Brands are constantly evolving, but Obata's identity work for national and global companies remains familiar and recognizable. From the mountains of Busch to breakfast cereals, snack foods and corporate identity, Obata helps companies both big and small build brand identities that last. You know us through the work we do for others. That's OK with us.
Dick Juenger is Obata's link to the past. At age 93, Dick is still working as a calligrapher and graphic designer, building on a distinguished career now into its eighth decade. His license plate reads "DESGN 1", staking a claim that is hard to argue with.
Dick knew and worked with all three Obata founders and can talk for hours about the design business in the late 1940s and beyond. He joined Obata in 1955, working with Kimio Obata and Alice Hausner on the Busch Bavarian brand development. The success of that assignment led to four decades of Anheuser-Busch package design work for both Dick (as an independent) and Obata .
We've really been around the block. Follow Obata on our 70-year journey of downtown St. Louis and historic Soulard. We've operated out of offices from a paddlewheel boat on the riverfront to landmark office buildings and a historic church.
Obata's origins are in advertising art. In the 1940s and 1950s, small studios and freelancers did creative work for larger advertising firms...work that included design, illustration, hand-lettering, photography, and just about anything else a large ad agency didn't have the resources to do internally. Obata was built on a close working relationship with Gardner Advertising...and with Gardner clients like Ralston Purina. A playful series of 1954 magazine and newspaper ads for Ralston's BITE SIZE CHEX cereals is typical of the times and may have included the creative skills of several independent studios and freelancers.
The Obata of today is a creative agency providing strategy-driven design for corporate and marketing communications. We offer many of the same services as we did over 70 years ago, including "just about anything else" that our clients need for corporate and marketing communications.
Learn more about Obata's past and present at: obata.com
In 1948, the advertising art firm of Cassell, Watkins, Stevens set up shop on a paddle boat on the St. Louis riverfront. In addition to the firm's production staff on the main deck, a variety of creative freelancers rented office space on the upper deck including Obata co-founders Kimio Obata, Alice Hausner and Rich Haley. Several other future Obata employees also worked on the boat, including calligrapher and future partner Dick Juenger and salesman Bob Reinert.
Watercolor artists like Alice Hausner and hand-letterers like Dick Juenger never got used to the rocking of the boat when barges would pass by. The grand experiment on the riverfront lasted a little over a year before the two-dozen designers, illustrators and production artists headed back to dry land.
Guess that brought a literal meaning to “keeping the project a float.” 😲
Branding is more than just a logo. Maryville Technologies "Tame the Beast" campaign -- conceived and created by Obata -- became an instantly recognizable symbol of the company and greeted travelers at St. Louis Lambert International Airport for nearly 20 years.
To illustrate the brand concept, we needed a beast with an appropriately intense stare. Our photographer made a trip to the zoo with his telephoto lens and spent an afternoon with the local gorilla. The blue duotone treatment reinforced Maryville's brand colors and made the image unique.
Obata is a St. Louis brand identity agency that creates branding solutions for corporations, businesses, products, employee programs and special events. The need for brand strategy is not limited to Fortune 500 companies or for-profit companies. Any company or institution that is growing needs to develop a brand strategy that will support future growth. We can help develop and formalize the core foundational elements of your brand.
Emerson's 100th anniversary book, "A Century of Manufacturing", is a comprehensive corporate history designed and produced by Obata. The 260-page history book was a multi-year effort. Our team worked closely with Emerson archivists as well as researchers and writers from the Winthrop Group to create this record of Emerson's 100-year history.
Thanks to our long association with Emerson, Obata made multiple appearances in the company history. The book covers Emerson's first international joint venture in Japan in the early 1960s and the critical contributions made by our founder, Kimio Obata as a key consultant on the effort. It also covers several examples of Obata's branding, marketing and corporate communications work for Emerson over the years.
Now 30 years later, Obata continues its relationship with Emerson...a relationship spanning more than 65 years and representing almost half of Emerson's total history.
Obata creates corporate history books, anniversary branding and digital content for companies large and small. Learn more at: obata.com
There's one at every creative firm. The guy who is willing to be the model. Whether the photography was for an actual campaign or he was just standing in for a reference photo, Obata co-founder Rich Haley was seemingly always that guy.
In the mid-1950s Ralston Purina rebranded Shredded Ralston as "Wheat Chex", named after the company’s checkerboard logo. Obata was on the ground floor of Wheat Chex product development, designing packaging, creating advertising and directing photography. And in the process, building a client relationship that lasted over 30 years.
Long-time client Emerson Electric was deeply involved in early space-age research and development. In 1957, the company's Electronics and Avionics division accounted for one third of Emerson's total business. The 1957 annual report, designed by Obata, received a Gold Award from the Art Directors Club of St. Louis. Obata artist Oleg Stavrowsky, with past experience as a technical illustrator for McDonnell Aircraft, was the likely painter of the award-winning cover.
Learn more about Obata's seven decades of working with Emerson and other Fortune 500 companies: obata.com/obata-history/
Our company exists today thanks to the welcoming spirit of St. Louis. Co-founder Kimio Obata and his family spent parts of two years in Japanese American internment camps, but with brother Gyo Obata attending Washington University, the remaining Obata family was able to leave the camps in 1943 to come to St. Louis through the sponsorship of a Webster Groves church. Kimio and both his parents found jobs at the Garrison-Wagner display company, where he soon met illustrator and Obata co-founder Alice Hauser. By 1945, the two had left the display company and started a business that has lasted over 70 years.
Many talented folks have passed through the doors of Obata over our 70+ years in business. Oleg Stavrowsky, born in New York to Russian parents, became a well-known and highly-successful painter of western art. He started his career as a technical illustrator at McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis, then spent three years with Obata in the mid-fifties. Eventually, he gave up commercial art and headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he built a career in fine art painting. As he told a biographer, "Western art is my life, my joy, my income, my everything." He also had a taste for Lamborghinis. Oleg may well be the wealthiest person to have ever called Obata home.
The Imperialites line of futuristic residential lighting from the Emerson-Imperial Lighting Company brought space-age style to the mid-century lighting market. Starting in the late-1950s, Obata designers worked with Emerson industrial engineers to create leading-edge products and award-winning catalogs. Photo shoots featuring the Imperialites line in ultramodern interiors with contemporary furnishings helped promote and define mid-century style for homeowners.
Learn more about Obata's 70 year history bringing innovation and modernism to St. Louis businesses: obata.com/obata-history
Brands are constantly evolving, but Obata's identity work for national and global companies remains familiar and recognizable. From the mountains of Busch to breakfast cereals, snack foods and corporate identity, Obata helps companies both big and small build brand identities that last.
You know us through the work we do for others. That's OK with us.