After spending years working for in-house design teams and well-known brand agencies such as Nike, Google, and Pentagram, Joe and Leslie Stitzlein, who are also husband and wife, decided to launch their own branding studio. You’ve seen their work in many places; from launching the identities for Netflix, Mac OS X, Nike Flyknit, dwell and Lilly.
Stitzlein Studio has ushered in a new chapter for the couple who now works with a global network of independent designers, illustrators, and developers to help companies develop or expand their brands. It doesn’t matter whether it’s designing an identity or launching a new product, the founders of Stitzlein Studio are eager to share their vast experiences and take on a new challenge.
Advice for startup founders
“Be yourself, and be courageous. That is not easy, especially when you have investors to satisfy and payroll to make [we’re business owners too at the end of the day and totally get it]. We’ve seen founders try to mimic successful brands rather than spending time and energy on what makes them unique. Instead of trying to look like Google, figure out what you are and amplify the shit out of that. It’s surprising how many companies underestimate themselves when what they do is amazing. Our job is to find what makes them distinctive and pour gas on it.”
Stitzlein Studio’s branding philosophy
“Each brand has its own DNA, just as each person is unique. A company’s DNA comes to life both on a surface level by how they look, but also how the brand interacts with people in the world.”
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 Stitzlein Studio Creative Directors Joe and Leslie Stitzlein
Yvonne Leow: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and why the two of you decided to create a studio together?
Joe Stitzlein: Leslie and I had been working at a lot of different places before this. I had been in-house at Nike for seven years and spent three years at Google. There’s not a lot of opportunities to take risks in life, and we thought why not pivot from climbing the in-house ladder and share everything we’ve learned about branding with smaller startups as well as larger companies.
One aspect of our work that we really enjoy is taking a wonderful technical innovation and translating it into communications that are beautiful, helpful and inspiring. This is true for everything from a new running shoe to a new cryptocurrency; we love boiling complicated innovations down into a striking image or experience.
We wanted to take some of those lessons from the Nikes of the world, and the nonprofits and interactive clients Leslie had, and bring those to smaller scale clients. It was a fun opportunity.