getting to know: chief creative officer, lianna mckenzie

Lianna is the living, breathing embodiment of looking at the world through different lenses to change her perspective. From her childhood in Jamaica to her immigration to various American locales, she’s had the perspective of being on the outside, able to see things through a different lens. She turned that tension into her superpower: staying curious and empathetic to those who also feel as though they are not heard or don’t have a place carved out for them by society, realizing that those voices are the ones that are most important to listen to.

Growing up in Jamaica set Lianna’s voice and continues to dictate her way of life. Steeped in its easy-going, vibrant, unpretentious lifestyle, she departed her home country at age 16 to seek her dreams in the US. Starting in Pennsylvania, to college in Florida, then living in LA, to putting down roots in Cincinnati, Lianna has developed a unique vision of herself and of the world.

This eclectic journey of places and cultures has served Lianna well when it comes to applying it to her approach to design. She has collected learnings along the way from every place she’s lived. She understands that people are infinitely complex, emotional, and influenced by the communities in which they reside. Society and perspectives are always relative and because of her experiences, Lianna knows there is value in questioning and challenging the norm.

“For me a successful brand must have intention — a purpose that is rooted in humanity. Whether its purpose is to change behavior, make social impact, bring joy, build belonging, or build a better business, it’s always about people.”
—Lianna McKenzie, Chief Creative Officer

Lianna believes branding is experiential, much more than a logo. It’s the perfect storm of colors, typography, photography, how the brand sounds, and how it acts. It’s a collection of experiences purposefully curated for people to engage with. She believes branding at its core is emotional; it must make people feel something, anything...happy, sad, inspired, motivated.

Her perspective on branding coupled with her inate curiosity and empathy allows Lianna to magnify the perspective of others in her work, especially the marginalized and those not often heard. She sees details that others overlook and she has a deep respect for a vast range of perspectives. And it’s those perspectives that enable her to deliver unique, emotional design solutions no matter the client or industry.

“Her design leadership earned her the title, Chief Creative Officer, but her strategic approach and understanding of how to connect with the consumer through brand is unparalleled — that is what makes her a true differentiator for our brand partners.”
— Josh Wolfer, Brand Strategy Director

As Deskey’s Chief Creative Officer, she again finds herself in the minority, as only 11% of CCOs in the US are women. As the leader of Deskey’s rebranding process, it’s not surprising that her approach was more inclusive than most.

That approach meant she asked the entire company, from CEO to interns to dig deep down inside and seek to understand their own perspectives and how they could influence Deskey’s mission. She wanted the “new” Deskey to authentically reflect each and every one of its employees and made it clear that everyone’s thoughts would be heard. Lianna doesn’t have an ego and doesn’t care about who gets the credit, she cares about the end result: having Deskey’s rebrand be as smart and beautiful as possible.

Lianna’s unconventional journey has set the tone for an unconventional agency. The sum of her experiences continues to propel her forward and evolve her design perspective. She’s Deskey’s North Star: the leader who is prepared and able to lead its new path of reinvention.

About the Author
deskey logo on green background

Written by Deskey. The people – not the corporate entity. We are collective to the point of co-dependence, but that’s ok because when we come together, we always create something better than any one mortal could on their own.