Meet Olive & Company Partner, Rob Haskin

Meet Olive & Company Partner and Creative Director, Rob HaskinRob Haskin and Tom Keekley decided to start their own marketing design firm ten years ago. Marketing and design have both changed significantly over that time, but Rob and Tom’s passion for design – and for helping clients achieve their goals – has grown even stronger.

As Partner at Olive & Company, Rob divides his time between managing the company, providing creative direction for Olive’s design team, and contributing design concepts. We spoke with Rob about Olive & Company’s history, evolution, and work.


Tell us a little bit about your background. What were you up to before you decided to start a design firm?

RH: 
I worked in numerous design environments. I started as a designer in an in-house catalog retailer and then as an art director in a membership marketing company. I eventually moved on to agency life and, after 15 years, decided it was time to start my own firm.

You and Tom Keekley have known one another for a long time. What led you two to start Olive & Company?

RH: We both had quite a bit of design experience but were eager to take what we had learned and turn it into something that we felt could suit our lifestyles better.

Tom and I had talked about starting a design agency for years, but it never seemed to be the right time. One weekend, after a particularly rough work week, I knew it was time to venture out on my own. I needed someone to take the leap with me and so I just picked up the phone and said, “Tom, do you want to quit your stable corporate design job and become a small business owner?” He jumped at the opportunity and, despite the many hurdles we’ve encountered, here we are today.

What inspires you? What makes you excited to come to work these days?

RH: I enjoy the challenge of running the business, but design will always be my first love. I’m also fascinated by new technology and how it can help our clients.

What’s the single most important thing you’ve learned about marketing design over the past 10 years at Olive & Company?

RH: Things change so quickly that you have to really make an effort to stay on top of trends and technologies or you will quickly be left behind.

If you could talk to yourself from 10 years ago, what would you tell that guy?

RH: Don’t be afraid. Olive will survive the recession.

Continuing with the time travel theme, let’s go 5 years into the future. Anything you want to ask your future-self?

RH: Does Google make contact lenses yet?

Any recent studio work that you’re particularly proud of?

RH: There are a number of projects that come to mind, but the Sun Country Rewards Program and General Mills Blog Redesign were particular favorites. For Sun Country, the challenge was to produce a wide range of materials (from in-flight brochures, membership cards, print advertisements, airport signage and a met-transit bus wrap) all within a condensed timeline to meet the client’s scheduled launch date. For General Mills, the challenge was to provide an updated design in order to facilitate more content visibility and promote more sharing of content. We helped refine the information architecture and came up with a design solution that introduced a color coding system and a filtering system to help visitors find more relevant content.

Where should people look for you on social media? If people follow you, what should they expect you to post?

RH: I am a bit of an introvert, but I’m working on it. I am becoming more of a regular on Twitter, but I am more of a stalker than a talker. If people follow me on Twitter, they should expect to see me sharing stories of the more bizarre bits of life. I am always amazed that life is so much weirder than fiction.

You have two amazingly talented and creative girls. Do they ever try to art direct your work?

RH: They do have many opinions and very interesting perspectives. They seem to have very strong opinions on typography.

Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, or Evil Dead (2013)?

RH: Definitely Evil Dead 2.