Building a Platform for a Special Forces Veteran to Empower Individuals and Families

Codex Studios developed a curated visual identity and created publishing systems for a veteran-owned media company.

Company

Spearing.co

Industry

Brand identity consulting for a special forces veteran with a mission to transform society.

Project Services

Branding, Web Design, Content Creation, Social Media

Challenge

Creating a personal brand and content platform that can be adapted and expanded to support current and future educational and training ventures.

Outcome

A brand identity with a broad audience appeal and a web platform that supports rapid content publication.

Spearing.co is a brand focused on empowering individuals to take ownership over their lives through personal discipline and entrepreneurship. The owner, Nathan Spearing, is a highly decorated special operations veteran who left the military to be a more present husband and father. After exiting military service, he started a high-end general contracting company and created a flourishing real estate rental business. Through Spearing.co, he is leveraging his military and entrepreneurial experience to create an educational platform that can reach a broad audience.

Deciphering a Complex Narrative

One of the initial challenges in building the Spearing.co identity was surfacing the common threads in all of Nathan Spearing’s experiences. Initial discussions with the client consistently revealed untapped narrative possibilities and sparked new connections to inform the brand build.

During the exploration phase, we asked Spearing to create a mind map of his life to show how he interpreted the relationships between and among the different areas of his life. Spearing took a 3’x5′ wide piece of Ram Board and generated a complex mind map that connected the dots between his military experience, family, and business ventures. Codex Studios digitized the mind map in Miro, which made it possible to see thematic groupings. The digitized mind map became a hub for future and ongoing content development efforts.

Creating a Brand Identity with Broad Audience Appeal

The mind map made it clear that the Spearing.co brand could speak to several different audiences: current military service members, veterans, fathers, families, and individuals interested in entrepreneurship. The challenge was to create a brand identity that appealed to these distinct audiences without alienating any of them.

One of the reference images provided by the client contained well-worn leather goods including a messenger bag, journal, and wallet along with hand tools and a MacBook. The collection of items suggested durability, sophistication, and reliability. In addition, the client provided website and book layout examples and used terms like “simplicity,” “industrial,” and “grit” to describe the desired aesthetic.

 

With these parameters in mind, Factoria was chosen for the brand wordmark and headings because it is a slab serif with subtle industrial leanings. As a base typeface, it connotes structure and stability without feeling mechanical. Freight Sans Pro was chosen for body copy because of its legibility and simplicity.

Choosing Colors and Imagery with Meaning

During the exploration phase, the client shared a photo of himself skydiving with a concrete cylinder full of gear for a training exercise. The skydiving image served as a conceptual anchor throughout the design process because it symbolized much of what the brand stands for: taking calculated risks. Analysis of the image helped supply the brand’s color palette: Light blue for the sky, ochre for the earth, and bluish-grey from the shadows.

It was fitting for a personal brand to use colors connected to personal experience. In addition, using blues, greys, and orange gave the brand distance from an overtly military aesthetic while rooting the identity in earthy materials.

Another key image that appeared early on in the design process was a map. One of the common denominators in the themes from the mind map was guidance. The client wanted to give others guidance on how to transition out of the military, start businesses, and build resilient families.

When a map was incorporated in an website prototype, the client provided a map that contained particular significance for him because it showed a location where he had faced grueling training and persevered. The map was abstracted and stylized to reflect the brand colors and then incorporated in the website and social posts. Throughout the process, we wove aspects of the client’s personal history into the brand identity.

Portraying Grit Through Photography and Video

Codex Studios provided photography and video services for Spearing.co training events and workshops. During capture, we used a documentary approach—images were captured as they were in the moment. In post-production the imagery was stylized with higher saturation and stronger contrast for a more raw, edgy look. The values in the black and white photographs were enhanced for a similar effect. This approach to photography and color treatment helps Spearing.co imagery have a recognizable feel on social media platforms and is another aspect of extending the brand’s visual identity across touchpoints and content.

Building Tools for Simple Content Publishing

Defining a Content Structure for Blogs and Podcasts

When we began building the Spearing.co brand, the client wanted to publish a blog as well as share posts from guest podcast appearances. These two types of content required a different approach in terms of design and content management. Codex Studios created an outline for each type of content and then created a template for blogs and podcasts that the client could fill out and publish.

In collaboration with the client, we determined that blogs would be used for short articles without many images. Codex Studios provided a template that included a hero image, a place for the blog content, as well as a place to link to specific external resources and internal pages. When the client wants to post a new blog, they simply have to paste in the content, upload a photo, and publish.

For podcasts, we created a structure that included a brief overview of the show, an embedded link to the show via Spotify, and key quotes from the show that could be posted on Twitter from the page. Using embedded links from Spotify makes it possible to post every guest appearance without managing large audio uploads which helps keep the site fast. Adding the show overview and key quotes provides more content for search engines to crawl for search engine optimization. And like blog posts, the client simply has to paste in the required content to post a new podcast—the template makes it easy to create beautiful content without touching the design.

Curating a Social Media Presence

In addition to the website, the client wanted to generate a curated Instagram feed that reflected the brand identity. After making deliberate choices regarding typography, colors, and image treatments, we translated those elements into model social media post templates that the client could reference to create a cohesive Instagram feed.

Creating a Hub for Strengthening Audience Relationships

It is imperative for businesses and content producers to maintain contact with their audiences. The Spearing.co website contains several newsletter signup forms in various places. Each form is linked to a Mailchimp account that the client can use to build a deeper relationship with the Spearing.co audience. Understanding what types of content are relevant to a subscriber makes it possible to tailor communications. Each mailing list signup form is associated with a unique tag in Mailchimp, which makes it possible to segment subscribers based on how they signed up for the list. Custom branded email templates enable the client to produce weekly newsletters that are on brand for the target audience.

Building Upon a Solid Foundation

The Spearing.co brand continues to evolve and grow as the client publishes new content and leverages a pool of assets generated through this brand build. The brand identity has resonated with a variety of people including current service members, veterans, and individuals weighing the pros and cons of entrepreneurship, which confirms that the process of refining the narrative has already paid off. Taking the time to conduct research into the client’s story and goals enabled Codex Studios to build a solid foundation for expanding the brand into paid educational content and other ventures in the future.