#GettingToKnow Mike Knaggs, ECD at Interbrand

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Tell us a bit about your role! Is there a “typical” day?

A creative’s day is never “typical”, that is why we love doing what we do! No matter what the day brings, my goal is to guide our branding work to become iconic. 

This means working to make sure we have a clear brief, cut through insights, and an inspiring strategic trajectory to build our creative work from. Then using this to inspire, challenge, and bring a lot of fun and energy to our team to build brands that are truly great.

What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?


The art of pitching. When first learning about a client’s issue or brief, it is the nature of most creatives to immediately jump into ideas and solutions.

Yet, to truly understand the problem and get to the heart of the issue, I learned you need to be an active listener, and use probing questions while being empathic to the client’s situation and needs.

What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?

I am fortunate to have always been surrounded by people that care deeply about the work they do.

My parents, wife, family, and mentors all share a passion that drives them to work hard, with a desire to learn and build upon their existing talents. This always inspires me to work to do the same.

What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?


It is always the latest win that I feel best about. Working on and seeing the FanDuel rebrand come to life these past few months, then witnessing the impact first hand from sports and gambling fans was special.

The biggest loss is always the brand that does not come to life - a reminder that even when you win the project, you must continue to fight and work hard to have your ideas out into the world.

Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

I certainly pay attention to quality of craft from Michael Beirut and concepts from Brian Collins, but for inspiration I continue go to painters.

Particularly Kehinde Wiley and his ability to take the traditional portraits we have all seen so many times over, and juxtapose these with a new concept and style to become utterly captivating. 

If you could go back to your teenage years, would you have done things differently? Do you have any regrets?


I would have paid more attention to my natural talents and interest in drawing and creative writing. 

I wish I had placed more pride and value in these skills, even when maybe it wasn’t the most ‘popular’ thing to pursue.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I’ve recently taken up wood working, refinishing, and building new furniture.  I can see myself getting absorbed into trying to design and build the perfect chair.

What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?

With everyone having their own personal brand and ability to create their own content, I see the value and appreciation for amazing work will only continue to increase.

My dream is that more people create great work which is seen and admired by a wider audience.

What are your top tips for aspiring creative professionals?


Always start with asking yourself: how should the work make people feel? Then, learn to recognise what makes the work capitalising for others.

What are your top tips for other creative leaders?

Toss out all complexity. Where are we starting from? Where does the work need to go? How do we get there? 

When you think about your team, what is the thing that matters to you the most?

Passion. Having passion for the work will drive hustle and grow talent.

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

I find myself always going back to “It’s Nice That”, “Design Week” and trying to figure out how KEHINDE WILEY creates such amazing patterns.  


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