Michael Johnson started Johnson Banks in London 28 years ago. He now has clients across the globe. His company is known for how they define, then design, brands that make a difference. They work with people who want to do big things: tackle hunger; fight for an open internet; address child poverty; raise billions for innovation and education; bring culture and enlightenment to the world; create products that question the norm; shift paradigms and change lives.
He rebranded Mozilla entirely in the open and launched a world-beating campaign raising billions for the University of Cambridge. In 2019 Johnson Banks rebranded one of the UK’s largest graduate employers, Teach First, the world’s favourite language app, Duolingo – whilst designing for Pink Floyd. 2020 will see new projects for the Royal Academy of Music and the National History Museum.
Johnson lifted the lid on the branding process with his second book, Branding: In Five and a Half Steps and his third, Now Try Something Weirder came out in 2019. Within education he has been D&AD President, an external examiner at Glasgow School of Art, Kingston University and LCC and lectures at countless others. He runs a branding workshop for D&AD that has lasted a decade, once helped revalidate the RCA’s communications course and is now Honorary Professor at Glasgow School of Art. Over his career Johnson has won most of the design world’s most desirable bits of wood and metal, including seven ‘yellow’ and one ‘black’ pencil from D&AD. In 2017 he was awarded the Gold D&AD’s Presidents Award, joining a list of previous recipients that includes Sir Terence Conran, Ridley Scott, Alan Parker and Wally Olins.
In his spare moments he wields old-fashioned yet wonderful cameras, and wonders why, after 49 years of trying, he isn’t a better guitar player.
For his selection, Michael has chosen the work of Communication Design graduate Dominic Manderson.