Interview with Yo Santosa of Ferroconcrete

What makes Los Angeles a crucial city for design? AIGA Los Angeles and Yo Santosa invite you to explore that question along with the various facets of L.A.’s ever evolving design culture in the speaker series Hecho en L.A.

The third installment of Hecho en L.A. taking place on April 30th at Maker City LA will feature Art Center alumni, Yolanda Santosa, known simply as “Yo,” who says her most profound experiences with strategic branding through storytelling took place when she began working in the entertainment industry.

Yo’s experience working on title sequences and strategic branding on popular shows such as Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives and the feature film 300 eventually earned her three Emmy nominations and numerous accolades.

“Creative people are very much influenced by their environment,” says Yo, who named her downtown L.A. agency Ferroconcrete after the compound used to build the environments. She explains that the name is a metaphor for how her team aims to build brands. “Ferroconcrete is the process through which steel beams are embedded in concert for the purpose of building skyscrapers.”

The first brand Yo’s team turned into a high-rise is the tangy and sweet sensation the world knows as Pinkberry. “I imaged Pinkberry as having a personality,” Yo says of her creative process. Every time the company spoke Yo made sure there was a specific tone, texture and quality that all tied into the fun and quirky character of the Pinkberry brand.

Building brands that have an authentic personality requires a lot of instinct and Yo advises that designers looking to work on such creative campaigns need a process that will take them far beyond the aesthetic elements of the brand.

Ferroconcrete applies its philosophy today to big-name clients such as TNT, TODAY and, who are looking to infuse a sense of energy and charisma to their brand. Yo has even used her hindsight in developing and growing brands for her own entrepreneurial ventures such as her modern cookie and gift company, Früute, and her online fragrance company, Commodity.

“Being in Los Angeles has really helped me to shape the way I look at design,” said Santosa. She recognized that the work available in the entertainment industry is a unique and important advantage that Los Angeles creatives can learn a lot from.

You can catch Yo at the AIGA Los Angeles speaker event Hecho en L.A. on Wednesday, April 30th where she will discuss the strategy of building brands with personalities that pop, the challenges of sustaining a successful retail brand and other important lessons she’s learned along the way.

By Amy Wilson
Published April 17, 2014
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