PlainJoe Studios

You can create a business, choose a name, but unless people know about it you're not going to sell any products.

Richard Branson
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Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.

Seth Godin
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Plain Who?

As the name suggests, we’re not in this to build our story; we’re in it to build yours.

We’re not a full-service agency; rather we’re down-to-earth specialists, artists, architects, strategists and problem solvers that know how to design brand identities, interactive experiences, architecture and physical spaces that connects story, creates value, and captivates audiences.

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. -Walt Disney

Our Expertise

We can perform any single service within any of the 3 dimensions of our expertise. However the magic happens when we are able to offer the immersive experience—creating a tremendous amount of continuity for your story across every touchpoint.

Strategic Storytelling

  • Brand and communication audits
  • Naming
  • Brand architecture
  • Positioning and personality
  • Logo and identity systems
  • Strategic messaging and brand voice
  • Print and packaging design
  • Brand guidelines
  • Brand story workshops and training
  • Production and implementation

Spatial StorytellingSM

  • Architecture
  • Master planning
  • Interior design
  • Immersive theming
  • Attraction design
  • Placemaking and identity graphics
  • Wayfinding systems
  • Digital integration
  • Augmented reality

Digital Storytelling

  • Custom web development
  • UI - Design (web and app)
  • UX - User Experience design
  • Database and system integrations
  • API development
  • Content strategy
  • Augmented reality
  • New media
storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it. -Hannah Arendt

OUR LEADERSHIP

BLAKE RYAN

PRESIDENT AND MANAGING PRINCIPAL

Blake’s focus includes leading the team with a (sometimes unhealthy) hyper focus on championing creative collaboration and clarity. Blake also serves many of our clients,  such as World Vision, the City of Milwaukee, the Bader Foundation, and many others  as a strategic and creative partner. Outside of PlainJoe, Blake serves his community as a bi-vocational pastor and social entrepreneur who has a passion to captivate and reform culture by elevating the stories and value of the nameless. Recently, Blake founded Restoration Roasters, a specialty coffee bar that provides hands-on vocational training for the homeless of his community. Blake also serves as the teaching pastor of Church at the Mission, Volunteer Director of the Corona Norco Rescue Mission, and Chief Executive Officer of Ethur.

Prior to joining the team, Blake held various C-Suite roles with non-profit organizations domestically and around the world, overseeing operations, finance, and marketing. Blake graduated with honors from Azusa Pacific University with a degree in Accounting and, yes, he can still whip out a spreadsheet like no one’s business.

PETER McGOWAN

CO-FOUNDER AND DESIGN PRINCIPAL

Peter McGowan is one of the founders of PlainJoe and Storyland Studios. He is a champion of bringing clients’ unique stories to life by broadening their visual vocabulary beyond words and helping shape the cultural influence of their organizations.

Having worked with large-scale corporate clients such as Infinity, Nissan, IBM and Johnson & Johnson, as well as creative pioneers including Disney, Universal and Lego – Peter has a robust background in technology, art, and architecture which has equipped him to skillfully integrate these fields of design to tell immersive stories on the graphic and environmental stages. He is especially passionate about partnering with non-profit and cause-based organizations to reflect their missions with excellence and heart.

At the end of the day, he loves spending time with his wife, Jennifer, and their three kids making memories that usually involve Lego sets, Star Wars, Disney, or all three.

MEL McGOWAN

CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER

Mel combined his background in film and design during a decade long stint at the Walt Disney Company. Post-Disney, he has led teams which have won multiple Solomon Awards for “Best Church Architect,” and “Best Builder” and is the author of Design Intervention. Mel was named one of the top 25 influencers by OC Metro Magazine, is a contributing editor to Outreach Magazine as well as an Adjunct Professor at CBU’s College of Architecture, Visual Arts & Design.

At PlainJoe Studios, Mel creatively leads the unique multi-disciplinary Spatial Storytelling SM studio, which integrates the multiple disciplines of master planning, architecture, interior design, show set design, environmental graphics, and themed attraction design in the creation of compelling experiences and environments around the world.

storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today. -robert mcafee brown

Our Values

How we work and the relationships we make are critical to who we are. Our values guide us and provide a window into what it’s like to work with us.

CARE-FULL ATTENTION

  • (Captures the personal posture of our team)
  • Elevate and serve the needs of others.
  • Champion clarity.
  • Close the loop.
  • Anticipate what’s next.
  • Love enough to be honest.
  • Steward like you own it.

SOLUTIONS-ORIENTED

  • (Captures our approach to the work)
  • Provide what’s right, not just requested.
  • Focus on the way forward.
  • Acknowledge our limits.
  • Fight for collaboration.
  • Encourage divergent thinking.
  • Keep improving.

FUN-LOVING FAMILY

  • (Captures our distinguishing characteristic)
  • Believe in something bigger than yourself.
  • Be uniquely you.
  • Live life together.
  • Choose loyalty, even to a fault.
  • Treat everyday like it’s casual Friday.
  • Break bread, often.
I like narrative storytelling as being part of a tradition. a folk tradition -bruce springsteen

Our Approach

We facilitate a process that articulates your story through the use of "Story Circles." Each circle helps to capture foundational aspects of your unique narrative.

WITH YOU, WE:

  • Discover the setting
  • Define the characters
  • Uncover the plot

At the heart of these aspects we’ll capture your story.