An independent creative studio focused on Brand Voice and Messaging — partnering with agencies and in-house marketing teams to unearth simple truths and connect business with creativity.
Drop us a line.
firstname.lastname@example.org | linkedin
We're lucky to work with amazing design firms, creating 360° creative for our clients:
Armchair Media/ IfThen
McFaul + Day
The Official Studio
Syndicated Films Brooklyn
The Heads of State
This is Folly
Widgets & Stone
+ countless in-house marketing teams.
Our logo was designed by the ubertalents at The Heads of State.
Props are nice:
Included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian, Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. Awarded by AIGA 365 Design Annual; AIGA TEN Show awards (Gold, Silver, Bronze); STEP Magazine’s Top 100 Designs (2); Mohawk Paper Show (Best in Show); PRINT Magazine Regional Design Award; PRINT Magazine Design in Business Award; Interior Design Association Creative Excellence Awards (4); One Show (Design Merit); New York Type Director’s Club. Writing award recipient from the Yale and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences. Finalist for Book of the Year, Foreword Review.
Brand voice and messaging, copywriting for marketing materials, apps, email series, social, and SEO
BUILDING THE COMPANY’S FIRST B2C BRAND VOICE
You know Square as the little white plug-in that lets you pay baristas and boutiques with a credit card. When the company wanted to offer its first consumer products, they asked us to create the right messaging to connect with any-and-everyone.
Over the course of 5 months, we worked closely with their designers and product managers to write launch copy. Then we stepped back to codify Brand Voice Guidelines that capture the spirit, values, and personality of all Square Capital products, including business loans and partnerships with eBay and Weebly.
”Working with 26 Tools has been so fun. They are copy messiahs who set a totally unattainable standard for anyone else to live up to.” – Product Lead
Brand positioning, messaging, customer engagement
A VOICE, AND EXPERIENCE, TO INSPIRE NY DESIGNERS
When the Product Design division of architecture giant HOK designed a new line of furniture for public spaces, they realized that its potential went far beyond hospitals. Along with their manufacturing collaborator IOA Healthcare, they asked us to help them articulate the brand — and conceive of engagements — that would capture the imagination of attendees at New York's International Contemporary Furniture Fair.
When we heard that the Opening Night party was at MoMA, we called the museum to ask if we could remove the furniture from the museum's lobby and garden, and replace it with the featured HOK/IOA product? And MoMA said: no one has ever asked us that before. What a night, what a party, what a launch.
In the months following, we helped rename and rebrand the HOK team to become Rainlight Studio.
Brand voice, expression, and messaging
ARTICULATING AMSALE’S DESIGN VISION, IN STYLE
For more than 30 years, Amsale Aberra has dressed brides around the world, including Halle Berry and Heidi Klum. As her company was ramping up its digital marketing platform, she asked us to help articulate her vision for design, and capture the classic yet modern spirit in language.
When Amsale teared up and told us that no one had ever articulated her design sensibility so well and truthfully, we did not know that she had been diagnosed with cancer. We are delighted to have met her, and played a small part in shaping her legacy.
Naming, brand voice, messaging, integrated campaigns
REBRANDING FOUR ICONIC AMERICAN BRANDS, AS ONE
Yellow Freight had grown fast, through mergers with former competitors, to become a nationwide powerhouse of four operating companies: Holland, New Penn, Reddaway, and Yellow. When they wanted to launch a logistics brand to serve all four operating companies, they asked us to help name and brand it. HNRY was born, and rolled out through a series of internal and external marketing campaigns.
Brand voice, brand articulation, messaging, copywriting
CAPTURING THE SPIRIT OF THE SPIRIT
When the Tennessee Stillhouse set out to overturn 100 years of prohibition in Chattanooga, they needed all the public support that they could get. We helped them concept a slogan, a rallying cry — then develop it into a full Brand Voice and campaign. Rules are good. Change them. Whiskey to the People.
"Do you realize how badass the words you gave us are?" – Co-Founder
Brand Voice, articulation, tagline, messaging, copywriting for signage, packaging, web, ads, and social
BRANDING HUMAN / NATURE
Rock/Creek, a 20 year old outdoor retailer, wanted to grow in–store and online sales. We could see that Rock/Creek’s strength comes not from the outdoor apparel and equipment they sell, but from how they enhance the outdoor experience for customers of all skill levels.
So we created a brand that centers on words — a highly conceptual yet accessible "tagline engine" pairing positive words that, used together, bring new meaning. Centered around the iconic slash in Rock/Creek's logo.
"There simply are no other specialty retailers doing anything like this. Most identities look like a watered-down imitations of major national brands. By contrast, our brand is bold and forward-thinking. It is uniquely ‘Rock/Creek.’ The team's method and the thoughtful nature of their work has reinvigorated our own sense of direction and has given us a valuable focus for future growth.” – Marketing & Creative Director
Brand Voice, messaging, copywriting for ads and social
STYLE IS SUBSTANCE
Miller Bros. offers clothes that suit the New South, brands and collections that are not available anywhere else in Atlanta. Whether made to measure or ready-to-wear—if it’s the best, then it’s at their store. We looked at the personality of the brand, the competitive landscape, inspiration from classic and contemporary men’s fashion, and ways to link the store experience to advertising.
Brand strategy, positioning, voice, articulation, and copywriting
ARTICULATING PURPOSE AND PASSION IN A STARTUP
Legacybox's founders bootstrapped a simple concept from garage startup to an Inc 500 company. Five years in, they came up for air and wanted to codify their vision, core values, and momentum into a bigger Brand Story. In particular, they were looking to establish thought leadership in three areas: the entrepreneurscape, their local community, and nonprofit partnerships. We helped organize strategic thinking and messaging for application in marketing, PR, employee training, and potential future brand launches.
“Working with 26 Tools allowed us to take a step back from the day-to-day and discover truly how to articulate our organization and its values, in succinct and powerful ways, both to customers and internally. This articulation also served to sharpen us on how we ought to think about what we do as a company.” – Co-Founder
Brand Voice, articulation, messaging
CREATING THE RIGHT VOICE TO BRING BIG DATA TO BIG FARMS
Granular, a software startup backed by Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz, builds tools that help farmers turn data into decisions. Working with stakeholders and farmers, we helped create Voice and Tone Guidelines while writing a launch website and integrated campaign.
Brand Voice, strategy, brand positioning, copywriting
BUILDING A BRAND THAT BUILDS EMPATHY
Ashoka: Innovators for the Public is a global organization that identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs. They wanted a toolkit of exercises to help teach empathy in elementary school classrooms and asked us to help generate both messaging and a smart delivery system.
In a three-day creative sprint, we created a framework, an icon roadmap, set the stage with effective copy, and created templates for Ashoka Fellows to use when writing classroom exercises. Turning a complex, layered idea into a simple, powerful set of classroom tools.
"You have an incredible ability to take esoteric ideas and ground them in reality, through words." — Project Lead
Brand voice, strategy, messaging, campaign development
River City is downtown Chattanooga’s economic development company, founded upon the idea that the city's urban core is essential to the way the region works, plays and lives. After 20+ years in existence, they asked us to lead them through a rebranding and develop their communications plan.
We recommended starting with a 300–foot love letter — painting “downtownup” on the side of a new development. Starting conversations that are open-ended, with interpretations that were widely varying, but always optimistic. Then we created a hit list of urban prototypes: Center Park, BoomTown (AIA Tennessee), Pop Up Retail, and a brand voice championed by local businesses, all of which River City and their partners developed. As a capstone, we named “The Block,” a colossal square of retail and facade–rock climbing that is the new centerpiece of downtown.
"You are truly amazing. I love collaborating with 26 Tools. It's exactly what I was trying to say. Like my voice, but so much better." – President, River City Company
Brand Communications Strategy, Writing, and Creative Direction
THE GOSPEL OF LIFESTYLE
The in-house creative team behind Travel Channel, HGTV, Food Network asked for help getting inspired for a new campaign. We generated concepts for their creative team and agency, around Scripps' unique positioning in the market and how they want advertisers and viewers to feel. As a follow-up, we were asked to write for Scripps' first sustainability report, leading copy and messaging on the project.
"Usually when I hire for a project, design starts as number one. But the design is not all I’m looking for. I need individuals who can quickly grasp the scope of the assignment. Your structure promotes a maturation of creative ideas and allows the project to come to fruition, and leverage into big impact for our brand.” – Scripps Networks Creative Director
Brand voice, messaging, campaign development
KICKING OFF A NEW SEMIPRO TEAM
Chattanooga, FC, a semipro soccer team wanted to build its new reputation, while building community. We created a brand that reminds the city that in open fields, empty lots, and city alleys around the world, millions use their feet to dream of soccer. Let throwball fans have their Sundays, we have the FC. If you live in Chattanooga, you're in the club.
Brand voice, product naming, merger & acquisition branding, client engagements, copywriting for web and print
BRAND DEVELOPMENT FROM PD TO PR
America’s largest privately held flooring manufacturer asked us to develop a media strategy to tell the world about a revolutionary recycling program. We love a good media strategy, but see it as a subset of brand communications. So in the years since, we helped Mannington integrate communication design into product development, public relations, design competitions, marketing materials, app launches, environmental design, sustainability initiatives, two mergers, and even a pay-what-you-can program for K-12 public schools.
"So happy. As always, I appreciate 26 Tools' brilliant language and thinking." — VP of Commercial Brand Development
Naming, brand voice, messaging
FINDING GOOD NEWS FOR GREEN|SPACES
green|spaces started with an ambitious goal to enable 20 LEED certified buildings in a city that had none, within three years. They needed to engage widely varied audiences — contractors, architects, building owners, city code inspectors, and more. So we started with a rethink of urban space: buildings that are green|spaces. We also conceived of, and wrote for, projects ranging from a building resource center to a “Crime Scene” about the dangers of indoor air quality (with good news at the end!)
"Your team's ability to take a single idea and turn it into communications that people understand, relate to, and want to engage is unrivaled. You inspire me in my own job, inspire others to rethink their contributions to our community. I know of few companies that place such priority on what the idea of community means and what it should be, then translate this priority into productive, effective collateral." — green|spaces Co-Director
Brand Voice, Messaging, Marketing Campaign
FRESH THINKING ABOUT FINANCIALS
In a Southern town, an all-woman owned and operated accounting firm wanted to target small business. We helped them create a Brand Voice and their first-ever marketing campaign.
We wanted to show their chops across a full suite of services, from consulting to accounting, bookkeeping, audit, and valuation. Always with a laser focus on putting customers needs first. With a simple play on simple math, we helped them stand out in a crowded market, and communicate what makes them different.
Brand Voice, Messaging, Marketing Campaign
ARTICULATING A SINGLE, STRONG VOICE FOR 70 RETAILERS
Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is a collective of independent outdoor specialty retailers and brands that drives evolution within the outdoor industry through shared data, exclusive buying opportunities, education, and a passion for creating memorable experiences for outdoor enthusiasts.
With so many independent entrepreneurs at the helm, they knew that they would be most effective if they were all singing the same tune. We created a single Brand Voice, key expression, brand guidelines, and campaigns to promote their position as experts on local backcountry experiences — as well as help them gain aggregate buying power with vendors from Arc'teryx to Yakima.