June 10, 2024

Navigating Defining Moments with Margaret Strickland, Head of Strategy at Creature.

A Special Behind-the-Scenes Conversation with One of our Own

Written by:
Craig Higdon

Hi, we’re Creature, a brand, product, and experience design agency that partners with companies at defining moments, helping them to grow, evolve, and outperform. 

We’re excited to debut our new Creature Interview Series. For our very first interview, we're doing something a little special. Craig Higdon, our Head of Client Services, sat down with Margaret Strickland, Co-Founder and Head of Strategy & Marketing here at Creature. Craig asked Margaret about what it takes to handle drastic market and business changes successfully.

Margaret has built a career helping clients envision and deliver on bold, original, authentic brands and digital experiences. She’s led work for brands like Vivrelle, Sentient Jet, Captivate, and MetLife (and its successful spin-off, Brighthouse Financial). For the MetLife and Brighthouse spinoff, Margaret actually worked within the business rather than on the agency side, so she has front row experience with business and brand challenges at the largest level - and how to navigate them successfully.



Craig Higdon: Hi Margaret! We’re excited to get to pick your brain a bit about how you think about big business challenges and how you approach our strategy practice here at Creature. First, how’d you get started in brand and marketing?


Margaret Strickland: Well, although I run our strategy practice now, I've always come at brand and marketing through a visual lens. I studied fine art photography and design, so I have a background anchored in conceptual and visual thinking. I have always been interested in branding, because at the end of the day, a great brand is one that is born from a strong conceptual foundation. A great brand tells a story that is meaningful to its target audience, and is unique and authentic to the company. A great brand shows and tells how a company is different, what they do for their customers, and most importantly - why anyone should care. 

CH: At Creature we are continually working with companies that are experiencing defining moments, be it launching a new product, experiencing disruption, expanding to new audiences, or facing the need to innovate to compete. How do you approach brand strategy for companies facing big changes?

MS: I think a huge benefit that Creature brings to the table is our ability to take a step back, and to bring both an outside and inside point-of-view to a company’s biggest challenges. What I mean by that is that half of our team has worked within large companies and knows what it is like to be in our client’s shoes, while the other half of our team has decades of experience at leading agencies. 

Often, the leadership teams we are working with are solving the day-to-day problems of the business. We are able to help companies consider the bigger picture. Our strategy team seeks to understand what a company is trying to accomplish in the world. What is a company’s higher order purpose? What is the company’s future vision? From there we connect the company’s aspirations to the customer truth. We set out to understand what customers really want and what they really care about. We do this by talking to customers ourselves then creating a future-facing, bold brand narrative, strategy and positioning that strikes at the heart of what a company enables for its customers. 

We know we have succeeded when a client has an Aha! moment. A moment when our story connects and makes a lot of sense. And they are able to take on the new narrative as their own.  

CH: What’s an Aha! moment you've had working with a client and it all came together?


MS: We’ve been working with Captivate, the media network. They've been around for 25 years and have a massive screen presence in office towers and luxury residential buildings displaying advertisements in elevators and lobbies. Prior to 2020, Captivate had built a big business by selling media to B2B advertisers, offering access to “business influencers, business decision makers and C-suite executives.” 

 Sadly, Covid hurt their business. As we know, in 2020 no one was going into the office. However, Captivate was incredibly agile and innovative in the midst of real difficulty. They expanded their reach to include a sizable residential network. This new and expanded audience no longer aligned to Captivate’s existing perceptions as a B2B advertising player. Captivate was at an inflection point. They had a refreshed product and needed to convey to brands the true value that they could provide across this expanded network.


Creature & Captivate Brand Strategy Whiteboard

For us the Aha! moment came in taking a step back to think about who the Captivate viewer really is. Ultimately, Captivate is reaching a multi-faceted group of influential individuals. Far more than simply “B2B decision makers,” Captivate’s viewers are builders, doers, change-makers, parents, travelers, shoppers, and far more. And each viewer is many, if not all of those characteristics at once. For Captivate, Zooming out allowed them to tell a bigger story about reaching a compelling, kaleidoscopic audience that brands want to reach.


Snapshot of some of the Captivate brand strategy and campaign work.

CH: What other kind of changes do you see companies struggling with right now? What's the future for experience, design, and brand? 


MS: We talk a lot about this internally. Five, ten years ago if you had an incredible brand strategy and visual identity, you were going to be able to break through and resonate with consumers. But great design and great brands have become ubiquitous especially during this huge new wave of direct-to-consumer companies. They all have beautiful, polished brand identities and strategies. But that is now the status quo and no longer a differentiator. 

At Creature we think a brand needs to live within the context of the entire experience of a company. We think about business problems and address them through the lens of brand, experience and product. These things need to live together. And it all needs to be in service of driving true business value and positive change. I think that this holistic, end-to-end approach is going to become more common in the way agencies think about work going forward.


CH: Who can you think about right now that needs what you just said more than anybody else?


MS: The opportunities I get most excited about personally are the ones where a business has been established and has a heritage. They’ve had success, but have gotten a little stuck in their ways. They need a fresh set of eyes and they are open to change and to thinking differently. Because at the end of the day, that’s what we do. We help companies think differently - about themselves, their customers, and ultimately, their brands, products, and experiences. 

Creature has limited availability for introductory meetings beginning in early June. If your firm requires assistance with navigating shifts in your market or competitive landscape, please email Margaret ( or Craig ( We would be happy to discuss further.