The Working Assembly began as a side hustle. Jolene Delisle and Lawrence O’Toole juggled full-time jobs while collaborating on projects for startup clients, and they eventually realized there was an opportunity to help companies with branding, marketing, and advertising. In the past four years, TWA has grown from a team of two to a team of twenty in NYC’s Flatiron district. We spoke with Creative Director and Partner Jolene Delisle about their start, their new initiative 24-Hour Assembly—a branding program for minority and women founders, what makes an ideal TWA client, and why she’s excited about the new frontier of experiential and immersive branding.
On common founder mistakes:
“Clients often come to us and say, “I love the branding of this.” And we’re like, “Well, that’s not really your target. It doesn’t really make sense for you as a brand.” And I think it can be hard for founders to separate their own personal aesthetic from what is actually going to be most effective for their business.”
On TWA’s core values:
“There’s an opportunity when you start your own business to be able to pick your clients, and we started working with a lot of female-founded startups right away. Zola and TheSkimm are both led by women founders. We developed a natural passion for working with these types of companies. It helps that our team is also comprised of mostly women, which I think is really outside the norm. For us, we really focus on diversity and inclusivity. It’s a core tenet of our company and an integral part of the conversation.”
“TWA is great at collaborating, ideating, and executing brand identities. They have outstanding taste, beautiful design skills and understand the marketplace well.” Michael Wayne, LA, CEO, Kin
Below, you’ll find the rest of the founder reviews, the full interview, and more details like pricing and fee structures. This profile is part of our ongoing series covering startup brand designers and agencies with whom founders love to work, based on this survey and our own research. The survey is open indefinitely, so please fill it out if you haven’t already.
Interview with TWA’s Creative Director and Founder Jolene Delisle
Yvonne Leow: Tell me a little bit about your backstory. What led you down this path of design and branding?
Jolene Delisle: So, I have more of a background in advertising and communications, and my founding partner, Lawrence, has a background in branding. In the beginning, we were both working full time, but we would collaborate on projects for startup clients. We eventually realized that there was a need to create branding elements before we could ever develop a marketing strategy so that became the impetus for starting Working Assembly
We’re a relatively new studio. We have about 20 people full time. We’re based in the Flatiron district in NYC. And we work with emerging and evolving brands. The emerging brands are startups. About 40% of our clients are early-stage companies that have either received some kind of angel investment or are pre-series A. Sometimes, founders come to us when they don’t even have a name yet, but they have a great idea and a core MVP. Other times, startups are growing very quickly, and we’ll build out their brand and create additional assets.