I had the idea for Second Serve sometime around the end of 2019, and it kicked around in my head for a while before I decided to do something about it. In May of 2020, I did a month or so long incubator program at Social Enterprise Greenhouse, and long story short I ended up meeting Justin through them, as he volunteers his time at SEG for people like me, who have an idea but need help articulating that idea to other people.
I should add here that Justin is a pirate. I of course googled him when SEG gave me his name, and saw that in addition to being a brand wizard, he was a proper pirate who did reenactments throughout the year with his wife, also a pirate. When I saw this I immediately thanked God for this incredible blessed connection. The pirate perspective is not something everyone has, and I felt lucky.
The pirate stuff impressed me, but he was more than qualified in the design department too. On his Calendly invitation he states, “The primary goal is to share my 26+ years of branding and design experience and offer advice to help you feel more confident and focused”. Just what I needed—someone to hear all the stuff in my head and shape it into something coherent. A brand therapist, really.
MISSION, VALUES, VOICE
I started working with Justin in January of 2021. I took a deep breath before each strategy session and said to myself, “no pirate jokes, Amy, you just met.” We spent eight weeks doing exercises on Zoom to clarify the Second Serve mission, our values, and our brand. I answered a lot of questions, and we did a bunch of exercises to get at the heart of what I wanted to do, what I wanted to communicate, and what I wanted to accomplish.
Justin was patient and was able to sift through my long-winded narratives. He listened when I went on about what was “just popping into my head”. He was undeterred when I “broke” the “brand archetype” quiz, a quiz that formulates the kind of “person” your brand is. The quiz has you rank different statements and I got a different outcome each time I took it. I took it 10 times.
He was nonplussed but did not roll his eyes (that I saw) when I said I spent hours thinking about the perfect song that would embody Second Serve. There was no “song” test but I thought this was important. Hey Nineteen, by Steely Dan (crisp studio sound but still breezy). Mr. Blue Sky by ELO was a distant second.
When we started working on the logo I showed Justin what I created with my limited tech skills, ALL BY MYSELF:
It’s rudimentary but the colors are great! Yes, that is a NYT magazine cover behind my computer, from 2015! Tom Brady Cannot Stop. It’s true he can’t!
But I needed a better logo. A logo that reflected the core values and brand voice we were sorting out! Justin asked me to go on Pinterest and look for a few things that caught my eye and make a page for him to use as a resource when he worked on the logo. I made one filled with vintage clothing and preppy stuff, retro Butterick sewing patterns and faded oriental rugs. And there was a lot of navy and kelly green…
Justin somehow sorted through everything I said I wanted, all the pictures I thought were cool, and came up with the perfect logo. The navy and green I wanted, and the retro style conveyed my ubiquitous nostalgia. The best, though, was the navy pea coat. What is preppier than a navy pea coat?
I am proud of the work Justin and I did on the design of Second Serve, and it was all super fun. I am happy that I now “know a guy”, in true Rhode Island fashion, that I can refer people to if they need branding help, or pirate help for that matter. Justin really is more than the two of these things though. Outside of his expertise he is a very down-to-earth, kind person, generous with his time and energy. I am glad he captured Second Serve, because now we can better communicate with all of you what we are trying to do here.