Studio Neat is a Texas-based design company that sells a wide array of unique and skillfully-designed products. Even after years of growth, founders Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost are still the only employees of the company—responsible for designing, manufacturing, and marketing their creations.
Studio Neat’s branding is all about simplicity and practicality. Their products may vary widely in functionality, but it’s the process behind them that brings together and strengthens the brand.
The company started with a single product, The Glif, a smart-phone tripod with mounts for attaching additional accessories like lights or microphones, giving users the ability to turn their phones into a portable, mini-camera rig—perfect for budget-strapped influencers and online creators.
The Glif was launched in 2010 with the promotion of a Kickstarter campaign. Gerhardt and Provost were unsure how much enthusiasm there would be for the product, but after making ten times their original goal, they quit their jobs and decided to work on Studio Neat full-time.
Their process hasn’t changed much since then. Gerhardt and Provost secure most of their funding through Kickstarters, constantly developing and testing new products.
Gerhardt and Provost are problem-solvers, first and foremost, molded in the vein of the classic American inventor. The strength of their brand comes from their adept skill at finding pain-points and developing fixes for them.
For StudioNeat, it’s about the journey of creating the product. The layout of their website design is guided by this principle.
The website design sticks to the simplicity and honesty of the brand. Studio Neat forgoes anything too flashy. The background is a simple linen white, with muted navy blue fringes and black text. The products themselves use this palette as well.
It starts with their banner image, which typically advertises the product they’re currently developing, rather than selling. The call-to-action brings you to the Kickstarter page for the product, rather than anywhere on their online store.
Typically, sending users to another website in your most prominent call-to-action isn’t a good idea, but it works perfectly here because of Studio Neat’s ground-level approach to marketing their products.
When Gerhardt and Provost develop a product, they bring their audience along for the ride, and Kickstarter support is the first step of that journey. It’s great for securing funding, no doubt, but even more valuable is the quick connection it builds with its audience.
Users don’t typically donate to a Kickstarter campaign without believing in the growth and sustainability of a brand. When customers support a Kickstarter, they’re doing more than just buying a product—they’re investing in the product’s success.
Gerhardt and Provost aren’t just giving their backers “first-dibs” on their latest product, they’re giving their audiences a stake in the product’s success. Customers invested in a brand’s success are more likely to engage, share, and purchase.
It has the accumulative effect of making customers feel like they’re a part of the growth of your business. Everything on Studio Neat’s website is designed to cultivate this relationship.
Under the banner image are quick-links to pages for their previous products (some of which you might have donated to if you’ve been following the brand), followed by a candid, black and white photograph of Gerhardt and Provost dining.
The call-to-action here links to their About Us page, another peculiarity of the design. About Us pages are usually linked in the footer, as something of an after-thought. But with Studio Neat, the founders are a selling point.
The idea is to build a large, sustainable audience by bringing them along for the ride of building the business. The website navigation is simple and contains links to the same three pages as the homepage content.
Gerhardt and Provost don’t need customers to spend too much time on their site before this happens. On the first visit, users are likely to learn a bit about the company, its founders, and might even invest in the development of its latest product.
For any merchants looking for website design inspiration, Gerhardt and Provost provide a great lesson in how to show your customers who you are. By inviting their fans to become a part of the brand, Studio Neat plants the seeds of a valuable, long-time customer relationship.