Sam Barbagiovanni


Sam Barbagiovanni is the Design Director at brand design studio ThoughtMatter, a strategic creative leader whose skills and perspectives have made her an invaluable mentor and brand partner.

Even before her career in design, Sam was drawn to the world of visual expression, intrigued by the myriad ways in which art and design can shape perceptions, emotions, and ultimately, the way people interact with the world around them. After working on branding and packaging projects for a range of leading CPG brands — including Colgate, Mars, Kimberly-Clark, and more — she transitioned to more purpose-driven projects with ThoughtMatter, channeling her expertise into work that aligns with her values and makes a tangible difference. With her team, Sam has built brand identities for sustainability stewards like grocery brand Misfits Market and P&G, as well as organizations like Reia Health, the Coffee Coalition for Racial Equality and S’Cool Sounds. Along the way, she has always fostered an air of positivity and inclusivity with the goal of uplifting diverse voices within the design community.

Sam’s creative work has earned awards and recognition from GDUSA, Velocity, Communication Arts, Type Directors Club, and Dieline.

Tell us how and why you became involved in socially responsible communications, any thoughts on why design can be an especially effective tool for this goal, and, if you wish, give us an example of a project of which you are proud.

Like many fresh graduates who enter the creative industry, I was excited to work on any and all brands, to get my hands dirty and pitch in on any creative brief that came my way. For a while, that fulfilled me and I was grateful for the experiences I had to guide my career development. However, I hit a point, where despite the big brand names, those briefs no longer fueled my fire. The brief that broke the camel’s back, or whatever equivalent of a metaphor for a designer would be, was when I was asked to make a feminine care product appear 30% more expensive through pack decoration, even though the product was exactly the same. Mislead women to pay 30% more for a product which, at the time, they already wrongfully paid taxes for — pencil down.

As an individual, my opinions and values were shifting along with the world around me. That’s where ThoughtMatter came in, a studio focused on Work Worth Doing. Today, I work with a range of renowned brands, business districts, and startups, all of which share ThoughtMatter’s values and are equally committed to influencing and affecting positive change in the world.

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

This moment in time requires every generation within our industry to tap into what it means to be human. If you look at the emotions chart, a visual aid that helps identify and express emotions, and take a look at powerful, what stems from that is creative and courageous. We are in a position of power to make real and lasting change in a world that desperately needs it. Take the human and high-road approach to tackling ethical, environmental and societal factors in your work. Any opportunity you have to design for good, I encourage you to do so. I encourage you to be courageous, to be creative.