Helping startups grow

New Kind and Square 1 Bank sharpen the bank's brand story so they can help even more startups and investors grow their companies


Square 1 Bank is built to support entrepreneurs.

Square 1 Bank was founded in 2005 by a group of entrepreneurs with a passion for helping startups of all sizes grow. With specialized expertise in the technology, life sciences, and venture capital / private equity fields, they offer access to capital and a strong national network to help startups and VCs build a solid financial future. Square 1 stands out from other banks not just in what they do, but how they work. The team is dedicated to the core values that form the DNA of the organization. They have a lively culture and an entrepreneurial spirit that sets the tone for the relationships they build with clients.

In October 2015, Square 1 merged with PacWest Bancorp—a move that equipped them even better to serve clients through every stage of growth. This exciting change for the company created an opportunity for the team to reflect on their unique position in the market.

The Square 1 team has a strong understanding of who they are and what makes them different. We worked together to further define their strategic position and clarify their brand story. Our goal was to help them communicate to their client community that the Square 1 Bank they knew wasn’t changing and to position them to continue to lead even more confidently in the entrepreneurial space.

Industries: Finance

Services: Positioning, Research, Storytelling

Seeing possibilities

We started with research to better understand Square 1 from the perspective of internal stakeholders and their clients, as well as their competitive market. We conducted surveys and interviews in addition to completing a detailed brand audit and competitive analysis. After analyzing the data, we facilitated a half-day workshop with the Square 1 team. With the data as our shared foundation of knowledge, we guided the team through exercises designed to define Square 1’s market positioning, hone their brand differentiators, and better understand their key personas.

Choosing pathways

Our working session with the internal team gave us the knowledge we needed to draft the positioning platform and brand story for Square 1 Bank. We crystallized three elements that most differentiate the brand against their competitors that their clients value about them.

We speak entrepreneur: Square 1 Bank is highly focused on the entrepreneurial communities they serve, With their entrepreneurial roots, they understand what it takes to succeed.

We’re designed to care: The Square 1 team was built around service. In an industry where empathy is often missing, they meet their clients where they are with exactly what they need.

We’re a bank with courage: The values that make up the DNA of Square 1 give them the confidence to push traditional boundaries. They invest in culture and their personality makes them a top choice among startups.

Bringing the story to life

The story we created together served as the foundation for developing a messaging guide, which, in addition to the final Square 1 Bank story, included a messaging architecture and boilerplate content, as well as detailed personas and persona-specific messaging. We designed the guide to be a resource to align the Square 1 team around a common brand language, and for creating any future brand materials.

We had the opportunity to partner with Clean Design throughout the process to translate the refreshed Square 1 Bank story onto a new website. We’re thrilled with the result.

Our next story could be yours