FiveStone Year in Review

A look back at 2017

Jason Locy
Dec 29, 2017 · 6 min read

Some people say we’re all on a journey to discover meaning in this life. But what if the journey isn’t to discover meaning? What if it’s to actually experience real life? And what if we discovered the meaning from that experience?

If that’s the case then everything we do matters.

That’s what we believe at FiveStone. We strive to live life to the fullest every day through our work.

This year our FiveStone family lived, a lot. We’d like to take a moment and look back on a year of living, a year of growing, and a year of building meaning into the world — one project at a time.


GV Sprints & MVP Recommendation

Send Relief, an organization that partners with churches and individuals to respond to the needs of communities throughout North America, approached us to think about how they might expand their volunteer network though an app.

After we established a product vision that addressed the question at hand, a few questions lingered. We’ll skip the nitty-gritty here but, we ended up proposing a methodology developed by Google Ventures, called a GV Sprint, that provided much needed clarity.

The Sprint process allowed us to define the problem we were solving, map out the customer journey, ideate on ways to solve that problem, build a prototype, and test the prototype in front of real-customers.

All in a five day period.

The GV Sprints gave us valuable insights that shaped how the team thought about the product and saved countless hours in building ideas that customers wouldn’t resonate with. In the end we conducted three GV Sprints and then delivered a MVP recommendation for the new product.

You can read a full case study here.

Reviewing sketches during our Sprint.

Minimum Viable Brand

Hertling has been handcrafting trousers in Brooklyn since 1925. They value quality craftsmanship and exceptional customer service.

In 2017, Hertling transferred from the original owner to a new one. We partnered with the new owner to help Hertling grow from a well respected product offering to a fully realized brand.

We spent five intense and productive days together in our NYC office running a Minimum Viable Brand Sprint. This process allows us to help startups with all the tools they need to launch their brand efficiently and with the right fidelity for their stage of business. (Even though Hertling started in 1925 new ownership meant they were starting over in most ways.)

The Hertling team walked away with a clearly defined brand personality, finessed Mission / Vision / Value statements, top line messaging, color and type palettes, a new logo and a full suite of secondary marks, business stationery, a style manual and a full retail website.

We find that concentrated time equals dynamic results.

Day 4 of the Hertling Sprint. The website comes to life.

Branding and Website

Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) enables educators who are reimagining public education based on two core principles: that the experiences of all students in schools should be more about learning and less about teaching, and that it is the educators who should take the lead in this transformation.

Our work centered around updating the brand and website to better reflect a strategic organizational shift. In this new direction we wanted users of the site to find content and resources designed to help them in their schools and classes. To accomplish this we designed a robust display and filtering mechanism that allows users to easily find content based on the challenges they are facing as educators.

Click here to see their great work.

Minimum Viable Brand

Listen Closely is a collective of musicians who bring chamber music into local communities by performing in venues which are already natural gathering points (think parks, drugstores, schools, and churches).

Yeah, pretty awesome, right? Their tagline says it all: “We play where we live.”

It’s a tagline fueled by their passionate belief: “We believe that strong, vibrant community is one of the most undervalued resources of our time, and we are bringing our music to bear in order to lift up our home communities and be changed by them.”

They value community and have endeavored to create community growth around classical music events in the neighborhoods where they live in Inwood, New York City and Madison, Wisconsin.

So, we partnered with Listen Closely in a week long MVB Sprint (just like with Hertling, above) to develop a brand identity from scratch.

We walked into the sprint on Monday morning with open minds and plenty of coffee. The result?

The Listen Closely team walked out on Friday evening with a brand personality, moodboard, new “Mission / Vision / Value” statements, a full identity suite including a new logo, business stationery, signage, banners, programs, stickers, performance folders, a style manual and a four page website featuring performances, venues, and their ever expanding list of performers.

Whew. It was amazing.

We enjoyed one another’s company so much that we met up again, six months later, to host a performance by Listen Closely in our FiveStone office. Listen Closely performed three pieces: Strum by Jessie Montgomery, Fantasy on All the Pretty Little Horses by Douglas Townsend, and Hellbound Highball by Wynton Marsalis.

It was a magical performance. And a great reminder that imaginative work holds the power not only to move people, but to change entire communities.

“It was a generous performance for a room full of friends. Hearing the sound of the instruments fill the space was a moment I won’t soon forget. In recalling the evening Jason has said several times, ‘I only cried once.’ I am so thankful for the time we shared together and I am proud of the fruits of our labor.”

Kristin Spix, FiveStone Design lead for the MVB Sprint

The Listen Closely ensemble plays for friends of FiveStone.
Marlon Tulaszewski, formerly of the Brandy Library, and Rob Salcido, head bartender at The Polo Bar, served-up amazing Old Fashioneds that paired perfectly with the music.


A Handful of Other Projects in 2017

Hearing First: We continued our digital marketing strategy work while also taking on content creation.

EdSurge: We pitched in on UI and design work for a micro-site that delivered content to educators.

Orange: For the tenth year in a row we worked with the good folks at Orange to develop branded materials for their products and events.

BSF: We wrapped the brand, web, and digital strategy work started in 2016.


Oberkotter Foundation

We are in the middle of a research project that will help us better understand why some children who fail their newborn hearing screening never follow through to see a professional. At the end of the project we hope to design new ways to help those children find the services they need and reach their full potential.


The brand and digital project we are leading will help bring clarity to this global ministry. In the end we hope to build a strong digital foundation for future initiatives as well as extending their reach.


We continue our work with BSF. This time, leading an innovation initiative within the organization aimed at developing new ideas to attract new members.


Building the Team: The team has grown quite a bit this past year as we have welcomed some new folks on board. I am grateful for everyone on the team, both new and familiar members.

Jeremy: We threw a baby shower for Jeremy and his wife. Great timing, because the next day baby Harriet arrived.

Neil and his wife sent their oldest son off to college. Meanwhile Snickers, the family dog, continues to come and go through the doggie door.

They have no idea what’s about to happen. Respek.

Thanks to everyone who made 2017 a wonderful year. We look forward to another great year and producing work that matters with our amazing clients and partners.

FiveStone Stories

We are FiveStone, a strategy+design+digital firm.

Jason Locy

Written by

Founder of FiveStone, a strategy-led design studio.

FiveStone Stories

We are FiveStone, a strategy+design+digital firm.