Alan So


Alan So is the Executive Creative Director of Sköna, a full-service B2B creative agency with offices in San Francisco and Stockholm, Sweden. Our mission is to help transform B2B companies into brave brands — brands that stand out, brands that are unabashedly true to who they are, and brands who aren’t afraid to take a stance. In the past few years, Sköna has worked with over 75 technology brands including Snowflake, EMC, and vmware.

Alan has built brands and experiences for impact for more than 20 years. He has led, designed and strategized for Silicon valley unicorns, multinational corporations, government agencies, and consumer retail, as well as founding the San Francisco-based arts non-profit, Soundwave. Previous to Sköna, Alan has worked with brand and design strategy firm The M-Line, global design consultancy frog, iconic graphic design firm Koo Creative (acquired by Cossette) in Vancouver, Canada and formed his own studio Alan/So/Studio.

Sköna’s creative tenet is to leave your ego at the door. We are a collaborative team where we celebrate the notion that the brightest ideas can come from anyone. We value creative problem solving and dogged curiosity in design thinking and being respective experts in our client partnerships. Through design, we solve business problems and make your audience love you.

How did you become involved in socially responsible communications and why do you believe design can be an effective tool for this goal?

It is essential to design for the good of our community. Period. It is essential for all of us to build and nurture a successful community around us. This design philosophy started at my alma mater Emily Carr University of Art and Design where social consciousness and activism was instilled in everyone. I hold dear every non-profit I’ve had the privilege to support, including the SF-Marin Food Bank, AIDS Legal Referral Panel, YWCA, Glide Memorial Foundation, just to name a few.

I understand firsthand, through my own non-profit, the need for fundraising and marketing for these important community organizations to thrive. Design helps tell memorable stories, define and express what organizations stand for, and build momentum that moves people like funders, donors and the community-at-large.

At Sköna, I am proud of our initiative Sköna Forward, where our vision is to dedicate 10% of our time to supporting important causes in our community. For more than 7 years, we’ve helped the SF-Marin Food Bank build an authentic brand, a website that converts, and impactful OOH campaigns that remind the public of the incredible need the Food Bank helps fill. Our ‘Food for All’ campaign expressed how we are all deserving of food, health, and the opportunity to succeed. The campaign expanded over the years and now ‘Food for All’ is a mantra the San Francisco Marin Food Bank lives by.

Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does 2021 present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good?

Building awareness of the issues facing our community is more important than ever. Design-led thinking is aptly positioned to help organizations motivate us to do more and do better. In a city of immense wealth like San Francisco, 1 in 4 families are still food insecure. During the pandemic, the need at the SFMarin Food Bank doubled. This greater need requires more funding and awareness to support demand. It also accelerated organizations’ digital infrastructure, as in-person events ceased and new ways to connect with funders, donors, and participants were needed. These shifts require impactful design to help solve these new challenges organizations face.