Tag Archives: branding

Entrepreneurs of the Great Recession

July 30, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Even the Great Depression couldn’t keep some entrepreneurs down. Enduring companies and brands including Sony Music, Westin Hotels, Allstate, Rubbermaid, Ray-Ban, and Tyson Foods all originated during the economic downturn in the early 20th century. Similarly, the period of economic recession that began a decade ago didn’t stop several local entrepreneurs from starting businesses during a time when numerous companies were floundering or failing.  

Kirt Jones was already a business owner when 2008 began. He had started Jones Construction in 2005 under a strong market climate, which may have helped him achieve financial stability, but, ironically, did not foster rapid growth. 

“[That] made it very hard to find lots to build houses on in good developments. Simultaneously, banks were not interested in working with a new company to provide construction lending,” he says. 

He started Castle Brook Builders in 2008 not knowing a market crash was around the corner.

“The change to Castle Brook Builders was for marketing purposes. We wanted to bring brand awareness to the company by developing name recognition to the Omaha area. We started before the market crash, but we accelerated growth during the downturn,” he says. “When the market did slow down, banks paid more attention to our strong financial position and land developers were willing to listen to my proposals on multiple lot purchases. I developed a successful business model from these long-term lot purchase agreements, providing higher profitability for Castle Brook Builders.”

The timing was advantageous but Jones says other factors also contributed to his success during a time when so many of his competitors struggled. 

“I have a financial background, so developing long-term strategies and partnerships allowed me to rise above the competition with stronger sales and profits. We invested some of this profit into creating and continuing our brand awareness,” he explains.

Having been through the economic downturn, he says he is ready now for anything that happens in the next 10 years and beyond. 

“Reputation is very important in the Omaha market. We have worked very hard to establish strong relationships and partnerships with other respectable homebuilders and land developers in the area. This will provide CBB a very strong competitive advantage far into the future,” he says. 

Chris Hughes’ IT job was eliminated in 2009 as a result of the economic downturn, and he needed to create another source of income after landing a job that brought in about one-third of the salary he once commanded.

“I was obviously looking for any other avenue, and I was making tote [bags] in my basement to sell on Etsy,” he says. “That started to take off for me, so this decision to launch Artifact was partly due to timing and largely due to necessity…I’m pretty risk-averse in general and the idea of entrepreneurship—it would not have been my first pick.” 

The well-crafted bags he sold on Etsy for extra cash became a big hit, and he officially launched Artifact Bags in 2010, when the economy was slowly starting to turn. It is thriving today. Looking back, Hughes says that, although he may have felt then like circumstances forced his hand a bit, waiting for the economy to turn around would have actually been a misstep.   

“I think it’s becoming more and more difficult to do what I’m doing. The market is more saturated with people who are doing similar products or business models to what I’m doing,” he says. “I was on the bleeding edge of it and there was a time, with e-commerce, where Google was at a point where I was able to really leverage my standing in Google search in a way that was more democratic and didn’t require as much capital as it would require now to pay for that space.” 

The frustration he encountered in trying to find a new job turned out to be somewhat motivational, he adds. 

“When you’re backed in a corner and you’re trying to tell people what you’re capable of, there comes a point when you give up and you demonstrate what you’re capable of, through entrepreneurship or just doing your own thing. And I think that it speaks more than just your own self-speculation about what you think you can do for some company,” he explains. “Everybody’s got an idea written down on a napkin somewhere, but execution is everything. I’ve met a lot of people along the way through the eight years of doing Artifact, and I hear tons of great ideas all the time, but they don’t mean anything. A great idea that is never executed is worse than an average one that someone works their butt off to try to get out there in the world.” 

For more information, visit artifactbags.com and castlebrookbuildersomaha.com.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

Chris Hughes

Supporting Work

May 15, 2018 by
Photography by contributed

It’s easy for Dave Thrasher to walk a mile in the work boots of contractors his flourishing company helps.

The president of Omaha-based Supportworks only needs to remember his childhood.

“I grew up seeing how hard it is for an entrepreneur with everything on his shoulders,” says Thrasher, whose parents Greg and Nancy started Thrasher Basement Systems in 1975. “My dad worked all the time to keep it all going.

“He was that guy laying awake at night wondering how to make payroll next month.”

Thrasher and his growing team of 90 employees are building a company out of its Papillion headquarters that serves more than 120 contractor-dealers who are just like his dad back in the day. Supportworks develops and outsources the manufacturing of foundation, basement, and concrete repair products that contractor-dealers buy into exclusively. One of Supportworks’ biggest hitters has been a concrete-leveling product and process—PolyLevel—that took off almost by accident.

Supportworks created an instructional video on the product that was “so poorly produced, we think that’s why it went viral,” Thrasher says. The YouTube video got more than 100 million views in five weeks, and Supportworks was flooded every day with hundreds of dealer applications.

PolyLevel has supported massive reconstruction projects across the U.S. and Canada. Supportworks dealers worked with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority to secure tracks that were in danger of derailing trains, and with the Delaware Department of Transportation to lift miles of Interstate Highway. PolyLevel was even used to repair every sidewalk around the New York Mets’ Citi Field.

“We got a ton of brand recognition, and millions of people coast to coast wanted the product to fix their cracking driveways,” Thrasher says.

But the driver of Supportworks’ business model is the consulting services it offers for free in exchange for a contractor’s purchasing loyalty.

The 10-year-old company shows contractors the ropes on core business services such as answering prospect calls, closing a sale, and giving customers a “wow” experience. Dealers can also get assistance with brand strategy, inventory management, accounting, and human resources.

Supportworks has even invested in an in-house creative team of 25 web developers, graphic designers, videographers, and copywriters who produce anything from a business card to a television ad.

“Many of our dealers are grinding it out and great at their trade, but they don’t have business training,” says Thrasher, who learned the ins-and-outs as his parents’ company outgrew the family basement. “We want to stretch the bandwidth of that business owner and help them grow their $1 million business to $30 million.”

It’s working. Supportworks has grown by more than 10 percent every year since launching in 2008 and hit a high of more than $120 million in revenue in 2017. As its largest dealer-customer, sister company Thrasher—run by Thrasher’s brother, Dan—serves as perfect proving ground for Supportworks’ products and services.

“We know the challenges our customers face because we see it in our own backyard,” Thrasher says. “When you help someone grow their business and help them solve their most complex business problems, they are eternally grateful and reward you with deep loyalty.”

Supportworks is now exploring other home construction verticals, such as guttering or fencing, where it can apply its successful dealer consultant business model.

“We think there are hundreds more contractors out there that we can help solve their biggest problems,” Thrasher says.

Visit supportworks.com for more information.

This article was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B. 

Dave Thrasher

Invest In Yourself

January 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

There is nothing easy about running a business. But if keeping going is akin to spinning grandma’s good china while juggling flaming knives as you tame a coterie of ill-tempered badgers with little more than a spork—while blindfolded—actually starting the business is doubly so. Ask me how I know, assuming I can manage to get the badgers tranquilized and carted back to Wisconsin.

One of the most difficult things about starting a business is acquiring money. And, if you’re thinking of striking out on your own after 15 years as a roofer, you’re probably not going to find an angel investor at the Colab Construction Incubator who wants to float you a year or two’s operating costs and a pallet of roofing nails. So, maybe you get a loan. Maybe your friends and family invest. Maybe you scrape along project-by-project trying to make the cash flow actually live up to its name. Regardless, you don’t have a fistful of dollars to drop on anything inessential. Which is why you absolutely must lessen your kung-fu grip and drop some bread on your brand.

Notice that I said “brand” and not “marketing.” While I do think you should start making a habit of spending actual money on marketing as soon as possible, I believe in putting first things first. And your brand is first. Because you shouldn’t market what you don’t yet have figured out.

Chances are, you didn’t set aside much (any?) startup money for brand development beyond promising your cousin with the mad Creative Suite skills a case of microbrew for doing your logo. I understand the desire/ necessity to be as frugal as possible. But while it is technically possible to fix your brand later, it’s neither strategically nor financially sound to go that route.

So, here are the things you should consider paying money for from professionals who know what they’re doing: Business name, brand platform, logo, color palette/design standards, tone-of-voice, and doughnuts. Even if you think you have a good name for your company, at least consult someone with no emotional attachment to it or an in-law relationship to you. If you don’t know what a brand platform is, that’s all the more reason to have one—it will keep you focused on doing the right things while targeting the right people. The logo, standards, and tone- of-voice are the embodiment of your brand in the marketplace—it’s easier to stand out when these are done well. The doughnuts speak for themselves.

Combined, these elements give you a foundation for your business that should last for years. And it is even possible to find really great people and agencies who can do them at a cost that won’t cause heart palpitations. Also, even though you can list these things as expenses on your tax return, it is best to consider them investments. Because that’s what they are. And you’ll never have to pay capital gains tax on the brand equity you start building today.

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer. He can be found at jasonfox.net and adsavior.com.

This column was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.

The Brand Brief

February 23, 2017 by

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that greatness is a state of mind. The bad news is that others’ minds decide your state. As with many things in life, this is true for people as well as brands. A brand is, in its most basic description, what people believe, feel, and think about a company. Companies like to think that their brand (or “brand image” if you’re old school) is whatever they’re currently telling the public it is. Which is rare. However, that is the goal. Because when what people think of you matches up with what you claim to be, you’ve hit the branding bull’s-eye.

Great branding is built on a solid foundation. This foundation is commonly referred to as a “brand platform.” Used correctly, a brand platform can act as a launching pad for your branding efforts. Conversely, it may resemble the 10-meter Olympic diving platform, except, instead of water, the pool is filled with buy-one-get-five coupons that cause financial ruin and death by a thousand paper cuts.

A brand platform defines who you are as a company in a way that everyone in the organization can understand—even Chuck in H.R.—by codifying beliefs into a framework that doesn’t change with the shifting winds of accounts receivable. The platform becomes the guiding document in how you speak about the brand and how the brand acts. It is no use marketing something and then failing to live up to those promises operationally when people finally find time to “act now.”

There is no standard template for a brand platform. Most advertising agencies that deal in branding have developed their own process and format. I prefer a classic format that defines a brand purpose (why you exist beyond making money or even your current product), brand position (who you are relative to your competition and audience), brand personality (five or six adjectives, none of which are “sleepy”), and brand affiliation (the type of people your brand wants to attract). Feel free to Google these terms. Other platforms include brand archetypes or variations on all of the above. The important thing is that the platform brings clarity, unity, and direction. So beware the agency attempting to sell you a process that they themselves don’t seem to fully understand—just because it comes with a cool infographic doesn’t make it actionable.

I do not recommend trying to create a brand platform on your own. Anyone inside the company is too close to the situation to be completely objective. Nonetheless, you should be actively involved in the process. An agency that insists on doing everything themselves before delivering a final document fait accompli is probably doing a lot of finding and replacing on a platform they first wrote in 1998.

Once your platform is in place, use it. This is not as obvious as you would think. Weigh marketing decisions against it. Use it to filter operational objectives. Spread it throughout the company so that when an employee gets asked about where they work, they give an accurate answer. Eventually, because branding is a long game, your brand will be cohesive and consistent. And all your marketing will automatically be strategic in tone and message (and media, too, if you’re paying attention).

You will still need to decide on creative directions and tactics, of course, but you won’t have to do the heavy lifting of figuring out foundational principles every time you write a new tweet. Because you will know who you are. And, more importantly, customers current and potential will, too.

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer. He can be found at jasonfox.net and adsavior.com.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

The Secret Sauce of Super Success

July 26, 2016 by

I hope the overly alliterative title tipped you off that I will not, except possibly in jest, divulge the recipe to any sort of magical marketing elixir (patent pending). And it is not because I’m keeping all the sure-fire, sales-inducing snake oil. Unlike your spouse vis-à-vis the last box of Thin Mints.

From the rise of psychoanalytics in the 1950s to today’s emphasis on big data and its avalanche of Über-granular personal information, marketers have been, and remain, fascinated by what makes people buy the gadgets, groceries, and gewgaws lining retail shelves and Amazon Wish Lists. Yet despite the tireless push to crack marketing’s enigma machine, it turns out the formula for effective advertising contains nothing but variables. As I recall, most marketing majors went to business school to avoid algebra.

Sauce1Formulas, schemes, and promises of sky-high ROIs abound; yet the great failing of all such formulas—aside from the resultant stylized marketing plans and creative work—is that they assume consumers behave in rational ways. Ways that can be measured, predicted, influenced, and repeated. Which, if you have ever met an actual consumer, seems pretty far-fetched. Another counter-school of thought posits that people base purchase decisions on pure emotion; which might well explain the CEOs new Boxster, but less so your recently acquired case of Flonase.

As suggested by Bob Hoffman (co-founder of Hoffman Lewis and author of The Ad Contrarian blog) in Quantum Advertising, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. People sometimes act rationally and sometimes act emotionally. Often within the space of a few seconds. Often regarding the same product. Anyone who has ever interacted with actual consumers, or at least stood in line at the customer service counter at Mega-Lo-Mart, knows the customer is not always right. In fact, they are quite often nuts. (You would think this is fairly common knowledge in the halls of most ad agencies, but the desire to sell something concrete—and companies’ preferences for purchasing the same—often creates a cognitive dissonance that is difficult to dissuade.)

So what, exactly, is a brand to do to combat consumers’ idiosyncrasies? The answer, like most things in marketing, is surprisingly simple, yet more difficult to achieve: be consistent. Consistent branding is more than routinely putting your brand out there. It is routinely putting the same brand out there. Not in rote, repetitive ways. Your message still has to be inventive, relevant, entertaining, etc. But it must also be consistent across the board with regards to tone, personality, promises, etc.

Because when you embrace constancy, you are positioned for those moments when consumers really do need (rational) or want (emotional) you. Your product and message may not be relevant to a person every time they see it. But that moment a person needs a dry cleaner, new car, HVAC service, or even an attorney, you are already in their evoked set of options. Not a nebulous entity that does something possibly related to their need, but a known brand that now must market themselves less to close the actual sale.

Constancy is not easy, especially in this day of failing faster and rapid iteration. But those things should enhance consistent branding, not supplant it. Keep your foundation, your core, the soul of your brand unchanging, and tweak your tactics as you go. Always fresh, but always focused. It’s not exactly a formula, but it is a pretty decent recipe.

Jason Fox is the founder of AdSavior.net and the chin behind @leeclowsbeard.

Jason Fox is the founder of AdSavior.net and the chin behind @leeclowsbeard.

Your Brand vs. The World

April 26, 2016 by

Do you know who your competition is? This is not a trick question. Nor am I expecting you to answer in the negative (although if you did I’d like to interview for that CMO position you so desperately and obviously need). Rather, I would bet that you know exactly who your competition is. And not just your primary competition, either. After all, it’s no great mental feat to notice that if you’re a pizza joint, your arch nemesis is probably pushing pie as well. I’d also illegally wager that you, theoretical dough wrangler, know your secondary competition includes other restaurants, grocery stores that offer take-out, GrubHub.com, and lazy trips to the fridge for leftover chicken tikka masala. And that is awesome – because it’s hard to win when you don’t know whom you’re playing against.

But, just as importantly, do you know who your marketing’s competition is?

This is also not a trick question, although it is pondered less often than my previous query. And the answer is actually a bit intuitive if you stop to think about it: Products compete against similar products, but ads compete against everything. See, your marketing efforts don’t just have to out-hustle, out-work, out-imagine or out-think your competition – they have to be good enough to stand apart from the din of daily existence.

In some cases, like when someone sorts their not-quite-extinct physical mail, that means standing out against other self-mailing ads from disparate companies. But usually it’s more challenging than that. Much more. It is, after all, quite rare for someone to actually be searching out an ad, let alone yours. So your messaging has to be more than just something you want to say. It has to be something people want to hear, to know, to act upon. Related in such a way that they enjoy hearing it or viewing it or experiencing it. And since your ad always begins as an interruption, reading, watching or clicking on it better come with a reward – be it a smile, a laugh or a bit of useful knowledge. Otherwise, you’ve just wasted the consumer’s time and your own efforts in getting their attention in the first place.

Naturally, the idea of your marketing taking on the thousands of other brands vying for the same eyeballs can seem more than a touch daunting. And while I, as a writer and creative director, would love to tell you that a great piece of creative work will solve the problem, the truth is that it won’t. Not on its own. The creativity and wise decisions must not only flow from the final, produced pieces, but also from the media strategy, the messaging strategy and the overall marketing strategy. A great message seen by the wrong people or at the wrong time is irrelevant. The wrong message presented artfully is dead on arrival. And a fantastically viral video, tweet or Instagram will be much ado about nothing if it’s not reinforcing (and being reinforced by) a broader effort.

(And if your business is primarily B2B, don’t fall into the trap that people reading an industry publication or website take off their consumer hat when viewing the advertising. No one picks up an industry rag and thinks, “Two men shaking hands in front of columns really speaks to me.”)

Luckily for you and me and the few other folks who understand that marketing done right is always an investment and never a cost, the dearth of good strategic marketing benefits our own efforts. Yes, awful marketing may be a blight upon our inboxes, senses of good taste and culture at large, but the one good thing about bad ads is the stark contrast they provide for the great ones. So really, when you push yourself or your CEO or your agency to craft better plans and better creative, you’re doing the smartest, safest marketing of all – the kind capable of taking on the world. The kind that actually works.

Jason Fox is the executive creative director at Webster, and the chin behind @leeclowsbeard.

Jason Fox is the executive creative director at Webster, and the chin behind @leeclowsbeard.

Passion Project

February 26, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Greg Daake returned from a conference in Minneapolis where he heard a panel present their experience with a 24-hour total rebrand, he knew he wanted to try it. Daake, founder and creative director of the Omaha rebranding company of the same name, wondered how would his 10-person team respond? A complete rebrand usually takes anywhere from three to eight months. Was it even possible? Would anyone else want to attempt it? Was he crazy?

“Everyone was all in,” Daake says, grinning.


Once the seed was planted, things started falling into place. This was going to be a total volunteer effort, so Daake wanted to choose a nonprofit that was in need of a rebrand, but maybe couldn’t afford the price tag. Through a series of fortuitous circumstances, Omaha’s Montessori Co-op School fell in their lap.

Once the school was on board, they had to do a little homework of their own ahead of time so the creative team could hone in on Montessori’s vision and understand their mission. “We had submitted some questions to orient us to who they are and what they were,” Daake explains. “We also had them fill out a 2-3 hour questionnaire that kicks out a profile. So when we began the real work, we knew who they were and the lens they see the world through,” Daake says.

After that initial fact-finding, they were on the clock. On rebrand day, representatives from the school were brought in at 8 a.m. and Daake’s team presented their findings. After that first face-to-face, the team worked all morning on creating a tagline and identity. After another short meeting at noon, Daake’s team brainstormed all afternoon and brought the school’s representatives back at 5 p.m.

“At our 5 o’clock presentation, we said, ‘Here’s what we’re thinking for a tagline, and identity, the brochure and the webpage.’ So at 6 p.m. that night, we were off and running.” They closed their doors. They locked themselves in. They worked all night long and didn’t sleep. “It was intense,” Daake says.

After a full day of conceptualizing, the night was spent on the execution. Another piece of homework that sped the process along was shooting photography and film at the school for a video. Daake’s team built the entire website overnight. “Our web designer was buried in empty Red Bull cans,” Daake laughs. “We were all exhausted.”

At 8 a.m. the next morning, representatives from Montessori Co-op returned for the unveiling. “They were crying. We were crying. It was so fulfilling and amazing,” Daake says, emotion welling in his voice. “We were fueled by the clock, but also by their appreciation. They were so moved by it. I get misty thinking about how fun and cool it was just to see their reaction. Wow,” Daake says, shaking his head.

Daake says that beyond what they did for their clients, it was great for his team.

“To see everyone pitching in, everyone sacrificing. There is something about 4 a.m. when you’re riding the caffeine wave, when inhibitions are gone and you really get to know someone. It really grew the team.”

When asked if he would do it again, he answers with an emphatic, “Yes! It was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.”

The Brand Brief

October 1, 2014 by

Depending upon which study, source, anecdote, or observation you wish to rely, the average American’s attention span averages six to nine seconds. (So the fact that you’re even reading this sentence means you are—rejoice—above average). Whenever this statistic pops up on Twitter or in a TED talk or at Cannes (the advertising festival, not the Gathering of All Things French and/or Clooney), marketing and ad types of a certain stripe work themselves up into seven different kinds of lather. Then, nearly instantaneously, the industry produces an allegedly paradigm-shifting remedy to the public’s increasing need for the new and shiny. After many blogs are written, books promoted, and conferences spoken at, the cycle begins anew.

While I have nothing scientific to refute the Incredible Shrinking Attention Span hypothesis, nor the power to single-handedly stop the bloviating of the self-appointed marketing gurus (or is it ninjas?), I do posit that we—specifically, owners and caretakers of brands—are looking at the wrong side of the coin. The real problem is not that consumers have short attention spans. It’s that we give them so little of interest to look at.

In other words, we’re boring.

Okay, maybe we as people aren’t boring. Maybe our companies or products aren’t boring. Maybe our newest offering even has lasers. Lasers have never been boring. But our marketing too often is. Instead of telling compelling mini-stories that prod a chuckle, jerk a tear, or elicit a smile, we reformat PowerPoint slides to make the most bullet-point-intensive print ad ever. We run Twitter feeds that do nothing but push deals and make occasional-yet-still-self-serving references to winning sports teams. We pore over spreadsheets trying to figure out how many impressions a banner ad will get without giving a second thought to the type of impression it will make.

Boring is never a good adjective nor, unless you’re drilling for shale, a good verb. The only action you can bore someone into is ignoring you; therefore, boredom never equals sales. And if you really want to spend 10 percent of your revenue (the rule-of-thumb for establishing growth-oriented marketing budgets) simply to go unnoticed, I’d recommend saving up for a stealth fighter or passel of ninjas instead of blowing it on an ad campaign. The ninjas, at least, can keep Bob in accounting from absconding with all the donuts.

Too many marketers—and that doesn’t just mean CMOs or ad agency types; if you own a small business, guess what, you’re a marketer—mistakenly believe that an ineffective marketing message does them no harm. But, aside from being an absurd justification for anything, that isn’t always true. Just because a message wasn’t acted upon doesn’t mean it wasn’t seen. Whether stuck in rush hour looking at your billboard, staring at a TV in a sports bar as your commercial interrupts the game, or clicking “skip this ad” (as in yours) on their way to read an online op-ed, people often do witness boring messages. And here’s the rub: While no one remembers boring ads, they never forget how boring your brand is. So a boring campaign not only wastes time and money, it can squander whatever brand equity you already had.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. Even a boring product is no excuse for a boring ad. After all, everything serves some relevant purpose to someone. And that’s the key. What is your relevant message? Not the message you want to say, but the message your target might actually care about and respond to. It doesn’t matter if that message is the same one it’s been for the past quarter century—if it’s still relevant, just do it.

So relevance is the foundation of your message. Without it the most interesting piece of information in the world will evaporate seconds after it’s viewed, yet relevance alone does not equal interesting. That is where the artistry comes in. The combination of personality, tone of voice, skillful storytelling, and respect for the audience that keeps people from hitting the triple-speed fast-forward button on their DVRs. Or has them smiling in traffic. Or retweeting 140 characters of something with actual value to them, their followers, and you. Or even reading the copy on your product packaging because it, too, holds their interest.

The good news is that you don’t have to be Apple or Target or Harley-Davidson or Chipotle to pull this off. You do have to put in the effort to define your brand’s core characteristics, hone a personality and voice, and deliver both interesting messages and a great experience. Do this consistently (that’s consistently, not perfectly) and one day you’ll discover your brand—instead of dying the slow death of 10,000 yawns—is championed by the very people who once wouldn’t give it the time of day. Let alone their cash.

Jason Fox is the Executive Creative Director at Webster, a design and advertising agency in Omaha, and the voice behind the popular Twitter feed @leeclowsbeard.

Juggernaut Interactive

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The office space for Juggernaut Interactive mimics characteristics of the company itself. You couldn’t find it if you weren’t looking very, very hard. Even when you reach the business park it hides in just west of Westroads Mall in Miracle Hills, you’d never guess what’s really behind the corporate-looking oak door.

If Brian Daniel, owner of the two-year-old interactive web-experience company, is in the office, Zeke might be, too. The six-year-old toy poodle will happily chase a laser pointer around the small office’s common room, which is lime green. The one white wall displays a projection of comic sketches instead of typical office artwork. A visitor could almost mistake the place for a trendy frozen yogurt shop, except that Sharpies fill the glass apothecary jars instead of coconut flakes and candy.20130419_bs_1310_Web

“When we moved in, this space was really dark,” Daniel says of the 1,850-square-foot office. “The wainscoting, the trim pieces were all black.” Within the last two years of Juggernaut Interactive inhabiting the small suite, black has been relegated to tasteful accents only, giving bright colors the stage.

Cindy Ostronic, an interior designer with The Designing Edge, helped Daniel pull colors from the company’s own brand to fill the area with lime green, maraschino red, and what really should be called Orangesicle. From the multicolored couch pillows to the red iPad cover on a black sideboard, pops of the signature hues are everywhere. Ostronic was also the one who realized that a traditional reception desk/receiving area shouldn’t be a part of Juggernaut Interactive’s space. “That’s not really how they work,” she points out. “They needed more of a collaboration area out in the open where people can do their thing.”20130419_bs_1353_Web

Each room is named: The Grotto, the Hotbox, the Dojo, the Darkroom (oddly enough, as a corner office, it’s the brightest room), the Rabbithole (“You go in there, and things get lost”), and the Boiler Room (“It gets so darn hot in there”). The break room is called Red Mango after, yes, the yogurt shop, which is a Juggernaut Interactive client. The fridge is stocked with a variety of beers, the cabinets contain salty snacks, and lunches are up for grabs in the freezer. The office as a whole is nicknamed Gotham.

“We voted on all the names,” Daniel says, referring to his 10 or so employees. “What’s the personality of the room, why are we meeting in there, you know.” In the interactive branding business, he states, the more comfortable and relaxed you can be, the better.20130419_bs_1357_Web

What’s more relaxing than a little personalized mood music? “We have three Sonos systems running through here,” Daniel says, each of which enables employees to play different music zones on one of Juggernaut Interactive’s three networks. When guests come in, Daniel tends to ask what their three favorite songs are. “Everybody can control their own music, which is kind of nice,” he says. George Strait gets carried away in the Dojo, for example, while Adele sets fire to the rain in the Darkroom. The Sonos systems and two independent Apple TVs run off the office’s main network. The other two networks are for guests and voice over IP. Two Epson projectors work with the Apple TVs to showcase everything from a client’s desktop to late-night YouTube videos.

A huge part of the office’s aesthetic is obviously its tech. Juggernaut Interactive employees are drowning in it. Everyone has either a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, an iPad 2 (some also have an iPad mini), as well as a 27-inch Thunderbolt Display monitor, “which is complete overkill,” Daniel admits, “but they all have them.” Except, that is, for Daniel, who doesn’t use a monitor or really even a particular office. His workspace is his iPad mini, a projector, and whatever dry-erase surface happens to be nearby. A phone call to the office rings three times before it goes to Daniel’s cell, making sure that the state-hopping owner doesn’t miss a call.20130419_bs_1327_Web

“I’m creating a business for the lifestyle I want,” he says, which does not include an office full of people he has to babysit. “I want this to be a creative space where people come in, get their work done, get out.” The office attitude is indeed come and go. Daniel says his employees have been around the block enough with their careers that they work very efficiently. The office space reflects that attitude: informal but professional. Sharp and tidy, but colorful and creative.