1.1 DesignStudio

Why startups need to take branding seriously

We speak to DesignStudio’s new startup focused venture 1.1 about the unique challenge of branding early-stage businesses, and why design is too often undervalued by investors

It’s hard to quantify the impact startup culture has had on the business world in recent decades. Born out of a desire among a new generation of entrepreneurs to ‘disrupt’ entrenched ways of thinking in corporate business, today millions of startups are launched every year in countries around the world. Meanwhile, the rise of digital and the insatiable appetite of venture capitalists to land the next unicorn has made household names out of everyone from Instagram to Uber in just a few short years.

Founded in 2009, DesignStudio is the agency behind some of the most discussed rebrands of the past decade, having helped transform businesses including Airbnb (2014) and Deliveroo (2016) during pivotal stages of their development. Today, the studio works across everything from heritage brands like Sainsbury’s, to emerging categories with esports pioneer Riot Games, to early-stage businesses such as all-electric motorcycle brand Arc Vector.

While the studio is clear on the role design can play in companies of all shapes and sizes, for early-stage businesses in particular it can offer a vital advantage when competition is fierce and margins are fine. It’s a sentiment they’ve noticed isn’t traditionally shared by the startup world itself though, where brand is still too often seen as an afterthought, or a luxury to one day be invested in.