A pixelated self portrat of Brendan Finlayson

Brendan Finlayson is a multidisciplinary design leader.

Brendan Finlayson is a multidisciplinary design leader.

Brendan Finlayson is a multidisciplinary design leader.

Brendan Finlayson is a multidisciplinary design leader.

Portland (Oregon) born, Oakland (California) based.

Portland (Oregon) born, Oakland (California) based.

Portland (Oregon) born, Oakland (California) based.

Portland (Oregon) born, Oakland (California) based.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of product or brand design teams in many different industries during the last 20+ years, including a wide variety of in-house and agency teams.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of product or brand design teams in many different industries during the last 20+ years, including a wide variety of in-house and agency teams.

As a designer, I’ve worked on a few big brand’s products and services like Nike+, NikeID, digital and real-world retail spaces; Jawbone’s first website; GoPro’s retail web, digital, and physical experiences; The North Face’s web and in-store shopping experiences; and Oakley’s Interactive product guides.

As a designer, I’ve worked on a few big brand’s products and services like Nike+, NikeID, digital and real-world retail spaces; Jawbone’s first website; GoPro’s retail web, digital, and physical experiences; The North Face’s web and in-store shopping experiences; and Oakley’s Interactive product guides.

For the past seven years as a manager, I’ve grown and led in-house teams to build products, tools, processes, and overall design capabilities from varying levels of scratch. 

For the past seven years as a manager, I’ve grown and led in-house teams to build products, tools, processes, and overall design capabilities from varying levels of scratch. 

I’ve worked to simplify some pretty big and complex ecosystems like Zume’s (and Zume Pizza’s) food production products, ordering apps, and semi-autonomous food trucks. I’ve also built teams around smaller experiences like Tend’s international banking app and, most recently, Guile’s booking app specifically for barbers and their clients.

I’ve worked to simplify some pretty big and complex ecosystems like Zume’s (and Zume Pizza’s) food production products, ordering apps, and semi-autonomous food trucks. I’ve also built teams around smaller experiences like Tend’s international banking app and, most recently, Guile’s booking app specifically for barbers and their clients.

top skills I'm pretty good at
top skills I'm pretty good at
top skills I'm pretty good at

• Design Leadership

• Mentoring & Growth

• Team Management

• Design Hiring

• Project Management

• Product Development

• Strategy Development

• Creative Direction

• UX Design

• Brand Design

• B2C/B2B/B2B2C

• Mobile/Web Apps

• Design Leadership

• Mentoring & Growth

• Team Management

• Design Hiring

• Project Management

• Product Development

• Strategy Development

• Creative Direction

• UX Design

• Brand Design

• B2C/B2B/B2B2C

• Mobile/Web Apps

• Design Systems

• Data Visualization

• Prototyping

• User Research/Maps

• Visual Design

• Environment Design

• Brand/Identity Design

• Packaging Design

• Photo & Video Direction

• Storyboarding

• Music & Sound Design

• Design Systems

• Data Visualization

• Prototyping

• User Research/Maps

• Visual Design

• Environment Design

• Brand/Identity Design

• Packaging Design

• Photo & Video Direction

• Storyboarding

• Music & Sound Design

Figma, Framer,

Webflow, Miro,

Adobe Creative Suite,

Ableton Live, Notion,

Asana, Jira,

Confluence, Trello

Figma, Framer,

Webflow, Miro,

Adobe Creative Suite,

Ableton Live, Notion,

Asana, Jira,

Confluence, Trello

Figma, Framer,

Webflow, Miro,

Adobe Creative Suite,

Ableton Live, Notion,

Asana, Jira,

Confluence, Trello

Figma, Framer,

Webflow, Miro,

Adobe Creative Suite,

Ableton Live, Notion,

Asana, Jira,

Confluence, Trello

principles I work by
principles I work by
principles I work by
  1. Know your users, audiences, and business.

  2. Curiosity doesn't kill the designer.

  3. How it works is just as valuable as how it looks.

  4. Cultivate emotional safety.

  5. Nurture Alignment.

  6. Lead humbly from the rear.


1. Stay out of people’s way
2. Present a few choices
3. Limit distractions
4. Group related objects near each other
5. Create a visual hierarchy that matches the user’s needs
6. Provide strong information scent
7. Provide signposts and cues
8. Provide context
9. Avoid jargon
10. Make things efficient
11. Use appropriate defaults
12. Use constraints appropriately
13. Make actions reversible
14. Reduce latency
15. Provide feedback
16. Use emotion
17. Less is more
18. Be consistent
19. Make a good first impression
20. Be credible and trustworthy

The process i follow: EMERGENT FLEXIBILITY
The process i follow: EMERGENT FLEXIBILITY
The process i follow: EMERGENT FLEXIBILITY

Over the years, I've been introduced to and introduced many different processes. Most end up being neat in theory, then pulled apart in practice. Every founder, company, team, client, and designer is different and tends to have different ideas about what the solution(s), and the steps to get there look like. In design, depending on the complexity of the questions we're trying to answer, there tends to be more than a chart's worth of steps/directions we can take. There also tends to be questions we didn't foresee along the way, in that we don't think of everything at the beginning.


With that, I have found it's more beneficial to offer a mixture of activities for more than just the design team, under a loose guidance of a stupid-simple (Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver) process, depending on the input of the varied teams. We're not in a controlled environment, so steps in a prescriptive process can lead forward and backwards, up, down, and sometimes in a frustratingly circular direction.



Discover

Discover

Discover

Discover

Define

Define

Define

Define

Develop

Develop

Develop

Develop

Deliver

Deliver

Deliver

Deliver

Alex Fallas

interaction design
LEAD at google

Brendan is one of the most thoughtful, talented, and open leaders I had the pleasure to work with. When he hired me on, he made it clear that he wanted me to be able to grow into a design leader and made every effort to give me the tools I needed to be successful. Brendan has a serious talent for hiring a team that is impactful and high performing, while building a culture that is fun, inclusive, and highly positive. I always knew Brendan had my back on tough and high-profile decisions, having full trust in my expertise, while I trusted him as an industry veteran with a great vision for the team. Any company should be clamoring to have Brendan as a leader on their payroll and his impact will pay off in exponential amounts.

Read More

Alex Fallas

interaction design
LEAD at google

Brendan is one of the most thoughtful, talented, and open leaders I had the pleasure to work with. When he hired me on, he made it clear that he wanted me to be able to grow into a design leader and made every effort to give me the tools I needed to be successful. Brendan has a serious talent for hiring a team that is impactful and high performing, while building a culture that is fun, inclusive, and highly positive. I always knew Brendan had my back on tough and high-profile decisions, having full trust in my expertise, while I trusted him as an industry veteran with a great vision for the team. Any company should be clamoring to have Brendan as a leader on their payroll and his impact will pay off in exponential amounts.

Read More

Roy Brubaker

director of design operations at joy

I spent much of my time at Zume picking Brendan's brain about his vision for the design organization there. He is an extremely well-articulated and thought-out individual. As the Design Program Manager, I knew immediately that I would not have a hard time convincing him of the benefits of adding structure to the design team. In fact, he had several presentations and confluence pages he had put together before I joined that closely reflected my own philosophy around how a design organization should be represented in a large or growing company. He's supportive of his team, and product owners and engineering leads can also trust his design leadership will be both cognizant of their processes in product development and, ultimately, the best direction for the user experience within the end product.

Read More

Roy Brubaker

director of design operations at joy

I spent much of my time at Zume picking Brendan's brain about his vision for the design organization there. He is an extremely well-articulated and thought-out individual. As the Design Program Manager, I knew immediately that I would not have a hard time convincing him of the benefits of adding structure to the design team. In fact, he had several presentations and confluence pages he had put together before I joined that closely reflected my own philosophy around how a design organization should be represented in a large or growing company. He's supportive of his team, and product owners and engineering leads can also trust his design leadership will be both cognizant of their processes in product development and, ultimately, the best direction for the user experience within the end product.

Read More

Erika von Kelsch

senior product designer at quicken

It’s rare to encounter someone as brilliant and supportive as Brendan. I worked with him for over 2 years at Zume, where he expertly guided my teammates and I through many diverse projects. Time after time I saw Brendan advocate for our team and our user’s experiences, always backed by thoughtful strategy. He’s an excellent communicator and leader, who delivers great outcomes in the face of uncertainty.

I attribute much of my development as a designer to Brendan. He continued to be a great mentor to me even as we ended up working in different locations with a growing team to manage. No matter how tense a critique or situation, Brendan always made sure we went forward with a smile and unified plan thanks to his calm disposition and humor. Anyone would be lucky to have Brendan as their manager or team leader!

Read More

Erika von Kelsch

senior product designer at quicken

It’s rare to encounter someone as brilliant and supportive as Brendan. I worked with him for over 2 years at Zume, where he expertly guided my teammates and I through many diverse projects. Time after time I saw Brendan advocate for our team and our user’s experiences, always backed by thoughtful strategy. He’s an excellent communicator and leader, who delivers great outcomes in the face of uncertainty.

I attribute much of my development as a designer to Brendan. He continued to be a great mentor to me even as we ended up working in different locations with a growing team to manage. No matter how tense a critique or situation, Brendan always made sure we went forward with a smile and unified plan thanks to his calm disposition and humor. Anyone would be lucky to have Brendan as their manager or team leader!

Read More

Matt Fisher

senior manager - content design at thoughtspot

Brendan is a talented people manager with a great temperament and perspective for managing a creative team. He has an eye for identifying and hiring skilled people who work well with others, who contribute positively to the team dynamic, who are self-motivated and don't need a lot of hand holding. He does this quickly and under pressure and handles it with grace and without losing focus on his standards or his vision. The result is a happy team that comes to work ready for the day, every day. As a senior level team member, Brendan set me up for success clearing the path for me to develop the skills and explore the areas of work that interested me without burdening me with tangential projects and fire drills that could have derailed and demoralized me. Brendan is a strong leader and would be an asset to any organization that needs, talented design team to execute daily on a high level.

Read More

Matt Fisher

senior manager - content design at thoughtspot

Brendan is a talented people manager with a great temperament and perspective for managing a creative team. He has an eye for identifying and hiring skilled people who work well with others, who contribute positively to the team dynamic, who are self-motivated and don't need a lot of hand holding. He does this quickly and under pressure and handles it with grace and without losing focus on his standards or his vision. The result is a happy team that comes to work ready for the day, every day. As a senior level team member, Brendan set me up for success clearing the path for me to develop the skills and explore the areas of work that interested me without burdening me with tangential projects and fire drills that could have derailed and demoralized me. Brendan is a strong leader and would be an asset to any organization that needs, talented design team to execute daily on a high level.

Read More

Roxanne Tomco

Content designER
AT NETFLIX

I have had the pleasure of knowing and partnering with Brendan for over a decade now. Throughout various companies we both worked for, I’ve watched him grow as a designer, climb the ranks into managing and directing, and expand his design leadership expertise from visual and brand folks into product and industrial teams. To say he is equipped to lead and grow further is beyond an understatement — he could be your next CDO or founder.

I’m still using coaching advice Brendan gave me to help build bridges with stakeholders and upskill myself, which has paid off in the form of improved, sustained working relationships. His ethical foundation provided me and the rest of his teams the space to expand our impact, while showing the org by example that this was the right thing to do. He invested first in us and went to bat for our needs, and he always ends up with fiercely loyal teams and networks as a result.

Read More

Roxanne Tomco

Content designER
AT NETFLIX

I have had the pleasure of knowing and partnering with Brendan for over a decade now. Throughout various companies we both worked for, I’ve watched him grow as a designer, climb the ranks into managing and directing, and expand his design leadership expertise from visual and brand folks into product and industrial teams. To say he is equipped to lead and grow further is beyond an understatement — he could be your next CDO or founder.

I’m still using coaching advice Brendan gave me to help build bridges with stakeholders and upskill myself, which has paid off in the form of improved, sustained working relationships. His ethical foundation provided me and the rest of his teams the space to expand our impact, while showing the org by example that this was the right thing to do. He invested first in us and went to bat for our needs, and he always ends up with fiercely loyal teams and networks as a result.

Read More

Kai Takahashi

Product designer
at watershed

Brendan was my manager for almost 3 years at Zume Pizza / Zume. Brendan did a great job of building a team of talented and passionate designers who made me happy to show up to work every day. At first, our design team was just us 2 running around designing software for food trucks and shooting special pizzas in a makeshift conference room studio. Within 2.5 years we were an organized team of about 25 across brand, product, and industrial design supporting a company of 600+ employees. As our team grew, Brendan dove into many different books on structure & process to figure out how best to support a rapidly growing company (spoiler alert, he's a big double diamond guy!).

Instead of being a domineering leader, Brendan would ask us what we needed from him and make sure to support us however he could. Through multiple rebrands with tight turnarounds, Brendan worked hard to make sure our team had as many resources (time, attention, space) as possible to do our best work. Most importantly, everyone on our team knew Brendan had our backs and would go to bat for us whenever it was needed. I always looked forward to our 1:1s, as I knew Brendan could always give me candid advice on whatever situation I was facing.

Read More

Kai Takahashi

Product designer
at watershed

Brendan was my manager for almost 3 years at Zume Pizza / Zume. Brendan did a great job of building a team of talented and passionate designers who made me happy to show up to work every day. At first, our design team was just us 2 running around designing software for food trucks and shooting special pizzas in a makeshift conference room studio. Within 2.5 years we were an organized team of about 25 across brand, product, and industrial design supporting a company of 600+ employees. As our team grew, Brendan dove into many different books on structure & process to figure out how best to support a rapidly growing company (spoiler alert, he's a big double diamond guy!).

Instead of being a domineering leader, Brendan would ask us what we needed from him and make sure to support us however he could. Through multiple rebrands with tight turnarounds, Brendan worked hard to make sure our team had as many resources (time, attention, space) as possible to do our best work. Most importantly, everyone on our team knew Brendan had our backs and would go to bat for us whenever it was needed. I always looked forward to our 1:1s, as I knew Brendan could always give me candid advice on whatever situation I was facing.

Read More

Recommendations (from people who i've hired, led, and made stuff with)
Recommendations (from people who i've hired, led, and made stuff with)
Organizations I've MADE STUFF FOR
(click on the ones in color to see some work)
Organizations I've MADE STUFF FOR
(TAP on the ones in color to see some work)
Organizations I've MADE STUFF FOR
(TAP on the ones in color to see some work)
Organizations I've MADE STUFF FOR
(TAP on the ones in color to see some work)

Alex Fallas

interaction design LEAD at google

Brendan is one of the most thoughtful, talented, and open leaders I had the pleasure to work with. When he hired me on, he made it clear that he wanted me to be able to grow into a design leader and made every effort to give me the tools I needed to be successful. Brendan has a serious talent for hiring a team that is impactful and high performing, while building a culture that is fun, inclusive, and highly positive. I always knew Brendan had my back on tough and high-profile decisions, having full trust in my expertise, while I trusted him as an industry veteran with a great vision for the team. Any company should be clamoring to have Brendan as a leader on their payroll and his impact will pay off in exponential amounts.

Read More

Roy Brubaker

director of design operations at joy

I spent much of my time at Zume picking Brendan's brain about his vision for the design organization there. He is an extremely well-articulated and thought-out individual. As the Design Program Manager, I knew immediately that I would not have a hard time convincing him of the benefits of adding structure to the design team. In fact, he had several presentations and confluence pages he had put together before I joined that closely reflected my own philosophy around how a design organization should be represented in a large or growing company. He's supportive of his team, and product owners and engineering leads can also trust his design leadership will be both cognizant of their processes in product development and, ultimately, the best direction for the user experience within the end product.

Read More

Erika von Kelsch

senior product designer at quicken

It’s rare to encounter someone as brilliant and supportive as Brendan. I worked with him for over 2 years at Zume, where he expertly guided my teammates and I through many diverse projects. Time after time I saw Brendan advocate for our team and our user’s experiences, always backed by thoughtful strategy. He’s an excellent communicator and leader, who delivers great outcomes in the face of uncertainty.

I attribute much of my development as a designer to Brendan. He continued to be a great mentor to me even as we ended up working in different locations with a growing team to manage. No matter how tense a critique or situation, Brendan always made sure we went forward with a smile and unified plan thanks to his calm disposition and humor. Anyone would be lucky to have Brendan as their manager or team leader!

Read More

Matt Fisher

senior manager - content design at thoughtspot

Brendan is a talented people manager with a great temperament and perspective for managing a creative team. He has an eye for identifying and hiring skilled people who work well with others, who contribute positively to the team dynamic, who are self-motivated and don't need a lot of hand holding. He does this quickly and under pressure and handles it with grace and without losing focus on his standards or his vision. The result is a happy team that comes to work ready for the day, every day. As a senior level team member, Brendan set me up for success clearing the path for me to develop the skills and explore the areas of work that interested me without burdening me with tangential projects and fire drills that could have derailed and demoralized me. Brendan is a strong leader and would be an asset to any organization that needs, talented design team to execute daily on a high level.

Read More

Roxanne Tomco

Content designER AT NETFLIX

I have had the pleasure of knowing and partnering with Brendan for over a decade now. Throughout various companies we both worked for, I’ve watched him grow as a designer, climb the ranks into managing and directing, and expand his design leadership expertise from visual and brand folks into product and industrial teams. To say he is equipped to lead and grow further is beyond an understatement — he could be your next CDO or founder.

I’m still using coaching advice Brendan gave me to help build bridges with stakeholders and upskill myself, which has paid off in the form of improved, sustained working relationships. His ethical foundation provided me and the rest of his teams the space to expand our impact, while showing the org by example that this was the right thing to do. He invested first in us and went to bat for our needs, and he always ends up with fiercely loyal teams and networks as a result.

Read More

Kai Takahashi

Product designer at watershed

Brendan was my manager for almost 3 years at Zume Pizza / Zume. Brendan did a great job of building a team of talented and passionate designers who made me happy to show up to work every day. At first, our design team was just us 2 running around designing software for food trucks and shooting special pizzas in a makeshift conference room studio. Within 2.5 years we were an organized team of about 25 across brand, product, and industrial design supporting a company of 600+ employees. As our team grew, Brendan dove into many different books on structure & process to figure out how best to support a rapidly growing company (spoiler alert, he's a big double diamond guy!).

Instead of being a domineering leader, Brendan would ask us what we needed from him and make sure to support us however he could. Through multiple rebrands with tight turnarounds, Brendan worked hard to make sure our team had as many resources (time, attention, space) as possible to do our best work. Most importantly, everyone on our team knew Brendan had our backs and would go to bat for us whenever it was needed. I always looked forward to our 1:1s, as I knew Brendan could always give me candid advice on whatever situation I was facing.

Read More

Roy Brubaker

director of design operations at joy

I spent much of my time at Zume picking Brendan's brain about his vision for the design organization there. He is an extremely well-articulated and thought-out individual. As the Design Program Manager, I knew immediately that I would not have a hard time convincing him of the benefits of adding structure to the design team. In fact, he had several presentations and confluence pages he had put together before I joined that closely reflected my own philosophy around how a design organization should be represented in a large or growing company. He's supportive of his team, and product owners and engineering leads can also trust his design leadership will be both cognizant of their processes in product development and, ultimately, the best direction for the user experience within the end product.

Read More

Alex Fallas

interaction design LEAD at google

Brendan is one of the most thoughtful, talented, and open leaders I had the pleasure to work with. When he hired me on, he made it clear that he wanted me to be able to grow into a design leader and made every effort to give me the tools I needed to be successful. Brendan has a serious talent for hiring a team that is impactful and high performing, while building a culture that is fun, inclusive, and highly positive. I always knew Brendan had my back on tough and high-profile decisions, having full trust in my expertise, while I trusted him as an industry veteran with a great vision for the team. Any company should be clamoring to have Brendan as a leader on their payroll and his impact will pay off in exponential amounts.

Read More

Roxanne Tomco

Content designER AT NETFLIX

I have had the pleasure of knowing and partnering with Brendan for over a decade now. Throughout various companies we both worked for, I’ve watched him grow as a designer, climb the ranks into managing and directing, and expand his design leadership expertise from visual and brand folks into product and industrial teams. To say he is equipped to lead and grow further is beyond an understatement — he could be your next CDO or founder.

I’m still using coaching advice Brendan gave me to help build bridges with stakeholders and upskill myself, which has paid off in the form of improved, sustained working relationships. His ethical foundation provided me and the rest of his teams the space to expand our impact, while showing the org by example that this was the right thing to do. He invested first in us and went to bat for our needs, and he always ends up with fiercely loyal teams and networks as a result.

Read More

Erika von Kelsch

senior product designer at quicken

It’s rare to encounter someone as brilliant and supportive as Brendan. I worked with him for over 2 years at Zume, where he expertly guided my teammates and I through many diverse projects. Time after time I saw Brendan advocate for our team and our user’s experiences, always backed by thoughtful strategy. He’s an excellent communicator and leader, who delivers great outcomes in the face of uncertainty.

I attribute much of my development as a designer to Brendan. He continued to be a great mentor to me even as we ended up working in different locations with a growing team to manage. No matter how tense a critique or situation, Brendan always made sure we went forward with a smile and unified plan thanks to his calm disposition and humor. Anyone would be lucky to have Brendan as their manager or team leader!

Read More

Matt Fisher

senior manager - content design at thoughtspot

Brendan is a talented people manager with a great temperament and perspective for managing a creative team. He has an eye for identifying and hiring skilled people who work well with others, who contribute positively to the team dynamic, who are self-motivated and don't need a lot of hand holding. He does this quickly and under pressure and handles it with grace and without losing focus on his standards or his vision. The result is a happy team that comes to work ready for the day, every day. As a senior level team member, Brendan set me up for success clearing the path for me to develop the skills and explore the areas of work that interested me without burdening me with tangential projects and fire drills that could have derailed and demoralized me. Brendan is a strong leader and would be an asset to any organization that needs, talented design team to execute daily on a high level.

Read More

Kai Takahashi

Product designer at watershed

Brendan was my manager for almost 3 years at Zume Pizza / Zume. Brendan did a great job of building a team of talented and passionate designers who made me happy to show up to work every day. At first, our design team was just us 2 running around designing software for food trucks and shooting special pizzas in a makeshift conference room studio. Within 2.5 years we were an organized team of about 25 across brand, product, and industrial design supporting a company of 600+ employees. As our team grew, Brendan dove into many different books on structure & process to figure out how best to support a rapidly growing company (spoiler alert, he's a big double diamond guy!).

Instead of being a domineering leader, Brendan would ask us what we needed from him and make sure to support us however he could. Through multiple rebrands with tight turnarounds, Brendan worked hard to make sure our team had as many resources (time, attention, space) as possible to do our best work. Most importantly, everyone on our team knew Brendan had our backs and would go to bat for us whenever it was needed. I always looked forward to our 1:1s, as I knew Brendan could always give me candid advice on whatever situation I was facing.

Read More

Recommendations (from people who i've hired, led, and made stuff with)

Let's get in touch.

Let's get in touch.

Look at some past work

Let's Look At
Some Work

Recommendations (from people who i've hired, led, and made stuff with)
Recommendations (from people who i've hired, led,
and made stuff with)