How Proof gets things done

Proof is a team of thinkers, designers, developers, and strategists based in Nashville, Tennessee.

Founded in 2010, Proof’s drive is to craft purposeful and passionate brands. They make creating and overhauling brands look easy, when it’s really some of the most challenging work designers can undertake.

We chatted with Matt Cheuvront, Proof’s Founder and CEO, about inspiration, Proof’s process, and how they use Dropmark to get things done.

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Tell us a little about Proof Branding, how did y’all get started?

I opened up the doors at Proof in 2010, shortly after the recession in ‘08. From the beginning, our focus has always been to approach the creative process comprehensively. We believe that any strong brand is greater than the sum of its parts, and is consistent in its delivery, both in how it communicates and aesthetically, across the board.

In the past 9 years, we’ve worked on developing the brand for hundreds of clients, from breweries to Fortune 500s, commercial properties to schools and nonprofits. We love the diversity of the work we do, and it keeps us motivated day to day.

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How does being in Nashville impact your work?

Nashville is a rapidly going, thriving community (and also happens to be my hometown). We’re actively involved with the local creative community, and about 50% of our overall work is here in town, with the rest of our clients in other parts of the country.

Nashville’s design community is collaborative and supportive - there’s very little animosity or direct competition with other firms in town. Everybody “plays nice” and we all understand that there is plenty of work to be had for all of us.

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How does design fit into your Proof’s culture?

Design is at the core of what we do, but most important to us is that the “what” has a clearly defined “why”. Defining the depth of meaning in what we do and what we create differentiates us as a branding firm from your traditional design shop.

Culture is essential being a smaller, more boutique agency, and we’re very transparent with our company’s culture, process, and systems. You can read more about who we are, what we do, how we do it, and why we do it, in our Playbook.

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What inspires your team?

We’re inspired by the world around us, and each other. We play off each other’s strengths, and our creative process is highly collaborative. The entire team participates in design reviews, and everyone has a voice (whether you’re a designer or not).

We’re always focused on being leaders, not followers, from a creative standpoint. We push our clients to think less about what everyone else is doing, and more about what they can be doing best.

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What does your team’s creative process look like?

Our creative process is outlined in detail in our Playbook. While it may not seem entirely unique, we are consistent in going through a regular process, especially in the early stages of a project, every time.

Our initial ‘Understand Your Brand Workshop’ (a 4-8 hour in-person intensive) allows us to clearly define things like brand identity, personality, aesthetic direction, target audience, competitors, and lays the groundwork for the design and development process.

Every team member touches every project we work on in some capacity - a perk of having a team of about 10 people. Plus, the design team has direct contact with the client through meetings, calls, and presentations. I feel it’s vital for the designers on a project to “sell their work” and to be present in client situations to hear things first-hand.

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How does Dropmark fit into your workflow?

Dropmark is an excellent (and super simple) way for our team to capture inspiration they see in the wild. We’re constantly inundated with beautiful, intuitive design - and Dropmark allows us to harness that inspiration and use it in mood-boarding, concepting, and inspiration throughout the projects we work on.

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What’s the most interesting thing you’ve Dropmarked recently?

We see design continuing to trend in a more straightforward and simpler direction. Less is more. Get to the point. Drive your user to do what you want them to do without obstacles. We’re always on the lookout for ways to deliver strong messages, display beautiful design, and drive users to act in a direct and impactful way. This is reflected in the kinds of things we add to Dropmark most often around here.

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See more of Proof’s work at proofbranding.com and follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.