Branding a design studio – our story

Initial design for our clay icons

We’d always wanted to open our own studio one day. For many designers, and certainly for Javi and I, running our own practice was a dream that was always there in the backs of our minds, always a plan to work towards. For me personally, I didn’t know exactly when, where or even if it would ever happen, but the idea was certainly always there, lingering.

After working closely together in the design team at a start-up in Madrid, Javi and I realized that our complementary talents could be put to use working together as a small creative duo, with the potential to grow over time into a bigger studio. We felt confident in our offering and in the value we would be able to provide to clients, and soon began hashing out initial ideas for possible approaches to a business.

As part of these early meetings, we held a brand workshop (for which the Figma template can be found here). Why take the time to do this? Well, it was important to us to follow a similar process to the one we use with our branding clients. It’s essential to take the time to align values and strategic visions before embarking on such a big project, and although we felt like we were more or less on the same page beforehand, it certainly helped even further in establishing a level of trust and confidence between us and in our ideas for the studio.

We took our time to run through exercises we often workshop in Discovery meetings with clients. Who are we? What do we stand for? Where do we add value? How will we attract business? Whilst we most certainly wished to be our own brand with our own voice, what other studios would we consider our neighbors? If our studio was a person, with whom would they be hanging out? All of these exercises helped us to align our vision and goals for the next few years and beyond.


The naming process is a large project in itself with its own mix of legal and logistical hurdles. We considered several studio names we really liked, but which, upon further investigation, had already been taken. Combine this with the wild west that is the world of dormant domains and domain squatting, and we found it best to chip away at the task over time.

Initially, we shared lists of words we liked and thought had potential for conceptual branding. Sometimes, a word just sounds nice to say out loud. I remember reading that the founder of Kodak chose the brand name because he was especially fond of the letter ‘K’, and had determined that his brand name would need to begin and end with the letter, rolling nicely off the tongue.

One of the words that made itself onto our shortlists was ‘clay’, with its connotations of craftsmanship, building, play, and modeling. From there, the jigsaw pieces of an identity soon began to fall into place – how clay as a material reflects who we are and what we do on a more conceptual level.

Brand design

The fun (but also daunting) part of the project began when we jumped into initial brand explorations and design sprints. There was a great deal of experimentation at this stage, perhaps even more so than for a client project. It’s often said that designing for oneself is an especially difficult task, and indeed we found this to be true. We remember attempting to assign ourselves deadlines, once reading somewhere that they were a must for projects of this nature. But with no client pressure, an open-ended brief, and with no real repercussions for missing any of these deadlines, were they even deadlines? They were frequently ‘snoozed’, for want of a euphemistic term, and the search for perfection continued. It’s part of the reason why designing for oneself can be so hard. There’s a sense of putting yourself out there, and so of course one wishes to present themselves in the perfect light, all whilst remaining authentic. Not too cool, not too edgy, but also, not without any edge at all…

All in all, we took our time but definitely enjoyed the development. And we soon found ourselves gravitating towards certain solutions, certain color palettes, certain type choices. From there it became a case of refinement, testing, and often putting everything away for several days and working on something else for a while.

Shown at the top is an initial design for the clay icons. We’d seen numerous adaptive brand identities around the same time we were working away at ours, and that probably influenced our thinking. We loved the idea of having not one single icon, but instead a ball of clay that morphed between different shapes and icons. What better way to represent the essence and malleability of clay, whilst also representing something more? The icons themselves were considered as representing who we are and what we do. We have the initials B and C for BeClay, but also: a geometric smiley face, a heart, a play icon for video, and a keyframe icon for motion. The majority of our audience won’t exactly realize what we’re going for conceptually with each shape, but it gave it an added layer of meaning for us, which we found important. And perhaps an ‘a-ha’ moment for others in the industry who could recognise what we were going for.

Using stop motion

We decided we wanted to animate these logo icons by actually making them out of clay (or in our case, plasticine). First, we animated vector shapes in After Effects to establish a reference for modeling. Then, we printed each frame of this animation, with a series of alignment marks in the corners for post-production. On top of these paper references, we molded blue plasticine and photographed each and every frame, using a mounted iPhone and a box to control the lighting. The blue color of the plasticine would allow us to easily adjust the color of our ‘clay’ shapes in post-production, whilst preserving the texture of the material. Finally, each frame was precisely aligned in Photoshop, and the lighting further equalized. In the final animation there are slight changes in light and texture, but these only help to further reflect the handmade feeling we were looking for.

Just my type

For the typography, we knew we wanted a fairly soft serif, both to reflect the concept of clay and also to bring in some needed personality to the overall brand design. We liked the font Recoleta but it became a bit too omnipresent at the time of designing, and so we considered others of a similar 70s-style ilk such as Windsor, Cooper, ITC Clearface, or the revival New Spirit from Newlyn. In the end, we settled on Fraunces, which we thought was a great find and a perfect, balanced fit for the brand.

We paired Fraunces with Founders Grotesk from Klim Type Foundry, a type shop needing little introduction. The crisp perfection of Founders Grotesk contrasted nicely with the organic forms of our logo icon, and the font was also used across the website as the primary brand font aside from display uses. It also happens to be one of our favourite ever typefaces. For blog articles, such as the one you’re reading now, we chose Untitled Serif (also from Klim). And finally, the monospaced font Martha from Coppers & Brasses was used sparingly for captions and other tiny details across our branding and website. Pairing typefaces has always been a process we especially enjoy, and by typesetting in context we can discover the intricate differences between how fonts sit together, and how their overall color and harmony leave distinct impressions.


In keeping with the rest of the identity, we wanted an elegant but rebellious tone for the illustrations of our brand, as we’d decided on having some sort of character mascot. A black and white style reflected part of our brand color palette, and gave the illustrations a uniform presence that wouldn’t overpower our portfolio work. The character design is simple and minimalistic, with humorous poses that show we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We also tried to achieve a balance between texture (the noise in certain areas of the character) and something flatter (the black blocks of color).

Our website

After we’d pieced together a good deal of the brand identity, tone of voice, copywriting style, etc., we soon moved on to initial designs for the website. For us, the website would be paramount in terms of our initial presentation to prospective clients. We view our website as a key extension of our brand, and wanted to inject some personality and uniqueness into the experience. We developed a sticker component for our portraits on the About page (photographs taken by our good friends Pelayo & Mar, to whom we can’t thank enough for making us look presentable), and we aim to soon have a side-scroller game as a header for the Play page.

These types of components would also be pretty important to us as an additional way of showcasing what we can do in terms of web design and development. Though the majority of our client sites would be simpler and more paired back, it felt right to be able to showcase this offering whilst, at the same time, expressing in interesting ways exactly who we are as a studio.


If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading what has perhaps been a somewhat self-indulgent post, turning the mirror on ourselves and onto our own brand. We hope it’s offered some insight into who we are, what makes us different, and indeed some of our creative process for crafting memorable brand identities. ✦

Have a branding project in mind and think we may be able to help? Arrange an introductory call to see if we’d be a good fit. Send us an email, or fill out the form on our Contact page.

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