Monday, October 28, 2013

Going Gaga Over Good Design: Grand Rapids Knows How to Please Me (Aesthetically)

In this modern era (as if there were others), the importance of standing out is infinitely obvious, at least when success is concerned. Riddled and inundated with a constant flow of imagery and information, people in Grand Rapids need to be impressed to be won over: That's where good marketing comes in.

I have this theory that starts with the army of corporations claiming West Michigan as home: Amway, Herman Miller, Steelcase, Gordon Food Service, Meijer, to name a few; these major players have tendrils that reach around the world and back again. Now, imagine what could spring up around these monsters: Amway brings its entrepreneurial customers into the area; Steelcase and Herman Miller provide some of the best furniture that money can buy; Meijer and Gordon Food Service bring food to countless tables owned by both families and restaurants. Behemoths like these thrive on a mix of business-to-consumer and business-to-business transactions, meaning that people not only have access to their goods and services at home but also at their businesses.

Here's an obligatory photo of GR on the banks of the GR | Source: Women's LifeStyle
That's right, I said, "Their businesses." If the geographical and political climate can breed the gargantuan companies I named earlier, other entrepreneurs will certainly give it a go. And they have. Finally, we're back to a point where my theory becomes relevant. Swimming in a sea of similarly-geared newbie business owners, one has to find a way to peacock to a point without becoming obnoxious and arrogant. This is why there are so many marketing companies in Grand Rapids. To name a few, we have Full Circle, Fusionary, Deksia, Plenty, and Mighty in the Midwest. Each of them do a stellar job of conveying the companies that hire them in a mild-yet-impressive way.

Full Circle does a lot of work with projects related to the major benefactor families of the city like DeVos and Van Andel. On the agency's website, they proudly display work they've performed for Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Performance Hall, and DeVos Place. This is a company whose portfolio supports my theory of good marketing becoming both viable and valuable when fertile land has been cultivated by a corps of movers and shakers. Fusionary has done work with Frederik Meijer Gardens, a partnership that further highlights the importance of knowing people in any business, especially those that hinge on having clients.

But what speaks louder than who you know? The depth of your story and the quality of your work. This is where Deksia shines: The marketing firm was originally located at 1111 Godfrey SW, a warehouse that many aspiring artists and entrepreneurs continue to use while incubating and exercising their ideas. Having moved from there, the company now has its own space, which Rapid Growth Media called "a splash of color in an industrial area." Looking through Deksia's site, it's easy to see how much they invest in each project they take on. Just check out their branding page and spend some time scrolling through their clients and services--it's honestly impressive. My personal favorite they've done is CHOP, a tree service in West Michigan. The subtlety of the severed trunk within the logo is cunning. The feel of the website is rugged; it's well-toned with a consistent color theme (not scheme) pervading the pages. …Wow: I'm rambling. I'll cut it short with this: What makes a good marketing firm? Good design. And we've got plenty of it here in Grand Rapids.