Backbone Branding - Agency of the year

Back Backbone Branding - Agency of the year

How do you feel about winning the best design agency of the year at Pentawards 2019?

It goes without saying that it’s a great accomplishment to receive this title, especially considering that it comes from the most respected awards in the packaging industry where the competition involves the crème de la crème of the field. Some of these names have been acting as an inspiration and a professional model for us over the years. Having said that, we have not anticipated to receive this title, or at least not this soon. This was never our focus. Our goal has always been to use design as a tool that creates a positive impact on people’s lives, makes their days better, brighter and more interesting. We consider being the Agency of the year a real honour but also we take it as a huge responsibility.

What’s the story about Backbone Branding, what is your motivation?

This year has marked the 10th anniversary of our studio.

‘’Imagine to transform’’, this is what sums up our approach and has from the start acted as our main motivation to embark on this journey. We strongly believe that what we do has the power to actually improve people’s lives and even to impact societies and evolve mindsets. Taking things from boring to interesting, from bland to meaningful, from unappealing to engaging. What we do is rethink every little detail in order to bring a fresh and young view of things. Get things moving and improving. And we are proud to say that after a decade we are still carrying on this path with the same outlook and an ever-growing determination.


What inspires you?

Simply observing people can teach you a lot, but also act as an inspiration in your work. Because I think that the main purpose of design is to solve everyday problems. Present concrete solutions that will have a transformative impact on people and society overall. So we are inspired by what surrounds us, life, and the times that we are living in.

How do you work with your clients?

Whether our client is international or local, when we work together it is essential to build an efficient system of communication in order to make the work process as smooth as possible. We see our collaboration as a symbiotic partnership. Each project is a journey and we are all on it together. To deliver the best result, we need to get to know the client in order to better understand the core value of his brand: this means, the history that leads him to this present moment as well his aspirations for his brand in the future years to come. Our task is to understand what he wants, push the boundaries and take those ideas to the next level.

The way we see it, every brand has a story to tell and it is our mission to convey it in the most visually captivating way in order to optimize its reach and impact on the market. Also, it is important to mention that we select the brand/product that we will be working on very carefully. We need to be passionate about the work in order to represent it in the best way. That’s why we never undertake any project that involves, meaningless products that we don’t believe in, or chemical elements, cigarettes, harmful substances… These don’t match the philosophy of our agency.

What is your proudest achievement so far?

It is hard to pick just one, this past few years we have witnessed some major turning points that helped us grow as a team and an agency. Of course, getting named this year’s best Agency is one of them. Also, getting 10 awards this year, 6 of which are Pentawards, is definitely a nice way to celebrate our 10 years in the field.

Another big moment for us was to have our Fish Club Wine project making it on the cover of the fifth Pentawards Package Design Book. Especially taking into consideration all the great projects that are featured inside, in my opinion, some projects were even more deserving to be on the cover, so it is a true honour for us to be selected. However, I speak for my team as well when I say that our main achievement is when we see the concept that we had imagined and created in our minds, becoming a tangible reality, which people are interacting with and that it’s having a positive impact on their day. Because after all, that’s the main purpose of our job.

Tell us about your background and your future aspirations?

We come from Armenia, this small land is one of the oldest civilizations and has a rich artistic culture. These past few years we have been witnessing groundbreaking changes that have been shaping the faith of our country. The design scene is flourishing and thriving more than ever and these are indeed very inspiring and dense times for us. Our Backbone team is glad to be contributing to this transformation by not only using our creativity as a tool to make a difference in Armenia but also to spread this positive transformation outside the borders of our own country. We are honoured to be leaving our stamp on the world through our works.

Another aspiration is for Backbone to act as a motivational source for young talented designers wherever they come from. To make them realize that when you are truly passionate about your craft and are willing to put all the effort and hard work, you will see the results. Our field is not an easy one, and sometimes the journey can get really tough, however, the transformative impact it can have is truly worth it. They just have to believe in what they do and imagine to transform.


Stepan Azaryan is the founder and Creative Director of Backbone Branding, an independent branding studio located in Yerevan, Armenia. He holds a master degree in Design from the Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts. He is a jury member in several design competitions and has participated in numerous international conferences as a keynote speaker.