‘Start strong, Marcus. Just look at the first sentence of every book. It leaves the reader with no other choice but to read on.’ That was the advice my godfather, a published author, once gave to me on writing. I know you are still with me. Who wouldn’t be?
Back to the prison cell. It was early in the summer of 2022. The entire team were holed up inside. Outside, you could see the sky was that shade of pure blue when the sunshine was pleasant, not oppressive, and loaded with heat and pollution.
Thankfully we had air-conditioning, the high-backed padded chairs gave ample support for a day in a cell, and the bottled water, tea, coffee and shortbread kept coming. We hadn’t committed a crime, and the Malmaison-headed notepaper, round table and UHDTV were the perfect settings for our company away day to discuss our plans for the next ten years.
That day we decided to change course and remove our names from above the door. We wanted to send a signal to our clients and our team that Taylor/Thomas was no longer just about Marcus and Craig, a name and decision made in 2008 when the world was different. When we were different.
Kohde isn’t just a name change to remove the spotlight from the founders though.
It is a stake in the ground about our expertise, a siren call to the type of work we want to do and the people we work best with—founders of B2B software and technology companies.
Why brand, web and digital?
We’d always been this strange hybrid of brand and digital, being able to cross over and translate those nuances in either direction. Even at university and early in our careers, when Apple changed the world with its iPod, we were obsessed with digital. Because no one understood it, we were left alone to design and build solutions for our employer’s clients.
As founders, we no longer develop, but those early days left a long-lasting impression of what it means to translate design in a constrained pixel-perfect 2D world into living and breathing websites and products in browsers across a myriad of devices, large and small.
The ability to design and deliver is our strength. To turn a prospect into a customer and deliver a brand experience seamlessly, consistently and exceptionally across all customer touch-points from brand to web to product.
A journey of discovery is the journey we go on with our customers too. We seek to unearth all the strengths in your business and shine a light on them. Our new name, Kohde, is derived from the Finnish word describing journey and destination.
I don’t need to explain the phonetic similarities with that word to describe what the foundation of your software business is built on, do I?
As a founder, you are the north star of your business. Getting you to your destination and your vision is our single-minded goal.
We didn’t always plan to do that.
In fact, back in 2008, there was no plan. Two young designers that met at university worked together in an award-winning design agency, individually went solo, and then shook hands over a pint in The Green Man pub in Fitzrovia and created a five-word business plan: ‘Let’s do some shit together’.
That’s why founder’s journeys are important to us. We’ve been on one too.
You’re probably more intelligent than us, have a greater word count in your business plan and have a shortcut to all those mistakes we made, but we all make that decision in our heads in a second to start something new.
But the decision may have taken years to build up the courage to flick that proverbial switch. On one side; fear, and on the other side; optimism and a voyage into the future with a healthy dose of naivety.
Why B2B and not B2C?
We have always been naturally good at brand, web or product design. Eventually, after realising that saying ‘yes’ to everything was a bad plan, a few clients came along that entrusted us to deliver across those disciplines because we had done so much work to understand their customers and their business.
They happened to be B2B.
Our stance is just because it’s B2B; it doesn’t mean it has to be boring. The founders we have worked with know this too. They look to us to execute B2B with a B2C mindset.
If you stand out and deliver a good product that is beautifully designed, you win. It is that simple. The transformation we have seen in our clients is proof.
Yes, you have to have a good leadership team, hire well and create a solution with product-market-fit, but that’s on your watch, not ours.
The getting there though. That’s not so simple. Don’t assume every design agency does this or understands your business.
It has taken years—yes, years—to understand the complexities of B2B, your long sales cycles, and the pain points you solve for different personas across an organisation. B2C just doesn’t venture into that particular oeuvre of a tangle to untangle.
It was an accident, but call it a quirk in our DNA, we love the complexity that B2B brings.
So many B2B businesses need to bring simplicity to their complexity and not every design agency can do it.
No matter where you are on your journey, we sift through to cut through. We do this through extensive research, interviews and workshops to present clarity back and, more importantly, to your customers.
So, the journey ahead for us is just as much about your journey. We want to work with founders of software and technology businesses to take them from here to there, from seed to series A, from for sale to sold.
That vision in your mind of the business and CEO you want to become is what we will bring to life.
‘Hi. We’re Kohde. The design agency for B2B software and tech.’
Now we’ve made our introduction, and if you’ve got this far, you’ve read our story—a founder’s story—what’s your story?
Where do you want to go next?