Studioriley helps strong brands create influential stories.

A strong brand is an influential story. For start ups the story is foundational, it explains who you are, what you do, how you do it and why people will care. Influential brands tell their story well, invisible brands do not. At the heart of our discipline is our experience in understanding how influence works, how business ideas intersect with culture and how to tell the brand story effectively.

Keep it honest and simple.

You will be faced with a lot of jargon, pseudo science and useless “models” when you engage the branding industry. Ignore it all. Keep it simple. Your story is your marketing strategy and your audiences are your customers and investors.

Why should anyone care?

Strategy is as much about making people care as about having them understand. A strong brand story is culturally influential, it moves people’s hearts. Employees, talent, customers and, yes, even investors who need to feel future success are influenced by stuff that’s cool.

People want to feel good.

As an example: We love Ferrari. Each car is a technical marvel of high performance engineering and technology. Dr Dre drives a Ferrari. It makes him feel very very good, from Compton to Malibu! Some of that is the machine. The rest is cultural context. Ferrari is about high performance machines and high performance culture. King Charles III drives an Aston Martin. Dr Dre drives a Ferrari. Need we say more?

Innovate the familiar

Imagine if Apple had called the iPhone an iPod Communicator. Nokia did – they stopped using “phone” to describe their products when they became mobile internet devices, they launched the “Nokia Communicator”. Remember it? Of course not. The mind prefers the familiar to the unfamiliar. It is easier to evolve what people understand about something than to get them to understand something completely new. That is also why Teslas look like ordinary cars. With iPhone Apple reinvented the phone.

We run projects that create influential stories

Some projects are fast and furious, some are cross cultural, long and involve large organizations adapting and growing. They are all guided by the mantra: Who are you, what do you do and why should people care? This is not social media influencer stuff, it is about getting to a simple and effective story that is true and truthful. Sometimes it involves lots of research, sometimes creative research ignites the spark, sometimes it is magical. But the solution, an influential story, is always authentic, always truthful and always culturally meaningful. Being culturally meaningful across cultures, among employees, partners and customers demands both simplicity and creativity.

Curiosity, compassion and a willingness to learn from other people and places is the path to meaningful success.

Projects for fast companies

For startups we run fast projects that aim to explain who you are, what you do and why people should care. We learn what you know, bring some fresh insight and context and create the brand story with you. Start-ups have less baggage, are motivated to learn quickly and have a smaller community. Fewer committees! We can get you to a clear, compelling and influential brand story in about three months.

Projects for complex companies

For bigger more mature  businesses the issues faced can seem more complex, be multicultural, be about evolving new ideas, new products or simply adjusting to be competitive in a new era. The rules are the same.

We have experience in working across complex organizations, different cultures and at moments of significant change. Things can take longer but the principle is the same: who you are, what you do and why people should care.

Projects that cross cultures

A lot of our work is about creating strategies for brands, products and corporate communications that cross cultures. Influence across cultures is now an essential part of both corporate governance and marketing communications. Some product categories are very culturally sensitive, others less so. In either case working with people who are not like you is a rewarding challenge. Clients like UNIQLO, Shiseido and Mori Building (in Tokyo) have been inspiring organizations to work with. Western companies entering Asia, India and American companies working with Europeans all have to adapt to “other” cultural norms and, critically, become smart about context, both historical and social. It is rewarding work and when cross cultural teams “click” amazing things happen. It is all about “Learning from …” not just “about” each other.

Projects that benefit from the best creative talent

Finding the right talent to write, design, direct and produce is the final stage. Quality execution makes the work work. We help you choose the best creative talent for the work. The best talent needs the best briefing, not just a document but an immersive, conversational briefing that brings your creative people into the story and enables them to do their best work.

One more thing

Your visual language is as important as your written language, your images as powerful as your words. Design has become bland as everyone tries to be Apple but the skills of good design remain as important today as they have ever been. Design makes it easier to understand an idea, easier to tell a good story and easier to distinguish quality from mediocrity. It is too easy to blend in when you need to stand out but you need to stand out for the right reasons. Paul Rand led the way and today design is intrinsic to strategy and storytelling.

Influential work past and present:

Apple, global

Nike, global

Microsoft, global

Everest Group, USA, global

Red Cross, USA

Nikon, China

Shiseido, global

Uniqlo, global

Theory, global

RiseUp, Israel, Europe

The Sierra Club, USA

Mori Building, Japan

Samsung, global

Trove, USA

Silicon Valley Bank, USA

Full Sail Beer, Oregon

Umpqua Bank, USA


Sustainability learning from The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The Sierra Club, Andy Ruben of Trove and Paul Hawken. Many thanks.