Designing Meaningful Brand Experiences with Steven Denekas

steven denekas on brand

“Experiences bring brand values to life.” As leader of the creative team at BASIC, Steven Denekas spends his time crating experiences for brands like Canadian Club, Levi’s, and Dodge. As a designer, he brings a thoughtful process to everything he does. We discussed how he brings this design mindset to brand experiences this week on the On Brand podcast.

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About Steven Denekas

Steven Denekas leads the creative team at BASIC®, designing experiences for the world’s most admired brands. He fosters creative environments that cultivate ideas both big and small. It all began behind the color copier at Kinkos and proceeded to the mount room of BBDO and the design studio of W+K, along the way winning awards for his work on Canadian Club, Levi’s®, and Dodge. Today, he brings raw energy, originality, and a poetic approach to digital experiences. His shifting career has shaped his current role building teams, methodologies, and practices that scale companies and deliver results for brands. His mission is simple: do work that creates legacies.

Episode Highlights

Balancing expertise and flexibility. It’s easy to follow known paths. However, to stand out today, you have to know when to make a leap of faith. “You have to be open to something that hits you in the heart. That kind of fluidity is something I think a lot about.”

The role of listening. “With leadership you have to listen first — then you can connect the dots.” Steven shared experiences about learning from clients “spewing all of their knowledge.”

From punk rock to Star Trek. With similar backgrounds as misfit kids in Iowa, Steve and I discussed how powerful it can be to connect with communities and brands — like punk (Steve) and Star Trek (me). Brands like Nike do this masterfully. They stand for something but you also get to connect with them locally through their partnership with dance and other interest areas.

What brand has made Steve smile recently? Glossier. Steven loves that the founder was told that she couldn’t create a startup in New York City and yet — she did. It all comes back to instinct.

To learn more, check out the BASIC agency website, follow them on Instagram, and connect with Steven on LinkedIn.

As We Wrap …

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

On Brand is sponsored by my new book Brand NowDiscover the seven dynamics to help your brand stand out in our crowded, distracted world. Order now and get special digital extras. Learn more.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!