WHOLE BRAND THINKING™: Lead with creativity before strategy.

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Whole brands practice creativity without borders by seeing everything they do, from marketing ideas to business ideas, as a creative opportunity. As one of our favorite whole brand thinkers, Eric Ryan, founder of method, OLLY, + Welly, puts it:  "I’m a huge believer that creativity can drive strategy. That idea is at the heart of all my brands.”

“So much of creating a whole brand is to make sure you have a consistent experience through every touchpoint. Everything is theater. Few do it well because they forget to think about how you create a unified experience through products, sales, marketing, and culture, all the way. We live in a world that’s much more porous for consumers and brand relationships. There’s no longer a public face and a private face for a brand. That’s why you have to be authentic from the inside out. Most brands struggle because they’ve gone from a couple of key touchpoints to thousands. To do that well, you have to bring creators in-house. Put creatives and experienced builders in leadership positions. Most brands are not structured like that today. And my argument is, to do all of that well, you need to have creativity in a leadership position. We live in a world where strategy drives creativity, and I’m a huge believer that creativity can drive strategy. That idea is at the heart of all my brands.”

For more WHOLE BRAND THINKING™ from Eric Ryan and other founders, make sure to download our latest State of The Whole Brand report below.


  1. Bring together artisans and operators. Think of brands at their best, with a dynamic duo like Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, someone with a wild imagination paired with a master of the supply chain. Imagine a great CFO paired with a creative director as a peer.

  2. Write creative briefs for every single part of your organization. An HR brief. A hiring brief. A training brief. A culture brief. A sustainability brief. And so on. What will make all of your actions unique, memorable, + original?

  3. Practice what we call “rapid hypothesizing,” quickly imagine creative ideas that your brand has the license and authority to do, inside and out. Use your instinct, your intuition, your gut. Then go back and prove your ideas with research, experiments, prototypes, or pilots. Three steps forward. One step back.

This article originally appeared in the Whole Brand Briefing newsletter.

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Download The State of the Whole Brand 2023 Report.

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