Stepping up your brand game – Brandcamp at Startup Sauna

Stepping up your brand game

– Brandcamp at Startup Sauna

November 18, 2016

Startups need information and hands-on advice on why building a professional brand is important and how design is a vital part of a successful company.

After a few years of hosting 1-on-1 brand clinics, Startup Sauna accelerator program coaches from booncon PIXELS decided to create a new concept for brand and design coaching. Brandcamp was born.

This week we wrapped up the first Brandcamp and want to let you in on what happened and which tips you should take note of.

What? Brandcamp was a day built around different activity stations, speedy keynote talks and professional coaches. The focus was twofold: the startup brand & the pitch deck.

Lukas Hafner from PIXELS opened the day with an intro to Why Brands Matter. Photo by Jan Viljanen / JUST:VISUAL

How? With activity stations, talks and advice related to the brand, brand elements and digital experience, 14 startup teams were encouraged to think about why, how and with what building blocks a brand for a startup should be created. Hands-on exercises digged deeper into the startups’ own materials, specifically the pitch deck.

Startups were also thrown a few challenges that forced them to think about the future – how would a brand formed now last in time and through the potentially super rapid growth of the company; would trends, industry changes, technology or regulations affect the brand and if so, how.

The 4 Activity stations focused on:

  1. Brand Touchpoints
  2. Brand Basics
  3. Applying Your Brand
  4. Digital Experience

Who? To ensure the best experience for the startup teams, Brandcamp brought together brand and design specialists from different fields. Reaktor Ventures joined the activity stations to bring along knowledge and experience from the investor perspective as well as creating, developing and polishing brands.

Design Forum Finland, Kubo and Ipriq each brought in their expertise and knowledge through their speedy keynote talks:

Design for Success – Petteri Kolinen, Design Forum Finland

What’s Your Story – Kalle Viira, Kubo Creative Agency

Trademarks & Brand Protection – Jarmo Talvitie, Ipriq

Mark Tarnashinski and Alenka Kramer from PIXELS and Timo from Reaktor Ventures helping ’ 16 teams with brand basics. Photo by Jan Viljanen / JUST:VISUAL

Pitch It! The concrete element of the day was the pitch deck. For a startup aiming to get investors this pack of slides is key. It was also the trick to get everybody interested and involved 😉

Startup teams got tips and advice for refining their pitch decks from each activity station and speedy talks. The day ended with a hectic hour of everybody polishing up their decks with the Brandcamp coaches before handing it in to the Pitch Judge Oskari Kettunen from Reaktor Ventures. Naturally, this was only the first stint towards the masterpiece pitches – after the Brandcamp day the teams will continue the refinement based on the feedback and tips.

In this first Brandcamp the reward for the best pitch deck went to Finch!

Pitch judge, Oskari’s comment on the winning deck:

“Finch’s deck is coherent and polished. The company’s identity is present throughout the product and their explanation of it. It’ll be easy for me to remember who they are, what they do and what they stand for from any visual cue. But that’s what you’d expect from a team of designers making a product for designers.”

– Oskari Kettunen, Reaktor Ventures


Because sharing is caring, we dug out the one most important tips for startup branding from each of our Brandcamp coaches for you, enjoy!

“Book a session with your team and discuss your company identity – who you are. Next, think about what differentiates you, what makes you unique. Finally, think about the value you bring to others as without value, you don’t matter.”

– Petteri Kolinen, Design Forum Finland

“The problem you solve – make it personal. The solution you have – make it count. Stories are much more interesting than companies. It’s your story, be proud of it.”

– Kalle Viira, Kubo

“Being understandable is key. Be super clear & consistent about who you are and what you do. When you are funded it’s time to be creative and stand apart from the pack.”

– Timo Ilola, Reaktor Ventures

“If you don’t know who you are, why should they?”

– Minna Kaitala, Reaktor Ventures


– Esa Hallanoro, Reaktor Ventures

“To protect your brand start by choosing a distinctive name and apply for a trademark registration. Tip: after sending in the application you have 6 months to expand the protection to other countries.”

– Jarmo Talvitie, Ipriq

“Leave your bubble – show your pitch deck, logo and brand elements to total outsiders and listen to their feedback. Don’t be afraid to change your visuals.”

– Mark Tarnashinski, booncon PIXELS

After the extensive day everybody’s brains were more or less overflowing with new ideas and inspiration. How was Brandcamp for the startups? We managed to catch up with the pitch deck winner Finch and according to them Brandcamp was:

“The day was a great reminder of the importance and meaning of a brand and that you need to be consistent across different channels and touchpoints. Thank you Mom and Dad.”

‘Nuff said. We’ll be back.


Brandcamp16 was arranged by Startup Sauna and our co-op coach company booncon PIXELS, an international Experience Design Studio. Kudos to amazing partner coaches Design Forum Finland, Kubo Creative Agency, Ipriq and Reaktor Ventures for making the day happen with us. Find more pics of the day by Jan Viljanen from here.