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Our Philosophy

We believe deeply in finding great fits. We look for like-minded companies who are innovative and great to work with. The likelihood that you’ll have huge success as a result of choosing Motto is far greater because of it, plus, we’ll have more fun.

You have the right to gather as much information as you need about how Motto thinks, acts, and works, and ultimately, why we’re the best decision.

Who you should hire as your agency depends on whether or not they can solve your problem and the value you place on solving that problem. While branding may seem like a commodity, we can promise you, who you choose and what you invest in your brand truly matters.

Over the years we’ve collected frequently asked questions to help you learn why we’re different and why we’ve earned such a great reputation. When you do choose Motto, it will be because we both worked equally hard to ensure the best fit possible.

Co-Founders, Motto

How is Motto different from other branding agencies?

We often hear that clients started with 20-30 agencies before narrowing it down to Motto. There’s an over saturation of branding agencies in the market (few stellar, many not-so-stellar) and it’s hard to tell the differences between each one.

You’ve probably hired a few designers or another agency with mixed results. You’re looking for a team who gets you and delivers—it’s not an easy task. You should be choosy.

The bottom line is we all do similar things, with highly talented people, in (usually) cool offices. Most of us have smart researchers, strategists, pixel-perfect designers, code-savvy developers, writers, storytellers, project managers, etc. It’s the baseline for any great agency. So how do you choose?

What sets Motto apart:

  1. Most companies believe they have a visual problem, when in fact, it’s a weak brand because of poor strategy, unfocused tactics, poor leadership or the brand doesn’t match who the company is. We’ve developed a unique process that surfaces those issues and solves them quickly. Some agencies are only good at strategy, others just good at design or digital. We excel at both.
  2. We’ve been doing this work for over a long time. We’ve worked with hundreds of companies big ($2 billion+) and small (venture-backed) through launches, high-stakes rebrands, e-commerce overhauls, complex positioning, brand architecture problems, leadership, culture issues, and more. We’ve solved them well and earned a stellar reputation that proves we’re a powerful weapon for any company.
  3. We’ve led thousands of brand workshops, panels, seminars, given talks around the world, and been awarded, written about or featured in almost every major design or business publication imaginable. We also wrote a business book that teaches leaders and teams how to become the stand out or “rare breed” in their category. If you want a great tool, pre-order your copy now.
  4. We are candid and no B.S. If you’re making a big mistake, we’ll tell you. If your strategy isn’t smart, we’ll show you the way. While we are always kind and genuine, we’re not pushovers. We’ll move you from lack of clarity to clarity fast and you’ll be in awe of how good we are at assessing your issues and providing solutions.
  5. We’ve cracked the code on helping brands articulate who they and reflect it in the brand, digital and social experience so they can stay relevant, reduce competitive pressure, and increase profits.
  6. Our very first client from 2005 is still our client today. That’s more than a decade of trust in our agency.

Who is the ideal Motto client?

We are highly selective about the companies, teams and founders we work with. We look at the team dynamic, decision-making process and how eager you are to find solutions and activate those solutions.

Motto’s ideal client:

  1. D2C or B2C tech or tech-minded business or consumer brand.
  2. In categories where “brand is everything.”
  3. If a startup, is well funded ($500k+ venture-backed) and has traction.
  4. If established, is earning $10m-$100m and facing a transitional or significant business challenge.
  5. Has a visionary or bold thinker at the helm.
  6. Open to a different perspective and willing to implement suggestions.
  7. Decision-makers work directly with us and are focused and engaged.
  8. Accepts our fees because not hiring us is more expensive than hiring us. You’ll pay well for our expertise and promptly.
  9. Hiring us because of our extensive expertise (it’s unmatched).
  10. Willing to let us define which problems are relevant, decide the proper processes, and provide the proper solutions and doesn’t impose unforgiving (and soul-crushing) timelines that set our teams up for failure.

What are your typical timelines?

Typical timelines range from 3-9 months with many projects averaging 4-6 months. For extensive launches or comprehensive rebrands, it can take longer.

Is everything you’ve done in your portfolio? How do I know you can specialize in my particular business?

No, not everything you see in our portfolio is work we’ve done to date. It would be impossible to showcase a decades worth of work! What you see is a curated collection of work.

Regarding specialization:

We have solved such a diverse range of branding problems, the category you’re in is no longer as important as it once was early in our careers.

We’ve worked in highly specialized fields like security, AI, financial trading, cryptocurrency and blockchain to more simple businesses like chocolate bars, pop tarts and beverages. We’ve been the first agency to disrupt traditional categories such as law, audiology and finance, and even innovated the agricultural loop.

There is simply nothing we can’t tackle. The question you should ask is do we have experience in solving similar problems to what keeps you up at night? Yes. You’ll benefit from our leadership team solving a wide range of complex problems again and again. While we aren’t the cheapest agency on the block, we’re one of the best.

Can I work with you beyond our initial scope of work?

Yes. Clients often request an on-going retainer so that we can service them beyond our initial scope. This is largely due to branding is a comprehensive service with many moving parts. It’s much easier for a company to utilize those services under one roof than try to patch the brand together with too many different people. It sets the brand up for inconsistencies.

Retainers may be used for creating social media strategies and on-going social media implementation, production work, creating product extensions, packaging production and even branding company environments.

Can I see strategic decks, style guides, or behind-the-scenes work you’ve done for other clients? Even if you hide any confidential portions or show me a sample?

No, and here’s why:

Not only do we sign strict NDA’s, but it gives away our work, thinking, and trust another client has put in us. It strips away context, too.

Every company is unique—it has its own set of circumstances and dynamic. We’ve created many case studies on our work page that gives you a high level overview of a project. It won’t, however, show every unique insight, deliverable, strategic deck, development work, or project nuance, nor does it give away the farm. It’s not good business practice.

We’ve seen over the years that anyone looking for us to show strategic work for another client likely won’t be a good fit. They’re entering into the client relationship with too much skepticism, and that isn’t an ideal framework for success.

Do you design and build websites?

Yes! Almost all branding projects we work on have a digital need. This includes UI/UX planning, content architecture, web design, CMS, and development. We also design and build Shopify websites for many of our D2C brands.

What is the typical investment per client?

Soup to nuts launches are very involved. Startups that are already seeing revenue in excess of $500k per year, or have received a sizable ventured-backed investment such as $500k to $1 million or more, are great candidates for investing in outside branding help.

Generally expect to invest:
$75k to $150k on smaller projects.
$250k-$500k+ for comprehensive brand development.

  • Company name development: $20,000–$50,000
  • Packaging: $30,000—$80,000

These are general guidelines and there’s always exceptions. We work in diverse budgets and tailor the scope of work to what a client is working with financially. Every project is unique and what you need to accomplish will drive what you need to invest to do it right.

To discuss a project, contact us.

I’m a startup and we are working with a small budget ($15k or less). Can I work with you?

It’s likely you’re pre-revenue or self-funded and if that’s the case, you wouldn’t be the best fit for Motto right now. However, there’s good news! We recently packaged some of our most valuable exercises for startups to help you clarify foundational pillars. These include Workbooks that help you define your purpose, vision, values, brand archetype and brand manifesto. It’s a wonderful place to start and can be done solo or with a team.

Purchase the Workbooks here.

I’m a B2B. Can you work with me?

Yes, we have worked with several B2B companies. However there are some exceptions to who we’ll work with and why. Typically, the B2B companies we work with have a B2B/B2C model or if they are strict B2B, they value brand as a differentiator (most B2B’s don’t put a heavy emphasis on brand).

If you are a B2B company, we’d be happy to speak. Contact us to set up a meeting.

Can I speak to your clients before hiring you?

Early in our careers, we welcomed this request and always gave a resounding yes. However, over time, asking our clients to repeatedly spend time on the phone with prospects (who may or may not become a client) became an unfair and unreasonable ask. This was especially true when they had given us an incredible testimonial. So, the answer now is no, and here’s why:

  1. It’s disruptive. Our clients are busy CEO’s with many demands. Coordinating a phone call takes time, energy, and we are respectful of their time.
  2. They often share with a prospect what worked for them, or their experience, and that turns into giving advice on a potential client’s business. What worked for them may not work for you.
  3. We’ve spent the time collecting a vast list of testimonials and also reviewed by a third party Clutch (we’re a top 10 branding agency with 5 stars). We’ve been vetted thoroughly.

We urge potential clients to spend the time reviewing our case studies, our articles (full of awesome information), our Inc. column, and listen to various podcasts we’ve been on. And, definitely get your hands on our book to get a sense of our philosophies.

If you’re still not convinced, try one of our one day Workshops. It’s a full or half day workshop where you spend time with Motto’s leadership team solving a specific problem. You can get your feet wet before committing to a larger project.

We never want a client to hesitate before hiring us! We know it’s a big decision and we want you to love (and be excited) that you’ve chosen us.

Do you offer flexible payment terms?

We’ll both agree to a payment schedule in our proposals. Generally speaking, we take 50% upon commencement and equal monthly installments of the balance thereafter.

Do you trade services for equity?

In an exceptional startup situation, we may consider taking equity as a form of compensation to close the gap between what services a company needs vs. what their budget is or what they can afford. They must be well funded with great leadership, and there must be a clear path towards a successful acquisition. Even in those situations, we see cash as the lion’s share of compensation.


We’ve got the answers.

We’re here for you! If you’ve got a question you’d like us to answer, contact us.

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