Tish Evangelista on the Moral Responsibility of Branding

In an interview with Doreen Lorenzo for Fast Company, Tish Evangelista, partner at the San Francisco agency Character, explained how branding can’t be superficial anymore. Instead, it has to promote products that enhance lives and society as opposed to just adding more waste and clutter.

Growing up in the Philippines, Evangelista reflected on having an early interest in communications and the arts. Despite earning a degree in journalism, she felt the field wasn’t right for her. This led to her traveling to the United States where she attended the California College of Arts and Craft and took part in their design program. As a good communicator both visually and in written word, graphic design allowed Evangelista to combine those two interests and speak out to a wider audience.

Evangelista started Character back in 1999 with her good friend, Rishi Shourie, and her now-husband, Ben Pham. They had all met in art school at a time where graphic design in San Francisco was very specific because it was mostly biotech and life science companies coming out of the Bay Area. Through Character they discovered a void within San Francisco that lacked lifestyle brands, so they began working with companies like Levi’s, Restoration Hardware, and Pottery Barn. As the industry changed, their work couldn’t just be beautiful design, it had to be something more meaningful. Companies can’t solve their misfires by rebranding from a superficial level. Evangelista believes all companies should self-evaluate by looking back at what their original mission was, and then making sure that they’re still on track to deliver on that mission.

Evangelista ended her interview by describing Character as a collective where everybody has a voice that should be heard no matter if they are interns or creative directors. She believes “it makes for better work when more voices are heard” and encourages people to go out into the world and find their own voice through inspiration beyond what would even be described as graphic design.


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