A great graphic designer can be your businesses best friend. Connecting with a company is important as you entrust them to develop your businesses brand identity. JR Francis, Senior Product Design Manager, of Alnic Design is talented designer with a great sense of humor. I met JR a year or so ago through friends of friends and was immediately impressed with his work. Read my interview with JR as well as his original pitch!
PITCH! Check your web and logo designer’s experience. Alnic Design has spent 12 years creating custom solutions for small business. We have consulted for Microsoft, Equifax, Honda, Pacific Life, Mercedes Benz, and apply that knowledge and expertise towards making your business look as big as your goals. Go Big. Right Now.
What key piece of advice would you give to other business owners?
Don’t neglect your own business’ image. Potential customers spend 10-15 seconds determining what they think of your professionality, size, quality, and care from the first item representing your company that they encounter. Whether that be a business card, website, sign, vehicle graphics, or brochure, the qualities it exudes will transpose themselves onto your business. A great example I saw recently was an old, beat up pick up driving down 75, vinyl stripes peeling off, wheels caked in brake dust, weeks of grunge discoloring the lower body panels. This is a terrible situation for any company whose name might be on the site of the vehicle, but what made it worse was the business they were advertising: Auto Detailing and Refinishing.
This applies to your company as well. If you are going to put your logo on your car, keep it clean. If you have a logo on your shirt, keep it pressed and yourself bathed. If you are going to hand someone a business card, put it on fine stock, with interesting graphics and easy to find information. If you direct someone to your web site, make your visitor feel they have entered the realm of a professional organization that takes themselves, thereby their customer, seriously. Do you want to look like the type of company that assembles their own products, haphazardly, in your garage? Then why would you hand someone a perforated, tear-apart Avery business card stock design with clip art that you or your cousin’s neighbor laid out in Paint Shop Pro and you printed in your spare bedroom? What message does that send in those 10-15 seconds? You hire a doctor for your health and a mechanic for your car. Hire a professional firm for your business’s image, website, and print needs.
What question do your customers ask most often? And how do you answer?
How much are you going to need from me? Generally this comes from an over-worked, tired, exasperated business owner who started their company to bake cookies, or change door locks, or plan weddings. But they find themselves running down invoices for vendors, calling potential employees, managing their social networks, updating their website, calling to follow up with the printer, reading to try and learn how to get their site listed on Google. I answer with this; I need as much time as it takes for you to explain to me how you want your company to be perceived, how you want to position yourselves in the market. Then I need to know how much help I can provide. Then, you can feel confident that Alnic will spend the time, apply our extensive experience, commit to the study, to really set your company apart from its competitors, and get your image and digital presence established, running, and kicking ass. This leaves you more time to sew, drive, prune, take photos… to actually work your business, rather than work on it.
How do you define success?
For my company, success is when our solutions increase business, foot traffic, web hits, and sales conversions for our clients. One of the most rewarding experiences in my career was working with a client who was a voice artist. He did radio and television ads as well as movie work. He was selling insurance 50 hours a week, and doing voice work from a booth he set up in his basement on nights and weekends. After an initial consultation with Alnic, he told us that he really hated selling insurance, hated working for a huge company, and really wanted to build up enough business to quit and do his voice work only. We worked up a full identity package, a website, brochures, cards, vehicle graphics, and created a social networking platform. He implemented and called about 6 months later. He wanted vehicle graphics, a sign for his basement studio, and a blog added to his website. A year after that, he called us in to design the front lobby area at his new office, on the 14th floor of a building downtown. In 18 months he went from selling insurance to hiring 6 employees and moving to an office downtown. That marked success majorly brought by his talent, but I like to tell myself partially due to his business looking like it was in a windowed office complex back when it was in a corner of a basement.
Why did you start your business?
I started as a creative outlet for all my experience in the industry. I had been working with great companies, learning about their processes, procedures, and working alongside designers with an incredible level of talent. I had grown my skills and was looking for a way to apply them directly, through the entire process, with young, growing companies.
Does the name of your business have a significant meaning? If so describe.
My company was started in 1999, with myself and one partner. We took our daughter’s names, Alison and Nichole, to form Alnic. Being a user-testing person, I ran this and several other options past a list of potential customers. Alnic tested well, was thought of as an authoritative name, distinctive, and was immediately associated with high tech and the web specifically. It also didn’t hurt that it was a 5-letter .com domain name that we were able to register and still own to this day.
What are your hobbies or interests outside of business?
While this isn’t truly outside my business, something I have really enjoyed of late is reaching out and helping non-profit organizations get their message, graphics, and websites up to date and in line with the hard work they are providing. I recently created a logo, website, business cards, posters, and a t-shirt design for an event benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. I’m finishing up a website design for the Cherokee County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association that should launch shortly. We also are working with Sustaining Hope, an organization who is bringing secular support, funding and home construction to the Ethiopian Gojo Sefer slums in Gondar, Ethiopia. Doing work for these amazing organizations has increase my world view, allowed me to affect lives in a greater way, and really provides me with an entirely different type of pride in my work.
To contact Alnic Design:
JR Francis, Senior Product Design Manager