Smith and Meade gold logo designed by EBD

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From Concept to Acclaim: EBD’s 2023 Award Showcase

2023 was another year of remarkable creativity at Ellen Bruss Design. We’re celebrating sixteen awards from competitions held across the nation. As always, thank you to our incredible clients who trusted us to create and grow their brands.

The Frontier Drive-Inn: A Place Branding Project

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Creating Outstanding Brand Names

Naming places, products and companies can be challenging. EBD helps to make the process fun and rewarding through extensive research, strategy and creativity. Which results in unique, memorable names that help you stand out in the marketplace.


November 12, 2020


5 min read

Branding A Wholehearted and Independent Home Builder

Nathan Smith met Elizabeth Meade when they were introduced by a shared sub-contractor. They were in different areas of building: he, in a roofing sales business; she, in health and wellness. The sub is long gone, but there was a shared sensibility. Both Nathan and Liz wanted to learn more about the business, so they, well, decided to do it together. They built a house, sold it, and then decided to do another.  And so, the story of Core Venture begins.

Fast forward to 2020…..

It all began in February of this year with an email from Nathan entitled “Interested, confused and excited”. Needless to say, our interest was piqued! Shortly after, Nathan and Liz visited our studio to inquire about where we could take their brand and marketing. We had a great talk, and really connected. And then, a pandemic hit, and the world shut down. They were literally the last new clients we met in person, complete with elbow bumps in lieu of the typical EBD hug greeting. After a month of social isolation, Nathan reached back out—again with an intriguing note. He asked a how we were, how the pandemic was affecting us and what we had learned about ourselves and our company during this time. Then he brought up his branding. All we could think was that we would be so fortunate to have him as our client. It was a situation where we knew we would work with Nathan & Liz at some point, pandemic or not. Via email and phone, a deal was struck. EBD was going to take on the challenge of giving their team the positioning, name, brand and collateral they deserved. 

What was the first problem we needed to solve? First off, we needed to position them. Spec home building is a crowded marketplace, one with mostly larger, suburban spec home builders. We looked into these and also smaller, more boutique companies that were more direct competition. There are a few in the city that do a nice job, so we researched their brands. With all of that analysis in mind, there were numerous things that stood out about Core Venture. For one, they were building pretty accessible homes  A lot of the spec builders in the market are doing multi-million dollar homes but Core Venture’s homes are within of reach for a young couple. Also, they weren’t just following the “this is what a house needs” rulebook. They were really looking at how people live and adding unusual features to their home (preview of below—double master closets!). Design and attention to detail was of utmost importance. They were also building in urban neighborhoods where other spec builders weren’t building. Places that are loaded with walkable retail and restaurants. Real city neighborhoods where real people want to live. And to top it off (I know by now you won’t be surprised by this), they led the projects with heart and intuition—there’s a soulful feeling in each home. 

The next project was a name change. Core Venture was a name that made logical sense, but didn’t speak to their team. And when we researched it, there were hundreds of Core Ventures across the country, including a company a few miles away that owned the domain name. After an in-depth process to where we almost named them something else, we suddenly said “why not Smith & Meade?” Nathan & Liz loved it because it spoke to the independence and ownership of the projects. 

Once we had the name, we moved on to branding. The brand, mark and assets had to show an attention to detail and capture their heart and soul. It also needed to communicate that they really are the people on the job and this isn’t some faceless company. The two partners are like a left hand and a right hand—complimentary in their roles. Cueing off of their home design elements, we created a mark that had a monogram of their initials, that also made a symbol of a home. Then we added two distinct but well-suited fonts for Smith and Meade, ones that reflected the team’s skills and compatibility. 

Messaging was the next task. The first thing we did was create a promise statement, something that could be an official seal, then created a tagline that spoke to what it means when your home design and construction is so considered. 

However, the brand execution was by far the most fun. Calling card style business cards showed their personal touch, and key chains were etched in real brass to symbolize details in their homes. Yard signs, because that’s how they sell homes. And tote bags, to stylishly promote the new brand around town

So, the adventure is over for now—sadly. And we accomplished all of the work without one in-person meeting. But we couldn’t last forever without crossing paths, so last week, nearly 7 months to the day of our first meeting, we toured their newest project in Denver 2925 S. Elati St, Denver. It’s a townhome project made for city dwellers. It is right near South Broadway—one of Denver’s most vibrant streets. Smith & Meade’s thoughtful design is apparent throughout with high-end finishes, thoughtful space planning, and impeccable craftsmanship. Our highlights of the tour include the double closet in the master (hello!), and the middle unit’s extra room on the 3rd floor that features a patio and spectacular views (can I say entertaining/office?!).

Keep your eyes peeled for Smith & Meade. We can guarantee you’ll be hearing about them again soon.