Business News

PB&J attributes firm’s ongoing growth to quality design

In 2008 Micah Paldino started a public relations and branding firm out of a coffee shop. Since that time he has grown his workforce, client base and office space in downtown Cincinnati, and has merged with another small startup company. Now as Peanut Butter Jelly Co. (PB&J) settles in to their new 2,700-square foot creative space on 7th Street they hope to continue that growth.

PB&J just completed the relocation of their firm from a 300-square-foot office space on the ground floor of the Ft. Washington Hotel on Main Street. Paldino first moved into that space on his own and eventually added more employees as the company’s client base quadrupled. The new 7th Street space (map), in the former Provident Camera building, gives PB&J’s five employees room to be creative and room to grow.

The focus of the two companies that have merged now includes design, installation, public relations, social media, marketing and advertising – an effort Micah says forms a truly multi-disciplinary design firm.

PB&J partners, Micah Paldino [LEFT] and Emmit Jones [RIGHT], have begun settling into their new creative headquarters space on 7th Street.

“I had always yearned for a business partner but could never see how it fit in my business or who it could be,” explained Paldino. “When I met Emmit Jones in November of 2010, through an employee who had interned for his company Syn/Tax Ltd., we immediately hit it off.”

What is more unique about PB&J than its name is perhaps the company’s focus on Cincinnati’s urban core. They represent companies like Yagoot, Landor, Adam Miller Homes, Sloane Boutique, and Such & Such, and encouraged Cincinnati-based Busken Bakery to dive into the MidPoint Music Festival with a new targeted marketing campaign.

“You just can’t match the energy of downtown,” Paldino exclaimed. “I love more than anything walking to get my 4th coffee at Coffee Emporium or Tazza Mia and seeing someone I know, and starting up a conversation. I love the interaction.”

As the company attempts to grow the burgeoning “lifestyle” market focus, they also take to the city streets. A tangible example is found near the intersection of 7th Street and Race Street downtown where PB&J has coordinated PR efforts for Landor as the company fills their street-level windows with active and engaging displays.

“Personally, I enjoy walking downtown and seeing more and more street-level businesses using their windows to appeal to consumers. I’ve seen Saks Fifth Avenue, Losantiville and Atomic Number 10 really take pride in presenting themselves in their street level bill boarding. This type of appeal is more than marketing; it is a gift to street culture, arts and our community.”

Over the next two years Paldino and Jones hope to grow PB&J’s staff by approximately 40 percent, further establish their presence in new regional markets such as Chicago and New York, and ideally open an office on the West Coast in addition to their Cincinnati headquarters.

“Our desire is to keep the boutique feel of our agency while continuing to work on large-scale campaigns, and of course, maintain good quality customer service to our clients,” Paldino detailed. “Good, thoughtful and inspired design shouldn’t be reserved just for the Fortune 500 companies with grand budgets. Every element, every product, every experience in your daily life should be carefully considered, inspired and have a good designer at the helm.”

Arts & Entertainment News

Landor Associates unites brands with local art inspiration

Landor Associates, the brand consulting and design firm located in the historic Shillito Building between the 600 and 700 block of Race Street, connected the creative flow within its company to iconic local artists to create a new window display series, titled SmashUP Creative.

Dramatic storefront windows, that overlook the busy downtown street, once housed the latest fashions within the Shillitos Department Store. But over the last year they have contained art installations created by Landor employees to help inspire them and help them think about their in-house brands in a completely new way.

“We use our windows as an opportunity to inspire our employees who create the displays, to engage the city of Cincinnati and to inspire all who pass by,” Landor employee Mara McCormick told UrbanCincy.

For this particular exercise the branding teams for Crest, Cheers, Sour Patch Kids and Old Spice were encouraged to brainstorm artists’ work that they admired, with the goal of using the work as a catalyst for a new brand strategy. The employees chose five extraordinary artists: Nuesole Glassworks, Visionaries and Voices map artist Courttney Cooper; street artists Higher Level Art, Kentucky designer Keith Neltner and illustrator Charley Harper.

The teams got inspired by the artists’ styles, and infused it into conceptual packaging ideas for their brands. Sour Patch Kids, for example, worked in elements of street art and illustration inspired by the work of Higher Level Art into their candy package design. Some designers were moved to create their own brand, Bugaboo; a line of grilling products with package design inspired by Charley Harper’s iconic animal illustrations.

The experience allowed us to connect with artists and the creative community. It opened our eyes to new styles and artistic techniques which we can apply our own design process. SmashUP Creative gave the teams an opportunity to step out of their cubicles and away from the office to discover the inspirational work of artists all around the city.

One of the Landor teams, for example, visited a studio loft where the late Charley Harper’s work is stored. They sifted through hundreds of archive pieces, some which had never been shared publically, and spoke with those who knew him. “We were grateful for the chance to learn about and get close to an artist who we greatly admire,” said McCormick.

Passersby are encouraged to not only check out the windows, but to also learn more about these local artists and the contributions they have made.

Business News

‘Imported From Detroit’ rebrands Chrysler and the city it calls home

Last year it was Google’s Parisian Love commercial that took home the prize for best Super Bowl commercial with its clever way to highlight the benefits of using Google search through an identifiable love story.  This year’s winner is much different.

Imported From Detroit by Chrysler embodied an overall theme this year of brand identity.  The theme started with the obvious efforts of the National Football League to brand football as America’s sport with its pregame festivities.  In the two-minute commercial spot, Chrysler was able to do several things.  They highlighted Detroit’s powerful past, its mighty fall from grace and its present existance as an American powerhouse city (11th largest MSA in the United States with nearly 4.5 million people).

All at once, the commercial was able to sell the audience on a new perception of Detroit, the strength of an industry and the quality of car.  The selection of Eminem also seemed particularly apt given Eminem’s identity and music being so closely tied to the city he calls home.

What was particularly interesting to me was the fighting nature of the commercial.  For decades Midwestern cities have been beaten up by the media as their stagnating growth and economic woes have made them look inept in the face of explosive growth in the Sun Belt.  While Midwestern cities have envied the growth seen in the Sun Belt, those southern cities have often been envious of the culture and history found in the Midwest and Northeast.  This commercial highlighted just that and said, we’ve got a lot of fight left in us and you’ve already thrown your best shot.

Immediately the commercial was seen as the runaway winner in this year’s Ad Bowl, but what do you think?

Business News

8th Street Design District branding its way to a new future

As Cincinnati begins a formal effort to define its brand and overall image, there seems to be a clear direction in which the conversation should head. Cincinnati is already known as a cradle of brands and building upon those existing creative assets would seem beneficial.

Home to consumer product giants like Procter & Gamble, Kroger, Macy’s and Chiquita, Cincinnati has been able to grow a robust support economy of branding and design firms looking to help sell their products to the world. Over time, many industries tend to self congest and maximize on economies of agglomeration. In Cincinnati this has occurred downtown roughly along the 8th Street corridor.

Within what is now being called the 8th Street Design District is a diverse collection of design professionals and businesses. In all, there are approximately 336 people working professionally in the fields of architecture, photography, graphic design, advertising, branding, urban and sustainable building design, and interior design in this small sub-section of downtown. There are also estimated to be approximately 175 people living in the immediate area in warehouses that have been converted into creative living spaces.

The numbers come to us from Ken Neiheisel, Principal of New Business Development for Marsh, who is helping lead the new organization that is attempting to brand the area with just the kind of image city leaders appear to want to do on a larger scale.

In early 2011, Neiheisel says, the 8th Street Design District hopes to begin incorporating some type of signage and designations up around the district to help make people more aware. He also says that the group is working on developing an overall brand strategy.

Business News

Cincinnati: A Tale of Two Brands

For a city that has so much to be proud of, Cincinnati and her citizens seem to have something of a self image problem. For all the positives going on around town, many feel it’s easier to focus on the negative. This poses a problem as the city and the people in it work to establish a seat at the table among other world class cities. Despite the Queen City’s history, heritage, architecture, development, and sense of place, the question remains: How does the rest of the world see us?

Though the jury is out on how recent reality TV series is affecting our image, Councilmember Laure Quinlivan has made Cincinnati’s brand image one of her priorities. At a recent Quality of Life committee meeting, Councilmember Quinlivan focused on the topic, bringing in professionals from regional and local tourisim and economic development groups to discuss the current image that Cincinnati has established for itself.

“Cincinnati used to be known for Reds owner Marge Schott, and then racial troubles, and now we’re known for… what exactly? I’m curious to know what people across the country think of when they think of Cincinnati, and look forward to hearing from the people whose job it is to know,” says Quinlivan.

She requested four different groups who market Cincinnati’s image to present to the committee members. The key focus of groups like Cincinnati USA, HYPE Cincinnati, and the city’s economic development office is to market Cincinnati as a great place to live, work and play across the board – not just “Young Professionals,” but to visitors and potential conventions.

The various groups have been working tirelessly to promote the city’s image all over, in order to bring in people who might not have considered the city otherwise. They have pulled data both from visitors and residents, to determine who is coming in to the region and why they are staying. “The image that we’re promoting (for Cincinnati) is that this is a good place to do business. Businesses want to see numbers – we have shown the companies that are here, the revenues, the tax info, demographic data,” said Patrick Ewing with the city’s Economic Development office.

The results are surprising. People are coming in to visit from all over the country. Not only cities nearby, like Indianapolis and Louisville, but others farther away, in Charleston, South Carolina, Pittsburgh, Chicago and even New York City check out the Cincinnati USA website for tourism information to find out more about what’s going on around town.

According to the report he presented, 63 to 80 percent of the city’s visitors are loyal repeats, who come in, for example, to see Reds games or a festival year after year. One of the biggest new developments will be the 2012 World Choir Games, which will bring in over 20 thousand performers from over 80 countries to Cincinnati.

In 2010 the city launched as a way for potential visitors and new residents and businesses to see all the reasons to come to the city.

“One of the pieces we tried to draw out in there is that Cincinnati has a small town feel, there is a small town affordability, but with big city amenities,” said Doug Moorman, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “There are major league sports, theater, we have all five of the major art disciplines represented here. You don’t have to go to Chicago or New York – you can be in Cincinnati and have those big city amenities but also afford to indulge in them.”

These groups, along with others in the city, are working to overcome the negative voices and embrace the Queen City for what she really is – world class.

Cincinnati skyline photograph by UrbanCincy contributor Thadd Fiala.