Launch Blue

Escape velocity for tech startups.

Client

Launch Blue

Category

Non-profit

Credits

Adam Brown
Ghost on Third
Laura Halligan (Client)
Eric Hartman (Client)

Services

Discovery Workshop
Web & Interactive
Motion Design
Poster/Signage
Visual Identity + Logo System
Tagline
Brand Style Guidelines

Awards

Challenge

Do unicorns eat bluegrass?

Uber, Airbnb, Doordash. None of theses tech-based startups have their roots in Kentucky. But a non-profit collaboration between the Lexington Chamber of Commerce and the University of Kentucky is convinced the next unicorn may well be grazing on bluegrass.

Launch Blue’s flagship program, the pre-seed accelerator, is for individuals with technology-based startups that have the potential to scale and profit exponentially. The program’s kill fast approach compels founders to prove their hypotheses through customer discovery and early customer traction. In short, it's competitive, rigorous, and requires commitment in lieu of startup expertise.

It needed a brand identity that would legitimize its endeavors and serve as a signal to accelerators, incubators, and venture capital firms outside the state. Launch Blue was positioning itself as the epicenter of Kentucky's tech-based startup engine.

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Insight

Getting off the ground is hard, let alone achieving orbit.

It's not motivation. It's not creativity. The greatest barrier to ideas getting off the ground is a lack of startup knowledge on behalf of the founder. The intent of Launch Blue as a pre-seed accelerator is to nurture the most nascent of ideas while getting founders up to speed on what investors and the market will expect of them.

In order to generate awareness among an audience of innovators not yet ready for a full accelerator experience, Launch Blue needed a brand strategy that evoked sophistication and expertise without intimidation.

Verbally, this meant keeping things "seriously casual" with a little emotional hype to gain attention. The visual language leaned heavily into geometric shapes with 45º sightlines... constantly orienting every layout and design toward forward, upward movement. Launch Blue needed its audience to see themselves having upward momentum even before they applied, and well before they might be accepted.

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Result

Legitimacy leads to liftoff.

The logo is an LB monogram with high tech aesthetics, apearing as both two and three dimensional shapes at the same time. Marketing applications are evocative of Wired magazine layouts, always moving up and forward. It's a visual metaphor for the spark inside the founder participant, igniting the thrusters and launching their idea into orbit.

Supported by this robust pro bono brand identity (and Marrow's involvement on the Advisory Board), Launch Blue secured $270,000 for Kentucky startups and a $600,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration Build to Scale Program in its first year. Like its successful cohorts, Launch Blue is steadily gaining escape velocity.

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