The Captain

SHIP the captain.jpg

My name is Kyle Kirk, and for more than 17 years, I have welcomed business developers aboard The EntrepreneurShip.

Most of the time, I work with what I call "blank page entrepreneurs" — people who start a business with a blank sheet of paper. They have a calling and a dream. They tend to be experts in their fields. My job is to help them translate an offering into a compelling brand that can transform strangers into customers.

The first time I meet with a new client, we talk about her vision and her unique definition of "success." Then we begin creating a brand. 

My Process

First I Learn

I approach each project as a student: before I can communicate a client’s value, I must understand it myself. Once I understand the offering, I determine what success looks like for my client and for her customers. I incorporate all of these needs into each phase of the customer acquisition process, discovering the best way to position the offering in the marketplace. Once we have agreed upon a unique niche for the brand, I develop meaningful intellectual and emotional rationales to create a more profound customer experience.

Intense curiosity and diverse interests enable me to construct brands for a wide range of clients. I have developed identities and campaigns in disparate fields: medical and dentalfitness and wellnessfashionentertainment, and nonprofits that create opportunity, fulfillment and dignity. I'v also served clients covering the entire technology life cycle, from design to prototyping, manufacturing and process improvement to recycling.

Then I Strategize

Hair salons and software engineers and fitness centers may offer similar products and services. But we can develop profoundly different brands for each, allowing them to occupy unique mental niches and offer different types of value. This isn't merely a difference in marketing communications. Crafting a compelling concept can encompass every aspect of business development, from the physical location and the interior design to eye-catching packaging and the right placement.

Privacy prevents me from uploading the marketing plans I develop for my clients. So, to demonstrate this process, I provide examples of brand strategies and positioning concepts for imaginary businesses in the Captain's Log. There, you can review niche-building ideas for many different types of businesses. A few examples:

Creating Responsive Solutions

I begin by examining the customer thought process, moving from the initial impression through the decision. But I don’t stop there — it’s equally important to create a psychological context that improves customer retention. 

Each brand includes both an intellectual rationale and an emotional context that blend reason and feeling into one highly memorable concept. Once I’ve developed a concept, I create innovative ways to deploy it, incorporating digital and physical assets — everything from print and promotional materials to online interactions — into the comprehensive set of psychological impressions we call a "brand."

Successful businesses — and their brands — must be agile. I provide highly adaptable solutions, providing options that allow clients to easily expand and transform their offerings. A campaign may have to be adapted for different cities or appeal to diverse audiences. A business may need to present a single message that applies to a range of offerings or markets. As a business grows, it may choose to add new products and services, expanding beyond the initial vision. A strong brand must be able to accommodate any possible future while providing value in the present. I consider each of these possibilities as I create every new brand. 

I never focus on my own aesthetic preferences. Each message and each design is unique, tailored to the psychological needs of a chosen audience. My portfolio incorporates a wide range of aesthetic approaches and rationales, and does not conform to a specific style or voice.

Through Collaboration

On every branding team there are three players: myself, my client and his customers. My job is to balance the desires of the customer and the needs of the client by providing clear, honest advice. It’s never about what I want, it’s about identifying a goal and designing a path to reach it. 

Every solution is a thesis. But without support, a thesis is just an opinion. I provide supporting rationales for every solution I develop. I never say, “I want” or “I think” because what I want and think are irrelevant. I develop brands to help my clients achieve their goals, and my primary tool is empathy. 

Once we’ve developed the brand, I provide my clients with the tools they need to maintain and execute that vision, advising and assisting as needed. The goal is not to create dependence; I ensure that my clients assume ownership of their brands and have the tools they need to apply it to every facet of their businesses.

& Strategic Planning

Customers don’t look at a logo or an ad and suddenly take out a credit card. They aggregate thousands of individual cues, subconsciously melding message and design into the mental image we call a brand. Only then do they decide if the value of the offering is equal to the price. I work with my clients to evaluate each impression — every facet of the mental images customers form — ensuring minor details don’t derail the process of turning strangers into customers.

Even in established companies, I begin with a blank sheet of paper, researching the current marketplace and competitive landscape, then crafting or enhancing a brand that firmly establishes a distinctive niche in the market.


I'm always happy to meet with anyone in any stage of their entrepreneurial journey. If you're thinking about taking a trip on the EntrepreneurShip, give me a call or drop me an email

I look forward to meeting you.