Storytelling: your brand’s secret weapon.

Harvard Business School professor, Gerald Zaltman famously found that 95% of the purchase decision-making process takes place in our intuitive subconscious, and is rationalised afterwards by our conscious minds. Is your brand utilising the art and science of storytelling to increase sales?

Imagine that two businesses are selling the same product on the same platform within the same price range. What makes a potential customer choose one over the other? The answer lies in our ability to tap into an essential element of human behaviour, and one that is often overlooked in the commercial sphere. Whether they realise it or not, people automatically seek out – and respond to – stories. It’s literally written into our genetic coding: since the beginning of time, human beings have recounted stories to express, entertain, and educate. So how can they be used to connect with your audience and grow your brand? 

When we speak about storytelling in marketing, we’re not weaving once-upon-a-time tales with long-winded plotlines. We’re also not talking about corporate social responsibility or day-to-day happenings in your business. In a commercial landscape where almost every industry is saturated with cold, homogenous content bombarding consumers from all angles, storytelling is an extremely powerful marketing tool. It humanises your brand and creates a cohesive narrative structure to your content by establishing your brand’s purpose and values

This is where the largely emotional process of decision-making, and commercial storytelling, intersect. When marketing their services, most businesses focus on explaining ‘what’ they do and fail to communicate ‘why’ they do it – beyond turning a profit. This ‘why’ is what we call the brand’s purpose, and neglecting to establish this at the beginning of a brand’s journey puts it at a significant disadvantage to its competitors. Used effectively, this tool has the demonstrated potential to establish a unique relationship with your customer and foster brand loyalty by creating an instinctive connection that can’t be forged through numbers, logic or charts.  

This process also includes defining your brand values, the set of principles that guide all communications and help establish your brand identity. All of these elements come together to build an absolutely critical pillar of marketing that ensures both initial and repeat business: consistency. This in turn cultivates trust in your audience, which makes them more likely to connect and engage with your brand. 

So – we may like to think that we make business and purchase decisions based purely on logic. However, as we have established, history and science say otherwise. In order to effectively tap into the selling potential of storytelling then, we must first establish an authentic and engaging brand story, brand purpose and brand values – which forms the blueprint for all subsequent content as part of a harmonious wider communication strategy. The effectiveness of this technique can be seen in the success of every major instantly-recognisable brand, from Coca Cola to Apple to Nike to Disney. These titans of industry, although varied in their product offerings, have only these elements in common: a concrete brand story, an iron-clad commitment to their values, and unwavering consistency in their communication strategy. It’s a failsafe process that has time and time again proven to drive engagement, loyalty, and sales. Is your brand taking full advantage of the incredible potential of storytelling? 

Creating and growing professional brand and communication strategies is what we do best: contact us today to find out how we can help your business reach new heights.

A clean, modern look to reflect our growing business and exciting ambitions for the future.

2021 is a milestone year here at Steves&Co. as we officially celebrate a decade in business, we are pleased to unveil our refreshed, streamlined new look!

As every good business understands, regular evaluation and updating of internal practices is essential for continued success – and this rejuvenation came as a natural step for our brand as we continue to grow to new heights and work towards our exciting future ambitions.

The goal for this branding refresh was to modernise communications and steer ourselves closer to our core interests and services. To achieve this, our talented in-house design team carefully evaluated our objectives and revitalised the brand colours that we launched with back in 2011, thereby retaining focus on the services that we originally offered – branding and technology – whilst acknowledging our growth and evolution in this ever-changing industry.

steve ciantar barbara

As well as our updated brand aesthetics, we also revamped the most important portal used to showcase our current and past portfolio of projects: our website. The slick new interface was designed to ease navigation and improve the overall user experience, staying in-line with our commitment to remain innovative and keep our clients at the heart of everything we do.

Over the last few years, our service and product offerings have risen to new heights. Our business changes and adapts every single day to keep our finger on the pulse of the industries that we service. With this in mind, our 10-year company milestone provided the perfect opportunity to take stock, review and refurbish.

Our new look positions us to grow along with your business. We thank all of our clients, past and present, for your continued support and confidence in all of the projects you have entrusted us with.

We look forward to a prosperous future ahead in which we are succeeding, achieving and thriving – together.

– Steve Ciantar-Barbara

How to Pivot Your Messaging.

Clear and effective communication is never more important than during times of instability and uncertainty when people are craving clarity. It’s vital that brands engage in outward-facing communication, focusing on what people need to hear, rather than pushing our own products or services. These are our five tips on how to pivot your communications for the current circumstances, to share the right message in the right way.

1. Adapt your tone

There’s nothing worse for a brand’s image than being out of touch with the world around it. This applies all the time, but especially during times of unpredictability and unrest. Now more than ever, make sure all your communications reflect the tone of the current situation. Be sensitive to what people actually need to hear right now, and how your messaging can support that. With that being said …

2. Maintain consistency

It might seem like a contradiction but hear us out. Don’t forsake your existing brand identity. Don’t take this as an opportunity to be more relatable by cracking jokes if your communications tend to be more polished, and don’t start with the high-level corporate language if you’re normally more relaxed. Find ways to communicate sensitively while staying in line with your brand voice.

3. Solve, don’t sell

For many brands, this is a recession like no other: not just an economic loss, but a global loss of lifestyle. This means it isn’t the time to employ a sales-centric, business as usual marketing strategy. Instead, find ways that your business can help solve the problems people are facing. Communicate how your products or services can provide solutions and ensure those solutions make sense for the circumstances.

4. Support the public messaging

Government-issued guidelines and requirements around the world are changing constantly and it can be hard to keep up, but as businesses, we have to. Support this messaging by making sure all your services are in line with the current safety guidelines or requirements. Communicate how you’re staying compliant so people don’t need to second guess their purchase.

5. Walk the talk

Communication is all about the talk, but make sure you’re following through. Avoid virtue signalling at all costs, where companies publicise their brand values but fail to uphold them. Showing how you’re positively contributing is all well and good, as long as it’s genuinely valuable and worth promoting. Don’t just pat yourself on the back – self-serving only serves yourself. Authenticity is always key in communications and brands that aren’t delivering on this will be called out quickly.

The importance of strong communication really can’t be understated. Strong messaging reflects a strong brand. These tips can help you navigate this period to build long-term customer relationships and brand identity and to come out stronger on the other side.

Keep an eye on our social media and website for more advice from us on staying strong through this crisis, or get in touch to find out more about strategising for your business.

Think outside the Box

E-Commerce: It’s About Resilience.

E-Commerce allows you to be open 24/7

At this point, it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, it all comes back to one thing:
COVID-19. Businesses across all industries – except maybe supermarkets and pharmacies – are struggling to deal with the fallout of the crisis. In circumstances like these, we need to strengthen our businesses to safeguard against current and future volatility, while also building business-as-usual operations.

That’s where e-commerce comes in, as the unquestionable solution for the problem of self-isolation and avoidance of in-store shopping during this particular crisis. And – bonus! – it supports existing, day-to-day business even when there isn’t a global pandemic.

But what is it about e-commerce that makes it so valuable? Well, it’s convenient, flexible and works as a safety net to support existing revenue channels.


It’s the most obvious, but also the most significant: online shopping is convenient. Businesses are always there and always open. Customers aren’t limited to opening hours, and during extreme circumstances like we’re facing now, physical stores don’t need to remain open at all. And with shipping time globally getting shorter and shorter, the one major downside of online shopping is rapidly disappearing.

But it’s not just convenient in its accessibility; e-commerce has the convenience of information. The amount of information available to customers online makes it easier to compare products and find the best item at the best price. Businesses can get in on the information action as well. With analytics integration, we can monitor users and understand their buying habits, where they’ve come from, what products they’re considering, and more. This allows us to better respond to their needs and motivations. 


More than ever, for both consumer and business, online shopping is flexible. E-commerce is no longer limited to just a shop website, now including other channels like social media, online marketplaces, influencers and apps. With multi-channel integration, we can meet new and existing customers in different spaces and in different ways depending on the channel.

This allows businesses to be reactive, proactive, engaged and engaging.

It’s already played out during this crisis: brands in China that had an early shift to focus on digital marketing and e-commerce showed increased sales overall, even compared to the same period last year when there wasn’t a global pandemic.

For businesses that only have a single e-commerce channel, the flexibility is still there. From scaling up or down business with minimal costs, to increased agility in how we can respond to online trends. Creating a new digital banner for a website, for example, has a much shorter production time than designing, producing and installing a window display. And that window display relies on customers being out and about to see it …

Safety Net

There are no boundaries with E-Commerce

In times like these, online shopping is without a doubt the safer choice for individual and collective health. For many people around the world, it’s the only choice. While we’re currently living through an extremely rare situation, the safety net of e-commerce for consumers and businesses alike is an integral part of its value.

For some, it comes back to accessibility. There will always be people for whom physical shopping isn’t an option, whether due to age, disability, location, disease, or something else. But more than that, e-commerce creates a stable and consistent integrated revenue stream to support established business. Whatever products or services we’re selling, by having two largely independent channels operating, we’re crafting a safety net to use when one is threatened. That, more than anything else, is the key to resilience.

E-commerce is not about replacing brick and mortar stores; it’s about diversifying and integrating your channels to support each other and to be there for your customers where they expect to find you. Research – and common sense – shows that when physical, in-store shopping is inconvenient or challenging, people will turn to online shopping.

With greater convenience, flexibility and as a safety net in times of uncertainty, e-commerce is resilient and it makes our businesses more resilient.

Get in touch to find out how our teams can support your business in finding the right e-commerce solutions. Growth starts here.

Let’s Go-To-Market.

The importance of Retail Strategy.

Contrary to many people’s perceptions, retail is not only about the process of selling branded consumer goods to customers, but also selling branded services.

When taking on a new project in both consumer goods or services, one must keep in mind that retail strategy is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle together with the creation of the concept. In the majority of projects we are involved, we always highlight the importance to execute a full commercial plan that covers a variety of strategic level decisions, such as the types of goods or services, product naming, store interiors, perception building for the market to be served, the optimal product assortment, customer service, communication tactic and the store’s overall market positioning.

Lucy Makeup Showcase

Retailers must start by formulating the retail mix for the strategy, which includes the prime 6P model: product, price, place, promotion, personnel and presentation. Setting these individual elements correctly is crucial for the market positioning of a brand in the retail world: the type of product being sold, it’s visual impact, price positioning, display and sales environment – be it available for online purchase or only offline – the way it is promoted, through which channels and so on. The importance of the 6P model has also become increasingly relevant for online retail, as a large number of businesses are looking to reach wider markets by selling through multiple digital channels. The vibrant, online retail experience, must complement the brick and mortar business, developing strong and inspiring customer-journeys to convert visitor traffic into sales.

The importance of the 6P model has also become increasingly relevant for online retail, as a large number of businesses are looking to reach wider markets by selling through multiple digital channels.

The digital world is also pervasive in the way that we pay for goods and services which is constantly evolving. Retailers must be ready to adopt and embrace various new technologies in order to facilitate payments, enabling customers to purchase with ease and offering more flexible solutions. For example, Revolut, a customer-centric debit card payment system makes transactions smoother universally. Other payment portals such as Sumup, have become the smart choice for mobile payments. Keeping up with new technologies is not an option.

Melita Showcase

Retailers must be ready to adopt and embrace various new technologies in order to facilitate payments, enabling customers to purchase with ease and offering more flexible solutions.

Product and service packaging with the choice of goods and services offered, must fit like a glove into the brand story, with their identity and values always standing strong to the retail promise. These elements should be clearly communicated to consumers so that they can easily identify with the offering that is available to them at the respective outlet or online shopping platform.

Melita Showcase
Melita Showcase

Understanding and further developing the brand character and product range in relation to its specific target audience is as important as the ‘naming’ of these items. These, together with visual positioning and memory-recall of specific brand attributes such as iconography, typography or logo elements and colours are also part of the primary retail nodes which people relate to and keep remembering, as ‘top-of-mind’.

Keeping up with new technologies is not an option.

Brand stand-out and differentiation may be achieved through creative and innovative retail design. Strategy for single or multi-outlet branded spaces must be consumer-centric, for any retail business, be it home furnishings, banking, perfumery, telco, confectionery, hospitality, automotive etc. Over the years we have studied and executed various retail concepts with a special focus on the customer journey, sales touch-points and memorable interactions in store that will grow to become top-of-mind whilst strengthening the overall marketing and promotional efforts. Various brands from all over the globe are currently experimenting with different instore journeys with the goal of creating a shareable effect through digital channels, such as Instagram, where marketing efforts are being amplified by customers, creating a new earned media phenomenon.

FRANKS Website Showcase

Brand stand-out and differentiation may be achieved through creative and innovative retail design.

Only after all the items on the retail strategy checklist are ticked off is the concept ready to go to market. Facing a buoyant hyper-economy, it is essential that the brand and its offering are ready to face both the constantly-agile competition as well as a more educated and demanding consumer pool.

Romano Cassar Showcase

Embracing Individuality, the inspiration behind FRANKS 2017-2018 Campaign.

When approached to create this year’s campaign, it was immediately clear to the team at Steves&Co. to address a reality that would tie in Franks’ Heritage with the present day. Working together for five consecutive years created a strong client-agency relationship and a deeper understanding of the brand.

Steves&Co. decided to further build on ‘Celebrating Heritage’ as the resonant core message leading up to the brand’s 125th anniversary next year. The 2017-2018 campaign aimed to celebrate positivity, individuality and personal style in all its wonderful diversity. It challenged ideals and perceptions of beauty by embracing uniqueness, personality and expression.

franks bus shelter campaign

FRANKS has been at the forefront of the beauty industry for many generations and recognizes that beauty has no age. “Our challenge” said Emily Micallef, Marketing Accounts Executive, from Steves&Co. “is to create a campaign that grabs the consumer’s attention and stands out amongst the noise of a competitive market”. This year’s campaign communicated the brand appeal to women of all ages; both young and old. It’s simplicity yet use of a stylistic ‘hero image’ was what ultimately drove the message home.

As part of its campaign, FRANKS released a mini-documentary celebrating the dominant theme of ageless beauty. Conceived by Steves&Co and directed together with the FRANKS team, it served as a celebration of experience over age. It was also an appreciation of the new generation challenging the unachievable standards of beauty we come face to face with every single day.

Featured in the video is Gladys Wirth, age 91, the face of the new campaign. A former telephone operator during the second world war, Gladys is a stylish and vibrant woman who redefines social constructs of beauty. She shows off her bold and fun character during the behind the scenes short where she shares with the viewer what age and style mean to her. Gladys is a breath of fresh air; a woman of substance who radiates self-love and self-acceptance.

embracing individuality campaign

This year, the muse and inspiration behind the campaign were of a more ‘mature’ kind. Why? Because beauty standards are changing. “Ageless individual beauty is a value FRANKS holds very dear” said Louise Galea, Marketing Manager at FRANKS. “This theme of ageless beauty,” she continued “merged with the concept of ‘embracing individuality’. It perfectly encompasses where we feel the company is at as well as where we envision it to be in the coming years.” The idea was to move away from the obsession of age and unrealistic ideals constantly portrayed by the media by showing how in reality, someone mature can be just as bold and youthful.

Interior Design project featured on Archello.

Featured on Archello on 5th June, 2016,

Romano Cassar, one of Malta’s premier florists, entrusted Steves&Co. to extend their refreshed branding across their interior space. The firm aspired to create a retail area that would capture the nature of the company whilst simultaneously showcase the many plant varieties and beautiful floral designs they create for their growing client base.

In order to reflect the company’s keen eye for detail and design, as well as their genuine passion for floristry, natural materials were used to colour the space. Maple wood was used for floor-to-ceiling structures and a natural palette of mint, grey and beige were combined to emit a calm and earthy feel. The vibrant aesthetic taken on by the retail outlet greets you at the door, tied with the delicate scent of freshly cut buds; it truly is an experience for all the senses within the branded interiors.

Large format shelving graces the high walls surrounding the retail area and serves as the perfect platform, giving the eye enough room to view all the decorative items on display. Flowerpots trim the area, carefully placed on top of modular steps with mint rectangular plinths. This horizontal rhythm adds a playful dynamic to the space, grouping particular floral items according to their visual qualities.

For Steves&Co, the private office design was a project focus in itself. This room is a key component for Romano Cassar, as a large segment of business is derived from creative floral décor for weddings, private functions and larger-scale events. Thus, much attention was paid to curate a conservative and professional style that portrays the true character of Romano Cassar and sets the right atmosphere. All in all, it may be said that the interior layout and décor complements the outlet’s footprint and field perfectly. The subtle tones and fresh appeal mirror their creative artistry and first class delivery. A proud space.

Steves&Co. wins competitive pitch for Unilever ice cream brands: Magnum, Ben&Jerry’s, and Walls.

Earlier this year Unilever International contacted incumbent and new agencies to pitch for their FMCG advertising and marketing business in Malta, Europe.

Unilever International has directly appointed Steves&Co. as its first Malta based advertising agency to handle Magnum, Wall’s, and Ben&Jerry’s brands after a competitive pitch among country shops.

One of the main focus points the agency has set to tackle is to encourage consumers to engage with products through the creation of ATL, BTL, shopper, and digital strategies in order to achieve consumer and commercial objectives.

The first work by Steves&Co. for Unilever is expected to launch in April and will promote Magnum, in overall projects that will last over 3 years.

FrieslandCampina’s FRICO cheeses marketing account moves to Steves&Co.

The firm has acquired the premier cheese brand Frico’s strategy, creative and media buying account with an initial launch at the start of 2016.

Steves&Co.’s first work for Frico appeared in Q1 2016 as part of the advertising works by the creative agency. FrieslandCampina handed the marketing business to Steves&Co. without a competitive pitch. The creative team also handed social and viral campaigns through an active digital approach.

Carmelo Abela, the FMCG marketer and distributor, represents the Frico brand in Malta.

Steves&Co. featured on Office Snapshots.

The firm is proud to have been featured on Office Snapshots, a leading website dedicated to the finding and sharing of workplace inspiration and interior design.

Following the agency’s gradual transition from a team of three to a fully-fledged company, a refreshed brand image was in order. With such growth came the extension of our product line, introducing interior design as our most recent venture. The Steves&Co. premises served as a debut of such a service offering, as well as a depiction of the firm’s work ethic. The office space adopted refined aesthetics and embraced the collaboration of creatives and people through its engaging layout and open design. As described by the designer herself, “The office is a warm, industrial, open-plan space designed to reflect the way the firm works.”

The article was published on January the 4th and can be found through this link.