Foundational work
Building a brand identity from the ground up

Contribution: Creative Director, Maker

Challenge

In the early days of this nascent emerging technology, Airware’s core business focus was around thought leadership and recruiting the best talent. There was a need to educate the market on this new category of drones: everyone was familiar with military drones and toy drones, but the weren’t yet aware of this third category of B2B drones or why it mattered.

Then, as Airware prepared to go to market, the core business focus shifted to how do we acquire Global 2000 customers and earn their trust? After all, like most startups, we were unproven.

Strategy

I evolved the look & feel of the Airware brand thrice over the course of five years to align with business goals. In the early days, we illustrated concepts, released a monthly podcast, and armed the press to tell our story, educate the market, and recruit top talent. As we approached go-to-market, I transitioned the brand look & feel from visionary to real. Imagery replaced illustrations. We wanted to paint a picture of how this technology was actually transforming industries now.

To be able to scale and output an impressive amount of marketing collateral, I sourced and nurtured a top-notch team.

At year two, I drafted our first brand book to keep all initiatives aligned and ramp up new contributors rapidly. We had amassed a large library of original imagery, so almost everything was unique to us.

We had observed the commercial drone space was becoming more crowded with new companies generating lots of noise. To differentiate from other drone and B2B analytics companies, I infused three principles into our brand guidelines and every touchpoint. Leaning heavily on video content also gave us an edge.

Simple  Lots of white space. Clean. No shadows or extrusions. We embrace slightly overexposed imagery and sun flares. We create a happy feeling — these autonomous machines are here to help us do our jobs faster, safer, better and aren’t going to take over. *Many competitors were emitting a Skynet feel.

Purposeful Visuals of drones should include an application or operator to provide context. A lone drone against blue sky isn’t meaningful. Our drone solutions are for practical business application, trusted by the Global 2000, and validated by field workers.

Aerial  We see the world through a distinct lens, relying heavily on aerial imagery.

Every touchpoint was delivered with these principles in mind, from our website to our offices.
As we gained momentum, we began to leverage our customers to tell our story and minimized the selling we did ourselves. Wherever possible, touchpoints were infused with customer stories and imagery.

Results:

We dominated share of voice in the early years. Hard data and anecdotal data informed decisions. Once we launched, we landed the largest Global 2000 customer accounts possible in each vertical. Many of these customers also entered marketing partnerships with us because of our professionalism and class. I’m proud of everything we accomplished with a small but mighty team.