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The Capstone

Our Approach to Brand Building

How we use a single big idea to create value for emerging CPG brands.

In our journey to become experts at branding consumer packaged goods and helping emerging businesses scale with ease, we’ve tried a few different creative frameworks for delivering brand strategy and design. What we learned: Without a single strong idea to center the work—be it a strong product differentiator, an underserved audience with a need, or a passion shared by the company—brands fall flat. Enter Capstones.

On the ancient pyramids, capstones were the most elaborate piece of a pyramid, used to worship the gods and emperors and celebrate the completion of the pyramid.


What Is a Capstone?

A Brand Capstone is the guiding idea that aligns business objectives and shopper needs. A shared ethos that intrigues and sticks with shoppers while also communicating a distinction of the brand within its industry (“Oh, they’re the _____ brand.”). The value of a Capstone lies in its guiding simplicity—it should be an idea that inspires business growth and provides clarity to the everyday decisions, replacing the question of “Is it on brand?” with “Does it fulfill our Capstone?” We start with the end in mind and let that illuminate everything we do from there on out.

How We Develop a Brand Capstone

1. Get Smart Quick

We dive into our client’s business, industry, and target market. Our goal in this phase is absorb as much information as possible; familiarizing ourselves with the category heuristics, developing market knowledge, and outlining the category audience using a mix of data-driven tools and consumer-led research. We gather up enough information to answer three key questions that make up our Capstone Briefs:


What is the business problem

The objective or challenges the business is trying to overcome to grow

What is the human problem

The real-world problems experienced by shoppers in a category that are solved by the brand or product

What is the opportunity

The ways a brand can show up (through brand touchpoints like packaging, website, social channels, and advertising) to create a positive, resonate impact with audiences

2. Capstone Explorations

With the problems and goals defined, we explore creative ways to solve them. This is an incredibly iterative and collaborative process that combines insights, audience, words, and visuals to create sticky, inspiring ideas. Ones that can resonate with the folks behind the brand and consumers IRL (or online, or in store).

creative expression

A good Capstone is…
Always rooted in an insight
An inspiring, not limiting, idea for the internal team
A long-term ownable position within the category

3. Customer Touchpoints & Building Bricks

Finally, with one strong idea (rooted in business needs and human problems) to rally around, we can focus building out the chosen Capstone where your consumers actually interact with your brand—on packaging, browsing your website, scrolling through your social feeds, or catching their eye with a creative campaign. Every touchpoint is a brick within the brand pyramid that strengthens the Capstone.

4. Putting it all together

The more “bricks” in your brand, the bigger your brand pyramid becomes, and the more opportunities consumers have to interact with your business. While each brick has unique needs to succeed, when seen together, these “bricks” are consistent with one another and present a cohesive, unified whole regardless of channel or format. You begin to create a recognizable brand look and feel, thanks to the direction of the brand’s Capstone.

Why it matters

To be successful as an emerging product, the brand has to be worth more than the sum of its parts. And where a mission, vision & values would guide your internal practices, a Capstone will guide your brand perception and positioning. It gives you something memorable to share with consumers, building your reputation as being That Brand—the one with the unforgettable thing that customers just can’t help but remember and grab for again and again.