Joanne Chan


Joanne Chan is the global CEO of Turner Duckworth, a world-class branding agency with studios in San Francisco, London, and New York. Turner Duckworth has designed some of the world’s most valuable brands, including Amazon, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Levi’s, and Samsung, and has won the design world’s most coveted awards, including a Cannes Grand Prix for Design, induction into the Clio Hall of Fame, Pentawards #1 Packaging Design Agency and even a Grammy. Turner Duckworth’s book, I Love It. What Is It? The Power of Instinct in Design and Branding will be available wherever books are sold in March 2024.

Joanne’s first career was in the art world, having worked at prestigious art galleries in New York, Monaco, and San Francisco, and the Guggenheim Museum. After deciding on a career shift, Joanne became employee #2 at Turner Duckworth San Francisco, establishing and growing its design business in the United States. Over 26+ years, Joanne went from managing brand identity and packaging projects to focusing on new business, operations, and finance, leading to the acquisition of Turner Duckworth by Publicis Groupe in 2014. Joanne was appointed global CEO in 2019. She lives in Marin County, where their four cats outnumber her, her husband, and her teenage daughter.

As we pivot into a post-pandemic era marked by societal challenge and change, are you optimistic about the future of Graphic Design to support and shape commerce, culture and causes? Are you optimistic about the future of your own firm?

In 2023 more of our clients had the confidence to have fun with their brands, perhaps because we’ve collectively come out of the pandemic feeling the need for some lightness. It’s refreshing that many clients are valuing their fans – not just for their spending power, but also for their emotional currency. This is why I’m optimistic about the future of Turner Duckworth. We help our clients shape culture through creativity, by designing lovable, flexible, covetable things that connect with consumers on a visceral and emotional level.

We are seeing an increased focus on Package Design to advance the brand, tell the story, amplify the experience, forge an emotional connection. Do you agree and, if so, what advantages does packaging have over other graphic communications?

Packaging has always been key, it’s the brand in your hand. Packaging works far harder than other graphic communications. On a basic level it is functional–it needs to protect the product inside, survive its transport to the shelf and home, and it needs to be easy to open and close. It’s also informative–it needs to tell you what’s inside and communicate benefits and claims. It needs to speak from the shelf in a crowded environment and urge you to pick it up. Packaging is highly emotional–when done right–it grabs attention, peaks curiosity, and can make a person feel something. ‘I love it, I want it.’ Packaging is a unique storytelling opportunity and a primary way for consumers to interact with and embrace brands. We’re seeing brands catch on to the power of surprise and delight: big brands behaving like challenger brands, bold use of color, shapes, textures, and typography, and thankfully, brands that are taking the approach of ‘less is more.’