With almost all startups, your most critical business limitations are time and funding. A good founder will always ask how much can be achieved when working within those two constraints. A startup’s approach to branding is no different, and the decision on how to brand is often evaluated even more critically within those same constraints. Brand designers need to be mindful of these limitations, and their process should focus on ways to minimize lengthy (and consequently, expensive) design endeavors which jeopardize the core resources of the startup.
For this reason, we’ve tailored our design approach to work within these constraints and flex based on the unique set of circumstances at each stage of a startup’s funding and growth.
To better understand our approach, and see how our mindset is different than a generalist creative services firm, let’s take a look at a core feature of all our project processes: the Brand Workshop. This custom-tailored 90 minute workshop kicks off every project before pen is laid to paper in design iterations. There are three key benefits of the Brand Workshop: (1) it quickly gathers and distills critical brand information from key team members; (2) it uses visual exercises to quantify and highlight intended brand aesthetics; and finally, (3) it creates a roadmap in the form of a Brand Report PDF for both teams to reference throughout all following branding processes. A successful workshop will give both teams a clear understanding of the desired brand essence and the visual direction of the startup’s brand trajectory, from early stage bootstrapping, to pre-seed, seed round, Series A and following funding paths.
But what makes the Brand Workshop so effective? Each workshop is created specifically for your individual startup and is led by Ray Parrish, a creative director with decades of design and branding experience. Through his set of workshop exercises, Ray strives to educate team members, unpack abstract concepts like your brand ethos, and establish the visual boundaries of your desired aesthetics.
We kick off the Brand Workshop with a quick review of baseline branding—what it is, what elements should be included, and how to describe your brand. This education piece ensures that both teams have a shared understanding of brand elements and vocabulary. We believe this step is essential to align visual expectations and gives teams a shared glossary of terms to assess the success of future work.
The next set of exercises strive to classify and quantify some of the more atmospheric traits of your startup. You might not have a clear and precise answer if someone asks about your brand ethos, but we strive to unpack that exact answer through a series of questions and examples. Once we are able to pinpoint the intended essence of your company, designers can dependably represent your key messaging and mission.
With this shared visual language and understanding of your ethos, we then align the visual aesthetics of your brand. By analyzing the brands of your competitors and industry leaders, we plot where those brands fit on a number of visual spectrums. Understanding where each brand fits on the classic vs modern spectrum, or its degree of playfulness vs sophistication, we can articulate the boundaries and core aesthetics that will inform all following branding efforts. After executing these last exercises, the result is a branding roadmap that will inform future decisions and cut through subjectivity during design reviews.
Your brand is the visual representation of your startup’s adaptability to the market. And that function works best when you maintain continuity through strategic creative direction to shape your brand’s growth. We’re here to help you at any stage.