Carleen Clearwater interviews the young pros team behind a new agency Neon Pig
The hair stood up on the back of my neck when I saw the news in my Facebook news feed that this crew of young pros were joining forces. I literally squealed like a baby pig with excitement. I have had the privilege of working side-by-side with some of the members of Neon Pig and I dig the vibe that they are going to be bringing to the agency scene in our community. Follow them on social just for the cute pigs Listening to this crew talk about client trust, collaboration, and the civic duty they feel in their guts to elevate their city —DAMN I am pumped! Are you achin’ for some bacon?! I am. Introducing Neon Pig…
CC| Let’s get to it. How did Neon Pig became the name?
NP| Colin: We tossed hundreds of ideas, quite literally, for the name of our agency. We were kind of stuck on a couple, and we had broken it down to a short list. We were feeling kind of lukewarm on them, we weren’t totally sold on anything. Then finally presented our idea to start this agency to former employer, and I happened to be wearing my lucky pig socks that day. And then we were just pulling some names out of left field and Lara Cameron was actually the one who grabbed the idea of Neon Pig Creative. When she said that, it hit us differently than the rest of the names that we had thrown around, and we thought of this was going to be sort of next level, something that Colorado Springs hadn’t seen before. It stuck. We wanted something that really stands out in the market. We want our brand to show our enthusiasm and passion, as well as show that we are risk takers and go against the crowd a little bit.
CC| What inspired the group of you getting together?
NP| Michael: There’s only so much time available in a week, or a day for that matter and growing a business started to find its limits. In fall of last year, I was considering inviting new partners in a new venture and what would that team look like. I knew I wanted driven, young professionals who not only excelled at their work but also dedicated their time to serving something more. Eventually, I found the best place was within my network with the American Advertising Federation. Through AdFed, I was first introduced to Clint, my first employee who later introduced us to Stephen who was also an student involved with AdFed.
I had served on the board for two years and in that time got to work alongside both Colin Christie and Laura Cameron. We had projects, deadlines, meetings, and samples to practice teamwork and ultimately, in those two I saw a pathway to success. Now in my latest year and having served as President, I was given the opportunity to work with Laura Tiller as our Vice President and was impressed by her spirit and quality of work. So in a perfect world, who else would I want to work with and create business with?
I knew I wanted driven, young processionals who not only excelled at their work but also dedicated their time to serving something more.
Laura C: After years of working through different jobs both in house and in agencies, I found that I, as a young motivated professional, was missing a workplace that I truly felt I belonged. When I found people that I really clicked with, worked well with, who pushed me to be a better professional and designer, and who enabled and appreciated the skills I had, I knew it was time to create the workplace that empowers young designers and does kick ass work, all wrapped in an inclusive, creative, and fun culture.
CC| 3 Cheers for AdFed. Combining as an agency instead of freelance can be tricky. Why go for it?
NP| Laura C: We all bring to the table the sense that good work is hard work, and if done collectively it can also be fun work. We all have a strong sense of what small business means for its community and we do our best to align ourselves with these goals a team. We all like to work directly with clients too and not create a separation or middle-man approach, and create an atmosphere where clients feel they have a relationship with each and everyone of us, and not just the individuals they may work with on a certain project.
Colin: They say you should surround yourself with people smarter than you. We have found through working together that we all have different strengths that compliment each other, and yet we are all rooted with the idea that good creative drives everything. We’re able to be a strong team covering a multitude of skill sets while all being driven by our passion for great design. We have marketing and strategy, web development and UX design, branding and copy writing, illustration, video editing, and quick and efficient design to round out our full force team.
Clint: I remember when Colin kind of pitched the idea. It was awesome. I thought it was kind of like a pipe dream, but really cool to think at night, “I wish I could have an agency where I could go to work with all my friends.”
CC| What do you bring as an agency that is unique or different than other agencies?
NP| Laura C: Within our market we do want to bring a new energy to businesses and the business community. Yes, you’ll find that each one of us can name 5 shows on Nickelodeon, we are also very resourceful and a curious group.
Michael: We also believe in collaborating rather than competing. Yes, competition is good for inspiration and maintaining an edge, but it’s also important to make sure that if you have an opportunity to work with a different team or agency, what’s to be gained is way more valuable than a loss to the ego. We’ve been lucky to have partnered with many of our colleagues. What one would traditionally label as the completion, we partner with them to enhance the project and make our client shine. Doors have always opened for us having walked this path rather than being closed off.
Colin: We don’t try to pretend that we can do it all. We won’t take something on if we feel it isn’t in our strengths. But we do believe in the power of relationships and collaborating with our fellow colleagues in Colorado Springs. We want to make sure the client is taken care of the best way possible, so we work with others in our community to help the client with their end goal, whether that pay check goes to us or not.
We want to bring a new energy to businesses and the business community. But yes, you’ll find that each one of us can name 5 shows on Nickelodeon.
We also look farther than just a request from clients. We have their entire business in mind. We want our clients to be a long-term relationship. We ask the questions of what they actually need for their business goals rather than just giving them what they want. Maybe what they want is what the need, but if it’s not, then we want to make sure we are helping them the best way possible.
CC| What is going to set you apart?
NP| Michael: Customer Service, Project Management & Education. Everything I do from there, whether coding or designing I try to make sure those three key areas are covered and “felt” by the client. They have to be served and feel like you are on their team, the project has to have a plan and process, and I have to have to be able to explain concepts or logic behind something that most of the times is really abstract.
CC| How do you see your role in the business community?
NP| Laura C: We wish to position ourselves as a spark for more young professionals that are looking for a stake in Colorado Springs’ future. It’s important to us that our city continues to grow and continue to be both the destination and workforce resource that it already is. There’s a chicken and egg effect where young professionals will leave if the work or industries aren’t there for them, but those industries don’t make their home here if we don’t have the talent to make them grow. In a time where we are more connected than ever because of the internet, we sit on an opportunity to bring more eyes on Colorado Springs as a place to get great creative and effective marketing.
Colin: We want to inspire. Not only because we are 6 young people rocking it in our industry, but because we are excited, passionate, and creating awesome work for awesome clients. All ships rise with the tide, and so we think that if we push to be more risky, more creative, create better things, then the entire business community will be inspired to do the same. Colorado Springs is on the cusp of doing some really cool things, and we are just stoked to be a part of it.
We also want to be here as a resource to small locally owned and start-up businesses. We aren’t a large intimidating agency or a snobby boutique shop. We want to educate all businesses of good marketing, be involved in our community, and offer approachable services for those who don’t think they can afford good design or good marketing.
CC| What do think we should be doing as an industry provide better customer service?
NP| Michael: Being more open and stand as an educator rather than a secret keeper. Just because you teach one how to fish doesn’t mean they are going to want to, or be good at it. It was our passion that lead us to go to school to become experts, and than it was in our investment in this industry that has made us wise and a resource so we should act as one. Especially in a time where arenas like digital marketing have a new acronym every day, its important that a client understands what their investment does and why they need your help.
Be more open and stand as an educator rather than a secret keeper.
Laura C: Over all we need to be focusing more on the client’s goals rather than their specific requests. I hear too many times that companies don’t want to work with agencies because they feel they got ripped off, or they don’t have use for some expensive print piece anymore. Our jobs should not be to ask what color they want on a brochure, but why they need that brochure. Is that solving the problem their business is having, or would it be more effective to start with something different?
CC| Bring it! Then what do you think we need to do to elevate at the local level?
NP| Laura C: Get more involved with the younger professionals and provide opportunities to educate and elevate their careers. It would be great to see more entrepreneurial clubs or workshops that were driven by a strong marketing and development backbone. There’s fresh ideas happening every day on campuses, but they’re only being seen by those close to the schools. Those activities should be brought out more in our community and sponsored by the businesses that want to have a future here.
Colin: We care about fostering the creative industry and think outside the realms of traditional advertising. We have been so involved in our student groups and our college’s design programs here in the Springs because that’s where our next generation of professionals is coming from. We want to empower them to put out good work, think beyond the low hanging fruit, and really bring the industry to the next level.
We’re not just a joke about socks anymore… we’re built to be a powerhouse of passion, hard work, and dedication…
CC| What do you want potential customers to know about you?
NP| Laura C: We are a small but mighty team that takes ownership in your company or project and treats it with a hands-on approach. We want to be your partner and your best friend in a professional tone.
We have fun with what we do. I think I can speak for all six of us when I say that we all love coming to work every day. Neon Pig Creative is not just some afterthought or a joke about socks any more. We have meticulously created it to be a powerhouse of passion, enthusiasm, hard work, dedication, and friendliness. Whether you need a new brand, or a beer, our doors are always open.
Partner, Director of Strategy
Partner, Director of Web
Partner, Creative Director