Our Unique Approach

Design your Business to Succeed,
Not Just Your Products

Discover how to use your natural differentiators to guide meaningful growth.

The missing ingredient to drive product-market fit

From the time Plot Creative Studio set out to help B2B SaaS companies scale their products and marketing, we noticed that one thing kept them from growth: an undefined brand. 

Without a defined brand, startups can’t pinpoint their value, carve out their positioning in the market, or communicate effectively with their audience. No amount of enticing product features makes up for a lack of mutual understanding.

Symptoms of an undefined brand: 
  • Constant pivots or changing goals
  • Confusing messaging
  • Last minute scrambling to create marketing materials
  • Poor user experiences
  • Disappointing ROI

For all the time, money, and dedication spent on marketing initiatives, startups often struggle to understand their own value.

A company’s struggles to gain traction aren’t usually a result of faulty color palettes or website header images—yet this is where teams often get hung up in endless iterations. Companies are in trouble the moment they decide to market themselves without first defining what they stand for. If they don’t dedicate creative thought or resources to define their beliefs, they lack the ability to steer their marketing and product initiatives in a unified effort to attract customers. Without this foundation and supportive leadership, no marketer, growth leader, product leader, copywriter or graphic designer could make a lasting difference. Efforts remain siloed, disjointed and ineffective.

Plot Creative took these companies, startups and entrepreneurs back to their foundation—their brand promise—to help them get back on track so they could create a lasting impact. 

Lean Design for Startups™ is the product of all our resources, experiences and lessons learned over two decades, made accessible for young companies to set themselves up for success right away.

The use of our Design Kits and brand-building resources allow you to spend less time thinking about how to translate your company’s value into marketing content, and more time doing what you enjoy: growing your business.

Lean Design for Startups provides economical brand-building instruction and resources to help young companies make strategic decisions and promote their company in less time and for less money.

Discover what’s missing from your message.

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Why use Lean Design for Startups

Startups aren’t like small businesses or enterprise companies. To move fast and reserve cash, startups need support that doesn’t lock them into decisions that may need to change next week. Lean Design for Startups exists to simplify the workload for young companies by making marketing, design, and brand strategy more accessible, affordable and effective. The smaller the team, the more important brand strategy is to their survival.

Our tools, templates and resources were developed from years of testing in the real world, and hundreds of hours of research and tedious analysis. They will help you shave off the thousands of dollars and months of experimentation that often weigh down entrepreneurs, preventing them from reaching their goals. The Lean Design for Startups process will prompt you to think about the things you don’t know to ask about—like how should your brand influence product development?

Our collection of Lean Design Kits and matching collateral templates will continue to evolve, with the goal of helping you preserve the precious resources of time, money, energy and relationships that it often takes to build a profitable business.

Whether you’re building a company out of passion, curiosity, adventure or necessity, create with the end in mind. That is how you can design your company to enhance your life and those around you. 

Who We Are For:

Solopreneurs & startup teams

  • B2B SaaS startups
  • B2B service businesses
  • Bootstrappers, Pre-seed, Seed, Series A, Series B
  • Startups looking to be accepted into an incubator or accelerator

Other businesses

  • Enterprise businesses looking to launch new brands
  • Independent consultants
  • Nonprofits looking to launch new brands
  • Restaurants, breweries, wineries, cideries, and other B2C service businesses

Partners that serve startups

  • Marketing agencies that want to expand and streamline their services
  • Dev shops that want to expand and streamline their services
  • Incubators and Accelerators that want to provide strategic brand support and design services
  • Independent consultants and coaches that want to provide strategic brand support and design services

Who We Are Not For:

  • Brick & mortar businesses
  • B2C eCommerce brands
  • Startups or agencies looking for custom design solutions or designers on retainer

Who’s Behind Lean Design for Startups?

Lean Design for Startups was developed by Kari Kay, the Founder and Creative Director of Plot Creative Studio based in Seattle, WA, to help more entrepreneurs bring their vision to life.

Since 2006, she has developed creative strategies for startups, scaling companies, mid-size corporations, non-profit organizations, and Fortune 100s. Companies rely on Kari’s keen insights, strategic questions, and confident directives to define and refine their brand strategy and product design. A systems thinker who is passionate about efficiency and creativity, Kari brings design principles to businesses to help them pinpoint their value and focus their energy on what matters most. 

Kari developed Lean Design for Startups because she wanted more entrepreneurs to realize their dreams without burning out in the process. She studied business successes—and failures—to see what worked and why. Along the way, she collected thousands of examples of creative brand experiences and user flows to support customer-centric values. The Lean Design for Startups’ templates, brand guidelines, design sample libraries and how-to manuals are the result of more than a decade of Kari’s research and real-world application.