We believe our best work is done as a group—designers, strategists, and writers working with a common purpose. We’ve built an exceptional team of talented individuals with varied perspectives and complimentary talents. We believe that the more wide ranging our considerations, the more carefully constructed our solutions will be.

The Grillo Group puts your message first.
Good design follows naturally.

We work for and with our clients every step of the way from solid research, analysis, and planning to clear positioning and sound message strategy to expert visual and verbal creative execution.

We develop integrated marketing solutions to address every need. Brand identity and development. Advertising and sales support. Corporate communication and annual reports. Collateral and packaging. Development and fundraising. Signage and business environments. Books and publications.

Maria Grillo

can see the forest and the trees at the same time. With logical precision and remarkable intuition, she clears the path directly to the solution. She could have been a great lumberjack. Lucky for her clients, Maria puts her big-picture perspective and problem-solving skills to work for them. She’s focused, but realistic and flexible. “That makes sense. Let’s try it.”

Maria’s talent and achievements as a designer over the last 25 years have been recognized by some of the profession’s most notable organizations and publications—Communication Arts, Graphis Poster, Print, and ID magazines, the New York Type Directors Club, and British Design and Art Direction.

Maria has taught aspiring designers and peers how to plan and implement branding and design programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Syracuse University’s Independent Study Master of Arts Program. She has served on the AIGA/Chicago Executive Board and as juror for numerous professional and educational design competitions. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Kristin Cullen

is a designer, educator, and author. She earned a master’s degree in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. She also taught at both institutions and the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. She now teaches typography in the Visual Communication Design department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Kristin’s work has appeared in national and international exhibitions, as well as books and publications, which include Design Elements: Form and Space, American Corporate Identity, Graphis Poster, and Print. She wrote two books for Rockport Publishers dedicated to design fundamentals: Layout Workbook: A Real-World Guide to Building Pages in Graphic Design and the 2012 release Design Elements: Typography Fundamentals. She balances passions for typography and lettering, documentaries, and found objects with time spent with her dogs, Reggie and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew.

Max Russell

makes words work harder because he does the work before he writes the words. A quick study and a congenital collaborator, Max has a knack for putting clients at ease and for putting up with designers’ exacting demands. “How many words do you need? Zero problem. I’ve got a million of ‘em.”

As a marketing consultant, planner, and manager, Max has helped scores of organizations in both the private and nonprofit sectors evaluate the effectiveness of current marketing programs and investigate new or alternative approaches for greater efficiency and effectiveness. As a creative team member, he has helped develop, write, and manage highly effective and award winning marketing communications and public relations programs in the fields of manufacturing, finance, banking, insurance, health care, computers, high technology, engineering, education, publishing, and architecture.

He is a successful business writer and has collaborated with subject matter experts and academicians on five published books on risk management, corporate reporting and governance, new product development, and strategic sourcing. He holds an MBA in marketing from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Charles Kratz

All aboard? Getting consensus or at least agreement often comes down to solid facts, reliable sources, and insightful interpretation. Chuck delivers on all counts, keeping project strategy and tactics on track with his research and analytical expertise. How? “I think before I ask. And I ask before I act.”

Chuck brings to the Grillo Group’s client engagements more than 25 years of experience as an independent business research specialist and marketing consultant in strategic planning, surveys, analysis, and research. His works spans numerous industries including health care, education, law, technology, human resources and a wide range of business disciplines.

Chuck holds an MBA-Economics/ International Business/Statistics from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He has also served as operations project manager for a subsidiary of Citicorp and as the director of the Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Chuck is an instructor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently writing a book on the history of corporate identity, a topic that he has been researching for several years.

Selected Client List



Not-for-Profit / Foundations

Business to Business




Books and Magazines Featuring Our Work

The Grillo Group, Inc. T 312.427.5000 F .5570 info@grillogroup.com info@grillogroup.com