How we created a branded website in 5 hours

February 8, 2022

Why we set up a Shopify store?

At Pencil, we use AI to generate ads predicted to win. To achieve this reliably and consistently for every Pencil customer, a lot has to happen behind the scenes!

The ads themselves are important, and this is the focus of much of our engineering effort, but the truth is that much more is needed for advertising success. This may be truer than ever in a post-iOS14 world where targeting and attribution are increasingly becoming a black box.

Time spent inside an ad account tweaking audiences and bidding strategies is now best redeployed outside of the ad account - on your creatives, website, lifecycle efforts and even with your product.

Everyone knows that if you’re a brand looking to win with ads, you need killer ads. But you also need 👇

  • Landing pages that convert
  • An offer that resonates
  • Pricing that offers a workable payback period
  • Product costs with favorable unit economics.

The list goes on! That’s why we decided to launch our own Shopify store 🎉 😱.

We wanted to understand more deeply what goes into true success with advertising an e-commerce business in 2022, and we wanted to be able to share it publicly with our customers and the world.

Although we already share the results our ads get every week in terms of their ROAS, we want to share more. More than we can share for real customers, as much of this deeper data is sensitive!


Our first post was about how we sourced assets. This one will cover just a little of what it took to get our website live.

  1. Choosing a theme
  2. Figuring out our branding
  3. Figuring out the products that fit in with that branding (not common practice 🤪)
  4. Home Page Specifics
  5. Pricing those products
  6. Create Product Pages

Total Time to Complete: ~ 5 HOURS

Help Given: Our designers spent 1 hr create this logo 👇🔥

THEME (30 minutes)

This one is very simple, we knew two things, we wanted to something wanted something that had a fun look and didn’t need custom builds. That’s why Shopify’s template gallery is where we started off our search.

The selection is good but limited. If you are just starting out, this is the place to go so you can grow the business sufficiently to call for custom work.

Our final callout was to look at a couple of brands we liked to see if we could emulate their style. The final cost came out to: $249.

BRANDING (1 hour → mainly design team)

We were inspired by the playfulness of brands like OLIPOP and used that to dictate how we tackled this idea.

The core tenets came back to what with interesting concepts we at Pencil daily when you are a nascent brand just starting out: Colors Cut Through & Playfulness Resonates.

We went with a softer shade of yellow (FDF8DE) than your classic school ✏️, but still wanted to stay within range to harken back to those times...since we do sell Pencils.

What we took away from the exercise:

  • If you know your brand already: follow your gut,
  • If not: see what works in market and how it ties to what you are working towards, nothing wrong with “borrowing” others ideas.

Note: If you don't have a brand team behind you there are many great ways to work on your brand when starting: Canva or Fiverr designers are low cost ways of finding a solution.

PRODUCTS (1 hours)

This one is a little different, usually you have an idea for the products and brand together or the product comes before the brand. We knew we were selling writing materials but not how it would look and feel.

That’s why when we figured out we wanted a fun brand that brought joy into people’s lives, we landed on: the Good Vibes Pencil’s, which we sourced from Etsy and the Sushi Erasers, which we sourced from Amazon.

Main question to ask yourself: Is your product leading your brand or your brand leading your product when you start out.

We hope soon it will be your customers, 😎

HOME PAGE (1.5 hours)

This one is pretty simple, we filled in everything that was set out in the template. Where we didn’t have customer feedback we filled it in with cheeky answers:

You will want to wait on this unless you have a fun way in that plays to the strengths of your brand.

PRICING (15 minutes)

We increased the prices of what we purchased by 25%. This won’t be enough to help with payback period much (learn about about that here) but we felt it might cover some of the ancillary costs like packaging, etc.

Price testing is a huge lever that many brands don’t experiment enough, here are 5 quick tests you can run that might impact your sales.


A lot has been written recently on the importance of product pages and we agree. We did not FOLLOW any rules, expect what we felt were necessary from the template.

Our goal: to get a baseline for our data to be able to report on the lift we observe when we start making changes.

If you need to make changes now, check out this list on optimizing your product pages for sales.

That’s it, we didn’t go for Rocket Science, just something simple, clean, and fun. We’ll see how much sales we are able to drive and if we are truly able to grow this brand!

Have you got other things you’d like to see us test and publish? Are you a store owner keen to compare results? Are you an e-commerce vendor and want to get involved? Send us an email at!


Made By Machines,
Loved By Humans

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