Nearly all creative agencies include 'branding' in their list of services, but not many actually specialize, or are any good at branding.
Then there's all the branding agencies that have outgrown the typical startup budget, like Huge or Pentagram for instance. Even medium sized agencies like Big Human, now show their dream-client list as being companies like Lego and Tesla.
The list below is not for the the current startup unicorns, it's for the up-and-coming unicorns. If you are a fast moving innovative startup looking for a branding agency to get you to the next level, this list is for you.
Why should you trust this list?
Our branding agency has been around for over 15 years, so we've had a lot of time to research and understand our competition. We are a competitive agency but one that recognizes and admires other players in the space. We've grown to love each of these agencies for different reasons over the years.
UPDATE: This list was last updated on December 17th 2023
We build impactful brands.
Why we like Anchour
We love how they distinguish themselves as storytellers. Just the way they tell their own story lets you know they'll do a good job telling yours. Based in Maine, Anchor's brand feels very outdoor and rugged, just look at that massive anchor logo or how their video takes place in a woodshop! The story they tell is one of dedication to the craft and art of refining and revising a brand.
What types of startups should work with Anchour?
Any brand looking to develop or refine their storytelling would be a good fit.
Logos and visual identities that become the hallmarks of wonderful brands
Why we like Jessica Jones
Jessica has been around for a long time, she does quality work, and obviously doesn't churn out projects. She has a very transparent approach, unlike most other agencies she has a web page that shows her pricing options. You can tell she enjoys her work, and tries hard to make sure each will have a place of honor in her portfolio. You can't say that about a lot of the brand agencies out there.
What types of startups should work with Jessica Jones?
A very early stage startup or an independent entrepreneur would be ideal for Jessica Jones.
We Are Underdog
The World is Drowning in a Sea of Sameness
Why we like 'We are Underdog'
This agency isn't for every startup, which is a good thing. Lots of the branding agency sites feel very homogenous, not counting this list of stand-outs of course. And it's not just the agencies that all feel the same, but the brands they create don't feel very unique either - go figure.
Well you can't make that critique here, 'We Are Underdog' prides themselves on going against the grain. Their brands, and their site speaks loudly and proudly to rise above the noise.
What types of startups should work with 'We Are Underdog'
This agency would not be for you if you are looking for an understated elegant brand probably, but there's a lot of others on this list that would. If you are looking for a sledge hammer of a brand though, you've found your agency.
Located in Hoboken, NJ
We create clarity. Clarity of purpose and clarity of communication through insightful strategy and memorable design.
Of all the names on this list, Gretel may be out of reach to some startup budgets, they work with larger clients, but we love their solutions to problems. Their work regularly de-constructs graphic norms like the type here on the RISD logo or the work they did with CBS pulling apart the iconic eye logo. The simplicity of it gives it impact and makes it memorable.
What types of startups should work with Gretel?
Larger well funded startups, or startups that are open to parting with some of their equity are a good fit Gretel.
Challenging What is and creating what's next.
Why we like Red Antler
Red Antler is one of the larger names on this list, they get into the territory of startup agencies that are out of the reach of early stage startup budgets. They get around this by partnering with startups and taking some of the payment in equity (like an accelerator program).
Not a lot of superfluous flashiness; they come up with compelling graphic solutions that don't end up looking tacky or too trendy. They have a really good eye for what makes a good logo mark. A good amount of their work feels playful, which can be a hard thing to sell to a client but always feels like a win when it's done right.
What types of startups should work with Red Antler
Larger well funded startups, or startups that are open to parting with some of their equity are a good fit for Red Antler.
Red Antler is based in Brooklyn NY
Orange You Glad
Helping brands we care about look sharp since 2002.
Why we like Orange You Glad
Orange You Glad has always had a special place in our hearts. They were one of the few agencies that existed in Brooklyn when we started out in 2003. They had their logo painted on the roll-up gate of their building, we'd see it every day from the window of the F train on our way back home from Manhattan. Always fun and playful above all else, you can be sure that the work you get from them will be creative, colorful and energetic.
What types of startups should work with Orange You Glad
Early stage and funded startups, likely looking to create a 'fun' brand with a lot of personality are a good fit.
Franklyn is the creative studio you’ve been searching for your entire life. Prepare yourself for surprise and delight.
NOTE: Don't judge them on this cringy tagline, they have made some great brands:
Why We Like Franklyn
We were going to try to limit the number of Brooklyn agencies on this list, but there's just so many great ones. Franklyn is great at taking something that would normally be boring like a pharma and making it into an exciting brand. This is pretty common now for DTC prescription services, but not when Capsule came out, they set the bar.
We Build Brands that Re-Shape the World
Why we like Together
We like how technical and precise Together's work is while still staying playful and creative. Their design solutions are thought provoking, and their brands are iconic. Great all around branding agency for startups!
What types of startups should work with Together?
Fast moving larger startups and existing mid sized businesses are a good fit.
We create thoughtful experiences for humans and propel brands with soul and substance.
Why We Like Gander
Gander's style is very youthful and fun, highly graphic and colorful. They specialize in branding food companies, mainly CPGs. They have a good range within those parameters, and deviate from the over-the-top fun illustration style when needed create some very mature looking brands (for instance, see their work on Finn). Like many others on this list, they are Brooklyn-Based.
What types of startups should work with Gander?
CPG food brands, needing full branding and packaging.
Timeless Branding for Startups
Why we think you'll like Condensed
Our agency, was one of the first branding agencies geared towards working with startups. Before starting our own agency, we were at much larger Manhattan agencies working with corporate clients. We wanted to start a small agency to bring that top level of artistry, and service to the startup scene which was just starting to take off in Brooklyn.
We try to make every job our most important job. We don't take on many clients, and we have a very small team. So by design every job needs to be very important to us. You can read more about our branding process here.
Agencies that almost made the list
This list is always being updated, here's a few more branding agencies for startups that we love which were not mentioned above, we keep updating this list, so keep checking back in the future.