A note from Snoopeh:
“In the online world there is a constant quest to distinguish yourself and build your own identity.
In a competitive industry like streaming, the desire to build a brand and unique designs for yourself is not only a fun, active pursuit of streamers looking to build a career, but also a necessity.
We now have thousands of streamers within the Pipeline Community, and we are always actively looking to improve the experience for them.
Design – an integral part of branding – has been a constant ask from our community, and we have done our best to fill in the gaps, but it wasn’t our sole focus. We at Pipeline knew we could do better and deliver more.
That’s why we are incredibly excited to team up with an industry leader in Visuals by Impulse.
VBI have the ability to help service our members from the early stages of a streamers journey, all the way to supporting some of the top streamers in the industry, with completely custom graphics packages. CourageJD, Mini Ladd, and Nadeshot are just a few of the big names they’ve helped in creating “stream packages.” And coming soon: our own community members will have access to an exclusive Pipeline-VBI stream package!
In getting to know Caleb and the team at VBI over the past few months, I’ve been extremely encouraged by how aligned we are on supporting those earlier in their streaming journey.”
Read on below for Pipeline’s interview with Caleb Leigh, VBI Founder and CEO.
I’ve been a creator all my life with a background in design and computer science. In 2015, I decided I couldn’t sit on the sidelines any longer. That’s when VBI was created. I made it my mission to start an agency to help other creators brand and monetize themselves. A passion for technology and data-based decisions have always been my north star for everything I do. I also love sour beer and pretending to be good at FPS games.
Describe what VBI does. What inspired you to create it?
We offer free designs, premade templates (which are available instantly) and custom design services. Our mission is to inspire creativity through the language of design and to offer affordable yet professional design services.
As far as what inspired me to create VBI – I simply decided I couldn’t sit on the sidelines any longer. For context, I’ve always had a background in design and computer science. I’ve had the opportunity to work for Nike, Capital One and the FBI, and with some incredibly talented people. I helped solve corporate cyber security challenges, but after 6+ years of that, I got bored.
I quickly latched onto watching streamers and musicians on Twitch every night, but there was one major problem I noticed. Content creators needed some major help branding themselves. I was seeing overlays done in MS Paint and an overall lack of branding. If only there was a creative agency that focused on helping creators with their streams through design. After a few months of watching my favorite Twitch streamers, I decided to make it my mission to help other creators brand and monetize themselves. Enter October 2015, the start of Visuals by Impulse.
I wanted to grow personally, build a team and switch my gears into a field I’ve had a lifelong passion for. Visuals by Impulse is a homage to my screen name, Impulse. Coincidentally, an impulse can be described as “something that incites or has a tendency to incite action.” This was the perfect marriage of combining the visuals – aka the creative portion of the agency – along with impulse – aka the technology of our business. It has been incredibly humbling to meet with clients at events and hear their stories on how our team has helped change their streams and content overall. I can’t take all the credit, though; we have an amazing team located all over the world. It truly takes a village to do what we do.
What is your vision for the future of streaming? How does VBI fit into that?
Interactivity. I think a few years down the road, this will become the standard for streaming. If a viewer comes into a channel and doesn’t have a way to interact with the creator or brand, that’ll be the equivalent of the dinosaur ages. Interactivity can mean many things – on-screen extensions to give further context into the creator’s game/life/loadout/etc., launching IRL actions from chat (my all-time favorite has been a chat command to shoot a Nerf dart), or most notably, streams where chat decides collectively what’s next (see the E3 Twitch robot stream).
Granted, a lot of this takes time to build the technology. The industry has made great strides on this, but there’s still a lot of room to grow. While we’re a young startup, we have plans to make a splash of our own.
Not only are we a creative agency, but we have a development team as well. We’re always looking at the latest trends in tech, and brainstorming what tools we can create to help our clients feel as if they’re blessed with design superpowers.
VBI is actively working on technology that not only empowers creators, but also designers. You can expect some exciting new developments from our team over the next year or so. I’ll give you a hint: we’re creating a tool that has design at the forefront of streaming, not as an afterthought.
What attracted you to Pipeline?
Pipeline’s incredibly tight knit community is what initially attracted us to the organization. It always seemed like such a buzzing, exciting place. Once we became members and saw how helpful the stream playbooks were, the Discord community, and resources that are available to Pipeline members, it was a no brainer.
We always receive a lot of questions at VBI on how to grow your stream, what to do in “X” situation or how to build a community. There are a variety of similar questions that we just don’t quite have a position to speak from. While we’re the experts on how you can grow your channel through design strategies, many of these questions are better suited to be answered by the Pipeline community and mentors. I can’t think of a person we’ve referred to Pipeline that hasn’t received a tremendous amount of value out of the well-thought-out program.
What are your goals for the VBI x Pipeline partnership?
We’re honored to be part of a Pipeline member’s journey from the first time they click “go live,” or if they’re well into building a supportive community and looking to earn other achievements along the way. Some members are just getting started, others need refreshers after returning to the scene, and some streamers just want to double down on proven playbooks/strategies. Regardless of where someone is at in their journey, we’re here to help when it comes to all things design.
Aside from being involved in a streamer’s journey and offering each member a generous voucher for our store, we’ve also created a static + animated stream package, exclusively for Pipeline members. We can’t wait for the community to get their hands on this design – I think they’re going to absolutely love it. Here’s our preview:
Looking to the future, we’re excited to offer giveaways and many exclusive opportunities to Pipeline members. Keep your eyes peeled in this space!
What advice do you have for new streamers?
Just start. We hear from many aspiring streamers every week, and one of the most common things we run into is the quest for perfection. By that, I’m referring to the folks who are afraid to hit the “go live” button because they don’t have the best computer gear, the best camera, custom overlays/branding or the best microphone. Find your niche and where it’s possible to go live with what you have now. Have a phone, a computer, and an internet connection you can go live from? Perfect. Get your start with mobile games. If you doubt the success of doing so, check out YouTube Live and the global presence mobile streaming has. It’s incredible.
Don’t wait for all the stars to align – click the “go live” button and start building your community now. Your future self will thank you for getting started today.
Explain branding. What is it really, and why is it so important?
Simply put, your brand is the primary source of a promise to your viewers. If you’ve created an identity as a channel to inspire others to create, make them laugh, or watch in awe at your amazing gameplay, your brand has to live up to that. Many streamers think branding is just a logo. It’s so much more than that. Branding can be your name, your website, your social media tone, your content, how you start off every broadcast, your image/personality at conventions and yes, of course, your logo. Overall, it’s a set of emotions and ideas that your viewers associate with your brand.
It’s important to spend time defining, researching and building that brand. Branding isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a well-thought-out process that goes beyond just the visuals.
Visuals are the core of our business, so we’ve helped creators with countless ways to improve their brand.
Some key things to consider when it comes to your channel’s visual brand – rapid fire!
- How do you get someone’s attention on their social feed? There’s a lot to consume on social media, so make sure yours cannot be glossed over.
- Who are your primary viewers? If you don’t know, you should take the time to understand this.
- Your brand is helpful for locking in new sponsors. No sponsor wants to work with someone who is forgettable. Your persona and visual branding should be unique in any application.
- Get recognized. Want to know how to create instant friends at conventions? Your merchandise, paired with your branding, is a clear signal that the buyer is a part of that community. Give your community something to be proud of, and the satisfaction of knowing they represent a creator who values their support.
- Make sure you’re cohesive with your branding. Consistent visuals through colors, logos, your website, business cards, stream overlays, etc. Being cohesive is a clear statement of your brand’s credibility in the community. This one often gets overlooked. Yes, we’re looking at you with your dragon logo, Comic Sans font, paired with duck merchandise – and we’re officially confused. ?
Most broadcasters will make design and branding decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will be either lucky or wrong. That’s why our team is driven by creative decisions backed by data. We partner with our clients to help them monetize and achieve their key performance indicators through interactive design (i.e. doubling gifted subscribers through animated design strategies).
A solid brand paired with Visuals by Impulse creative design is the ultimate combo. We’ve seen an average of 38% channel growth with our custom design services and a whopping 62% growth when working with brands/large influencers. Now that’s some data we love to nerd out over!
This interview has been edited for clarity.