posted by Kevin Archie Feb 11,2014 @ 03:30AM

Too Easy

A few weeks ago, acclaimed website builder Squarespace released a new tool that enables users to create a hi-res mark for their company by combining an icon from a large online library with open-source typography of their choosing for $10. The problem? They called it Squarespace Logo, a grave misnomer in my opinion.

Thoughtful logo design is so much more than just choosing a ready-made icon and pairing it with a trendy free font. It is the process of giving a company an identifiable face that cohesively links it to its brand. This requires intensive research, exploration, refinement, and a close working relationship between designer and client in order to uncover a truly successful mark.

A logo should be recognizable, unique, timeless, versatile, and properly in tune with the brand it represents. It utilizes appropriate color palettes, distinctive visual styles, and relevant typography to tell a compelling and cohesive story. Properly executed, a logo can help bring a company great success and recognition for years to come.

Does Squarespace Logo allow for the creation of an attractive company mark for cheap? Perhaps — but that mark won't have the punch and originality of a professionally designed logo.

I'm not condemning the tool itself. In fact, I encourage you to try it out for the header of your daily Tumblr about what you had for lunch the other day or use it for your grandmother's Hawaiian-themed 85th birthday party invitation.

After all, it's basically logo design at its core. But remember, it takes more than basic to truly define a brand.

posted by Ryon Edwards Jan 31,2014 @ 03:01PM

Warby Parker: finding a niche and making it happen

A few days ago, I happened to be scanning channels in the car and came across an interview with Jeffrey Raider, founder of Warby Parker on Business Radio powered by The Wharton School. This interview really got me thinking about the importance of identifying an unmet need in the marketplace and really focusing on that niche market. Raider and his business partners have done just that with their business Warby Parker, the wildly successful online prescription eyeglass company that's changing the way people buy and shop for prescription eyewear.

The idea for the business was born in 2010, while Raider was studying at The Wharton School. During the interview, he recalled his experience of not being able to find any glasses that fit his personal style or his budget. That frustration led to an idea that led to the formation of the company (along with three other classmates) that would provide quality, stylish eyeglasses at a fraction of the price of designer prescription glasses. They figured out a way to keep prices low by designing their own frames and selling online, cutting out the middle man altogether and refused to charge outrageous prices. This link explains exactly how they do it: They identified the unmet need in the marketplace and delivered in a big way. They've carved out that niche — and the target audience is quite specific: men and women ages 18 to 34 who like to buy designer eyewear, but not willing (or able) to shell out $500 for a pair. Warby Parker designer glasses typically cost about $100/pair, including the prescription lenses.

They win over customers by making the online ordering process simple and easy — with a focus on the customer and making sure the brand experience is all positive. For example, they’ll send five pair of glasses for you to try for five days, offer free return shipping on the ones you don’t want. On the website, you can try glasses on virtually to see what they look like on you. Oh yeah, and if that’s not enough, there’s a Buy A Pair, Give A Pair program. Warby Parker funds the production of a pair of eyeglasses to give away each time a pair is sold. To date, they’ve provided 500,000 pairs of glasses to people in need in developing countries. Certainly, a powerful social mission and a great way to make a difference.

The founders’ affinity for simple design as well as an appreciation of well-made objects is evident. Spend some time on the site, and you definitely get the sense that they are passionate about the products they create and truly care about making the world a better place. They've found their niche and have filled the need, and with the added component of social good — that's what I call a relevant and purposeful brand.


_ _ _

Note: Raider and another partner from Warby Parker started another company in 2013 called Harry’s— "Great Shave. Fair Price”. This time the products are shaving razors and blades. You guessed it — design conscious, quality, german-engineered blades and stylish razors at a very reasonable price. Check them out at

posted by Apprentices Oct 01,2013 @ 07:03AM

New Work: Doing Pro Bono, Pro Bono

Inspired by the American Bar Association's Celebration of Pro Bono, our friends at Taproot Foundation wanted to create a global celebration of pro bono, skills-based service across all professions. They chose last year's Global Pro Bono Summit as the birthplace for their movement. As business leaders gathered to discuss the increasing viability of the pro bono ethic across industries, Taproot rallied the troops. Summit attendees were quick to demonstrate their enthusiasm, and in that moment, Taproot's idea became a worldwide movement.

As lovers of all things pro bono, we were thrilled when the folks at Taproot asked us to develop Pro Bono Week's brand identity. Ryon Edwards and Nate Puza collaborated on a design that captures the essence of the movement: Proud. Spirited. Visionary. The energetic yellow-orange reflects the contagious positivity of that moment last year when Taproot first unveiled their ambitious plan, and the flag bearer dares every participant to think big. Pro bono is no longer a nicety. From now on, it's serious business.




posted by Kevin Smith Sep 13,2013 @ 05:00AM

On Tattoos

Nadia Bolz-Weber is a fantastic contradiction. She is a tattooed, Lutheran pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver. Her journey is a fascinating one, from addict and comedian to a renowned personification of a new type of church.

In a recent interview with Krista Tippett, she remarked on how tattoos, in her day a standout symbol of rebellion, are now worn by soccer moms. "I think we are used to personalizing everything. This is a generation that grew up with choose your own adventure stories. They got to choose how a book ended, they got to personalize their homepage, they personalize their Facebook page, they personalize everything. So I think it's the personalization of the body."

This type of personalization and individual expression began in the 1980s, with Swatch as an early example. Since then, personalized products and individual attention have grown to be today's price of entry for affinity and loyalty. Yet still, companies and brands, particularly nonprofits, have a seemingly genetic tendency to focus inward. As we approach fourth quarter and year-end giving strategies, let's commit to focusing externally and meeting the needs of our audience.

posted by Cathy Monetti Sep 06,2013 @ 09:09AM

Deconstructing Your Brand

We were in a meeting with a potential new client recently when a rather interesting question came my way.

How do you go about creating a great brand? What makes your process different?

It took less than a millisecond for me to answer.

We fight for the truth, I said.

(Quizzical looks all around.)

And you'd be surprised how difficult it is to get there, I said.


We all have a tendency to cling to that which is familiar. Change is difficult—and scary. But if you hear yourself (or others in your company) saying any of the following, it's a pretty good signal that something is hiding under there that needs to be addressed:

  1. "I know my business."
  2. "It's what our customers expect."
  3. "It's how we do it."

Be brave. Deconstruct, and then shine a light in the dark corners to see what is there. By coming face to face with your realities, you can begin the exciting process of (re)freshing and (re)building a brand that is not only honest, but worthy of connection.




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