Soup to Nuts: Branding from Square One

By Chase Turberville

Challenging, pushing, and even expanding our skillset is a primary objective for Focus Lab. How do we question what is laid out before us to recommend changes that matter and result in a solid end product?

Eecoder Visualchefs

Enter Visual Chefs/eecoder — an insanely talented team of developers and ExpressionEngine magicians hailing from Richmond, VA. They came to us with a particularly interesting problem. They’d amassed a tremendous following through both entities and came to us to help refresh the visual brand of the latter, eecoder. Through our brand discovery process, however, we began to explore combining the two under one umbrella to focus their strengths, build a more cohesive brand, and showcase them as a one-stop-shop for any development and consultation need.

So, the Focus Lab team got to work. If we were to combine these two companies, what name would it live under? Is Visual Chefs strong enough to carry that load? Is the name confusing to consumers? Should we look into a renaming project as well as a rebrand? All relevant things to consider.

Now, approaching a company that already has a TON of equity in their brands with a possible strategy to rename and rebrand is a tough sell. Luckily, they were up for the challenge. Thus began the naming process — not a challenge to be taken lightly. Our team grabbed an empty whiteboard and began to explore ideas.

Let’s pause here for a second and make something clear. Naming is a tricky beast. Let’s take Apple, for example. What in the world does that name say about computers? Nothing, at first blush. But now it’s synonymous with them. That’s the thing about names: they need room to breathe and stretch out. And you don’t REALLY know until after you’ve applied it. It’s a risk. But, when done correctly, it can position your company for a chance to be really successful.

Fm Studio

Visual Chefs/eecoder had recently acquired a space in Richmond that was home to famed Foster Studios, a well known photo studio inside a building with a ton of history and character - much like the team that would soon inhabit it. After much ideation and brainstorming by our own Summer Teal Simpson Hitch, it started to feel obvious that this was the right avenue for them and to play off the name of the building’s rich history.

Side note: We did play around with their hilariously ironic building address 404, but that didn’t convey the right message. Alas.


After much back and forth with “legal,” a sketchy domain owner in Florida, and our own team making a home in our whiteboard space, Foster Made was born. The name touches on so much of what the company stands for that it became obvious this was the correct direction for the company. These guys create rich web experiences. They take pride in their craft and history of their home. It was only natural to make the name sound like a stamp of approval or mark of craftsmanship.

The discovery process had served us well and resulted in a new name and a clearer brand architecture, those addressed a number of design challenges right off the bat and paved the way for the production work to come. Our creative brief challenged our team to design to the company’s expertise and commitment to their clients, and to hedge professionalism and technology with a human touch.

Fm Notebook

We started production with concepting, where we dug into the core of the company values, the history of web code, and building/site architecture. Hell, even the printing press came into play and was a serious contender for informing what this brand would become. But ultimately, the language of code rose to the top. It’s something that is considered an art by all who write it on the Foster Made team. How could we translate code into something that resonates with their consumers and still keeps the light edge of playfulness that embodies this crew of developer-misfits?

Fm Logo

The FM mark is based on the idea of code language. Its playful use of the pipe, colon, slash, and carrot symbols is a salute to the craft that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The symbols are also fun to break apart and use as visual elements or icons within the brand. The logotype is clean, simple, and highly legible. It complements the simplicity of the mark really well. As does the tagline we gave them, Code for Awesome, which alludes to their superlative team of people and their crazy code chops.

Fm Coffee

Working with Shawn Maida and Nina Rodgers on this project has been such a joy. It’s rare that a client puts so much trust in you and gives you the freedom to explore big. They have been, and continue to be, steadfast partners throughout the entire process, letting us know when things were great, and when they weren’t. I truly appreciate the time spent working with them on this project and look forward to seeing what Foster Made accomplishes with its newly formed identity.