Rangle hires first ECD

Former Sapient creative leader Michael "Howie" Howatson will bring more strategic thinking to the digital consultancy.

Digital consultancy Rangle has hired Michael “Howie” Howatson as its first executive creative director.

Howatson will be responsible for growing the company’s existing design team and building a broader set of skills, specifically those focused on creative and design strategy.

The new ECD was most recently at Victoria-based digital design firm MetaLab, where he spent the majority of 2017 helping to restructure and evolve its design practice. Prior to that, he spent three years as ECD at SapientRazorfish’s Toronto office (formerly SapientNitro) and had a lengthy stint as a creative leader at Blast Radius’ Vancouver office. Over the course of his career, Howatson has worked with clients including Nike, Nintendo, Loblaw, TD, Fiat Chrysler, KPMG, Manulife, Apple and Microsoft.

Rangle is a digital consultancy that has worked with clients including Aldo, Uniqlo, Raymond James, ThyssenKrupp and Sprout.

Nick van Weerdenburg, CEO and founder of Rangle, says the company has expertise in product design, having begun as a Javascript consultancy and later growing into a digital consultancy with a focus on development of digital products. But he says it has become impossible to separate product design from the need for creative and design strategy, and bringing Howatson on as an ECD is a “natural step” in addressing that.

“Over the last ten years, being able to map out the full customer journey and connecting it to business strategy to that has become paramount,” he says. “Being able to design and strategize and execute against that, and then get results back, are really important to be able to compete.”

Van Weerdenburg says he isn’t interested in having Rangle compete with traditional creative agencies. He wants the shop to be able to use the customer journey as a bridge that connects the c-suite of its business to the experience of its consumers, and a more strategic creative and design approach is required to do that.

“We’re looking at the customer journey as a portfolio of initiatives that are being built and tested,” he says. “That’s where the innovation happens, but doing that as part of a coherent strategy is what lets us do that with less trial and error. I think the traditional creative strategy is to be more focused on brand and bringing people into the top of the funnel, but we want to look at the whole customer experience.”