Design is inherently a communication art. If you’re not trying to say something or make a point, it’s art open to interpretation. However, designers are often not given the credit that they deserve for making a business impact. 

Today’s guest is Pete Baker, Director of Brand, Creative, and Digital Strategy at Duo Security in Ann Arbor. Before Duo Security, Pete ran his own brand studio, established a photography business, and to top it off, he has an amazing beard—better than most and the host.

Episode Highlights

  • 2:08 Despite Duo Security’s success and passion for architecture, Pete’s a brand guy.
  • 4:50 Design and Photography: Differences and similarities—communication or art.
  • 6:00 Sophie’s Choice Moment: If Pete had to choose, more or less, which wasn’t a job.
  • 7:20 Wildly Disparate: Growing up in a small town lacking creative outlets.
  • 11:00 Catalyst: Do your own thing, do it all yourself, and start your own legit business.
  • 16:12 Freelance to Full-time: Moving back to Michigan to dispel in-house design stigma.
  • 19:58 Ann Arbor’s first ‘Unicorn’ of Silicon Valley-type success and sudden validation.
  • 28:25 What brand means? It’s not just the logo, but the gut feeling about a company.
  • 30:31 Product, People, Process: Everyone plays a role in positive customer service.
  • 32:33 Duo Guidelines: Internal and external brand match—easy, effective, trustworthy.
  • 34:50 Cultural Niceness: Duo Security brand authentically influences culture, vice versa.
  • 39:50 Scio to Duo: Rebrand/rename company to communicate security and useability. 
  • 44:43 Brand Principles and People: Marty Neumeier on what a brand is and is not.
  • 46:22 Pete paraphrases Steve Jobs to define brand and the biggest marker of success.
  • 47:33 Doubtful Moments: Pete suffered from imposter syndrome around security space.
  • 51:00 Lessons Learned: Designers deserve credit for making a business impact. Stick to your point of view and sense of self. Don’t compromise.
  • 52:30 Easiest and most difficult parts of starting businesses? Management experience is necessary to know what to do and be responsible for building a successful team.
  • 56:16 How to identify real vs. doppelganger Pete in alternate universe? Gray hair. 
  • 58:46 Ann Arbor Art Center: Creative people can have careers, not just a studio. 

Links and Resources:

Duo Security


Ann Arbor Art Center

Zingerman’s Deli

Marty Neumeier

Steve Jobs

Episode 10: Why Rishi Narayan is a Jack of all Trades, Master of None—or is he?

Huck Finch

Life On Brand Webpage

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