Branding is way more than a logo. It's the authentic personality of a product, which is what Yo Santosa and Owen Gee aim to bring to every project at ferroconcrete. From Pinkberry to TBS and Hustler, the ferroconcrete client list varies, with some hyper local gems like LA Downtowner.
Yo is the founder of ferroconcrete and the Editor-in-Chief of LA Downtowner. Owen is a Creative Director and the Co-founder of Commodity Goods.
Commodity Goods is a project from Ferroconcrete, co-founded by Owen and Yo. To better understand the role of client, they became their own by tackling the branding and business challenges of bringing a fragrance brand online.
Yo and Owen are really expanding their wheelhouses beyond business cards and logos and you can talk to them all about their process and passions in person at Talk Shop, April 13, at 7 p.m. There's more from Yo and Owen in the Q&A below. RSVP for Talk Shop here.
“Brands have become more transparent and more conversational. It’s more personal, and it's a good thing.”
You had your first client — Pinkberry — before you launched your agency. What were your first steps to starting your agency?
Yo: I heard from a friend that a yogurt shop in West Hollywood is looking to franchise and are looking for a brand agency to help them. I went to try the product, loved it. Called the owners and made an appointment to present some ideas. I took a week off work to work on my presentation. That Saturday I presented and got the account, come Monday I put in my 2 weeks notice at the current agency I was at. And started Ferroconcrete.
What made you want to start LA Downtowner?
Yo: I have been living in Downtown Los Angeles for 13 years. I’ve witnessed how it’s changed so quickly, and I just love the energy of this place. I also realized that there wasn’t a publication that celebrated the food, drink, culture, and the people of downtown. I wanted to tell that story and share that. It certainly is a passion project. A monthly love letter.
Is Commodity still operating? What were the biggest business/design lessons you learned running it?
Owen: Yes, Commodity is making strides globally since the retail partnership with Sephora. One big lesson we learned was to simplify as much as possible, not only from the design side, but also product offerings. When we first started the brand, there were twenty different fragrances and over 40 SKUs. Great for customer choice, but way too much to manage for an initial offering. The current lineup hits a nice balance and allows room to develop new products.
“When a brand connects with me on an emotional level, I tend to be invested longer.”
Are there any more brand/product ideas you're working on?
Yo: Yes, but they’re still under wraps, haha.
What brands are you most excited about right now (clients or otherwise)?
Yo: Oscar. They really changed the way people talk/market/obtain health insurance.
How have you seen brand personalities change since you started designing?
Yo: Brands have become more transparent and more conversational. It’s more personal, and it's a good thing.
What are some consistent traits of great brand stories?
Owen: When a brand connects with me on an emotional level, I tend to be invested longer. Also, having a strong point of view, however provocative, makes it more memorable.
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