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

Interesting Proposition | Software Branding

Affecting the life of a particular person is the key to being irreplaceable.

3.3.2021

Being better is a unsellable proposition. Better is subjective in nature, difficult to see from the outside, and even harder to define.

For example, Webflow is a web design tool. So are WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. Which one is better? Well, it depends on who you are asking.

Webflow's proposition is that they are a web design tool for designers. Specifically, designers who work within a hybrid engineering-like role and can think in systems. Squarespace is also for designers who don't care about code quality and are instead focused on making things look pretty and working fast. WordPress is not for designers at all and is catered toward those who want as many features as possible regardless of code quality.

The point? The person that you anticipate to use your software is who will guide features, prioritize them, and dictate which ones are misnomers.

That is how you create an interesting proposition.

read more

Have a F*cking Mission | Software Branding

One that is about changing people's lives, not about growing revenue.

3.2.2021

Bad design and bad experiences stem from misalignment. From not being guided by selfless service, but instead seeking to get things done cheaply, quickly, and with the most return possible.

Those are shitty goals. They have no longevity and are selfish. They drive companies to do lame things like sell user data or create new features/offerings that have little value and are haphazard at best.

What to do instead? Focus on changing someone's life for the better. Center all of your efforts on that change.

Have a fucking mission.

read more

Should You Obsess Over Other Apps? | Software Branding

A purge on your phone that might help you be better at understanding UX.

2.25.2021

I recently deleted several apps from my phone, ones that I had previously used on a daily basis (Gmail, LinkedIn, Slack, etc). Apart from not being bothered by the constant slew of information or feeling the need to satiate a hunger for attention, something else happened after deleting these apps:

I could critique and analyze them more effectively.

Akin to seeing the forest through the trees, opening an app after not using for a bit gave me a new perspective. I could examine each step in their onboarding, I could observe their interactions with a keen eye, I could look at their layout and better empathize with someone who hadn't seen it before.

Using these apps or obsessively critiquing them daily wouldn't allow me to do that.

In the interest of getting good ideas and understanding what makes these products great, delete them... for a bit.

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Steps | Software Branding

Don't play the game for Q1 only, play for years to come

2.24.2021

With companies like Uber, Medium, Squarespace, Dashlane, Zapier, Mailchimp, Postmates and the like bringing in millions of dollars a month, it's easy to get envious. They have it all, they have it now, why can't you?

We see these companies from their highlight reels. We don't see the hours put in to create their MVP, the number of times they were told "no" after a investor pitch, or how they too fell into the same boat of wanting it all right now. The truth is, you cannot let your brand fall victim to this. Comparing your software startup to ones that have been around for years is unfair. It's unfair to the work you're doing and it will set you up to be disappointed.

In building your brand, you'll want to do many things. You'll want multiple offerings, to touch multiple markets, and impact multiple user groups.

Don't.

Focus.

Help a specific group of people do something specific. Something that will help change their life, earn their trust, and get you past the first step in building a brand that can stand shoulder to shoulder with those you admire.

If you want to get there, take the steps one at a time. Otherwise you will fall. To put it into perspective, here are the founding years for all of the companies above:

Uber 2009

Medium 2012

Mailchimp 2001

Squarespace 2003

Dashlane 2009

Zapier 2011

Postmates 2011

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Can you dig it? Let's work together.

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