Raphael is a passionate champion for a new approach to brand innovation that uses sustainability to create shared value. “Our philosophy is simple: innovative brands are sustainable brands, and they will lead the way from a ‘what’ marketplace based on commodities to a ‘how’ paradigm based on shared values and relationships.”
An expert in brand strategy, innovation strategy, CSR/cause marketing and public affairs, Raphael has created national campaigns, drafted public policy, designed consumer and nonprofit brands, and managed communications for local, state and federal elected officials. Fluent in Italian and conversant in Spanish, his experience is international in scope and industry diverse. He has directed recent projects for clients such as adidas, Brown Forman, Eileen Fisher, L’Oréal Paris, MillerCoors, NBCUniversal, Samsung and Target.
Prior to co-founding BBMG, Raphael served as communications director at Do Something, where he oversaw marketing, media relations and cause-related partnerships with Levi Strauss & Co., SEARS, Kenneth Cole and Rolling Stone. Raphael’s extensive background in political communications began as a press aide to Texas Governor Ann W. Richards. He then served as communications director for the Texas Democratic Party and Texas State Sentator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), and later as press secretary for U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas). He received his BA in Philosophy with honors from the University of Texas at Austin.
Tell us about your upbringing.
My dad is an Italian rabbi. He was born in Pisa and grew up in Florence before fleeing Italy in 1938 right after they passed the racial laws. My mother was a social worker and childcare expert who taught me how precious a child’s first years in life are in determining how they experience the world.
And what was your first branding assignment?
It was for my friend Billy’s run for seventh grade president. I was the campaign manager. We developed a strong creative campaign with poster headlines like “Don’t be silly; vote for Billy” and “Suit up for Crudup.” We came in second place, but we kept our integrity.
What’s it like working alongside your best friend?
One of the greatest privileges of my life is to pursue this dream with Mitch. It means the world to me to share the journey. At this point, we can finish each other’s sentences, but we still learn from each other every day. My dad inspired us to try to create an agency based on five values that still guide me: being creative; working with people who share your values; learning and growing personally and professionally every day; making a contribution to society and making a good living.
How do you find balance?
My biggest professional challenge is balancing the aspiration of breakthrough, slightly daring strategic insights and creative ideas with building consensus inside social sector organizations. Both are essential, and it’s a magical combination when it happens.
What would you say the essence of BBMG is?
The most exciting thing about BBMG is getting to be creative, learn from phenomenal people, and work on social impact projects every day. It’s a privilege to do what you love. The greatest misconception about branding is that it’s just a logo or tagline, when it’s really the very essence and soul of an organization. For us, branding is being. It’s not just a discipline of strategy and design; it’s an existential pursuit with the possibility of great transformation of organizations and society.