: : CRONAN : :

A creative strategic identity consultancy. We work with change-makers looking for innovative answers. Deeply experienced in naming, branding and design thinking, with results including TiVo and AmazonKindle. 

Disruption and Immersion : Sometimes the best ideas happen when we don't try so hard

Fast Company

"...The : : CRONAN : : studios were so far above the town that I felt like I was in another world: The air is crisper, deer walk gently among the pines, the boats in the San Francisco Bay below were mere specks in the blue expanse... every inch of this space was carefully designed to radically change clients' relationship with the world around them, at least for a brief time. 'It all seemed a bit literal, but part of why I loved having clients up there is that they immediately had a different perspective of the world,' Hibma says. 'The cars and the offices look so minuscule below, suddenly yesterday's problems seem inconsequential.' "

Elizabeth Segran writes for Fast Company about the intersection of culture, creativity and innovation. She spent a day in the studio with us and then wrote about our conversations.

"... I know how hard it is for people to get into the zone to generate ideas. Legendary creative genius Karin Hibma Cronan believes you can manufacture creativity. Here's how."

Yes, You Can Manufacture Creativity

"Manufacture"* original described humans as "makers". It is not the first definition that comes to mind when we modern folks hear the word.

However, we are distinguished by our hands – "manus" means "made by hand" it is an elegant description for the : : CRONAN : : approach to naming and strategic identity.

(*we like saying it with an animated hand gesture, in Italian: "manifaturra")

The Information


By Tim Dottan

"A good company name is like a good song; it somehow sounds familiar even if you've never heard it before. Creating such names is no simple trick though. If it were, Karin Hibma and her late husband Michael Cronan wouldn't be the legends that they are in Silicon Valley.

The couple is responsible for some of the most iconic names and slogans in technology. They've named products such as TiVo and Kindle, and developed countless logos and taglines. Their impact in the tech world traces back to the earlier years at Apple, where they did some of the initial design and brand typography work on the Lisa computer (the name, of course, came from Steve's daughter). About ten years ago they switched from general design work to naming and strategic identity.

Today the competition to stand out in the crowd of apps, phones, and tablets is putting even more pressure on product names to stick and make sense.

Ms. Hibma spoke with The Information about the various naming trends she's seen come and go in tech, from 'IO' names to the silly names to the new trend in no-frills real word names. And she explains why Kindle was a better name than Nook."

To read the full article:

On The Information website

The full interview in PDF

Managing the Invisibles

Harvard Business Review

"In October 2004 a skunkworks project called Lab126, staffed by brilliant and accomplished engineers, began a three-year venture developing a device that would revolutionize an industry. Just a year into the endeavor, the huge tech company behind it brought in an outside firm to create a key component of the product: its name."


David Zweig writes a thought-provoking story about the folks who make the things we don't notice, "The better they do their jobs, the more they disappear. It may only be when something goes wrong that they're noticed at all." He includes : : CRONAN: : in this group, "When I spoke with Hibma, who now runs the firm, I kept pressing her on the remarkability of her trade. After all, there are very few people in the world who can introduce words that penetrate a culture with near ubiquity."

"How do you handle the stress when a billion-dollar company like Amazon entrusts you with naming what it hopes will be its next blockbuster product? 'We are curious,' Karin Hibma told me. 'If you transform fear into curiosity, you operate from a position of fascination and wonder.'"

David's book was released in June, 2014.

Read the article

Read the PDF

12 business books you will need to read in 2014

"Show and Tell"

February 25, 2014 to April 15, 2014

Show and Tell by May Suen

In honor of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) 100 Years of Design Centennial, Karin Hibma and : : CRONAN : : curated an up-close and personal look at legendary designers early work, work process, and work on exhibit, along with a series of small conversational event gatherings with design leaders in the Center for Architecture + Design Gallery in San Francisco.

"We celebrate them all -- from the original visionaries who first convened in 1914 to support and inspire each other -- to todayʼs Bay Area leaders whoʼve transformed both design and the design business.

As these past years have been witness to transformations in every aspect of our lives, we expect no less from the vibrant community of today as we go into the future one hundred years."

Photo by May Suen

Photo by May Suen

Check out our new 'videos' page...

March 3 "The Rise of the DEO" with Maria Giudice
March 7 "Pencil Paper Scissors" with Michael Mabry
March 24 "What Were We Thinking?" with Amy Gustincic
March 31 "Knowing Bill Moggridge" with Karin Moggridge + Mike Nuttall
April 7 "The Late, Great Michael Cronan" with Ann Willoughby
April 14 Closing Reception with Richard Danne + AIGA SF Medalists
"Show and Tell" Curator Karin Hibma talks about the exhibit

Karin Hibma honored in Most Creative People in Business 1000

Fast Company

"Inventing household names out of thin air is Karin Hibma's calling."
Bob Safian, editor of Fast Company launched an editorial platform called the Most Creative People in Business 1000, "a new resource that defines an influential, diverse group of modern Renaissance men and women across the economy and around the globe. This is more than just a list: It is a community, a wellspring of creative inspiration, and the source of more than a little breaking news across the quickly changing industries that Fast Company covers. Karin Hibma is one of our honorees. We have curated what we believe is the ultimate club of business thought-leaders, the people who are driving progress through innovation."

Michael Cronan named AIGA Centennial Medalist

AIGA, August 29, 2013

"The AIGA Medal is the highest honor of the design profession, awarded since 1920 to those recognized for their sustained contribution to design excellence... Michael Cronan exemplified imagination, creativity and skill in naming, visual identities and branding strategies that are iconic, memorable and consistently effective, while maintaining a generosity of spirit and an unwavering sense of humor."

Awarded in New York City April 25, 2014, the AIGA Gala was a celebration of the past century of design leadership.

AIGA Medal
Phot by Terry Lorant

Phot by Terry Lorant

Paul Polak releases a new book - The Business Solution to Poverty

August 27, 2013


We met Dr. Paul Polak at the Aspen Design Leadership Summit in July 2005. Paul's voice stood out among the other participants in that he saw how 90% of designers were designing for only 10% of the world's customers. Out of that meeting came both the traveling exhibition Design for the Other 90% and its accompanying book from the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Paul's widely-known book Out of Poverty and years of conversations.

While Paul credits : : CRONAN : : with helping him realize he was a designer, his insights have helped guide ours and have been transformative in many ways.

Steve Jobs famously said "We're here to 'put a dent in the universe'". Paul's new book, The Business Solution to Poverty, co-authored by Mal Warwick, is the guide to understanding how business can reach customers and be the driving force in ending poverty on a global scale. It's a primer to get you started thinking about designing products and services for THREE BILLION new customers at the bottom of the pyramid - You can make a dent in the universe...

Dear Friends

July, 2013

Poster design by Michael Vanderbyl

Poster design by Michael Vanderbyl


First of all, HUGE thank you's to all of you who were able to attend our Celebration of Life and those of you who were there in spirit.

Jon Carroll wrote a beautiful reflection on the event, read it  here on SF Gate.

We are gathering more stories and the many photos of the day to share. Please send us yours!

CCA allowed us a fabulous opportunity to Celebrate Life and our dear Michael. For those of you who weren't on the "yes" list, here's some more background on the day. Enjoy.

CCA offered us their beautiful, huge gallery space for both our gathering and an art exhibition. We started counting the new artwork just in our home and studio from the last 10 years, when the number got over 100 pieces, including some design work as well, we went looking to see what else we had framed and ready to show. Besides the amazing work from the first ever SFMOMA graphic design exhibition, we had thirty years of design work from our former San Francisco offices, as well as older studio artwork.


Photo by Karin Hibma

Photo by Karin Hibma


Linked here are two essays written especially for this exhibition:

The first, by Naomie Kremer, looks at Michael's Painting.

The second, by Analisa Goodin, looks at the Drawing series Michael did in the last months of his life, and includes some notes from her interviews with him on life and life's passing.

The Celebration was also blessed by the beautiful music of Carlos Reyes, see some of his other performances here, on his website.

If you would like to make a contribution or donation in memory of Michael, please consider these organizations: California College of the Arts (CCA)Coaching CorpsCook for Your LifeHealthy Child Healthy WorldFutures Without ViolenceCreative SummitAnita Borg Institute for Women and Technology or Dr. Paul Polak's Design for the Other 90%, thank you from and for all.


: : CRONAN : : Intensity Award: Creative Summit 27

April 5-6, 2013

"Inspiration. Stimulation. Sparks. They're everywhere we look..." - Chris Hill, founder of the Creative Summit.

CS27 CRONAN award recipient Cesar Rivera

The : : CRONAN : : Intensity Award was introduced in 2012 to honor the intense creative spirit of the Cronan family - Michael Cronan, Karin Hibma, Nick Cronan, Shawn HibmaCronan and Analisa Goodin (a CS27 speaker). After intense deliberation, 2013's scholarship went to Cesar Rivera for his spectacular book design.

Congratulations Cesar, and everyone get ready for 2014!

Visit the Creative Summit website

See a video of the speakers by Gabriel Glenn

Check out Analisa Goodin's company, Catch & Release

In Memoriam : : Michael Patrick Cronan : : June 9, 1951 - January 1, 2013

Photo by Terry Lorant, painting of Karin by Michael

Photo by Terry Lorant, painting of Karin by Michael

"He was a force, and a good one." - Ralph Caplan, legendary author, design advocate, and AIGA Medalist

Michael Patrick Cronan passed away on New Years Day, after 5 years of living with cancer. He was dearly loved by a remarkable community of family, friends, colleges and clients, for all of whom he was eternally grateful. His influence, ingenuity and massive heart are irreplaceable, and will always be treasured.

Below are a few of the kind words and humbling tributes that have been written for Michael and to Karin.

Deepest thanks to you all.

Photo by Terry Lorant

Photo by Terry Lorant