An integral part of every entrepreneurs’ journey to building their business is branding. How your brand is perceived at first glance — be it the logo design or homepage color scheme — can make the difference between creating a long-lasting impression and causing intrigue, or being categorized as generic. But for most start-ups, investing in expensive designers when you are still a long way from seeing the fruits of your business can be a difficult risk to take.
That’s why it was especially refreshing for us when we discovered Tailor Brands in September last year. A web app which uses natural language processing to help automatically generate stylish and personalized branding to fit each company, for the very low cost of cost of USD 50. All users have to do is answer a series of questions generated by an artificial intelligence — their name, location, business type and brand values. They’re then asked to pick from visual cues, and the service will generate typographies and layouts for them to choose from.
Since September, Tailor Brands have been seeing significant growth. Their technology, which initially aimed to create logos alone, now boasts over 60,000 business users in over 35 countries worldwide. Their algorithms have learnt from these experiences to create better business cards, letterheads, brandbooks, and they have even expanded to Facebook and Twitter covers. They have introduced new features such as icon insertion, color and font manipulations, and are planning to release additional tools and items in the coming months.
“In addition to our regular business,” CEO Yali Saar tells us, “We see a lot of small creative and design agencies using Tailor Brands as a tool to lower the cost of manufacturing design. We welcomed that activity and released our agency packages a few months back, [which] allowed agencies to purchase Tailor services at a discounted price. On the business side, we raised our seed round in February and opened our headquarters in NYC.”
Though Yali admits he can’t really put his finger on what caused their success, he likes to think that a key factor would be their product-focused ethos. “We assume that if a customer isn’t buying what we are making, it is because he didn’t find what he wanted. A good product should sell very well without any fancy words wrapping it. We never try and “sell” our product — we try to make people want to buy it.”
He attributes a second factor to their team of New Entrepreneurs. “We have amazing people on board and they all contribute a lot to our success. We believe that the marketing guy should be able to give an input on the product, and that the tech person should be able to brainstorm ideas about the marketing.” Indeed, many businesses and CEOs attribute their company’s successes to having a diverse, and openly communicative team. “We really try to make sure that every new team member is a rockstar (in the good, sober way).”
That’s not to say they didn’t face new challenges — building an innovative system requires constant learning through trial and error. “The tech side is pretty heavy at everything we do,” Yali says, “As we progress, we gain more design data that can be used to release new products or to perfect our design algorithms.” He goes on to explain that, because of the system’s large amount of rich data, introducing and perfecting each new feature becomes an enormous task. “On the bright side,” he adds, “Every feature we release is a lot more ‘fail-safe’ than before.”
Since we wrote about Tailor Brands last year, one of the key learnings for the team has been the value of persistence. As many entrepreneurs would agree, it is easy to pivot when something isn’t working out, especially when you are in the ideas stage. However, Yali shares that a big lesson learnt over the past few months is the importance of evolving weaker features, instead of throwing them out completely and starting from scratch — which can cost a team everything they’ve learned so far. “You have to be a Darwinist in order to survive,” he puts it poetically.
In the future, Tailor Brands intends to develop more products, better design, and an overall branding platform approach to replace the current “logo design tool” feel. They will be releasing version four soon, and plan to give users a lot more help in building their brand after purchase. The ambitious Yali lets us in on his long term goal: “A powerful machine-learning designer that will help you design everything you need.”
For now, they are feeling grateful and rewarded by the way they’ve managed to democratize great branding. “It is pretty amazing seeing this idea we had come to life,” Yali says. “When we set out to build Tailor, we wanted to help small business owners and make sure great branding can be accessible to anyone. When we get photos (on a weekly basis) of people hanging out their Tailor signs, or shipping off their Tailor branded packages from towns we never heard off before, we know we managed to create something meaningful.”