever piece, but something you’d want for a moment in time.

Gabby: Right, it’s the idea that you can really lean into an aspect of your identity at a point in time. Like I was living in Sydney, and then I was in Berlin, and now being in New York—I had a different identity in each. And one city might have been the yellow couch version of me, but then the next version might be the green velvet couch or something more minimal. The idea is you can lean really heavily into who you want to be in the moment without feeling like you have to commit to being that person forever.

Lauren: We landed on ‘becoming your own’ as the [big idea] behind the brand. But we didn’t get there until Daniel and Aditya helped us understand the difference between change for change’s sake and evolution.

Daniel: Internally, evolution is a very big concept for us. We’re always talking about personal growth, and going into the deep end, and reimagining everything we do. We think about the company [as something] that needs to grow and evolve and about [the people at the company] as needing to grow and evolve. And it was interesting to see how that ended up matching what our customers need as well. That’s something that we’ve carried with us. Right, Aditya?

Aditya: Definitely. Agree with that.

Barb: The purpose you all landed on is: ‘Conjure exists to make home evolve with you.’ How perfect is that, based on what you’re saying.

Switching gears a little, what was the process like getting to ‘Conjure’ as the new name?

Daniel: I would actually say it was one of the most stressful parts of the entire project. Especially because you [have to choose a name without] seeing the visual world that goes with it. It’s like a leap of faith. You have to trust in what the world can be—without seeing it.

Gabby: I feel that [after the] naming process, everyone has really leaned into the name and, like you said, taken that leap of faith. Even just hearing the name Mobley feels like a lifetime ago.

Daniel: I cringe whenever I see [the old name Mobley]. I think it’s a good thing though. You should cringe at your work a year or two years later—it’s a signal of growth. There was just too much to put behind Mobley. If you think about “The Little Engine That Could,” it just couldn’t. With Conjure, it gives us license to go bigger and be more ambitious. And we’re super excited about that.

Barb: That’s exactly why we do renames, so I’m glad to hear that. Okay, last question, was the experience with Character what you expected going in? Did anything surprise you?

Aditya: Character was very strict on the timeline and the versions. You kept us accountable and kept us holding to the time. I just didn’t expect the whole process to be so structured.

Daniel: I mean, I’ve never done branding in my life. So [I was surprised by] the depth of the work. Superficially it looks phenomenal, but seeing the amount of thought that went into [every decision]—I’m not gonna curse, but it was really cool. And we haven’t even finished yet.

Gabby: Literally, I will see you next week [for the Conjure lifestyle photoshoot]. [Laughs].

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