Finalist Q&A: Fresh ID

This finalist offers branding and design of companies & software applications, with an emphasis on the overall user experience. Fresh ID will try to provide many other people--from work- at-home mom's with some graphic ability, to already successful freelancers, with a source of work and a community to belong to.


How did you come up with the idea for your business, and what were your influences and sources of motivation?

I have been a self-employed designer for a number of years. It's very rewarding, because I've been able to help lots of companies either brand themselves from scratch, or re-brand themselves to better compete and look more professional, which is something I enjoy doing. But working hourly for 1-5 clients at a time or so, doesn't scale very well. There is only so much creative work I can accomplish in a day, especially if I'm doing all the design and production. I wanted to reach more companies and individuals that need a unique brand in order to promote themselves, sell products and services for an organization, or raise money for a cause.

I've met a lot of wonderful people on the social network Twitter, but two of them seemed very in-tune with what designers need from being employed and want to achieve as creative people. After getting to know Adelle Charles & Graham Smith, I asked if they would like to reorganize my business and relaunch it as a service and product site so that we can reach people who need branding around the globe.

What do you consider to be a unique feature of your business?

In the new business model for Fresh ID, we will be forming what we call a creative collective of designers, of all skill levels, from around the world. Usually a designer or someone who provides graphic or web services is limited to some special areas of focus. For example, I can design all sorts of print collateral but don't have the knowledge (or patience) to create a Wordpress template. I can plan an entire packaging system, but can't create Flash promotions for a web site. By combining the skills of a multitude of creatives, we will be able to provide comprehensive services for all sizes and budgets as a virtual agency, without the overhead of a physical interactive agency.

We will not only make things pretty for people, we want to educate them about what a brand is, what a personal brand is, and why doing things in certain ways online and offline can lead to greater growth and success for a business, non-profit or individual. People can sign up now at to get updates about the site and our blog, which will contain articles and examples about branding and creating an original identity.

What are your thoughts on the future of small businesses in a slowing economy and their importance to the vitality of the local community?

It's more important than ever for a small business to appear credible and professional, and their brand identity, online presence and print, audio or video collateral is the place where you start to project that image. A brand can't provide good customer service or quality products, but it can define what the experience should be for a customer. It's vital, as small businesses and one-owner businesses look at 2009, that they ruthlessly cut out things that are more speculative (such as some advertising is) and focus on things they can control that will give immediate benefits. Effective branding is a competitive advantage and sometimes makes the difference in closing the sale, obtaining the funding, or getting someone in the door to explain why an organization should do business with them.

Why should the Idea Cafe regulars vote for you?

I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope that restructuring my company this way did not lead to more profit and stability for myself. I hope this company is something built on a solid foundation and it will be built to last, even beyond the time that myself, Adelle and Graham are involved with it.

But one key reason for doing this is also to reach out to designers, many of whom struggle to find clients, work from home, and lack the benefits of being plugged into a community with "co-workers". The creative collective will have their own community where they'll be able to get advice from more experienced designers, find people to collaborate with to complete a job for a client, get feedback on proposed designs, and celebrate successful projects with peers who understand.

The clients we will serve are also very important to me. The companies and clients I have worked for the past two decades have provided me with so much more than a paycheck. That they allow me to use my creativity to solve their business problems is a great privilege. Learning from them and with them has sparked me intellectually and made me smarter. This is a service-oriented business, and caring for clients and their brands will be so fulfilling to all of us that appreciate the luxury of being paid to do what we love, which is to create.

The site will launch in early 2009, but the branding blog will launch within a couple of weeks. I so appreciate the Idea Cafe and anyone who votes for us, for allowing us to take part in this grant competition. Best of luck to ALL the businesses being imagined and created out there!


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