Leading national outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI has hired Ben Steele as the company’s first chief creative officer. Steele most recently served as executive creative director at Hornall Anderson in Seattle, a globally recognized brand experience design agency with additional offices in London and New York. He will start in his role at REI’s headquarters on January 1, 2015.

Earlier this year, REI announced the decision to search for its first chief creative officer.

“One of the great joys of leading REI is the deep appreciation of our amazing brand and how outdoor stories permeate every part of the co-op experience,” said Jerry Stritzke, REI president and CEO. “Telling these stories in a compelling way is a huge opportunity for us. Ben is a creative, strategic thinker who gets that we have to bring our brand story to life in unconventional ways. He’s going to have a big impact.”

At REI, Steele will lead the company’s creative strategy, bringing to life the brand’s identity as a specialty outdoor lifestyle retailer. He will lead creative across the co-op with a team that will influence physical and digital assets, private brand product development, product assortment and REI’s employment brand.

“I couldn’t be more excited about joining the team. As a long-time member, as a brand partner over more than a decade and as a person who loves the experiences REI unlocks, I’m a huge believer in the co-op’s mission. REI is an amazing brand and I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to work with the talented people here to bring to life our mission, purpose and overall experience for anyone who loves the outdoors,” said Steele.

Steele has celebrated successful storytelling and brand design with companies such as Starbucks, Major League Baseball, PepsiCo and Lexus. He studied at the University of Puget Sound and taught at the Seattle School of Visual Concepts.

About REI

REI is a $2 billion national multichannel retail co-op headquartered outside of Seattle. With more than five million active members, REI serves the needs of outdoor adventurers through innovative, quality products; inspiring classes and trips; and integrated customer service that allows shoppers to buy great gear and clothing in any way they want. REI has 137 stores in 33 states and REI.com and REI.com/outlet. Anyone may shop with REI, while members pay a one-time $20 fee to receive a share in the company’s profits through an annual member refund based on patronage. Membership in the co-op also includes special promotions and discounts on REI Adventures trips and REI Outdoor School classes.

Logo courtesy REI

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