Gabby Lord on Fostering Creative Culture

Gabby Lord, co-founder of Super Keen, leverages her global design experience to create strategic brand systems and inspire through her curated directory, OMGLORD.

Gabby Lord

A seasoned designer with a global perspective, Gabby Lord builds strategic brand systems that captivate audiences around the world. After co-founding the branding studio Super Keen in 2021, she leverages her experience working with design studios in Sydney, Berlin, and NYC to craft impactful stories for global giants and innovative startups alike. Currently residing in Brooklyn, NY, she continues to inspire the design community through her curated directory, OMGLORD, which offers insightful commentary on design, creativity, and valuable resources.

Read her exclusive interview below to learn more about her creative journey, how she adapts her design process for various clients, and why she regards Stills as a vital resource for her work.

Stills: Tell us more about your creative journey. How did you end up at Super Keen?

Gabby Lord: My journey started quite young. Not in a traditional design sense—that came much later—but I think my curiosity for making things has always existed. As a kid, I always tinkered in the garage and on the computer, but I didn’t even know what Adobe was until I started my design degree. I felt so behind in terms of technical knowledge that I spent the first year just trying to learn the basics and catch up with my peers, taking extra classes, and fumbling my way through using a Mac for the first time.

Technical ability aside, I was clear in what I wanted to achieve at college and during my early career. All the projects I loved involved ideas and stories, so it makes sense that I was attracted to branding as a career. After working at branding studios in Sydney for a few years, I moved to Berlin to work at a digital studio. In hindsight, it was an unintentionally smart move because it really helped me understand web and product design, which is now part of almost all of my branding projects. I quickly confirmed that my storytelling skills were more substantial than my button design and consciously decided to get back into branding.

All the work I admired came from New York, ultimately leading me to move there. I’ve been living and working here for the past five years, and it’s such an incredible city for talent, inspiration, and opportunities. When the pandemic hit in 2020, I was extremely burnt out and depressed and knew something had to give. Starting Super Keen felt like a way to change my circumstances and regain control during that tough time. The irony is that I’ve never been so out of control or my depths as I was during that time, but thankfully I had my co-founder Lauren to go through it with!

Collaboration within a creative team is vital for success. How do you foster a culture of collaboration and creativity at Super Keen?

We’re a small studio, but we collaborate in many different ways. Lauren leads strategy, and I lead design, so our respective disciplines are always intertwined. We scale our team depending on the size of the project and how much support we need, but the majority of the time, it’s the two of us working closely with our clients. Many people hire us because we feel like an extension of their team, and there isn’t a big curtain-style reveal of what we’re working on—they are always on the journey with us. We foster this culture by checking in regularly and creating clear expectations around communication.

How do you adapt your creative process to meet a brand’s unique needs at a young stage?

We have creative processes that are intentionally loose for this reason—every project is different. Regardless of the stage, I don’t think any process should be too rigid because it can feel like shoving a triangle through a circle. When working with early-stage founders, the biggest consideration is always how we can create maximum value with whatever resources they have right now. Founders might come to us with a list of deliverables, and we respond by telling them they only need half of them. Other times, it’s thinking of creative solutions for specific restrictions, such as budget, technical capabilities, timelines, you name it.

What advice do you have for startups aiming to establish a strong visual identity and brand presence in competitive markets?

Define your brand idea. It’s essentially your why, your reason for doing things, and a guide for making creative decisions. When this is clear to everyone on the team, the likelihood of a consistent output is much higher and, therefore, clearer to whoever receives the work. It also prevents differentiation for the sake of it. If something lacks meaning and intention, it becomes much easier for someone else to replicate it.

How do you ensure your team meets multiple deadlines without compromising creativity?

This is the constant struggle of running a small studio, and I really wish I had a charming, succinct way to answer it. I just try my best. Sometimes, my best is good; other times, it’s just good enough. Meeting deadlines without compromising creativity sometimes means reevaluating when those deadlines are. Our clients are people at the end of the day, so if we think something needs more time, we have a conversation with them. If you communicate what you need to do your best work, how often it’s granted is pretty shocking!

How do you infuse storytelling elements into branding and design work?

I recognize that everything is an opportunity to do just that! Whether it’s choosing a type, naming a color, or creating motion principles, it’s so much more interesting when there is a thoughtful reason for those decisions. I try to have fun with it!

What advice would you give to aspiring designers and creatives looking to make an impact?

Just bloody go for it! I’ve been giving the same advice for years, but you can’t steer a parked car. Start somewhere. Start anywhere. Move forward even if you’re unsure because that’s how you find the answers. Make an impact in ways that make sense for you and not necessarily what others have done before you.

How do you stay creatively inspired and motivated? 

Getting outside, walking, listening to music, reading books, traveling to new places, seeing old places with new eyes, and engaging in activities outside of design.

As for resources, I have an entire website and newsletter dedicated to that exact thing!

Why do you recommend Stills as a resource for creative teams and designers?

The search filters are great! I love being able to filter by options like color and camera angles. The quality of images is also what makes it a fantastic resource.

Explore Gabby’s favorite Stills imagery showcased on her boards Seeing Red and Joy Ride.

Stills Blog Banner