Join Petrula Vrontikis for an in-depth discussion in this video Yolanda Santosa, Ferroconcrete, part of Real-World Design: Live Presentations from Creative Leaders.
Speaker 1: So our next presenter creates brand personalities. She represents, I think, one of the more interesting things about graphic design now. You come out thinking you're, you're going to be a graphic designer doing whatever that was and she ends up doing motion, starting businesses, having incredible collaborations. Branding very large companies so please give a warm welcome to Yolanda Sentossa.
Yolanda Santosa: Thanks Vetrula, okay, so after art center, I started the first five years of my career working in motion graphics, doing main titles. It was really, really exciting, but I missed branding, and I'm constantly reminded that life is surrounded by brands. The brands we surround ourself with is a form of self expression, and it gives people clues about who you are, and your beliefs and it's fascinating how our lives are so much intertwined with brands, with brands.
And so an opportunity came by, mom and pop yogurt shop in West Hollywood was looking to franchise. And they searched, they were searching for a design company to help them. So I tried the product. Loved it. And then called them up to set set a time to do my presentation my proposal. And so I took a week of of my vacation time and then on Saturday I presented. On it was awarded the same day and on Monday I quit my job and started Pinkberry essentially was a branding boot camp because I had no real world life experience in branding except when I was in Art Center.
But I realize there's so much similarities between motion and graphics, motion graphics and branding. One tells stories over a period of seconds and minutes and one tells stories over years and hopefully decades, and so Pink Berry went from one store to 200 stores in three years and I fell that someone who brands is like a match maker it's our job to make customers fall in love with a brand and branding to me is the combination of strategy and story telling in essence it's distilling a brand essence to give it it's personality, and I believe that people fall in love with personalities, and not businesses.
So, a super quick case study on TBS. With the arrival of Conan, they wanted TBS brand to feel more sophisticated, and connect with viewers better, and communicate that it's about comedy and fun, it should feel entertaining, playful, attract a broad audience and embody the personality of the en, of the attitude of the network itself. So we started with the logo which was already existing. It was a smile. It's semi-circle there represents a smile, and then we started exploring the smile. How at first it was really literal obviously.
And then we started putting the smile on, on actors, and at some point we got really like let's get out that the system. We put the smile on really sad poster. And, eventually we came to this, which, which is the smile emotion. There's so many facets of the smile. When you just cracking a smile. When you're in full-burst laughter. And what about those moments? Why, what about making those moments into emotion piece into the branding. And so, what we started with was this. It conveys the right energy. We like the energy net, and it just feels like to the mouth, this mouth opens up and all these energetic bubbles comes out, but it felt very complicated, so eventually we distill it.
We think, all we need is this mouth. In itself, it can give the same energy, simplify it, eliminate the elements. And by doing that we extend the pers, personality of the smile to give if focus. He was entertaining. He was playful, and, he embodies the attitude of the network. He can bow. He can jump. He'll even wave hello. Basically he makes people smile. He's also a master of disguise. Here he's morphing into Conan's hair. And we also wanted to associate the brand with the talent's that are in the network. So we created scenarios like this one where Conan is doing his string dance.
And here he is with the Big Bang Theory guys who turned him into a remote control robot. And this really ties. The brand into the shows and the personalities, the talents that are in the show. And heres one of my favorite spots. Yolanda Santosa: See, we just told him to stroke it like a cat, and then he's like, ow. He bit him. And a quick montage. Yolanda Santosa: There. The one person over there. Thank you. So I figured I had so much fun creating brands for client. I wanted my own. And I had a, I have an impulsive personality.
So not much planning went into it at all. And I said we'll figure it out as we go along, and so first we need a product, and then my mom is an amazing baker. My sister who's over there is has a great sense of style, and mini tarts was my favorite dessert. So we created gorgeous tarts. My mom created the recipe and my sister designed them. And for product testing we used feral concrete the team as test subjects. It was a really hard life. Yolanda Santosa: And as a designer branding is the easy part. Like naming. Photography.
You know, packaging, store design. Sure was hard work but it was what we already know as a, as a company. And then in comes employee training and we started to get out of a comfort zone, and, for the launch, we invited press and bloggers. And the feedback was really good so Brides Magazine said it was a genius idea, Wallpaper Magazine said top ten reasons to be in the USA but we did not consider what the bad economy downturn, this happened then yes and at $3.50 a mini tart it was expensive and we can't come down on price because the labor was intricate it has only a day shelf life and location wasn't ideal, and it was impossible to ship, even though there was demand from New York, or somewhere else, and in managing retail employees was a nightmare.
It was like, they we're late, customers were already waiting outside, I thought you open at eleven, and then there's fighting, and obviously lots of firing. Yolanda Santosa: And my time, my time went from 6am, I'm already at West Hollywood at Fruit, and at 11am I am already back at Farrow Coffee, the commute was crazy, and although we had customers who was obsessed it but the growth was slow and it wasn't the joy and the reward we wanted with a family business. So it was impulsive, I did not put a business plan together, I don't know even know how even if I want to so, and I look at the whole process from a brand perspective, not from a business perspective and the smartest thing we did was to close the physical store and change it to an online only retail store.
Focused on all natural, hand made gourmet cookies. No store front employees. You don't have to manage them. Headache is gone, right? And the cookies also have a one month shelf life. Which, unlike the tarts, was only a day. Was, there was so much wastage, and it opened up our customer base, from just West Hollywood and LA, to the whole country, and it ships easily. So we. And we enter the kitchen to bake and fulfilment a.corporate office is in downtown, right across from fair concrete, which means no commute for me. And by the way, I live right upstairs. LAUGHTER And we also notice, with the cookies, gifting is a big market.
So we created our own versions of the, of gift baskets. We even created the lust basket, it come with a vibrator. very popular for Valentine's. So we also, to focus on connecting us with the right brand partnership, Dean and Deluca carried our cookies for the holiday. It was really good exposure for us. It's like a stamp of approval for being gourmet. They loved our cookies and have started carrying it in their Madison Avenue stores and it sold out in four days. Clapping for myself. Yolanda Santosa: Okay.
And then now we're back in a physical space, but with no overhead costs, and it gives us exposure to their existing customers. So, even though it took a slight detour, fruit has become the company we set out to do when we first started, and, after the pivot, we finally, we're finally well on our way. Revenue has tripled every year, and I learned from this experience so far, not without making mistakes, but I will do it again next time, but I'll be that much smarter. And creating a business gave me a better understanding of how branding as to intersects with business.
And I always encourage our team in starting businesses, and I always say produce a start, but let's start many, many more brands. And so our, our director at that time Owen is over there, and. Web developer sound who's over there told me about the idea to change the fragrance industry. We hated the way fragrance is portrayed. It's not about me or you, it's about Matthew Mcconaughey, and it gets worse. Sweaty, moisty men and women. Yolanda Santosa: I mean like who wants to smell like that, and fragrance shopping is really overwhelming.
You know, hundreds of smells all mixed together. After awhile, our nose gets tired, and so commodity is born. First we team up with an old French fragrance house and craft the scents here in the US, and product naming is all about me and you. It's, and we stayed away from names like obsession, eternity. And then make it relatable. That's why we call it commodity. It's fragrance, it's as everyday necessity, names just then is really an extension of your personality. So those who like whiskey or gold and musk, and this time we're smarter.
It's online only, and we created the home fitting kit, so people could test drive the scents at home. And unlike Fruit, we need initial investment unfortunately, because it deals with manufacturing, so we went on Kickstarter to test our concept, in 30 days we almost tripled our raising goal, this became an initial proof of concept and after that we begin search for funding. So we talked to investors, they loved the brand, they said that it's the best brand that we've ever seen. But where are the numbers? Where's the money going? Where's the business plan, cost of customer acquisition? I'm like oh.
And it's again we made the mistake of starting from a designer and a brand perspective. For business people they would start with the numbers way before even getting to the brand. So we eventually hired a freelance CEO for one day to let us, to give us a rough draft of this business numbers would look like. It wasn't perfect, but it was enough to get investors interested, and so we found an amazing investor. He lets us drive the company and mentors and guides us, and we're learning a lot. So we officially launched this year. It was very well received.
Esquire says, a new cologne brand that's looking to shake things up. A, a fast company, a branding agency that reinvents the perfume business. Allure said the Warby Parker of perfume. It's still in its initial stages. We're still refining the business model. We're still working on pricing, product grouping, shipping. It's very exciting and I'm learning a lot. We're all learning a lot, and it was important to get eyes on the brand, so for fun, we created the one minute model. So basically it's turn yourself into an unbearably sexy fragrance model in a minute or less, and here is our director of design and strategy Adolphus looking awesome.
He does not look like that normally. He didn't do this willingly, we made him a one minute model without his consent. While Mike, our Art Director, he, on the other hand, was such a good sport. He did this willingly and he put himself on body. We also created Eau de Bear. Which is our. He's our scent sommalier, sommalier. We sent him roaming in the streets of New York for Fashion Week. And, so basically he walks around with that little bag and then you tweet. At Auto Bear and then he will tweet back and ask you what are you wearing? It's wearing a Bluetooth, it's really creepy. And then once he, once he said, oh the, I'm there and then he'll walk toward you and give you a free try on kit and then he was really popular at Fashion Week, he got invited to after hour parties, and basically at the end of the day the one, one minute model in Auto Bear really helps spread the commodity name through press, bloggers and then the last contacts in the fragrance industry, customers and even retail buyers.
But more importantly it sets us apart from just a fragrance brand to a fashion brand. So commodity right now shares office with Pharoah Concrete and Fruit as you know is next door. And I love the synergy of the three companies together. To me, brand and design should intersect with business from the ground up. And collaboration of business and design creates a deeper understanding emotions, needs, aspirations, and, eventually, conversation. And lots of wo, the world's top brands are design leaders like Apple, Nike, Virgin, Herman Miller. And on top of it all if you don't believe me it's just fun.
And it's exciting to be young designers like you at this time. To be the next frontier. To effect the company from the ground up or even creat your own brands. So I I would say don't be afraid to fail. And if you do try again. Learn from other people's mistakes, my mistakes. And the key is to surround ourselves with good people who share your vision. So go forth and prosper. Thank you.
The second round of the series, recorded in late 2014, features Erich Joiner from the design firm Tool, Dave Bullock from the crowdfunding site CrowdRise, and Peter Lunenfield from UCLA talking about the power of media in design. The first panel features the 3x3 group: YO | LAI | DO event, featuring Yo Santosa (Ferroconcrete), David Lai (Hello Design), and Chris Do (BL:ND). This transmedia trio presents projects from the fields of branding, web, and motion design, touching on the challenges of running their own firms and the importance of story, inspiration, and constant evolution.
Art Center professor and lecture series leader Petrula Vrontikis guides both panels in round-table discussions about managing client expectations, overcoming professional uncertainty, and much more.