Q&A: All you need to know about Sophie Ozoux and Kwame Taylor-Hayford's indie shop Kin
About a year ago, industry veterans and former coworkers Sophie Ozoux and Kwame Taylor-Hayford teamed up to launch an independent agency focused on tapping into the culture of a brand to use it as a force for good in the world.
While Kin has been around since April 2019, Ozoux and Taylor-Hayford haven’t spoken much about the creative consultancy publically.
Campaign US caught up with the dynamic duo to hear the full story about Kin and what makes the shop unique.
How did you two meet?
Ozoux: We first met in 2013 at Sid Lee, where we were both partners, desk mates and very quickly great friends. We bonded over our similar backgrounds (both Kwame and I grew up in Africa, Europe and the States), our love for music, culture and fashion, and our similar values and vision of the industry (very integrated, connected, purposeful…). We both left Sid Lee in 2016 and life took us in different directions. Kwame joined Chobani to build its internal agency and I moved to L.A. with my new family and freelanced for impact agencies, ‘good’ companies and nonprofits.
Taylor-Hayford: Sophie is one of the smartest creative people I’ve met in the business. She's a pleasure to work with and be around so we clicked instantly. We also both enjoy being very hands on and collaborative in our work so I immediately thought of her as someone to build a company with but I wasn’t sure she would take the leap. Luckily she did.
Where did the idea for Kin come from?
Ozoux: We stayed in touch over the years and noticed how our shared passion for purpose had grown. More and more invested in social impact, we would spend hours talking about our respective experiences, discuss how brands could be forces for good in the world, how marketing and creativity could connect people, planet, profit, befitting us all…
We also talked about the limits we were facing in our respective roles. We realized the power of ideas and their ability to affect change when process, egos, and short term thinking don’t get in the way.
That was the inspiration for Kin. It’s only through kinship… true partnership, collaboration, friendship… that we can really push the boundaries of creativity and innovation to channel purpose for brands. Creativity alone is not enough. Kinship is a critical ingredient to address the world’s biggest challenges.
Taylor-Hayford: I learned a lot during my time at Chobani. Most important of which was that as a brand, your ambitions to be a good corporate citizen, make a healthy profit and do great creative work don’t have to live in conflict. It’s very possible to do all three successfully when there’s a clear purpose and strong leadership driving all those actions. It’s with that lesson in mind that we set up Kin… a new breed of creative company that will bring the best parts of a consultancy, an ad agency, a production company and an innovation studio into one entity.
Why the name Kin?
Ozoux: We were looking for a name that would reflect our values and that would also be very simple, sound unique, and look good.
Taylor-Hayford: It definitely took a while... I have more than a few text messages testing potential names with close friends. Kin stood out and perfectly described us, how we work with each other, with talent, with our clients and partners. Simply put… we treat everyone like family, with honesty, trust and respect that helps lead to great output.
Ozoux: Around the time we were working on our point of view and positioning, we came across this quote from Mother Theresa: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." This is how the word Kinship came to mind and we shortened it for more impact. We love its meaning, how it depicts our friendship as much as the types of relationships we want to develop and the world we want to live in.
Tell me about the font and logo. It has some special elements, right?
Ozoux: It was important to us that our branding would reflect our values, backgrounds and taste. We wanted to craft an identity that would feel eclectic, inclusive, artistic but also elegant.
Taylor-Hayford: We collaborated with Rik Bracho, a talented designer from Mexico. Every detail in the visual identity feels unique and connects back to our purpose:
Wordmark: Inspired by humanist typefaces, Kin owns a unique wordmark, custom-made, simple, modern yet classic. Curved and slanted details make it approachable, and straight, geometric lines add a modern, elevated touch to connect with the creative industry.
Shapes: To contrast with the simple, modern and timeless wordmark, Kin’s visual language is based on an extensive group of cut-out shapes. A unique, vibrant artistic language inspired by Ghanaian (Adinkra) and Congolese (Bantu) symbols.
Colors: Kin is eclectic, multi-cultural and colorful. A company that welcomes every race, color, creed and culture. Based on three main color palettes, Kin’s colors can evolve into infinite combinations, always optimistic, human and uplifting.
How Kin is different from other newly launched shops or indie agencies today? How will you differentiate yourselves?
Taylor-Hayford: We have four main points of difference, two of which you’re speaking to. Both Sophie and I have a very unique perspective shaped by global upbringings in Africa and Europe. Add to that, almost four decades of (collective) experience leading initiatives for some of the world’s most innovative brands and we felt ready to strike out on our own.
Ozoux: Our third point of difference is how we apply creative thinking to clients' business holistically to create enduring ideas with measurable positive impact. For companies that don’t yet have purpose built into their business, we help navigate the discovery process then activate it with brave, impactful creative work. For companies that do have a strong purpose at their core, we help find compelling new ways to manifest it and amplify the good they do.
Taylor-Hayford: Finally, we’re building Kin to embrace the new realities of our industry. Project based work, flexible creative talent and working remote can all be massive advantages with the right setup and focus.
Share some of your clients and recent work.
Taylor-Hayford: We’re in the middle of some great projects with Mailchimp, a brave client who despite the current state of the world, is pushing forward with projects that channel their purpose and will have a positive impact on the communities they focus on.
We’re also working with Delta Airlines, Conservation International, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and a few other organizations that I can't name (unfortunately).
Earlier this week we launched Mailchimp Presents #SupportTheShorts, a digital platform where anyone with an internet connection can go and stream the 2020 SXSW Official Short Film Selections. Created in partnership with Oscilloscope and built by Code and Theory, the project is a great example of being nimble and responsive to events in culture.
Ozoux: As a brand Mailchimp is focused on supporting small underdogs and small world changers. When SXSW canceled its festival due to concerns about coronavirus, they left a lot of short filmmakers without an opportunity or platform to share their hard work with the world. Launching #SupportTheShorts is a timely brand action that provides a meaningful opportunity for these incredible short films to gain an audience. And it will be a welcome distraction from the current news cycle, one we can all use right now.
Will you pitch for work or participate in RFPs?
Taylor-Hayford: We haven’t so far. We’d rather start work together on a small assignment and build to bigger, more impactful assignments over time. It’s a better way to build a foundation of knowledge, credibility and trust.
Ozoux: For us the relationship dynamic is key and we strive for authentic, rich partnerships. We strive to be friends, invested in your business and challenges, in it with you for the long haul because true commitment and understanding are the key to unlocking great creative work.
What's your goal with Kin?
Taylor-Hayford: Our dream is to create a culture where creative people of all disciplines can come and do their best work because without eclectic, passionate talent, we’ll be severely limited in what we can accomplish as a company and for our partners.
Ozoux: We want to be a place where brands and partners feel a genuine kinship and investment in solving problems and challenges they have and where we can, working together, have a transformative impact on the world around us with our work.