Brand Interview: Elizabeth Crawford and Scott Mikus, Crawford/Mikus
How long has your company been in business? Please tell us a bit about your company, its mission, goals…?
Crawford/Mikus was established in 1989. We are a business-to-business creative marketing and design firm. At Crawford/Mikus, we understand core business principles, and we recognize the role of branding, marketing and integrated cross-platform communications play in advancing our clients’ business goals. We believe that our clients’ business goals are best supported by communications that are innovative, compelling and cost-effective.
We believe our clients’ operating principles and brand identity should be visible in every communication we produce and deliver. Effective communications will positively impact the way client organizations are perceived in the marketplace and influence the views of employees and customers.
Do you donate to charities? Tell us about that also and why.
We do. We focus on one to two full-time charity organizations to support. In keeping the focus to one to two full time charities, we are able to create a relationship and really add value to the partnership. As an organization, we feel it is extremely important to give back to the community. For the last seven years, we have partnered with and supported the Simple Abundance program at the Atlanta Community Food Bank (www.ACFB.org). The ACFB is a wonderful organization and it’s extremely rewarding to see the impact and continued success of the program. We are able to see the results first hand.
We have also just been named the firm of record for The Foundation for Hospital Art (www.hospitalart.com). The Foundation is a 30+ year international organization that is dedicated to softening the hospital environment with colorful paintings, wall murals and ceiling tiles. Participants paint pre-drawn, color-coded designs at PaintFest® events held in a variety of settings around the world. The artwork is touched-up and then donated to needy hospitals on behalf of the sponsor. We are extremely excited and proud to partner with such a wonderful organization.
How did you know what typeface (font) would be right for your company wordmark or logo? If your logo has an illustration, describe why that art was the right thing, animal, place, object, etc…
For us, the logo reflects who, what and where Crawford/Mikus is. The woodblocks represent a history of our practice – design and printing. They are also characteristic of our studio environment — a 100+ year plow factory (King Plow Arts Center, Atlanta GA www.kingplow.com).
How did you decide on the right color palette to fit your company look and feel?
We wanted something that stood on its own. Our work is very colorful and layered. Because of that, we wanted something that was different, would contrast the portfolio and show our creative range. We feel this approach has been very successful for us, especially in our promotional materials. The subtle identity palette really highlights the colorful work palette.
How did you decide which type of designer to work with, or did you design your own identity and web presence?
Being a creative shop, of course, we did it ourselves. To expand on this though, we as partners played a major part in the development. The company was our vision and because of that, we felt it was important that the identity was an extension of our vision, not somebody else’s.
In what order did you present your company to the world? Did you start with marketing and products, or website, blog and social media?
As a 23-year-old firm, I joke that we were born in 1989, b.c. (before computers). The Internet did not exist when we began our firm. It would be years before anybody in our field even knew what that Internet was. In the words of the Grateful Dead, “What a long strange trip it’s been..” I add “seriously” to that statement.
How long after the launch of your company did you start pitching in social media?
We have always been very aggressive in regards to our ongoing new business initiatives. However, it has not been until the last year that we have really begun pitching social media. Reason being, we needed to understand it, live it and create it before we could pitch it. Also, I have to recognize Sheryl Roehl and her team at Avenue L Marketing (LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/sherylroehl, www.AvenueLMarketing.com and @MarketingIntel on Twitter), an Atlanta-based content marketing, PR and social media firm, for being instrumental in our successful launch into social media. It is through their extensive experience and understanding that we have been able to quickly achieve the visibility and success we are having with our blog (www.crawfordmikus.net/blog) and social media presence (Twitter: @crawfordmikus).
Did you do research or study any software, take webinars, teleclasses, before approaching any area of your marketing or web presence?
Back to being in business prior to the Internet existing, we have grown with it. I will say this, though, our philosophy in regards to web development is, you must stay current. Technology is a moving target and you can be left behind in a nanosecond. We are excited about the future of web development and content management coming to the forefront. For us, it’s not all about the wiz and bangs of cutting-edge technology, but now more about strategy and content management. For a long time there, it was all about the technology. And, that was disappointing — to me at least.
Do you advertise locally in newspapers and/or nationally in magazines? Are they effective?
We do not. We focus on 1:1 communications to build awareness vs. newspapers or magazines. We are able to achieve so much more with our promotional marketing dollars in approaching new business programs / initiatives this way. It also allows us to really focus on who we want to work with. We build advertising awareness through community involvement, awards and PR.
Do you advertise online using Google, Facebook or on other company sites? Are they effective?
We don’t. For all the same reasons I previously mentioned.
When you printed your products, packaging, business cards and other print marketing did you choose an online printer or visit a local vendor?
Local. We always support the community and are looking for a 1:1 relationship. I always like to say, “people do business with people.” I feel online printers are more about cost savings. Also, it takes you out of control of the end product – i.e. your work is ganged with countless other customers to achieve those cost savings. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with utilizing those types of companies and or services. There is definitely a market for it, just not a fit for us.
Did you know anything about different types of papers, when you wanted to print your marketing materials?
A great deal. Our work is printed on premium paper and definitely was not an afterthought. The paper plays a critical part of the design. I’ll share something with you — when I was starting my career, I was interviewing a photographer rep. I was holding one of the agency’s mounted photos. The rep saw me rubbing my fingers on the back of the boards. He laughed and pointed out that “it felt good.” You know what, it did. I have never forgotten that. Paper is tactile. You engage and react with it, whether you realize it or not. Subliminally, it makes a very strong statement. For example, our business cards are printed on a Neenah duplex paper. You know what: They are sturdy cards and they feel good. It’s a wonderful first touch point with anybody. And, we win a boatload of “drop your business card in the jar” promotions — when they reach in, it’s hard and sturdy and stands out!
Have you ever used “green” technology in printing, using FSC certified papers or recycled paper and if not, how likely are you at trying this on a next project?
We try to use as much recycled papers as we can. Fortunately, they have become much more economical. There was a time that you paid a premium for them. I remember when people would sell them as “Recyclable.” Now that’s marketing at its best. As far as printing techniques, as much as we like to try, I have learned they are very, very expensive to “experiment” with. I have come to really appreciate paper samples that show off traditional, four-color process on their paper. No bells and whistles. The 12- color, double-hit of black with a gloss, dull, satin touchplate printing are a thing of the past.
If you sell products, are they produced in the USA or abroad?
There are many firms who are doing this, mainly as another revenue stream. However, we are not. Main reason is time. I would prefer to focus that energy on our existing business and building new business.
Is there anything that you haven’t yet tackled, but will want to do soon?
Figuring out how to spend more time with my wife and 7-year-old daughter. Although I love what I do, there always has to be a balance. For me, family should always trump work. That’s non-negotiable.
To learn more about Scott Mikus and Elizabeth Crawford of Crawford/Mikus, visit the links below: