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GDUSA - People to watch: JILL TAPIA


Jill Tapia is the CEO of New York package design firm Cornerstone Strategic Branding, Inc. (CSB). A self-taught graphic designer and devoted CSB employee of 25 years, Jill took the reins two years ago, right before the pandemic hit. And while everybody else was hangin’ at home in their sweatpants, Jill took a different approach. Building on CSB’s 30 years of packaging experience and expertise, as well as a stacked legacy client list including Nestlé, Ferrero, Gorton’s, Labatt, Heinz, Coca-Cola, and Red Bull, Jill reinvigorated the company and her employees with new energy and a fresh perspective. The scrappy start-up spirit meant trading in cumbersome processes and a corporate mentality for more progressive and equitable ways of working, like a giveback program for food-scarcity charity No Kid Hungry, and pro-bono design services offered to select women-led, entrepreneurial, food-focused business ventures. Jill will be the first to admit that she doesn’t do it alone. She’s backed by a stellar team of packaging experts who are dedicated innovative thinkers and stand-out designers, a production team who’s the best in the biz, and a fun group of co-workers who love to celebrate their successes with a cocktail every now and again.

Looking forward, are you optimistic about the role of graphic design in business and society?

Graphic design drives our decision making. We are a visual world, and we will always need engaging and informative graphics to help guide us. This is especially true when it comes to packaging, which could be the only branded touchpoint your consumer experiences.

Have the challenges of the past two years changed the way you approach your work?

For CSB, it’s been a lemons-into-lemonade situation, for sure. When I took over as CEO in early 2020, we got to work on rebranding ourselves and improving the company. We’re heading into 2022 not only with a new approach to how we work, but a promise to continue to evolve and grow.

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