How It All Started

by Patricia Fitzgerald

Origin stories: they’re not just for Marvel super-heroes and Disney villains. When working with our clients, we often ask them to share their origin stories with us — what got them started, the circumstances that led them here, and why they decided to do what they do. Sometimes it’s a dream deferred, a desire to fix an unsolved problem, or the drive to see if something can be done better. Rarely is it just about making money.

The place where you began and the path that got you here are integral to who you are as a professional, business, and brand. Which got us thinking: what’s Copy & Design’s origin story? Shouldn’t we be practicing what we preach? Absolutely. So for this blog post, we’re going to do something we normally don’t, and talk about ourselves. Specifically, how Copy & Design came to be, some 20+ years ago.

Agency Angst

Every member of the Copy & Design team comes from an agency background. We all earned our chops working on big-name campaigns with big-ass budgets, alongside big teams of talent led by big-ego creative directors and big-time stressed-out account executives. And what we learned is that big isn’t always better.

Despite all the foosball tables and brainstorming rooms populated by bean bags and all the free espresso we could consume — working in a large agency can be lethal to creativity. With so many layers of people, direction and input between the talent executing the creative and the client we’re creating it for, the final product can often get filtered and watered down. In the end, no one ends up happy. And that’s not good.

All Access

So when our team of creative professionals first talked about joining forces and working together, we knew we wanted to do things differently. That included eliminating the extra layers of account executives and creative directors, and giving our clients direct access to the talent working in the trenches on their projects.

This accessibility allows us to get input straight from the client’s mouth, rather than through multiple interpretations. When a client wants to give us feedback, make a suggestion, or ask a question, they have no-filtered access to the member of our team best qualified to incorporate or answer. Which also means our clients get a quicker response, without having to go through layers of agency bureaucracy.

It’s Actually Not That Complicated

We found in our experience working with big agencies that marketing speak is the mother tongue. Lots of jargon and Venn diagrams and proprietary processes and cliches get bandied about to make the agency-side look like they really know what they're doing. Which often ends up making the client feel intimidated, confused, or simply just bored.

In creating Copy & Design, we wanted to do away with all that unnecessary complexity. Yes, what we do requires a special kind of skill, talent, and experience. But it’s not rocket science. We want our clients to be excited about marketing, not intimidated by it. We want to make big-agency-grade creative available to businesses, organizations, and individuals without the big budgets. We want to offer up solutions that are practical and doable for anyone. And most of all, we want our clients to have fun. So if you ever hear us utter the initials KPI or USP, call us out.

Diva-Free Zone

We're the first to acknowledge that creatives can be divas. They often think they know better than anyone — including the client — and take the most innocuous feedback as a personal attack. They're also more concerned about winning awards than reaching the clients’ goals. We’ve worked with these delicate flowers. But not anymore.

The Copy & Design team meshed so well together from the get-go because we are adults, not divas. We understand that we have much to learn from our clients, and that often the best ideas and input come from them. We welcome feedback, and truly want the final product to be the very best it can be. If that means going back and making multiple revisions and refinements, that’s a-okay. Because it’s not about us; it’s about the work, the client, and the end results.

It’s Going to Cost Us What???

Let’s face it: Big agencies are EXPENSIVE. Yes, yes, you get what you pay for and all that, but come on? Not everyone is Nike. When you work with a big agency, you’re paying for a bloated infrastructure, overhead, and most likely high-earning professionals who aren’t that critical to your project. Which is why big agencies tend to focus all their energies on the big brands — neglecting smaller businesses who don’t have a gazillion dollars to spend on social.

When we started Copy & Design, we made the conscious decision to be a resource for small businesses, non-profit organizations, and public-sector clients who don’t have massive budgets — but do have tangible goals they have to meet. We love working with small clients. They’re scrappy, willing to take risks and try something different, appreciative of good work, and don’t mind rolling up their sleeves alongside you. Small clients deserve big ideas and beautiful creative too. We’re on a mission to make sure they get just that.

Have we succeeded? Read our client testimonials to find out.

There You Have It

Here’s the Cliff Notes version of our origin story: We were a group of upstart creative professionals who wanted to provide smaller clients a different kind of marketing experience — one without the inefficiencies, complexities, and egos you find with big agencies. So we started our own little virtual agency, because we know that high-quality marketing could and should be simplified, demystified, fun — for anyone.

We’d love to hear your origin story. Reach out and we’ll pop some corn and pull up a chair.

— Related posts —

Find Your Marketing Soul-Mate

Find Your Marketing Soul-Mate

Rip up that 20-page RFP. There’s a better way to find the right creative agency.

Consider the Creative Collective

Consider the Creative Collective

Walls are overrated. Find out how partnering with a virtual agency can lead to better creative work for a whole lot less money.

The Spec-tacular Truth

The Spec-tacular Truth

Most creative professionals decry the evils of spec (aka uncompensated) work. Here’s why clients should too.

Let's Break the Ice

We’re really easy to reach, and even easier to talk to. Simply tell us a bit about yours needs. We look forward to talking with you.