This Agency Brings Product-Inspired Strategy to Purpose-Driven Marketing

Half of Scout Lab's clients are VC-backed startups

Scout Lab co-founders Willow Hill (l.) and Kaitlyn Barclay
Samantha Bloom

While “purpose driven” might not be what first comes to mind when thinking of an agency with venture capitalist connections, Scout Lab has spent the first year of its life developing processes that replace traditional agency thinking with product development strategies. After spending years on the marketing teams at brands including Levi’s and Airbnb, co-founders Kaitlyn Barclay and Willow Hill decided to venture out on their own in 2017. They said many larger legacy brands have been “blindsided” by venture-backed startups like the mattress firm Casper because they’re thinking too much about the big picture without testing concepts fast enough or often enough.

“If you’re not agile and quick to market, you could be done before you even start,” Hill said. “That’s just the nature of the way consumers are able to adopt new technology and new products with access they’ve never really had before.”

Scout Lab is also focused on brands with a cause. For example, the agency built a brand strategy for Constellation, a collective of astronauts focused on helping the world to see Earth’s unity as one planet. Now, with six full-time staffers and about a dozen freelancers, New York-based Scout Lab works with larger brands like Adidas and Motorola. About half of the clients come recommended by VC firms looking to get their startups a proper brand strategy. Each client receives a “brand sprint”—weekly deliverables from ongoing creative testing—rather than developing a product’s brand in secret before releasing it.

“It’s not just about what looks good or what looks pretty and have that be sacred,” Barclay said. “It’s an iterative process.”

This story first appeared in the August 6, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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