Melody Yung on why Yung Studio’s rebrand perfectly reflects their nimble and dynamic collective
Yung Studio is a multidisciplinary design practice, based in California. With a small yet highly skilled team, they specialise in developing early-stage brands for start-ups and new venture partners as they draw from their team’s unique start-up-based backgrounds. The exciting revamp of their own brand, with a highly personal, variable tone, is reflective of their “endeavour together” and collaborative spirit. We spoke to Creative Lead and Founder Melody Yung to learn more about the story behind their new look, as well as the nimble and entrepreneurial team that makes the studio tick.
PT What ethos did you have in mind for the studio when it first began? Has this changed at all?
MY Yung Studio started with a few side projects with a couple of close friends. We’ve brand-built at different start-ups, VC firms, and creative agencies. There are different processes we like about each of the environments. So we took our learning from different workspaces and tailored a different brand-building approach, especially for early startups. Some of our clients told us how much they resonated with our studio setting because we understand the startup culture. We move intentionally fast and iteratively alongside them.
Now we’ve grown into a multi-disciplinary team. We’ve extended our capabilities beyond strategy, design, and copywriting; we can do mixed-media visuals, content marketing frameworks, and go-to-market campaigns. So we are able to explore possibility holistically and produce higher quality outputs.
How often can we convince a client to go with a variable identity?
PT What’s the thinking behind Yung Studio’s new identity and website?
MY We talked to many founders along the way and we have learned so much about ourselves. It became clear that our ‘endeavour together’ spirit is embodied in our collaboration. We wanted our new identity and website to reflect the entrepreneurial creatives and founders that make up our nimble collective.
We blended upbeat gestural shapes and unexpected asymmetrical forms into our dynamic identity and graphic language to represent our diverse creative inputs and outputs and positive energy.
PT What’s your favourite part of the rebrand?
MY I love that each designer contributed to our ‘imperfect’ logos unintentionally. We were looking at different logotypes from our exploration. One day, we tried to play around and smashed the letters together. The idea was actually a happy accident. What we really like about the system is that new designers can continue to contribute to the logotype variations. Somehow it feels welcoming and it fits our personality. Also, how often can we convince a client to go with a variable identity?
We did every step of our own process, as if we were the client.
PT And what was the most challenging aspect of bringing it to life?
MY It was definitely quite a commitment to apply our own process to uplift ourselves. From team interviews to design concepts, we did every step of our own process, as if we were the client. The team carved out a good amount of time on top of other projects and their own businesses. This project took much longer than expected. I am really glad it was worth the sweat and wait; it also felt like a great way to pressure-test our own process. So far the team is super stoked and proud of the new face. As a tiny studio, it was a huge investment but an important one to get it right.
PT As some of the team at Yung are entrepreneurs, how does this impact the way you approach projects and clients?
MY Having come from startups and running our own businesses, we understand the needs of early-stage brands and businesses. We have a good idea of what to focus on as a brand when the product/service is still in development. That’s why we’re uniquely positioned to serve early-stage startups.
Founding a company can get lonely and diving into ambiguity can be scary. That’s why we function and behave like peers. We must come in with an open mind and a lot of curiosity and empathy along the way. We recognise the positive impact when we create this type of close-knitted relationship with the founders.
PT What do you think your strengths are as a studio?
MY Nimble and agile. Everyone on the team is uniquely senior/director level yet they are all individual contributors. The team setting and process allow us to make progress or change direction very quickly for different challenges. In the startup world, time is more valuable than cash. We are constantly clarifying the brand values and prioritising needs to get the plane off the ground. We have to be flexible so we can create ultra-functional yet fresh stuff with so little time.
Audiences are much more multifaceted and complex than we think.
PT And what would you like to improve on?
MY So many! We are a startup too. We are so scrappy. We basically run each project with a Google doc and a Slack channel. I am always looking for better ways to collaborate efficiently.
On the design side, first thing, we want to ditch mood boarding as much as possible. It’s more harmful than anything. We introduced 3D visualisation for a brand last year. We are now trying AI-generated visuals for a new project coming up. Among the designers, we are constantly looking to be more experimental with visual mediums or methods.
PT You described the studio as being “category-agnostic,” was this something that you’d always planned?
MY Personally, I need new stimulation continuously so I can think clearly and creatively. Even before I formed this studio, I jumped around, from healthcare to hospitality to fintech. There is actually so much learning and connection between industries. Audiences are much more multifaceted and complex than we think. I also found that the team is also happier and more motivated when the projects are diversified. I hope the studio work can stay this way in the future.
PT Alongside client work, Yung Studio helps to run several brands (such as High Side Coffee and The Inturnship), how do you juggle your time between these?
MY Haha. Really great question. One of the founders told us, “If it’s urgent, we prioritise it. If it’s important, we give enough time to get it right. If we feel stressed, we ask for help.” We are surprised at how much work we can get done with this practice.