1024 683 Michael Kraabel

Developed and managed tiki-inspired DTC consumer brand.

The Challenge

The Catiki Kingdom brand was started from the ground up, from the initial business concept all the way through to visual branding and product development.   The challenge was to create an irreverent brand that would tap into the feeling of nostalgia for good coctails and a slower pace of time.

The Solution

The Catiki brand was developed to introduce Tiki-style and Polynesian fashion to a younger generation of Americans. Seeing an open market for an industry. the company offers a unique blend of products directly to consumers. This includes custom designs, patterns, products, and associated inspiration.


1024 765 Michael Kraabel

I spearheaded the creative direction of a transformative project for Ecolab, pivoting their brand narrative from a product-centric and chemistry-focused approach to a more human-centered, service-oriented direction.

Everywhere It Matters

A Brand Platform designed to highlight all the places where Ecolab is making a difference in the world.


Ecolab was a nearly 100-year-old company operating in 170 countries but struggled with a cohesive brand identity. When the $9B company decided to merge with Nalco, a $8B company, it faced a unique challenge. The primary Ecolab products and services were related to cleaning, food safety, health, and hospitality, while Nalco was focused more on industrial systems, oil/gas, and water management.

On the surface, the merger seemed to be a conflict. Not only did the brand need to be re-focused, but there needed to be a story to share with the financial markets about how the combined company would be stronger.


The newly combined company needed a new brand position and framework to guide the integration and launch the new company with a singular vision. The focus shifted towards highlighting Ecolab’s endeavors in safeguarding essential global elements and resources. This involved a comprehensive overhaul, creating fresh brand guidelines, a new visual and verbal style, and an innovative marketing strategy.

The project also included generating compelling content resonating with their new vision and positioning Ecolab as an impactful force dedicated to protecting vital resources globally.

I was responsible for the brand vision, including developing a new visual styleguide, voice and tone, and visual platform to translate the brand around the world.


The foundation for the new Ecolab campaign started with a simple question: why?  When I was briefed on the assignment, the strategy and account team were focused on the products and services Ecolab offered to the market – washing machines, cleaning chemicals, uniforms, and more.  While these were impressive, it wasn’t unique.  I posed the question back to the team to say: Why do they make these items, sell these chemicals, and provide these services? 


The reality was that the products and services provided by Ecolab did more than clean dishes, they provided safe food.  They did more than sanitize hospitals, they provided places to heal.  The answers were very simple, the equation just needed to be switched.  The first part of the brand transformation effort was to begin with the middle.  As such, I developed the first “Because” campaign that allowed the organization to talk about the results of their good work, not the products.

Creative Identity Challenge

Developing a new visual style guide for Ecolab, especially one that can be translated into over 20 languages and localized for 170 countries, posed a significant challenge. The primary issue was that typical photo and video content would be inconsistent across diverse markets and prohibitively expensive. To overcome these hurdles, we embarked on a creative journey to establish a new, universally adaptable framework.

Creative Identity Solution

Our solution was to develop a series of iconic graphics, meticulously designed to be both simple and distinctive. These icons were crafted with a deep understanding of Ecolab’s brand identity, ensuring they were not just universally recognizable, but also uniquely ownable in the industry. The icons were designed to encapsulate the core values and services of Ecolab, translating complex ideas into clear, visual forms that transcend language and cultural barriers.

The Design System

This suite of icons and graphics were engineered to be highly versatile, suitable for various communication mediums including print, digital platforms, trade shows, and in-office displays. The simplicity of the design ensured ease of understanding, while their uniqueness made them stand out in a crowded market. The graphics were also created with scalability in mind, allowing them to be effectively used in both large-scale displays and smaller, digital formats.


To ensure the icons were effective across different cultures and languages, we engaged in extensive research and testing. This process involved collaboration with local teams in various regions to gather feedback and insights, ensuring the icons were culturally sensitive and resonant.

The result was a visually coherent, adaptable, and scalable set of graphics that provided Ecolab with a powerful tool for global communication. This new visual language not only aligned with the company’s innovative and global presence but also set a new standard in the industry for clear and culturally adaptable corporate communication.

The Unplug Project

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A movement to increase awareness of the negative side-effects of consuming too much digital media.

The Unplug Project is a initiative aimed at encouraging individuals to consciously disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with the essence of real-life experiences. The project promotes mindful use of technology, advocating for regular digital detoxes and a more analog lifestyle.

Project Foundation + Core Beliefs

Like many, I found myself deeply entrenched in the digital world. My days were a blur of emails, social media, and a constant bombardment of notifications. Technology, which was supposed to be a tool, had become my master. It dictated not just my work, but also my personal life, straining my relationships and disconnecting me from the real world.

Creating A Movement

One evening, as I sat with my family, glued to my phone while they conversed and laughed, a profound realization hit me. I was physically present, but emotionally and mentally, I was miles away, lost in the digital ether. It was this moment that sparked a desire for change – a need to reclaim the life that technology was stealthily stealing from me.  View the project at


1024 683 Michael Kraabel

Managed a cross-functional team to re-imagine and re-design the homepage experience.


Target challenged my team to re-imagine what the homepage could become, from featured products to the overall user experience.  This project would allow us to experiment with various design and UI elements to create the best customer experience possible, while tracking analytics for sales and shopping data.


We explored various ways to use interactive elements to create a “shoppable” homepage design, where the featured elements would expand to create a more interactive browsing experience for online shoppers.  We conducted extensive UX testing in the lab, tracked daily and weekly results to see which design elements produced the best results.

Smart Sense

1024 683 Michael Kraabel

Developed a comprehensive marketing campaign to highlight the importance of protecting your home’s gas appliances.  A simple device can save you from a dangerous situation.


Crafting a marketing strategy for a small connector fitting that attaches to a gas line, especially one that is typically concealed behind appliances, poses a unique challenge. This connector, although small and often out of sight, plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and efficiency of household appliances. The primary difficulty lies in highlighting its significance in a way that resonates with consumers who rarely see or think about this component.


We needed to emphasize the connector’s reliability, durability, and crucial role in maintaining a safe home environment. This required innovative approaches that visually and conceptually brought this hidden but essential component to the forefront of consumer consciousness.  We burned down a house to show what happens when you don’t have this little device.

360 Degree House Fire Experience.

Digital Lead Generation Flow

United Heath Group

1024 682 Michael Kraabel

Responsible for developing a brand, campaign, and digital platform for aging populations looking to learn more about Medicare options from UHG.

The Challenge

Medicare, a crucial aspect of healthcare for retirees, often presents a complex landscape for those nearing retirement. Navigating its intricate rules and multiple parts, including Part A for hospital insurance, Part B for medical insurance, and Part D for prescription drug coverage, can be a daunting task. While Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) offers an alternative, understanding the nuances of each plan and how they compare to traditional Medicare adds another layer of complexity.

Compounding this challenge is the scarcity of clear, comprehensive resources that can guide retirees through the Medicare maze. This often leaves many grappling with decisions about coverage options, enrollment periods, and potential penalties without a solid grasp of the implications for their health and finances.

The Solution

Recognizing the complexity of Medicare, I led the effort with United Health Group to launch an initiative called “Medicare Made Clear” to demystify the choices surrounding this vital healthcare program for retirees. This comprehensive campaign was designed to bring clarity and ease into understanding Medicare.

It encompassed a range of easily accessible resources, including informative print materials, engaging explainer videos, and a centralized digital platform. This platform served as a hub of knowledge, offering a wealth of information through a series of question-and-answer segments, interactive video modules, and targeted email messages.

Additionally, it featured a variety of topical articles, each tailored to address specific aspects and common queries about Medicare. This multifaceted approach aimed to empower individuals approaching retirement with the knowledge and confidence to navigate their Medicare options effectively.

3D Systems

1024 683 Michael Kraabel

Guided 3D Systems through the complicated landscape of digital lead generation for their On Demand and printer sales divisions.

3D Systems Overview

3D Systems On Demand Manufacturing is a service provided by 3D Systems, a company specializing in 3D printing technologies. This service offers custom manufacturing solutions using 3D printing and traditional manufacturing methods.

It caters to various industries, including aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and consumer goods. The service enables clients to produce prototypes, end-use parts, and production runs with a range of materials and finishes.


The Campaign

We developed an extensive asset library to use as part of this campaign, including photo and video assets, downloadable case studies, printing guides, and high value training tutorials for prospective customers.  In addition to digital lead tracking, each digital landing page and printed component utilized phone lead tracking, as well, allowing us to know exactly which publications and messages resonated best with the prospective customers.

The Details

The marketing program for 3D Systems’ On Demand Manufacturing (ODM) division is a comprehensive blend of traditional and digital strategies,  designed to maximize market reach and customer engagement. This program is structured in several key components:

Extensive Data Mapping: This involves in-depth analysis and segmentation of the market. Using advanced analytics, the program identifies potential customers in industries like aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and consumer products. It maps out customer profiles, preferences, and purchasing behaviors, providing a solid foundation for targeted marketing efforts.

Geofencing of Key Customers: Utilizing geofencing technology, the program targets key customers by setting virtual perimeters around specific geographic areas, such as industry hubs or competitor locations. When potential customers within these sectors use digital devices, they receive tailored advertising messages, enhancing the likelihood of engagement.

Programmatic Media Buying: This aspect leverages automated platforms to purchase digital advertising space. By using real-time data, the program efficiently targets ads to specific audiences across various online channels, ensuring optimal ad placement and timing for maximum impact.

Industry Publications Purchases: The program invests in advertising and content placement in leading industry publications. This traditional approach ensures brand visibility and thought leadership within the industry, reaching a professional audience through trusted sources.

Lead Scoring and Tracking: Prospective clients are scored based on their engagement and potential value. This system prioritizes leads, allowing the sales team to focus on the most promising prospects. Lead tracking tools monitor the progress of these leads through the sales funnel, providing insights into customer behavior and the effectiveness of marketing strategies.

Detailed Lead Tracking Metrics: The program employs advanced metrics to track leads, analyzing data like source attribution, engagement levels, conversion rates, and customer lifecycle stages. This data is crucial for refining marketing strategies, optimizing resource allocation, and improving overall ROI.


1024 683 Michael Kraabel

In the aftermath of hurricane Erika, the Commonwealth of Dominica was looking to attract adventure-seeking travelers for their next vacation. Covered with lush tropical jungle, volcanic peaks, and dotted with rivers and waterfalls, Dominica offers a much different island experience. My team developed the “Seeking Adventurers” campaign to target active travelers looking for a unique experience.

The Campaign

The “Seeking Adventurers” campaign is a dynamic and innovative initiative launched with the Caribbean island of Dominica, aimed at attracting travelers who crave exploration and adventure. The campaign highlights Dominica’s unique offerings, distinct from typical beach-focused Caribbean destinations.

Central to the campaign is Dominica’s rugged and pristine natural environment. The island, often referred to as the “Nature Isle,” boasts lush rainforests, dramatic volcanic landscapes, and a rich array of wildlife. The campaign emphasizes activities like hiking through the UNESCO-listed Morne Trois Pitons National Park, exploring the Boiling Lake, diving in Champagne Reef’s bubbly waters, and encountering the island’s rich marine life.

Cultural immersion is also a key component. The campaign invites adventurers to engage with the island’s rich cultural heritage, including its indigenous Kalinago community, and to experience local traditions, music, and cuisine.

Media Outreach

The “Seeking Adventurers” campaign is promoted through various digital platforms, social media, travel partnerships, and interactive events, targeting eco-conscious travelers and adventure-seekers worldwide. This strategic approach aims not just to boost tourism, but also to foster sustainable travel practices in alignment with Dominica’s commitment to environmental conservation and cultural preservation.

The campaign was directly tied to post-hurricane recovery, as tourism quickly rebounded, bringing much needed income and jobs to the island.

Creative Partnerships

For the Seeking Adventurers Campaign we were able to use an extensive library of photo and film content gathered during the Dominica Film Challenge Events I produced. We had a vast library to pull from that showcased the raw adventure that awaited potential visitors.

Authentic Adventures

By featuring real imagery captured by adventurers who had previously visited the island, it gave the campaign a sense of honesty and transparency.  The campaign landing page featured a variety of itineraries people could select from, including places to stay, ways to get to Dominica, and first-hand testimonials from previous travelers.

CertainTeed – Digital Transformation

1024 576 Michael Kraabel

I led a multi-disciplinary team through my Distill workshop process to gain internal alignment and to help craft a long-term digital transformation strategy.

SAM Nutrition

1024 683 Michael Kraabel

Worked directly with the SAM Nutrition executive team to refresh and modernize the brand – from tradeshows to digital experiences.

The Challenge

SAM Nutrition is a growing international importer of animal nutrition ingredients, but they had never really spent much time developing their brand.  They needed a refresh to reflect their status as a global leader in importing.

The Solution

We completely rebuilt their website from the ground up, including original photography to better represent their unique market offering.  The brand standards were updated and applied across all of their OEM packaging products, trade show booths, and various other marketing elements.