Young startups must be skilled in design not only for their products but also for their brands. While it was difficult to do so after the pandemic, lessons have been learned. Scott Tong is a consultant in startup design who helps early-stage companies. We spoke with him to find out more.He believes that the office is still the best place for multiteam decisions. However, new best practices and modern tools make remote collaboration possible.However, brand design is becoming more complicated. He explains that brand and product are often combined and each represents the other.Many users spend a lot of their time online these days, and often think more about the world and the way they live their lives. Before they decide to sign up or quit, they carefully examine what they can see about the startup.Tongs believes that the solution is to develop a unifying plan so design decisions can be made before problems arise.The interview contains more details. Tongs will be discussing design strategy at the TC Early Stage 2021 Fundraising Conference on July 8.We all were affected by the pandemic. How has the pandemic affected brand design that is user-focused?People were forced to consume more media after the pandemic. News on science, politics and race, as well as the economy, was inevitable. Brands must navigate complex topics that can cause division. Brands that align with their values are more popular. To understand the brand's values, one must be able to discern competing signals from the brand and from critics and supporters. A brand that says the wrong thing can alienate large sections of their audience, including their employees. Brands that say nothing can be taken to mean they are complicit. Unauthentic brand messaging can spell doom. This is a tricky needle to thread. Companies often conduct surveys to find out how customers and non-customers perceive their brand.Startups should consider what new information about users they need to know when designing their identities. What advice would you give startups to design their brand?Users' perceptions of brands are not limited to identifying individuals. There are many touch points that go beyond identity. Expectations from users are high and will only rise. Users have grown accustomed to high-quality experiences, even with free products. High quality is important for users. However, it is difficult for companies to identify the most important dimensions. It is crucial to constantly seek out information about users. Understanding what users care about helps teams to focus on the areas that have the greatest impact.TechCrunch is looking for founders to help it find the top growth marketers for startups. We will share your recommendations with everyone by completing this short survey.What are the biggest mistakes startups make?One observation that is consistent is that product and brand teams are often located in different areas of an organization's org structure. Although there may be reasons for this, it is important to remember that your org structure doesn't matter to users. Users see brand and product as one entity.How do companies handle internal problems such as collaborative designing in a remote environment? To get all departments of a company to think in the same direction, it has always been important to have face-to-face communication. What are the tools, methods, documentation, and other information that can help those who have gone remote first succeed? What are you looking for?Collaboration tools are now more common than ever. Although there are many tools, the norms for their use can differ from one group to another, even within the same company. Where can I find the brief for my project? Is it too many back-to-back meetings? What is the best way to conduct brainstorming in a virtual setting? What is the difference between email and Slack? These norms can only be established through conversation and experimentation.It is important to establish a rhythm or cadence that allows team members stay on the same page. The cadence can be varied depending on who is leading the team. It could be daily, weekly or biweekly. But, it should be appropriate for each audience.Or, are you more likely to believe that the demands of design work will encourage startups at early stages back into office work?There are many opinions about whether or not being present in person fosters innovation and productivity. We have all had to adapt due to the pandemic. Design is no exception. It's encouraging to see great design in remote environments. A lot of this has been made possible by tools and the rules around their use. Although I prefer to be in person, especially in the initial stages of company building, it is possible to create a high-functioning remote team. There are certain cases, such as hardware and soft goods, where tactile feedback is crucial and difficult to replicate remotely. However, I have seen many successful solutions (e.g. sending the same sample of material to each member of the team). This is still a new process so there will be some bumps in the road. It is possible to make it work with a group of willing participants and the right combination of tools, norms, and other resources.With more teams distributed and remote, it might be easier than ever to hire a third-party expert in brand design. What are your thoughts on when startups should hire an outside consultant? How can they best work with them?This is largely dependent on how design is valued in an organization as a service, or as a partner.Design is best viewed as a partner. The relationship can be ongoing and iterative. Design is an activity that builds, measures, and learns with their engineering counterparts. The benefits of institutional knowledge also compound over time.Third parties are logical if design is considered a service. There is usually a beginning and an end to a project. This type of service relationship will be successful if there is clarity about the scope, timeline, and deliverables.