Columbus-based branding agency Ologie celebrates its 25th anniversary this month.
Located in a former car showroom downtown, the agency serves several national clients, including Nationwide Insurance and Food Network, as well as numerous institutions of higher education, has 70 employees, and generates about $10 million in annual billings.
“While I’m proud to be associated with this kind of longevity –so rare today in any industry– I’m mostly happy for, and proud of , my business partner Bev Bethge, who founded the firm straight out of CCAD in 1987,” says Bill Faust, senior partner and chief strategy officer at Ologie. “While the firm has been through many changes, her commitment to high standards and doing great work has never waivered.”
Twenty-five years in business is quite a milestone −in any industry− so The Metropreneur thought an interview with Faust about Ologie’s growth and guiding principles could be inspirational and informative for our readers. Check it out.
Bill Faust: I left Fitch after 12 years but wanted to stay in Columbus. A lot of other firms approached me, but Ologie was the only one that had similar values to Fitch. That included a belief in strategy, a commitment to great design as a branding tool, and an approach that demanded open collaboration among team members.
[M]: There are lots of branding agencies in Columbus. What do you think has helped Ologie stand out from the pack?
BF: I really don’t know much about the other firms in Columbus because we rarely compete with them. We have focused on a couple of national markets, including higher education, financial services and health care. But I do think two things set us apart in those arenas.
First, our seamless and equal blend of strategy and creative and, second, the fact that we are “media agnostic.” What I mean by that is we don’t go into a relationship thinking about a specific media, like a TV ad, brochure, or web site. We instead look at the brand from all facets of the customer experience and let that determine what media will be most effective.
[M]: At Ologie, you believe branding is defining the essence, personality, and voice of a company, product, or service. How does Ologie go about helping clients do that?
BF: The answer to that could take up many pages, but I would say we try to tailor our engagements to the needs of each client. We don’t do cookie cutter. Some clients need a new name or logo. Others need a clear story. It just depends. So the essential common thread is doing enough discovery and due diligence in the beginning to determine exactly what they do need to be most effective.
[M]: One of Ologie’s biggest growth areas is higher education. What does Ologie do specifically for institutions of higher learning and why have they become such a large part of the business?
BF: We entered the higher education market in 2006. Before that, we had never worked for a college or university. Now we have dozens as clients, including giants like Notre Dame, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Cal Berkely. We love higher education because the work gives us a sense of purpose. Helping a kid find the best fit school, or vice versa, is very rewarding.
College is such a defining part of most peoples lives that it should be easier to find the right one. That’s why our tag line is “Building Brands. With Purpose.” And it applies to financial services and health care as well. It’s very rewarding to help people to save and invest wisely, and to help them find the right medical care. I’m not saying that selling soap or real estate isn’t purposeful, but we’re more motivated in these areas where you can see a difference made in peoples lives.
[M]: What would you like to see Ologie achieve going forward?
BF: Most important is to always maintain high standards in everything we do. We have done that for 25 years and we will for 25 more. Growth is important for any business, but to us it’s not about size, more about substance. I would also like us to be better known for what we do, but I think the fact that we’re not is our own fault. We get so caught up in the work, we just don’t promote ourselves the way we probably should.
[M]: I think just about every company would like to celebrate 25 years in business. Is there something, or several things, business owners should keep in mind day to day?
BF: I hate to sound cliché, but as someone once told me, “Take care of the business and the business will take care of you.” And it’s true. As a partner, you have to think about your people and your clients every day because you can’t have a successful business without either of them.
To learn more about Ologie, visit Ologie.com.