Tom Rinks not only understands the art of branding, he can explain it with the passion and precision of a master teacher. In 2009, he came up with the look of Sun Bum sunscreen, drawing on influences as disparate as American surf culture, Scandinavian furniture, and Japanese streetwear. He then mashed them up into a brand represented by a stone-faced gorilla staring out from a woodgrain background. Within ten years, Sun Bum was acquired by SC Johnson at a reported valuation of $400 million. But even before that, Tom helped launch a wildly diverse range of brands, including a line of tequila, a series of Christian videos, and even the “Yo quiero Taco Bell” chihuahua campaign. All were huge successes, though it took a five-year legal battle for Tom to get paid for the Taco Bell mascot. This month, yet another brand he designed—Made by Dentists—launched in 1,800 Target stores across the U.S.
This episode was produced by Casey Herman, with music by Ramtin Arablouei
Edited by Neva Grant, with research help from Katherine Sypher and Susannah Broun.