Coffee with Brian Beaty

Meet the creative behind [nobrand]. He is easily one of the most inspired and inspirational friends I know. You can’t tell, but his shirt says “Locals” – emphasis on the “s.” Why? “It’s not me, it’s us!” His passion for the support of small businesses and community building is evident in all that he does. It’s this attention to detail and concept that make his work equally unique and powerful, not to mention his pure talent of creating beautiful and simplistic designs.


Change-maker: Brian Beaty

Coffee of Choice: Iced Americano

Favorite spot for coffee in Honolulu: Punchbowl Coffee

Hometown: Corpus Christi, Texas

Current Home: Honolulu, Hawaiʻi

Education: B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu; A.S. in Communication Arts from Honolulu Community College

Field of Work: Graphic Design

Shameless Plug: @nobrandhi, www.nobrandhawaii.com


What is [nobrand]?
It’s my personal brand. It all started because I couldn’t come up with a good name when I finished school. So, I called it “[nobrand].” I wanted to make t-shirts at that point but I didn’t want to just put a logo on my t-shirts. I wanted it to be more about the individual, the designs, and the meaning behind it. It’s the same for brand identity. It’s about the message not just the logo.

When did you start [nobrand] and how has it grown since?
I started officially in 2010.  It started off as a graphic design agency.  I did my freelance under that.  Now, I’m focusing on t-shirts and creating cool brand experiences.  I want to work a lot more with other brands – a lot of collaborations.

What is the “risk-free creative collaboration” you mention on your website?
That is more of an offer to have coffee and talk story, kind of like this.  When I start working with people, I don’t want them to be intimidated.  It’s to initiate talking.  I like to work with small businesses and a lot of them don’t have the financial means to work together.  There’s other ways to pay someone – whether it’s in coffee or other marketing.

What is your process of collaborating with someone?
So far, it’s just getting to know somebody.  Talking story and if it happens that there’s an opportunity to collaborate on something then we go from there.  Getting to know each other and seeing if it’s a good fit before talking about a collaboration.  The risk-free creative collaboration is an open-ended invitation.  I have friends that like to talk about business and design.  This is a way to extend it past friends and to other people that want to reach out.  Then to find alternative ways to work together.  Small businesses that might not have money to do it – we can find a way to make it work if both of us really like the opportunity.  Collaboration in itself is a lot of times a win-win. It’s opening that approach up for the transaction to be more friendly rather than formal and strictly a money exchange.

Why are you so passionate and interested about branding?
A brand is a platform.  It’s like your character as a person.  It makes things a little more interesting.  I’m really interested in small businesses. Naturally, the creative part of me leans towards branding and how small businesses make something really cool.

In your opinion, what makes a good brand?
Clarity in your message.  It’s a pretty common problem.  We all have these different ideas and want to go in different directions.  A strong brand is clear in the message.   

Some brands will just slap on a pineapple or “Aloha” on a shirt. Sometimes, their goal is to increase profits rather than stay true to their message. What are your thoughts on this?
That’s kind of why I started making t-shirts.  I didn’t want to wear other people’s logos and the thousand different variations they make.  I know when you get to smaller independent brands you don’t really see that as much.  Some you do.  But there’s a lot more meaning in something I make.  You start losing the expression when you just start throwing your logo on things.  That’s kind of why, with [nobrand], I don’t really have a logo because I don’t want to get into that habit as well.  I don’t want to encourage other people to stop at their logo, as far as branding.  Give character to your business, it’s your brand. 

If you’re a new company, I always see that they just want to put their logo on a shirt.  But, they haven’t earned that level of awareness yet so it doesn’t really do much for them.  It doesn’t mean anything to a bigger audience.  A t-shirt is something personal that we wear and it reflects who we are.  Some people don’t really think about what they wear too much.  Some people are more conscious of what they wear.  What they wear kind of represents what they belong to and that audience.  With an unknown small business with a logo, it’s harder to reach that in the beginning.  You shouldn’t just limit yourself to a logo.  It’s not really what your brand is about.  It should be about much more than your logo.    

What kind of t-shirts have you made in the past?
All of my shirts have been very local oriented. All my inspiration really comes from Hawaiʻi. It started off with random designs that fit the Hawaiʻi lifestyle. Then I came up with the concept of “Self Made Hawaiʻi,” which is more focused to small business entrepreneur type of folks. Self Made Hawaiʻi (a completed project, no longer for sale) was about the community, not the individual person. It’s about their efforts that they put into the work that gets put out into the community and how it creates a stronger local small business community.

What is Brandalyzer?
I came up with that idea after reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Crushing It.  The idea was to create a service to get an assessment of your brand from the eight principles he set up in his book – intent, authenticity, passion, patience, speed, work, attention, and content.  It grew from there.  I wanted it to be a simple assessment and then, I thought, maybe I can put a whole experience behind it.  All you have to do is give me your Instagram handle and your website.  I do an assessment on your brand based on those eight principles with a simple rating scale. 

Check out Brandalyzer here: https://www.nobrandhawaii.com/brandalyzer for your unofficial brand analysis or to simply enjoy a beautifully designed web experience.

What issues are you passionate about? What are those underlying values that drive you and your brand?
The biggest one is community – small businesses are the cornerstone of a strong community. 

Creativity, definitely.

Simplicity. For me, it’s a necessary thing to have so I can keep all my thoughts organized.  Having a more simple style so meaning gets across easier. Simplicity makes it easier to notice what makes it unique, different, or gives it that little bit of charm.  I think its easier as a business to have things more simple, more organized, and more efficient.  It ties into another value – efficiency.  Those are tied pretty closely together for me.  Efficiency can get really overly complicated but it shouldn’t by its nature.    

What about the community is so important?
Fostering a community and having community-minded thinking.  To take care of your own community.  It’s really strong here in Hawaiʻi.  When you travel overseas, it’s much stronger.  Overseas, you see a lot more small businesses.  They don’t have these big shopping malls like the U.S. has.  It’s getting to know each other, your neighbors.  Taking care of them, picking up the trash on the street. Basically it’s living local style. 

Who inspires you?
The most inspiration I get is from my friends that are also starting businesses. I always look up to other guys like Gary Vaynerchuk and Casey Neistat.  They’re good to watch or listen to but the real inspiration is from my friends.   

What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received?
Less is more.


Where did we have coffee? Hawaiian Aroma Caffe located in the Ilikai Hotel.. Supporting local of course!