Michael Gaizutis, Founder Of RNO1, Talks About His Career Journey & The Agency’s Unique Business Approach
RNO1 is a west coast digital experience agency, fueling growth for game-changing brands across platforms & places.
We talked with agency Founder & CXO Michael Gaizutis about his adventure with digital marketing. He told us about the agency’s building process and evolution. Also, he mentioned their business approach and how they increase motivation at the agency.
Q: What is the story behind RNO1? Where does the name come from?
RNO1 began as a brand strategy consultancy, pre-2009. The original name was Ruleno.1, which meant to “livethebrand”. As we evolved into a full-service brand & digital experience agency in late 2009, we carried over this core principle. To “livethebrand” means to embody the heart, soul and culture of your brand (or your business). To live it, breathe it, and exude it, across all touchpoints (digital and physical). Today, we’re a design-powered agency with a digital pulse.
Q: “We make waves” is your agency motto. How would you describe it?
We’re west coast change-makers, in a complex world. The brands we support are positioned to be purposeful and powerful while also fluid and free-forming. We’re embracers of change. When we drive the change, a brand can connect with its audience, captivate the hearts and minds of customers, and convert cross-channel. “We make waves” with our Client Partners by being truly adaptive and fluid to changes in the marketplace, and in many cases, driving that change.
Q: What was your motivation to start a company in the first place? Which challenges did you face during your journey?
The motivation for starting RNO1 was to align with growth-focused companies aiming to drive impact in their industries: from funded-startups to enterprise level, and those in between. To help them change the game and how it’s played.
We often sit side-by-side with these Clients, at the front-lines, making bold business (and brand) decisions that affect their bottom line, their brand objectives and boost in the market. Together, we drive experiences for brands with purpose. Our challenges are often driven by the market, and shaped by our collective experiences, with a whole bunch of data-points.
Q: What inspired you to shape your career within the digital marketing industry?
I always knew I wanted to be in Marketing (selling an idea, product or service), and was quite entrepreneurial, even from a young age. I fell in love with branding, design, and ultimately digital experience because it was so connective, interactive and truly whimsical to users and customers.
The notion that we can take an “idea” (often a “big idea”) and translate that into something tangible that is constantly changing and morphing, is truly amazing. Often times, the end output is something that is visible by many, and connective in different forms. Definitely a warm/fuzzy feeling… When we can measure that success (in the form of acquisition, IPO or brand growth) that warm/fuzzy feeling gets even better, and stronger. It keeps us craving more.
Q: We are curious about RNO1’s business approach and ethos. Please tell us the key principles that your team embraces?
Design-focused, first and foremost.
As a team, we’re design-focused across every touchpoint or interaction. Everything we do and dream up has a solid design impact. We get up and go in the morning, supercharged to make a difference with design as a top-of-mind solution.
Vendor no more – we’re part of your Team.
Some brands and businesses need a vendor. Well, that’s just not us. We’ve crossed it out from our virtual dictionaries. It’s dead to us. Instead, we’re a partner, enabler, and true collaborator. We’re a team extension and built around unification.
Senior teams, aiming for stellar impact.
All of our service, strategy, design and digital team members are senior-level, ready to take on the world to help you on your mission as a game-changing brand. This is intentional and built around the logic that to win big, we have to think big.
R is for real results.
To us, results are constantly in the line of sight. If we’re not over-delivering on results, we’re not the right partner. From day one, we’re hyper-focused on getting the right results and continuing to bring those to life with our cross-functional teams.
Q: You have a unique Subscription Model named Revolve for fast-moving brands. How does it work?
REVOLVE is a unique Design & Digital Subscription Model built for the modern Marketing, Product & Founding Team that needs a true partner and team extension: fueling brand growth across all user and customer touchpoints.
So, how does it work? Simply put, your brand purchases a block of hours to be consumed as needed, for a variety of shifting projects that require constant attention. No long-term contracts (only 30-Day commitments). No lengthy Proposals. Just simple and streamlined.
It’s SaaS for the agency world. Created to be completely flexible, we’re fully aligned with you, adaptive to change as change happens. Knowing your brand’s tribe is engaging with you on-screen and off-screen, we’re here to over-deliver each and every day, always adding value.
Q: RNO1’s website has won awards for Best UX Design, Best UI Design and Best Innovation by CSS Design Awards. Can you please share a few tips for creating a successful website?
At the end of the day, the best and boldest website experiences are just that: an experience. Give them (users and customers) something they’ll remember and is worth remembering. Make sure it’s relevant, contextual, purposeful, and emotional.
Content is king, so crafting a brilliant content strategy from the start will help to aid the design flow and digital rollout, yielding a very favorable output, and ultimately, experience.
Q: What are the most important marketing trends that you have observed recently? What do you think will be the next big trend in digital marketing?
I (and we) think the next big trend or movement in digital marketing will be around interaction: highly interactive, user-first experiences. Putting the user in command of the content they’re seeing in a very fluid and adaptive presentation.
Something that continuously morphs, takes shape and evolves. This might be completely virtual, augmented, or artificial, but at the heart of it – will be personal and connective. Truly human, or as human as we can understand.
Q: As the agency’s Founder & CXO, which digital marketing tools and platforms help you to accomplish your everyday goals?
We leverage a lot of tools to help us scale the right strategies for our Client’s, and fast-moving brands in the marketplace. Usually, these include, but aren’t limited to: InVision, Pastel (web tool), MailChimp (email marketing), Google Analytics, HubSpot, Slack, Basecamp, and more – depending on the engagement we’re taking on with our Client Partners.
Q: How do you keep your team motivated and how is the working environment in your office?
We work and function best as a distributed team: across the west coast (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver, BC) and now with a team in the EU. To do so, stay motivated and passionate to over-deliver for our Clients, we keep the team moral very high: joke a lot, pass notes back and forth that ease any of the strain of the day-to-day.
No workplace is easy, and in a fast-moving world like ours, we have to keep it fun. Knowing our team is widely spread out, keeping our virtual communication light-hearted and effortless, puts a nice ease on the workflow and nets a much better experience.
Q: How does being a DAN member contribute to RNO1’s success?
Being a DAN member allows us to reach a unique audience and base: one that is extremely intelligent, progressive, forward-thinking and invested in success aligned with a digital partner. We feel DAN is hyper-connected to a global (digital) community of fellow thinkers and makers, those that appreciate great design and digital experience. Those who want to work with partners that “get it” and will settle for nothing less than being a true partner and team extension. And since that’s who we are, and how we function best, it perfectly aligns.
RNO1 is a west coast brand strategy and digital design agency with a global edge, who partners with game-changing and growth-focused companies across platforms & places.