Brand-To-Table is a premium all-in-one, fixed 2-month consulting, design, and web production package designed to launch lean, focused, and purpose-driven small businesses into the marketplace with a bang.
If you are a new small business reading this article, work with me and I’ll lead your company from brand ideation, to creative strategy development, to development of a full starter suite of visual creative delivered to your table in 2 months time. Not only will you be one of the few small businesses with visual creative work fully aligned to brand strategy, you will be ready for launch and competitively positioned in market.
Why is this offering extra unique? It is extremely rare to find a consultant who can deliver creative strategy, brand ideation, and visual design + technical production tied to brand strategy without any breaks in line the line of communication.
Why is this so important? Have you ever tried talking about a new idea just forming in your head to a friend? (This example also works if we maybe say you’re recounting last night’s dream). And the friend keeps butting in, jumping to his/her own conclusion, breaking the train of thought with his/her interpretations — and suddenly, poof! the nugget of that original idea is lost in some murky waters. This is what you risk when you start a new business and have too many cooks in the kitchen. What your business “is” and “can be” is at a stage where it is not fully formed; this is live or die for your baby, so as a bootstrapped small business owner it is critical your protect your idea and conserve your energy from too many varied interpretations that will dilute your brand before it’s had a chance to take ground.
Brand-To-Table with no breaks in between
Let’s look at the Brand-To-Table execution package:
- 50% Brand and creative strategy consulting to make sure you’re starting off on the right foot
- 20% Branding + identity design execution
- 30% Visual communications setup which typically involves helping you choose your email and website host, building a 1st-iteration marketing website that you can scale to R2 as business requires, designing your business card template, and creating some beginning brand identity graphics to use on social media to begin marketing your small business.
For websites, I’m fluent in Shopify, Squarespace, WordPress, Tumblr, and hand-coded HTML5! While I can build all of those sites for you, my more important goal is to help you pick the right website platform for your business — saving you hundreds of hours of time and thousands of dollars if you were to invest in building out the wrong technology. I help you evaluate the many factors and am your guardian protector against choosing bad choices in technology or investing in technologies that don’t make sense for your business goals. I’m not just a web designer, web developer, tech guy, or branding guy — I come from a marketing strategy background, having studied at the Walter A. Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley with a double degree in Psychology (social psychology / industrial psychology focus). Many of my clients choose to work with me long term specifically because my eye is always on the prize, a.k.a. the big picture of where you want your business to be at stage X, or in month Y.
When you choose to work with a talent who only understands tech coding, or only understands graphic design, or only understands marketing strategy — you are effectively relegating your personal role in your company from CEO / Founder down to project manager chasing people down and trying to bridge language barriers. The money question is: if you are overwhelmed putting out fires, who is in the driver’s seat of your company?
This is why I devote a critical 50% of our time working together on helping you distill down to an only-what’s-necessary understanding of your digital strategy, your brand strategy, your creative strategy, and your user experience strategy (U.X.) a.k.a. how your customers feel about their experience after interacting with your business through your website / social media channels / in-person store experience / all the way through to support help question responsiveness.
Why do I feel qualified to coach you on the above critical business decisions?
I say it’s because I have a strong history of corporate experience, which I consistently take to the streets to test out with you guys, my small business clients, where we get direct feedback on what works and what methodology is out of date. When you’re a fresh, lean small business, it’s trial by fire which is a double-edged sword: you’re either fast to take over market share, or you’re fast to be burned. You typically don’t have all the excess fat to slow cook through like the big guys, so you want the sharpest team possible.
While much of the work in my portfolio below revolves around small businesses in NYC in the arts, design, fashion, and a few startups, the other half of my experience is working in notable ad agencies and communications firms.
With 10 years experience, when I work in ad agency and team settings I typically take on these various specialized roles:
- Senior Advertising Art Director
- Front-end Web Developer
- User-Experience Designer & Strategist
- Photographer / Photo Retoucher (if I haven’t mentioned, I draw my eye for brand aesthetics partly from my involvement with the New York art scene and partly from my photography background. See stevenchu.com for photo work from a past page of my book.)
I’ve also been hand selected to play on the teams of some of today’s major cultural influencers including Marie Forleo, Marissa Webb, Brian Kish, and Heather Huey. Together we intersect art + style + lifestyle + entrepreneurship, and our teams have a good pulse on where entrepreneurship is headed in the near future.
I also have a special theory on the single thing a small business must nail down if it wants to succeed in this new market, and it’s completely tied to the revolution we are seeing and using everyday on our phones. I promise to share this invaluable philosophy with you when we do our branding distillation exercise.
Finally, I’m a part of a few entrepreneurial incubators.
I’m one of six awardees given residence in the Shopify Partner Studio here in the NoMad district of NYC. I’m also on staff as a Guardian at The Kitchen, an artist-creative-entrepreneur co-collaboration space in Brooklyn.
The Details: What to expect in working together
You will walk away with a stronger, clearer, and more directed understanding of your business, your target market, and how to sequentially move your ship from defined starting Point A to any of several Point B possibilities on the landscape.
The Brand-To-Table package starts at $9,600
To recap, Brand-To-Table is:
- A 2 month intensive incubation partnership with myself and your small businesses founders that is
- one part chock-full amazing Coaching on brand and lean strategy execution and
- other part Designing, Developing, and Shipping to market;
- where we meet 2x each week for 2-3 hour work sessions, and expect a minimum of 10 hours per week commitment working on project deliverables (whether in person or individually), and
- where we are building your business live, and iterating on feedback; where we may develop a planned roadmap but in reality it is all hands on deck (this is not a classroom simulation, and sometimes we’ll be executing several phases at once), and
- where you will gain a comprehensive knowledge of the apps/software/recommended technology choices to run the various aspects of your small business.
*Includes 2 month fee for strategic consulting, visual design, and web development time for a standard small business marketing site on Squarespace or comparable option.
*The fee does not include:
- websites that involve extensive custom coding, animations, or are actually apps.
- additional services such as photography and associated production costs
- hiring of external freelance talent
- purchases such as product licenses or software subscriptions
- work completed outside of the scope of the 2 month partnership
If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get your business on the market with ammunition behind it, dive in and fill out the general interest form below.
Will it be like dropping off my kiddies at the pool? Ahem, I mean.. like dropping off my clothes at the dry cleaner?
Ok, are you going to build everything for me and pull all the answers out of me?
While there is some truth that I will be pulling answers out of you, and I ultimately will build the assets for you, I will only take you on as a client if you intend to be a co-creator.
You are a good match if you are an active contributor (“giving”) personality type in your everyday life. We are not a good match if you are looking to hand everything off and expect to come back in 2 months to a fully produced product. Being hands-off definitely has it’s time, specifically when each of us needs to focus on executing what we do best, but the success of this partnership requires co-creation and active leadership on both our parts.
Here’s why: As your consultant, my best distillation of your unique, core driver is as good as your deepest insight. As a visual designer, my ability to interpret, design, and build the visual assets that of your company is only as strong as your best direction (which is informed by your connectedness to your core driver).
I won’t have homework, right?
Sorry! [Instant bubble burst sequence initiated] Yes, there is homework — not lesson plan/classroom homework, but research based homework in order for you to:
- 1) Be a sponge on historic references to pull from and contemporary news in the market landscape, and
- 2) Investigate internally why this project drives you and how you can improve and train yourself to lead it.
Can we work together if I’m based outside of NYC?
Yes! If you’re not based here in New York, our primary mode of communication will be Slack for chat, and Skype / Google Hangouts for video conferencing.
It’s extremely important we stick to a videoconferencing schedule of 2x a week, as much of gauging feedback and reactions is based on non-verbal cues (as well as the creative process of riffing off each other!). To be clear, an email / text / phone only work relationship is not possible. Any partnership that falls below the communication minimum may be voided, to protect your best interest as my client, and my ability to produce the results you need.
What if I get too busy to work on this?
We have 2 face-to-face checkins per week.
If you are in NYC, you are allowed to substitute a maximum of 2 in-person checkins with videoconference calls.
If you are a virtual client, we have a required 2 videoconference calls per week and there are no substitutions.
Any partnership that falls below the communication minimum may be voided, subject to my discretion.
Refunds. A 50% deposit on my base fee is non-refundable, however Client will be issued a pro-rated refund for any unused weeks above the 50% non-refundable threshold (i.e. Week 5, Week 6, Week 7).
The following examples are for a virtual client, though this equally applies to a NYC based client who cannot attend the required 2x a week check-ins.
Example 1: Our videoconference checkins are Tuesday and Fridays. During Week 3, Client is unable to make both videoconference checkins, and client creative feedback is spotty and only through email. Client is entitled to the maximum 50% refund.
Example 2: During Week 6, Client needs to put project on hold as an emergency trip has come up and client will be traveling for the next two weeks. I spend the rest of Week 6 wrapping up any design work I’ve started to hand over to client. Client is entitled to refund for Week 7 and Week 8 of BTT base fee (25% refund).
Can I make up my weeks later?
Each client will book their allotted 2 month time slot. Pausing and picking up outside of your 2 month time slot impacts another client’s small business launch, and hence is not possible.
You may rebook a full, new 2 month time slot for a future date at the full package price. As we will be both out of momentum, it is not theoretically possible to just pick up where we left off.
How many Brand-To-Table partnerships do you take on at once?
Two, maximum at any given time.
Can I hire you to work on projects in the future?
Most definitely yes! My goal is to set you up for success, and take you as far as you can go.