Name, Brand Strategy, Brand Identity, Illustration, Animation, Copywriting, Messaging, Staging and Event Design
When an expert in corporate innovation needed a creative agency, he turned to Method Mark.
Inside Outside offers raw stories, real insights, and tactical advice from the best and brightest in startups & corporate innovation. The company started as a podcast in 2016 with some of the top entrepreneurs in the Midwest. Since that time it has gone on to include leading names in innovation and venture capital from around the country.
With a goal of uniting his two brands NXXT and the Inside Outside Podcast, founder and serial entrepreneur Brian Ardinger tapped Method Mark for assistance. Brian had an aggressive timeline of just a few months before his large national conference on entrepreneurship kicked off. We had a lot to do in a short amount of time.
Method Mark first set out to fully understand both companies and their unique factors. NXXT had been growing its corporate innovation consulting business, while the Inside Outside Podcast had been growing as a media brand. The Method Mark team spent hours with our client filling whiteboards full of strategy. We wanted to understand and clarify both the past and desired future of the company. Our goal in strategy is clarity, structure, and vision.
After some debate, Method Mark encouraged renaming the new company Inside Outside, as well as owning the existing abbreviation “io.” The io podcast had valuable brand awareness and it seemed wise to capitalize on this for the new entity. Change is hard, and there’s no reason to spend precious startup resources building new brand equity when some already exists.
With a solid strategic understanding and a new name, our design team began sketching concepts for a fresh logo mark that would make the strategy meaningful and accessible.
After exploring multiple directions, we converted these sketches to digital for client review. Through a few rounds of revisions, we dialed in on a mark that included the letters “i” and “o” in the shape. While our initial exploration included clever ideas, our client leaned more towards a corporate brand. While the brand is for innovators from all areas, inside and outside corporate America, success requires the buy-in and investment of traditional players like Fortune 500 companies and local city governments.
With a logo defined, Method Mark worked to create a color palette and typography selection that would capture this same strategic vision. We landed on a duo-tone look for the brand, contrasting a brighter and darker blue for the “inside” and “outside” innovators. We presented a few type options for the brand but ended up pairing Roboto and Roboto Slab. As a startup, budgets are limited and things need to move quickly. It made sense strategically to use a high quality, free, Google typeface. We also included Roboto Mono in the brand to bring a tech feel.
With logo, typography, and colors in place we felt the more corporate-leaning brand needed a personality. To accomplish this, we designed a series of characters that could be used to represent different audiences and bring some fun and personality to the mix. These characters we affectionately named Matilda the Unicorn, io the Robot, Neil the Astronaut, and Jack the Dinosaur.
Upon completing the brand identity, it was time to start a custom web project for Inside Outside. As a media company, we knew the site would be content-heavy and dynamic. Our first order of business was to create an information architecture to outline the general flow of the site.
With the architecture approved, we moved into the second phase of Method Mark’s web process, which is black and white wireframes. These wireframes help block out all required content of the website including copy, headlines, photos, and videos. With Inside Outside, we needed to work through how users engaged a dynamic media brand with changing events, podcasts, free blog content, and paid articles.
After completing the wireframes we created the website design. This included iconography work and illustration work along the way. A key challenge with the web design was to create a visual hierarchy to content. Users needed a way to identify types of content as well as featured and new content. The flexible grid was paired with icons and colors to solve this problem and deliver a dynamic site with constantly updating and shifting content.
Method Mark partnered with Becca Kroese of Skwintz to translate the design into custom code and deliver the client a fresh WordPress site. The WordPress content management system allows the client to make updates to the site like adding blog posts or changing featured content.
The new company was announced at the Inside Outside Innovation conference in Lincoln, NE. The conference received local news coverage and attracted innovators from around the country. Method Mark translated the new brand to signage, staging, slides, and animation loops for the side screens.
Inside Outside continues to build a compelling brand in the Midwest. The site has seen a growing audience, as has the podcast. Brian Ardinger and his team are building an important company for the Midwest. They are flying the flag of innovation for startups and corporations on the silicon prairie. They continue to engage some of the biggest brands in the country on projects based in Lincoln, NE. Method Mark looks forward to cheering on their future success.