Creative Director at Goodside


DanielleLaRoy (Creative Director at Goodside)

Danielle LaRoy is a co-founder and creative director at Goodside, a brand studio that weaves strategy, design, and copy into cohesive brand systems that scale.

San Francisco, United States • July 4, 2024

What led you into design?

As someone who specializes in words and stories rather than pixels and visuals, design wasn’t the most obvious destination for my career—but branding definitely was. I’ve always been interested in the dynamics that drive behavior and, as a writer, the way that words come into play. I feel very lucky that my career led me to a practice where asking questions, listening deeply, and learning quickly is more or less the entire job description.

I worked my way into the design world by developing complementary skills on either side of brand design: strategy and copywriting. I started my career working in house on the marketing team at Dropbox. There, I learned what it takes to nurture a well-loved brand and what it feels like to be a client. My appetite for more hands-on work led me to the agency side, where I met my co-founder, Jessica Strelioff. Working together, we developed our own creative process, blending our visual and verbal disciplines into cohesive systems for folks like Google, Patagonia, and Robinhood. We started our brand studio, Goodside, to put that process to work for purpose-driven companies—building brands that look good, sound good, and do good.

What does a typical day look like?

My workday is a loose choreography of musical chairs to the tune of my mood and workload. Working from home and running my own business means I have a lot of flexibility in my day, so I try to introduce structure with a physical routine.   

I start my morning in the sunniest seat in the house. I drink my coffee and get a good dose of Vitamin D while I answer emails, scroll Twitter, and prepare for the day ahead. On some days that lounge lasts for longer than I’d like to admit, but it’s a peaceful way to start my morning. And it always involves breakfast lovingly prepared by my husband, Sam—an egg on toast, every day. 

I move over to the kitchen table to get into my first chunk of creative work while my brain is at its best. At Goodside, we typically have two projects going on at any given time, almost always with staggered start dates. This means I usually have one project in the positioning phase and the other further along with copy. My mornings go toward positioning because that process requires a lot of long-form writing and deep research, going down rabbit holes and pulling at threads until a brand’s story makes itself clear.   

In the afternoon, I complete my daily rotation in the office, which serves as a good way to refocus my brain. I take client calls, new business meetings, and jump into Figma for some copywriting. I cap it all off with a walk or a run, both of which help me process the day and think through any hard problems that need fresh air. 

What's your workstation setup?

Where do you go to get inspired?

I’m finding that the longer I do this job, the more easily inspired I become, which is a fun surprise. I take the discovery phase of every project as permission to actively go seek inspiration for inspiration’s sake. I look at historical references, read poetry, look for parallels across different industries and cultures, and, of course, I look at lots of design books.

I've also taken up photography recently, which has been a great source of inspiration. It's been fun to see the world, quite literally, through a different lens—especially while traveling. Here are a few recent favorites.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I am endlessly inspired by my co-founder Jess, too. Having an insanely talented creative partner to collab with every day is something I don’t take for granted. We’ve been working together for the better part of a decade, which means we both feel comfortable taking risks, giving honest feedback, and pushing each other creatively. Goodside only works because of this shared willingness to go there and the mutual respect we have for each other’s craft.   

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

I saw the Kehinde Wiley exhibition, An Archaeology of Silence, at the DeYoung museum in San Francisco, and it left me completely speechless. The art, the message, the scale—it was all expertly composed to carry the weight of this moment. I found myself thinking that this must be how people felt when they saw the Renaissance artists’ work for the first time: like I was witnessing something culturally and historically important. I've been back to see it three more times since!

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

I am super proud of the work we did for Superorganism, which is a venture firm for biodiversity. Superorganism invests in seed-stage startups working to reverse extinction drivers and create an abundant world of species and ecosystems. By playing with the contrasts between their two core disciplines, venture and conservationism, we positioned Superorganism as a bridge between present and future, reality and possibility, "what is" and "what if." The identity brought those tensions to life with photography of surreal, yet very real species, a gorgeous logo mark, and a system that really celebrates the beauty of the world we live in.

Follow is another favorite project of mine. A Boulder-based architecture firm, Follow specializes in modern mountain homes with a deep sense of place. When they initially approached us—at the time, under the name Amble—we immediately connected with their love for the outdoors and their philosophies about home. We channeled that into a new name and brand identity that reflects the best of their approach: thoughtfully considered, inside and out, down to the smallest details. I particularly loved the wandering type treatment that became central to the brand, which was inspired by poetry by Mary Oliver. It's always fun to find inspiration in unexpected places, and this one felt particularly fitting.

Lastly, we had the pleasure of crafting a brand identity for Kopperfield, a team building software for the next era of home electrification. As a two-sided marketplace for homeowners and electricians, Kopperfield's brand platform needed to speak equally to each; our brand idea—power to you—did exactly that. The resulting brand identity was that nothing short of energizing, empowering everyone to step into the electric future today.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

Finding the perfect pace is always a challenge. Our clients are usually agile, fast-moving startups, so we have to balance the depth of our process with the need to deliver quickly. Compromising too much on either visual or verbal doesn’t lend itself to the full-of-life brands that we want to create, so we’re constantly experimenting with new structures that preserve the integrity of both. We’ve found some efficiencies in overlapping phases and waterfalling deliverables, but I think we’ll always be tinkering to find the perfect process.  

What music do you listen to while designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Don’t be afraid to wear many hats. At various times throughout my career, I’ve felt pressure to squeeze myself into a single role or pick a lane between strategy and copy. I think being a multi-hyphenate is a superpower, especially in the era of AI. 

Anything you want to promote or plug?

I’m currently in a me-against-me race with our Goodside studio account for Twitter followers. You could help me win! Or help Goodside win. Or find me on LinkedIn, if that’s more your speed.   

If I haven’t sufficiently plugged my brand studio, Goodside, yet, I’ll take this opportunity to do that one more time. We’re a full-service brand studio for purpose-driven companies. To keep up with our latest happenings and musings, sign up for our newsletter.