Design Your Brand For Free - The Value of Pizza & Beer (Day 20)


One Startup. 30 Days. No Secrets. Start at the beginning. 

Maybe our branding isn't actually free if you count the pizza and beer that we used to lure our neighbor into this unpaid extracurricular project.  

Morgen and I are lucky to have a group of friends who are not only enthusiastic about our adventure, but eager to offer their talents. Raz is one of those friends and lucky for us the man is a design genius. After years in advertising, Raz left to join the team that launched qwiki. A very valuable guy to have on our side! Lacking a super-talented neighbor with design skills? There are a few affordable and quick crowd-sourced options like 99designs and crowdSPRING

At our first meeting, Morgen and I talked about branding and agreed that MixedMade and Bees Knees should have a rusticity to it, but a clean and simple design was paramount. We referenced a couple of online shops like Best Made, some tumblrs, and compared how other honey and hot sauce companies package their products. We need to be different from every farm-born gourmet branded honey, but also stand apart from the tattoo-inspired designs of most hot sauce.

We also agreed that a squeeze bottle was the best option (an early idea was a neon painted honey bear bottle) because Bees Knees should be on the table at every meal and allow for an easy application. Just imagine the process of a spooning honey from a glass jar for every few bites! Beyond that direction, we put our trust in Raz. And to speak in the Upworthy vernacular, what happened next brought tears to our eyes.

Here is the first round of options Raz sent us:


And here is how we reacted:

Up until that moment, even though my kitchen counter and beard had been covered in honey for days, this whole project still felt abstract. But seeing an image of the bottle made us realize that this is really happening. One day very soon we’re going to be holding a finished product in our hands and shipping it to lucky customers.

We met with Raz that night to refine his designs into a single direction. It was great having all three of us in one room to bounce around ideas and debate merits of this and that. We innately had the same ideals at heart, but the minutiae made for a more dynamic product. Primarily, we wanted to make sure that MixedMade remain the prominent brand, with Bees Knees owning position as the name of the product. We need to retain a consistency in our brand so we could easily introduce additional (non-honey) products in the future without having to rebrand our company.

Raz came back the next morning with another round, reducing the Bees Knees prominence and paying homage to the MixedMade brand:


I had a momentary panic because I realized we didn’t a factor a nutrition panel into the design, which was such a bummer after seeing such a beautiful and spare set of labels. But luckily Morgen found the FDA’s Small Business Nutrition Labeling Exemption, so we can dodge that ugly thing for quite a while still.

Based on our final choice, Raz sent one more look at our pick:


We agree the chili pepper is a gorgeous touch, but my task in the next few days is to figure out how we can get one in the bottle without losing control of the spiciness. Back to the kitchen!

We are in love with our branding, which Raz pulled off in just a few evenings after work. I think if we had micro-managed the process and wasted time trying to tightly define the outcome, we might have killed the simplicity and beauty behind Raz' final designs. Sometimes, I think, the best results come from letting go and going along for the ride.

Action: Comment to let us know what you think of our various branding options.  Would you have picked a different winner?

Source: iCharts


1 comment


  • Alex

    Yo! The bottle design is brilliant. Where did you source the bottles from?


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