The Importance of Storytelling in Design

The art of wrestling and skill of graphic design may seem several worlds apart, but branding expert Rich Bates doesn’t seem to think so. We met up on his turf at the C4DI sofas to discover how a love for storytelling has allowed him to succeed at two of his passions.

“Wrestling is all about telling a story in a specific way; creating a whole new character by focusing on one particular aspect of your personality; design works in a similar fashion,” explains Rich. “When I initially meet a new client, I begin to figure out the personality of the brand – imagining it as a narrative really helps with this process.”

Specialising in brand identity as well as web, app and print design, Rich’s company, Southpaw, has worked with several C4DI-based clients, including ARC, Vitamyn and the development team at {sauce}. Rich explains his methodology behind each of these projects:

“{sauce} are all about generating ideas and that’s why I came up with a lightbulb that moulds into a sauce pot, to reflect their name.” Meanwhile, software development company ARC began their journey developing games: “I created their logo to acknowledge what they are today, whilst linking back to their gaming roots.” The logo, which features a solar flare, harks back to a space-themed game that ARC once worked on.

Taking these journeys and producing a visual is what Rich does best, and it all started when he began competing: “Finding your wrestling character is all about looking inside yourself and pinpointing a particular aspect of personality, then turning up the volume when you’re in the ring.” Similarly, Rich believes that developing your brand identity is all about highlighting core businesses values: “On top of this, I also had a lot of experience improvising and reacting to the crowds, which helps when I work on personal branding for clients.”

Even the design house’s name derives from a love of the sport, southpaw being the stance adopted by left-handed boxers. As a left-handed cat enthusiast, Rich decided that this identity would be very fitting when sharing his own tale.

In the future, the designer-developer hopes to return to his wrestling roots and combine them with his professional skill set: “It’s an interesting and exciting industry that not many people pay attention to. By introducing them to good marketing, design and a more digitally-focused way of doing things, I can hopefully help the sport grow.”

Operating out of the C4DI has brought huge benefits for Southpaw, working with over 27 individuals and companies in the building. With 90% of all clients being based here, Rich seems to have found his natural habitat: “My initial attraction to the space was the colours; I’m always drawn to vibrancy, another reason why I love what I do.”

To learn more about Southpaw’s story and see how Rich’s amazing work can help to tell your own, please visit