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Why You Need The Brandery Agency Partnership: Interbrand & Oros

When Michael Markesbery and Rithvik Venna entered The Brandery’s 2015 cohort, they faced a problem that many startups have to deal with: a trademark issue that meant their company, Lukla, not only needed a great brand, but a new name to begin with.

Oros creates outerwear that uses NASA technology called aerogel (the same stuff they put in spacesuits!) to protect wearers from extreme environmental conditions without the heavy weight and bulk of traditional outerwear. This amazing innovation deserved a brand that was just a special.

After being paired with Interbrand, a global brand agency with an incredible team in Cincinnati, the group got to work on crafting a name that would inform the entire brand identity. With the company’s vision and brand strategy in mind, the new name became Oros, the Greek word for mountain. This name represents adventure, challenge and conquest and reflects the essence of the original name, Lukla.

Interbrand explored Oros’ target customer and came up with some strong themes that informed their logo and brand design. The brand proposition “Conquer Your Everest” became a common thread throughout the design process – with the logo creating a visual link to a mountain right down to the unique, custom packaging design that embodies the same essence of a peak. The packaging design for Oros was so strong, in fact, that Interbrand received an “Outstanding Achievement” mention in the 2016 Dieline Awards competition, highlighting the best in consumer packaging design worldwide.

Oros graduated from The Brandery in October 2015 and raised a $1.2 million seed round last year, led by NCT Ventures. A recent Forbes article, Why Ohio Is The Best State In America To Launch A Startup, featured their journey and included this quote from Markesbery: “Because there are more Fortune 500 companies headquartered (in the Midwest) than anywhere else in the world, that means is that there are dozens of incredible branding, marketing, and advertising companies here…Our packaging has won eight different international awards already because we just happen to have one of the best companies in the world doing that right here in Cincinnati.”

We really couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Special thanks to Interbrand for being a dynamic agency partner year in and year out!

Brandery 2017 applications are open until April 29. Apply via F6S or AngelList. Have questions regarding the program or your application? Contact us at info@brandery.org!

Why You Need the Brandery Agency Partnership: Spicefire & Goodwipes

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Over the last few weeks, we’ve been telling you all about our sharpened focus on Digitally-Native Full Stack Products (CPG are part of that) & startups that support these kind of companies (both large and small) for our 2017 cohort. If you haven’t had a chance to read over our thought process behind this shift, check out this blog post from a few weeks ago when we made the announcement.

As our General Manager Tony Alexander said in his blog post earlier this week, “While we always added some value to everyone who came through the program, the truth is we can help some companies tremendously and others in only limited ways. This is a function of the talents of our staff, mentorship pool, and the intrinsic nature of our close network of partners and sponsors. Pretty much everyone in our network is well-positioned to add tons of value to these kind of startups.” To illustrate this point, we’re going to share some of the success stories of Brandery alumni who fit into the categories of companies we’re looking for.

Meet Goodwipes, graduates of Brandery’s 2016 cohort. They are serious about being clean.

Charlie, Maria, and Sam: Team Goodwipes

Goodwipes had already sold 1 million body wipes at independent retailers and on Amazon when they came to Cincinnati last June on a mission to refine their brand and strengthen their company. Each company in our accelerator is paired 1-to-1 with a world-class creative agency, of which there is a high concentration in Cincinnati ( aka BrandHub, USA ), which is one of the most significant reasons Goodwipes applied to The Brandery. We spoke to Sam Nebel, Co-Founder of Goodwipes, for his thoughts on why The Brandery’s program is so uniquely suited to help a CPG company.

Goodwipes worked with Spicefire to create a brand as fresh as their products. “They did nothing but GIVE, GIVE, GIVE”, Sam says. “Time, energy, attention, passion, experience, knowledge and patience. They shared. They worked with us through seemingly simple, yet extraordinarily arduous critical thinking exercises to define Goodwipes as it is today: a modern, better-for-you take on wet wipes that empowers people to do more, feel good, and live clean. We could not be happier with Jason Hargis and the Spicefire team. I’m talking endless hours of their busy time they gave us. If you understand how an agency works, time is money, and they spent extra time working with Goodwipes. It was really humbling and incredible to be given so much time and energy by such a talented group.”

The Goodwipes Branding Case Study

Goodwipes's Branding, Pre-Brandery

With the majority of Goodwipes’ sales occurring online, having a slick brand and packaging wasn’t nearly as important to them; with their goal of appearing on more brick-and-mortar shelves, it was more important to create eye-popping visuals that would appeal to customers looking up and down the personal care aisle. The Spicefire team helped to create a beautiful, modern look for their packaging, which also carried over to their advertising and web presence.





Spicefire’s collaboration and work with Goodwipes is just one reason we’re excited about our 2017 program; our agency partners have always yielded fantastic work no matter the type of startup we’ve paired them with, but now that we’re looking to work with more consumer-facing brands and the technologies that support them, the Brandery Agency Partnership should prove to be even more successful.

Sam wanted us to publish his personal number so that anyone interested in talking about applying to The Brandery could call him – we are going to spare him, but we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about the 2017 application process. Contact us at info@brandery.org!

Why Should Startups Create Epic Content?

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Startups have to claw their way to the top. We know that. Even with a good idea, successful startups have to cut through millions of distractions to become noticed.

And even when you do get noticed, how are you going to reel them in? Why should your customer choose you over your competitor? Why should they trust you? Why should they tell their friends about you?

Is it because your product is genuinely superior to every other one in the market? Maybe. Probably not. It’s about the brand. It’s about how people perceive your brand. And it’s about content. If you’re a startup without a content marketing strategy, build one.

So what’s content marketing? The simple definition we like by the Content Marketing Institute is, “It’s owning media, not renting it.”

In this post, we focus primarily on blogs, but keep in mind that content can be created just about anywhere these days, and new platforms are being created all the time. This phenomenal infographic from Marketo outlines 20 different mediums for content you can consider.

Here’s some suggestions on what to focus on when crafting your content marketing strategy.

Be a thought leader.


Simply put, writing blog posts that are centered on your industry without directly selling your product will help your business. We know content helps you in search (re: clawing your way to the top), and insightful articles that have never-before-seen ideas in them are, by nature, going to get more shares. Say you are creating an app that will locate and help you review and locate processed cheese puffs all over the world. Maybe you could conduct an interview with a cheese puff tester, ask a manufacturer what brand of high fructose corn syrup she uses, or talk to the distribution manager about where they sell the most cheese puffs per capita. Then create an infographic about it. You could research snack food consumption and how it makes people happier. Write it up and package it for the Internet to read. Stop selling and tell the story. Think about it—if you find an article that you enjoy, challenges you, or that you disagree with, you are more likely to share it with a friend, tweet it, or bookmark it. More shares and more search results means more traffic to your site.

Be human.


It’s great to constantly write about cheese puffs and only cheese puffs if your business is exclusively an e-newsletter about cheese puffs. But every once in a while, your readers and your consumers want to know about you. They want to know that someone’s heart is invested in the brand they support. Creating some original content that defines your personality, tells the audience how you met your co-founder, or what your personal favorite brands of cheese puffs are can make your company as a whole more relatable. Be as approachable as possible, and leave the technical jargon in the test kitchen. No one wants to read a blog written by a robot, but these posts won’t directly help scale your business either. Your customers are rarely startups. Find the balance that keeps the focus on your industry without distancing yourself from the customer.

Be receptive.


Content marketing is a two-way street. Don’t push, push, push to your consumer and never listen when they finally begin to interact. Have public conversations in the comment section of your YouTube video. Follow people back on Twitter every now and then. Ask for feedback on your latest podcast. And then adjust your content. If no one wanted to read your last post about what kind of plastic is used in cheese puff packaging, don’t write about what kind of lids they use next week. It’s okay to experiment, but take a hint when you have decreased interactions on a specific topic. As Brandery alum James Dickerson told our current startups, “Focus on one topic and see if anyone gives a crap. Write epic shit.”

Dedicating a little more time each week to create content can pay off big time. We’re obviously just scratching the surface here. You can dig deep into SEO and content working in tandem, examining your demographics to narrow down the best topics to focus on, or optimizing the time you’ll release your content. The list is long. What have you discovered are the best practices for your startup or small business?

Photo courtesy of Zackariah Cole Photography.

Brand in a Day Recap

Each year, the startups in our accelerator program are paired up with some of the most talented and renowned design firms in Cincinnati for the duration of the program. On Friday, June 28th, our startups were paired up with their agency partners for the first time at the POSSIBLE office for our first-ever Brand in a Day event. The agencies brought between two and five experts in their respective fields, from CMOs and CEOs to User Experience Designers and Copywriters. The teams attempted to revamp whatever it is about the startups’ brand that isn’t clicking, whether that was a logo, company name, brand manifesto, tagline, or mood board. The brands will continue to work with their agencies and evolve up until Demo Day on October 2nd, but Brand in a Day was their accelerator within the accelerator to give them a jumpstart. Here are the startup-agency partnerships (some companies are still operating in “Stealth Mode”):

1. Hyperquake and Stealth #1
2. POSSIBLE and Stealth #2
3. Rockfish and Stealth #3
4. Resource and Stealth #4
5. LPK and Stealth #5
6. Empower MediaMarketing and Dónde
7. Rocket Science + Design and DWLLR
8. GoDutch and Awesomatic
9. We Have Become Vikings and Co-Ed Supply
10. gyro and Accrew

We had a spectacular setting for the entire day at POSSIBLE’S office: sprawling views of the Ohio River and Paul Brown Stadium were framed by a crystal-clear blue sky. And with the conference rooms at POSSIBLE named after inspirations like “Jobs,” “Gandhi,” and “Seinfeld,” Brand in a Day was bound to be a success.

Some of the most astounding visual transformations came in the form of new typefaces, logos, and color schemes, but each team came to a better understanding of their brand identity through the agencies’ expertise and guidance. Some wrote brand manifestos defining who they want to be as a company, some drew hierarchies of need to further define for whom they were building the product, and some talked to create better team dynamics and facilitate agency work in the future. Regardless of the tangible deliverables that the agencies chose to focus on, each team got a solid start on their agency-startup relationship. At noon when they came to present their deliverables, the progress in just four hours was incredible. The collaboration, brainpower, and creativity that our agencies poured into the Brandery companies on Friday were truly remarkable.

After the presentations, the teams’ workspaces were littered with the remnants of their hard work: post-it notes, large and small, whiteboards covered in brainstorming activities, empty coffee cups and soda cans. Feeling exhausted, but accomplished, the teams retreated back to the Brandery to—you guessed it—get back to work.

OFFF Returns to Cincinnati

OFFF Logo

World-famous creative conference, OFFF, will return to Cincinnati on March 6 at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.  The event, first held in Cincinnati in 2011, was founded in Barcelona and is recognized as being an innovative, informative, and inspiring design conference.

OFFF garnered such a positive response from attendees in 2011 that the organizers have, once again, named Cincinnati as the conference’s exclusive U.S. location.  The event will include presentations from James Paterson, Onur Senturk, James Victore, Sara Blake, Jon Burgerman, Brendan Dawes, Ramon Escolá and Multitouch Barcelona.  James Victore is best known for his animation visual effects work on movies, such as Dark Knight Rises and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

OFFF is a mecca for creative professionals, including designers, innovators, creative thinkers, and entrepreneurs.  The conference exposes them, not only to high-quality curated content, but also to a network of peers, mentors, and potential business partners.

OFFF Cincy


The conference was held at the Contemporary Arts Center in 2011, but is being moved to the Aronoff Center to allow for more participants.  This year’s conference will be available to approximately 400 attendees.

Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity!  Get your tickets now at cincinnatiarts.org!