zach stevens | graphic designer | san diego

Own your rebellion

I partner with startups to boost their confidence in the marketplace. Together, we'll create a brand identity and website that reflect the uniqueness of your company.

zach stevens branding and design headshot

Brand Identity Design

Together we will design a brand identity for your startup.
What goes into a brand identity? This stuff:

Website Design

The only place your brand is accessible 24/7 and you wanna use a template? Heck no! You need something unique and functional.

Am I the blacksheep designer you've been looking for?

There's a lot of UX, UI, Interaction, Branding, Website, Surface, Visual, Product, and Graphic (kinda ridiculous, really) Designers out there. But that doesn't help you solve your problem does it? If any of the following sound like you, then we're a good fit.

You need speed and quality

Startups move fast, it's part of the game. Hiring a big agency gets you quality work, but it takes time. Hiring a run-of-the-mill freelancer on Fiverr is quick, but their work sucks. Is it asking too much speed and quality? I don't think so.

You need a strategic partner

I don't have a lot of money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I've acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you pleasure to work with (that's a quote from Taken).

You can't afford to hire a full time designer

Even if you could, who's gonna lead them? The nimble nature of your startup is best suited to working with contractors who have the expertise you need.

Your website and branding efforts are embarrassing

You gotta start somewhere, but your book will be judged by its cover. If you believe your company is worth millions of dollars, shouldn't it look the part? It's never too late to make the jump.

You can't easily edit your website

Without a development team, making a legit website that is also functional seems impossible... or is it? I build custom sites in Webflow so you can easily add new content that looks great. Did I mention we don't need a developer to make that happen?

Sound like you?

let's jam
DragonGlass

DragonGlass

Crypto mining hardware had become saturated with cheap competition and multiple players racing to the bottom. DragonGlass is here to set a new standard: Future-Proof.

Haven

Haven

Treadlight Construction needed to stand out from the crowd of general contractors in San Diego and develop a brand that could attract talented employees.

Communion Church

Communion Church

Communion Church was moving locations and changing leadership. It was time to create a new identity that distinguished them from neighboring ministries and communicated their vision.

I write a new blurb every Monday-Friday
called the MF Punches

Something More...

If you want to make an impact, you must look beyond the external problem.

7.7.2020

What makes for a good superhero movie? A dastardly villain, yes, but there's something more there.

The most impactful villains are those who break the foundation of what we deem to be right in the world. Those who go beyond annoyances and challenge the makeup of our existence. Thanos, the villain in Marvel's Avengers, is a ferocious opponent and he can dish out a punch, but he becomes menacing only when he says that life is not valuable and that it doesn't deserve a chance.

By attaching the villain to a bigger, philosophical problem, he becomes someone we as viewers are invested in defeating.

If you want to rally people around your brand, find a common enemy. Not just the schoolyard bully either, find a big one and go after them.

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Startup Duck Test

If it walks, swims, and quacks like a worthy startup...

7.6.2020

When venture capitalists search for companies to invest in, they are counting on the competence of the founders and the entire team to win. Meaning, if there are more hints that this company will result in failure than it will success, it's unlikely they will invest in it. They look for indicators to assess worthy startups.

A similar and time-tested method is seen in the duck test coined by James Whitcomb Riley. You've heard it before, "when I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck."

Now let's apply this to a startup, specifically two kinds of startups. One that is a good investment and one that is a risky investment.

A startup that walks like a good investment
The manner by which a startup carries itself says a lot. This includes outward appearance and poise. If you look like trash or are missing key pieces of attire, expect the reception of your appearance to follow suit. For example, not having a website in the 21st century is the equivalent of showing up to a party without pants. You're missing something and it reveals a hole in your competence. Same could be said of the design of your product or your branding. Negligence of these is reason to believe that you are not a worthwhile investment.

A startup that swims like a good investment
A duck's primary function is to swim. They are very good at it. Similarly, a startup's job is to make money through having a worthy offering. There needs to be proof of this. If you don't have a solution to a prevalent problem that will make a difference, customers will not use you. If customers don't use you then investors can't either. If you want revenue, of any kind, you need something worth giving up money to have.

A startup that quacks like a good investment
Trickier than the last two, but important nonetheless. A duck's quack is the outward expression to signify "I AM A DUCK." What's a startups outward expression? "I am valuable to others." Meaning, people will pay for what I have to offer because it is more valuable than their money. The brevity of a quack is just as important. The more succinct, the easier it is to identify. This comes in the form of positioning and high-level brand messaging. Failure to define your quack will make it difficult for investors to identify you as a good investment.

If it walks like a worthy startup, swims like a worthy startup, and quacks like a worthy startup... it must be a worthy startup. Worthy of customer buy-in and investor money.

Can you pass the duck test?

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Clock Blocked

Letting time passed dictate time to be had.

7.1.2020

A common worry of most startups is that they've let too much time go without focusing on their brand that it would be too late to make positive change.

This is the same feeling I had this morning. My back was super stiff so I slept in. Waking up to think, "damn, my daily routine might as well be ruined. I shouldn't exercise, I shouldn't write the MF Punch, I shouldn't pray, I shouldn't journal."

And then I thought, "so because I didn't get to these important habits of mine at the start of my day, that means they shouldn't manifest at all?"

No.

What's the point?

Don't let your brand be clock blocked. If you expect your startup to be around at the end of the day, end of the week, end of year, whatever, you can make a change for the better right now.

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Move Over Yoda

You are not your brand's core focus.

6.30.2020

The brand is not what you say it is, it's what they say it is. Thank you Marty Neumeier.

Brands exists in the hearts and minds of customers. If you want your startup to be impactful and leave a legacy, you must accept the fact that you are not the focus.

Can you imagine in Star Wars was all about Yoda? We'd be bored stiff. Yoda already has the answers, there's no story there. No change to watch unfold. Luke Skywalker? That guy has a lot of stuff to work out. That's your customer. Focus on them.

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Can you dig it? Let's work together.

Sweet! I'll get back to you within the next 24 hours.
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