How was the agency born?
I had always wanted to run my own firm, following in the footsteps of mentors of mine, Peter Good and Ted Bertz. Early in my career I thought there was a need to better understand the “business” side of design. I received my MBA in marketing and added experience at small and medium size agencies to round out my experience at design firms. The birth of Cipher Creative coincided with the birth of my younger son. It just felt like the right time to get out there and pursue my dream and begin to build a design firm that attempted to ask different questions when approaching clients’ projects.
Why do clients hire you and not another agency?
Anything I say here is going to sound pretty cliché, but I’ll do it anyway. I think we listen well. I always say I’m like Columbo from the old TV series. He had a habit of always asking “one more question.” There is no way that we can have too much information before attempting to solve a client’s problem. Even if a client asks for a discrete deliverable, we offer up what they’ve asked for in addition to several alternatives, even if it becomes an exercise just for us. It makes us feel as though we’ve done the right thing for the project. I think our clients appreciate that.
The question is, does that answer the question of why they hire us, or why they stay with us? Let me try to answer it again in bullet form:
• I think generally we’re as straight-forward and genuine as you can be. Couldn’t be slick if we tried.
• Our past work is attractive and shows strategic thinking.
• We are fast and show that we can work across most media.
What makes your process unique?
I’d love to say we have some patented system for how we develop our work. Once again, we listen, ask lots of questions and proceed to deliver a wide variety and quantity of solutions to marketing challenges. Not really unique in a true sense of the word, but unique in that many in our industry may not be doing this.
Born and bred here. Want my kids to know their grandparents.
Describe your ideal client.
When I refer to a “client” I’m talking about the person and people at the organization, not the organization itself: honest and genuine, a partner in the process, willing to listen to new ideas, consistent, net 30.
Describe your ideal team member.
Honest, fast, willing to takes risks and fail miserably and then try again.
How do you “give back”?
Pretty funny how that’s the toughest question out of all of these.
For our clients: I use their product or give to their cause.
For the design community: I hire interns and attempt to teach them something.
For the community I live in: I don’t ride a loud motorcycle or run my snowblower before 6 am.
Who are your favorite partners/vendors?
The ones that are actually partners, not order takers. You know who you are.
Where would you like the agency to be in 5 years?
I would love to have more internal capabilities and personalities: increasing our Q-factor (read Imagine by Jonah Lehrer where he talks about Brian Uzzi’s research.)
What is unique about the “culture” of the agency? The physical space?
Boy, I hate the word unique. Hey, for right now it’s just three guys who eat copious amounts of sushi and drink lots of coffee and try new things as often as we can. And we hereby claim to be the Connecticut-based agency with the best ping-pong skills.