Recently, Cibo came across our radar, and we’ve been eager to feature some of the integrated brand experience agency‘s work ever since. I had the opportunity to hop on a call with chief executive officer Lu Lacourte, chief design officer Bob Skubic, and director of user experience Shoon Browne—all of whom were a delight to speak with despite the fact that it was still quite early in San Francisco.
Led by principals Lacourte, chief marketing officer Jim Magill, Skubic, and chief experience officer Alder Yarrow, Cibo was founded in 2010 and currently operates with 40 staff members. Lacourte notes that they like to maintain both a “tribal culture” that allows for a high level of collaboration and a reputation for having the most powerful mix of disciplines among their staff.
And at the heart of it, they all experience designers, for as Lacourte notes, “The experience is the brand.” So they always start by looking at what a company is promising its customers, and how well that aligns with the experiences being provided.
“We’re trying to make those two match up—the promise and the actual experience. And we know that so often those two don’t match up. It’s a glaring gap. And so we’re really passionate about coming up with experiences that can be authentic to a company, and be executed as powerful experiences, or helping companies bridge that gap.” And they do that in the way most true to the client, whether that means work in e-commerce, web, advertising, etc.
Brand Experience Agency Cibo Gets Disruptive
Lacourte notes that there’s a lot of talk about “disruption” in the industry, but that the Cibo team is finding that that is in fact what they’re being hired to do: disrupt.
“There are a lot of ambitious companies that are coming to San Francisco in particular to tap into the talent and the agencies that are here to help them achieve their disruption goals,” Lacourte says.
“Cibo’s dedication to the exploration of all emerging technology sets the firm apart,” Shoon says. “It’s quite adventurous at this time (when many SF UX agencies are closing their doors or being acquired) that Cibo’s intent is to very much participate in this community. We are an SF UX agency and that in and of itself is a differentiator. One of the advantages of being on the West Coast is that technology is ever present, and we take full advantage of our community, collaborating with technology innovators to envision web and physical experiences in new and exciting ways.”
Cibo’s recent projects speak to their success in this vein, as the creatives are helping to make radical changes for brands and consumers in many different areas, from fashion to education to energy. Some notable clients include Tesla Motors, Google, Dolby, YouTube, Twitter, Gymboree, SFMOMA and Disney, among others.
“We really care about the business being successful and the customers being happy,” Skubic says. “It’s not just about creating beauty, but about the function and benefit that comes out of it.”
Lacourte adds, “It’s not design for design’s sake; it’s design for the purpose of ultimately making that business successful. And that might be about creating a better customer experience, customer service experience, driving sales or lead generation—but it’s always purposeful design work that can deliver on specific company objectives.”
Cibo’s Side Projects Include Poster Design & Cool Apps
Something that was quite obvious from my talk with Lacourte, Skubic and Browne was their true enthusiasm for what they do and how they work with one another. Their tribal culture is very much evident in not only the work they produce for clients, but in side projects, too.
One of their most recent side projects is The 365 Series, a collection of posters designed by the Cibo creative team for each month of the year. The series launches this February, and if the sneak peek they provided on their Facebook page is any indication of how awesome these prints are, you’ll want to get your hands on all 12.
Another of their side projects launching soon is an iPhone app called karmafix, which is essentially a 30-day karma challenge involving random acts of kindness.
I for one am eager to see what they come up with next.
Speaking of the future, Lacourte notes that Cibo would like to build studios of roughly 75 people in multiple major markets, so you may very well soon find them working out of New York City and London. We’d expect nothing less from an agency this ambitious.
HOW’s longest-running design competition, the HOW Promotion & Marketing Design Awards, is the only award that specifically recognizes outstanding promotion design work! Whether it’s a self-promo to showcase a design firm’s capabilities, a project that touts a client’s goods, an announcement for a major life event, or a student designer’s résumé or design portfolio, if it’s your finest promotional design work, we want to see it. And you deserve some hard-earned recognition.