To my right, there’s a man with a beard and glasses; to the left, another with a beard, but bald and no glasses. Who are these guys? Well if you’re familiar with our gang, you’d recognize it’s Matt and Bill, Focus Lab’s lead brand designer and creative director, respectively.

Currently we’re in a highly-pressurized tin can with wings heading back to humid Savannah, after visiting a fast-paced and forward thinking client in Detroit, called Hello Innovation.

The trip was a bit of a whirlwind; among the highlights were dinner with a view of Canada, ping-pong tables, Swarovski crystal studded chairs, a Lego conference table, a Tigers game, a fiery red Lamborghini, and casino craps tables. As this is being written, we are on our third plane and have one yet to go, so it may still be early to call it — but this trip seems to have been quite successful.

Hello What?

Hello Innovation is the parent company to approximately seven different operations. Joe, the CEO, is one fast-paced genius that started showcasing his business chops in elementary school. He shared that at age 11, his most profitable week selling birthday banners pushed by middle schoolers was over $1,000!

Fast forward a quarter of a century, Joe is certainly the type of guy that thinks differently than most around him. Higher-ups from large companies that we are all aware of and use daily seek him out for advice. Yet, because of his industry, many wouldn’t hear about Joe and Hello Innovation. That is, unless you’re in the funeral business.

Funerals, not the traditional cup of tea

Yes, you read that right: funerals. Joe was approached by a funeral home owner whose business strategy needed a change. At first Joe wasn’t eager or interested in the gig. Then, after some thought, he saw the massive opportunity in the industry where there are more than 20,000 funeral homes in the US.

But how was Joe and the Hello Innovation going to stir up the industry and make an impact? The simple answer: change the experience completely.

What Joe and his team quickly realized is that there was an uninterested and negative attitude toward funeral homes throughout the entire market. There was a certain stiffness, unease, and dread that pervaded the industry. Joe’s idea was to flip the entire experience from focusing on death, to celebration of life. This idea was the key to change and growth, and FuneralOne was the vehicle.


FuneralOne is child company of Hello Innovation that enables funeral directors to make this change to their otherwise vastly traditional business. Among the services they provide are websites, life tribute slideshow software, integrated social sharing of photo and video memories of the deceased, and easy-to-use sympathy gift shop. Hello Innovation has the perfect niche to reach millions (if not billions) of consumers for their similar yet unique needs, which brings us back to the seven-or-so children companies.

This is truly just the very beginning of their future of providing to those in need of anything from greeting cards to flowers and to even more we cannot discuss. What we can say is that we are extremely excited to start working with them now, and look forward to riding the next wave of success with them on the ventures currently in the works.

Focus on the Funeral

So where do we fit in? FuneralOne has had the same branding since it’s inception. Currently it’s a bit outdated and doesn’t truly reflect the developing scope and direction of the company. Focus Lab has been brought on to be a strategic partner to Hello Innovation for bringing FuneralOne’s visual language up-to-speed.

Our directives: modernist, minimal, and tastefully colorful.

This week we’re starting this project and received complete permission to post our little hearts out on Dribbble. So beware, friends, some interesting explorations are coming your way.

Join the conversation

Krystal Penrose on July 16, 2013

Thanks so much for writing this wonderful post guys! We loved having you here - you guys (and gals) were AWESOME. Super excited to continue working with you - our future together seems bright and promising!



Alicja Colon on July 24, 2013

Hi Krystal!

It was an amazing trip. New friends, new projects, fun times :)

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