John B Johnson, Identity Architect, discusses how to optimize your brand identity to directly benefit your marketing efforts, product development, and more. Listen to John’s tips on why your branding needs to be more than a logo, and how a small studio helped 43North Y7 Portfolio Company, ShearShare!


John B. Johnson, hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, is the founder of “a small studio.” He is a passionate advocate for building communities and helping individuals understand their unique identities to better engage with the communities they belong to. With a background in architecture and an MBA, John brings a unique perspective to branding and design, focusing on identity and authenticity.


In this exciting episode, our very own Senior Marketing Manager, Justine Palkowski, had an insightful chat with John B. Johnson, the mastermind behind a dynamic studio. They delved into John’s wealth of knowledge about nurturing startups and budding companies to forge powerful brand identities. John sheds light on the pivotal role authenticity and distinctiveness play in crafting compelling brands, delving into the journey of unraveling founders’ personal stories and viewpoints. Here are the essential takeaways from their enlightening conversation:

  • Start Early: John emphasizes that startups don’t necessarily need a logo to start selling. Testing, validating, and selling can be done without a logo. Authenticity and a unique story matter more than a logo at the initial stage.
  • Consistency is Key: John stresses the importance of consistency across all touchpoints, from websites and mobile apps to presentations and branding materials. Consistency builds brand equity and trust among customers and investors.
  • Investing in Brand Equity: When scaling a startup or seeking investment, having a solid brand identity is crucial. Startups should invest in building brand equity early on to ensure their growth aligns with their authentic identity.
  • Timeframe: Building a solid brand identity takes time. John suggests that the process generally takes around 8 to 12 weeks to establish a foundation. However, a longer timeframe of 6 months is often needed for a more comprehensive and impactful branding journey.
  • Community and Authenticity: John praises Buffalo’s startup ecosystem and its emphasis on community and authenticity. He sees tremendous potential in cities like Buffalo and Cleveland to create unique, authentic, and successful entrepreneurial ecosystems.



Apply: 43North Accelerator Program
John’s Instagram: @johnbcreating
a small studio Instagram: @asmallstudioco
a small studio website:

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