In conversation with

Ali Hanson

Founder at Ali Hanson



Ali Hanson Studio is thinking differently about branding and design, leaning into storytelling as “the precursor to concepts”. Having worked at It’s Nice That and Wonderland Magazine, he’s now the founder of his own creative studio and has worked with brands such as PATCH, YouTube, and HYHT. We sat down with Ali to chat about the importance of staying curious, the value of stories and the ever-changing creative environment.

Question and Answer

What did you learn from your previous roles at It’s Nice That and Wonderland Magazine that you were able to apply when you set up Ali Hanson Studio?

Having dedicated audiences gives you this heightened understanding about the people you serve, you think about them every day, you get to know them really well and this process informs your thinking and your choices as you attempt to make compelling work for them. I think this dedication to understanding an audience is something I try to apply in my work today.

Storytelling plays a big role in effective branding and design, especially for advertising. How do you integrate storytelling into your projects?

For me, stories are the precursor to concepts. They can manifest in many ways, at times they sit right at the surface of a brand idea or campaign, and at other times they can be more subtle. I think my background in editorial has given me experience in how to crystallise a story concisely. Visualising a complex story on a magazine cover is very similar to how I approach visuals for brand identities and campaigns. I try to use this thinking when helping an organisation to develop visual techniques to communicate their product, values or future ambitions.

In advertising or design in general, who do you think is the best storyteller and why? an advertising campaign that has left the biggest impression on you? And why?

It’s hard to pinpoint one person or team. Advertising wise Nike’s ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ piece is incredible. It felt so well researched and the way in which the story was told from multiple perspectives so concisely was amazing, I don’t tire of watching it. I thought the ‘Whatever it takes’ campaign by Macmillan was brilliant too and I loved the womb stories piece by AMV BBDO for Bodyform. Design-wise Craig Oldham’s book ‘In Loving Memory of Work’ comes to mind, it’s heartfelt, moving and puts design at the centre of the story.

“When I set out on a project I try to put faith in my process and approach, I rely on my instincts and follow my curiosity.”

Could you share with us one of the most memorable projects you’ve worked on? What made it so special?

My time at It’s Nice That was special for many reasons. Whilst I was studying, reading It’s Nice That fanned the flames for my love and interest in creativity, it also allowed me to understand how I could make a career from it. So, to then work for the platform, help them grow and be a part of the team that re-launched the site in 2021 was a really special moment.

Which creative industry do you take most inspiration from?

It’s hard to pinpoint one particular industry above others, but I certainly do take a lot of inspiration from type design, I love the craft and attention to detail associated with it.

The creative landscape is ever-evolving, and your journey reflects this transformation. How do you see the future of branding and design, especially in terms of print media vs. emerging digital platforms? How does Ali Hanson Studio stay adaptive and innovative in this rapidly changing environment?

For me talking to other people from related fields about their work, their approach and what they are inspired by is the best way I know. It keeps me interested, keeps me inspired and I guess this means I continue to question my approach and so I remain adaptable. When I set out on a project I try to put faith in my process and approach, I rely on my instincts and follow my curiosity.

Ali's Storylist


  1. Tacos CDMX
  2. Spoon Fed by Tim Spector
  3. Living and Eating by John Pawson and Annie Bell


  1. MacGuffin
  2. Tools Magazine
  3. CircleZeroEight


  1. On Design
  2. As the Season Turns
  3. Stuff You Should Know


  1. Vittles
  2. Service95
  3. ZOE’s Science & Nutrition Weekly

More from The Journal

InterviewNatasha Collie

Natasha Collie

Senior Brand Marketing Manager at Penguin Random House UK

At the start of the year, Ladybird Books approached Sonder & Tell with a dream brief. In 2021, a year that’s been particularly challenging for...

InterviewTatton Spiller

Tatton Spiller

Founder Of Simple Politics

Talking about serious issues doesn’t mean defaulting into a serious tone of voice, or using complicated language. If anything, accessibility, clarity and a touch of...

Interviewloïs mills

Loïs Mills

Brand & Community Manager at Homethings

Creating a tone of voice from scratch can be challenging. But a blank slate to work from also mean there’s room for something a bit...

Previous Story
Richard MacKichan

Editor-in-chief at Mr & Mrs Smith

Next Story
Max Whicher

Co-founder at Spin Brands