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Introducing Guest Blogger Joe Duffy: Forging a Creative Link With China

Chances are you know Joe Duffy’s work, even if you don’t know the name of the mastermind behind it. Every time you pick up a can of Diet Coke or Fresca, pour a glass of MinuteMaid OJ or a shot of Knob Creek bourbon, or find yourself dreaming about the Bahamas inspired on their cheerful brand identity, you’re in Duffy World.

Chances are you know Joe Duffy’s work, even if you don’t know the name of the mastermind behind it. Every time you pick up a can of Diet Coke or Fresca, pour a glass of MinuteMaid OJ or a shot of Knob Creek bourbon, or find yourself dreaming about the Bahamas inspired on their cheerful brand identity, you’re in Duffy World.

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 Joe Duffy

One of the country’s pre-eminent graphic designers and an AIGA Fellow, Duffy, is founder of Minneapolis’s Duffy & Partners. In 1984, Duffy was a pioneer in forging the integration of design and advertising when he partnered with creative advertising agency Fallon Worldwide. Along the way, he did memorable work for such clients as BMW, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Sony.

Duffy was years ahead of the curve in recognizing young Chinese students’ design potential. In 2000, he and a band of designers from the One Club began a yearly series of treks to China to teach students techniques and practices of the Western advertising and design industry. In 2005, more than 1,000 students from 26 provinces angled for the chance
to attend the One Club’s workshops, some traveling 30 hours by train for the privilege.

When the One Club first began this program, Duffy said, the kids were pretty inhibited, regurgitating designs they had seen, with little sense of their own voice. But within the last year or two, Duffy says, their progress has been dramatic. The rate at which these kids are catching up with–and to some extent surpassing–the West is a little scary,” he told us last year. “Over the next 10 years, these kids will help bridge the cultural gap between East and West.”

Most recently, Duffy and his team completed work for Herradura Tequila, new identity work for Wolfgang Puck, and a redesign for Jack-in-the-Box, which is currently rolling out across the country.

Next up: work on a new chocolate bar, a new whiskey brand, a big cosmetics brand in South Korea (oddly named “Innisfree”), as well as Sub Zero refrigerators, and New French bake and serve bread.

As winter sets in early in the upper Midwest, Duffy is most looking forward to perfecting the user experience for an Irish pub brand. An ideal place for this cross country enthusiast to unwind after a rigorous work-out on the trails around his studio. Strictly for professional reasons, of course!

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Here are some samples of Duffy & Partners’ latest work:

Duffy

Read Joe Duffy’s blog Duffy Point of View

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About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.

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