Introducing the Brex Quarterly Review
Keep growing. That’s the word of encouragement we impart to the businesses who are building with Brex each day. One of the ways we do this is to release regular reports about how startups use their capital based on anonymized, aggregate usage data. And while the wisdom of the crowd may not always be the right answer for one given company, any information on how to run efficiently and benchmark your progress is crucial.
A little more than a month ago, we had a crazy idea: what if we created a magazine to present all of this data in a focused, easily-digestible, and—dare we say it—entertaining format?
One of our core values at Brex is to dream big—and no crazy ideas are off-limits. So today, we’re unveiling what we’ve been working on for the past month: the Brex Quarterly Review. In it, you’ll find the latest up-to-date reports on startup product usage, investment in growth, and a few stories from our customers about how they got started.
And just like the rest of our tailored products, we’ve even tailored horoscopes for our readers. (We deeply apologize to those who may be en route to misfortune—we’re just the messenger here.)
This was a huge effort from all of us with a very hefty learning curve. But in the spirit of empowering the community with information, we wanted to share our ultimate takeaways from this whole process.
Simplicity above everything
We tend to lean into our data hard when we publish data reports online. And while we show a lot of data in each report, having everything in one unified place meant we had to rethink the reader experience. Many of the graphics and visualizations we regularly use were simply not tailored for a pleasant reader experience in print format.
While these visualizations are a great vehicle to convey a lot of information, they also really only work in a case-by-case basis where the reader knows what they’re getting. So we decided we had to take a dramatic step back in our design process and figure out the best way to present our data and tell our story in a way that was as easily digestible as possible.
In most cases, less was better. Many ecommerce companies may care deeply about the specific usage of USPS or FedEx, but for the broader community, the top choice may be the only one that’s important. And some companies might care about the month-by-month fluctuations of cloud computing usage—but we needed to tailor to everyone we hoped would read the Quarterly Review.
Break the box
While “content” is everywhere, competing for our attention, the last thing we wanted to do was set up another dry report doomed straight for recycling. The world of B2B is inundated with white papers, one-pagers, webinars, and sales decks that sell and sell hard. With most sales collateral, you skim and toss—if you’re lucky, it might make it onto a colleague’s desk before getting lost in the shuffle.
But in this digital age, there’s a real craving for things we can hold in our hands. We wanted to make something that you would enjoy touching and rifling through. We spent an enormous amount of time fretting about the tiniest details to ensure we were trying something new. (We even went so far as blind tests to ensure the paper quality we desired felt just like the magazines we loved. Like, feet-high stacks of magazines.)
Our goal with the Brex Quarterly Review was to create something with a long shelf life, something that you can carry with you and read during your commute. And we wanted to make something you could hand off to a friend or colleague with the highest form of praise: “Hey, look at this.” To do something different, that meant we had to do something unconventional. Bringing back out-of-home campaigns was our first foray into marketing offline, and heading into print won’t be the last time we revive a relatively outmoded medium.
Most importantly, at the end of the day, a “B2B audience” is people who want to read things that will help them or entertain them in some way. Some companies have done an excellent job experimenting with more consumer-oriented mediums. While our brand is still so young, it’s the ideal time to experiment.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an established brand, we believe there’s always room to explore your creative side. We’re still in the process of making a voice for ourselves. In the future, the story will be less about Brex and more about how we bring you value that helps you grow your business.
Overcommunicate (and debrief)
Understanding how people felt through the process (and giving them an opportunity to vent) is important and gets people wanting to do it again.
We all have huge ideas, hopes and dreams for this product, and are probably on our fourth or fifth cup of coffee. Sometimes the hardest part is just ensuring that we all remember who we’re serving: you, the reader.
Thank you to all of our customers who have let us be a part of their journey. We hope to continue to grow along with you all, and that we can continue to inform the startup community.