Up close and personal with the founder of Angled End
Odds are, most readers of this newsletter have interacted with Mr. Gurley in one way or another. But this video interview, conducted by Angled End sales and marketing director Sandy Gans, offers a current look at how Whit works and what makes AEI successful. Click below to listen to what makes Whit and AEI tick, featuring previews of some of our best work!
Interview transcript below the video. Click here for a PDF version »
Whit Gurley, Founder and Head Designer at Angled End Identities (AEI) sits down with Sandy Gans, Director of Social Media and Business Development at AEI to discuss how AEI came into being, what separates them from the competition, why clients like working with AEI, and the importance of aligning web design with social and new media marketing. A must-read for anyone interested in hiring a web and design firm for an upcoming web, logo or print project.
Sandy Gans: Whit, how are you doing today?
Whit Gurley: I’m doing very well, thank you Sandy.
SG: Great. So I’m just going to ask you a few questions about how you got into graphic design, how Angled End differs to other web design firms out there, and how you are incorporating social and new media to further your own and your clients’ business objectives. So if that’s all good with you, shall we get stuck in?
SG: Well first off, I can see your working environment behind you. Do you actually work from home?
WG: I do, I have an office here my house in Portland, Oregon.
SG: Do you ever envision having your own brick and mortar office space?
WG: That’s really hard to say. I think I’ve gone back and forth about that over the years but there are no immediate plans to do that. Frankly, it’s just not really necessary in today’s world. In fact, a large number of our clients, we’ve never actually met in person. We telecommute, we have conference calls, over the computer or just over the phone and there just isn’t any real reason to. And besides that, I don’t really want to incur the costs that would be required for a dedicated office space that would inevitably have to be passed along to my clients.
SG: So moving on from that, how is business in general?
WG: It’s good! Business has been growing steadily for the past few years. We also recently created a new division, as it were, of our company called Angled End Athletics that we are really excited about. It’s essentially much of the same levels of service that are specifically geared toward the sports industry, helping out professional athletes, or non-profits that have to do with athletics, that sort of thing.
SG: So why don’t you tell me a bit about some of the favorite clients that you’ve worked with and how long you’ve worked with them?
WG: Well, usually at the top of that list is Adonal Foyle. He’s a fun guy to work with and he’s just a really, stellar person on and off the basketball court (this is a former basketball player for the uninitiated). And I continue to work with him not only on his own branding efforts, but he works for the Orlando Magic basketball team now, and we are developing a mobile app for their inter-team communication. So that’s a fun process.
SG: Obviously you have had several clients over the years. Which work have you had the best feedback on?
WG: Well, Adonal Foyle and his crew really love my work. I think that another one of our partners with Angled End Athletics is called Game Plan Wealth, and they’ve been really pleased with the work we have done for them. Their website project especially went very smoothly and I think we were able to create something very quickly that was very impactful and delivered exactly the message that they wanted to deliver.
It is really important for us to understand fully not only what our prospective client’s business does, but what differentiates them from their competitors, what their competitors are doing, who their target audience is and that sort of thing. We want to know all of those things from a high conceptual level before we do anything with regard to graphic design.
SG: That dovetails nicely into my next question: what do you think sets you apart from your competition?
WG: Well, frankly, I think that the majority of the competitors that I see – unless we are referring to high-end graphic design shops that do have brick and mortar studios and charge a huge amount of money for the same work that we do – unless we are talking about those portfolios, I don’t feel like very many of the portfolios at the price point that we deliver our services at, I don’t feel that they compete with us in terms of visual quality or expertise with regard to all of the different design disciplines that we offer.
SG: Relationship-building is obviously a really important aspect to you and really becoming friends and an advisor to your clients, as well as doing those one-off projects for someone who just needs a one-off logo or website?
WG: Absolutely, and by no means do we require that, but I think it’s definitely advantageous to everyone. Partly, because the better we know who you are and what you are trying to do with your business, the better tailored our work can be. And also because by sticking with the same design agency for the life of your business, you’re going to be increasing the continuity between all of your design pieces. If you shift around, then there’s likely to be some variation in the visual delivery or any other element of branding.
SG: Tell me a bit more about the other members of your team, and how do they strengthen your offering?
WG: Well, on the simplest level some of the members of the team offer skillsets that I simply don’t have. You, for example, Sandy Gans – our expert with regard to sales and marketing – and while I know some of the basics in those realms, by no means am I an expert, that’s what you’re here for!
WG: You’re welcome. And then we have Michael McDonald, who is our backend engineer. We have some overlapping skills, he’s very good with HTML and CSS coding, and WordPress tweaking, that sort of thing, but he goes a lot further than that. He writes a lot of software in Java and he can build custom-tailored backend systems to do pretty much anything that our clients need us to do with regard to online businesses, or interactivity, or visual presentation.
The team continues to grow, I have a handful of other designers who I’ve worked with as well for both print and logo, and everyone seems to have their own strengths, and I know who to go to when I have a project that requires those disciplines.
SG: How important would you say was aligning branding, social media, lead generation and getting new clients in today’s business world?
WG: I think it really depends on where your business is, and where your business wants to go. I think that the majority of business owners out there would like to be seen as cornerstones of their industry, as being completely successful. And if that is your goal, then I think that alignment of all of those things is of very high importance. I don’t think that you’re going to convince anyone that your company is a top company in your field if your branding is piecemeal.
SG: And with social media being such a huge component of online marketing today’s world, the fact that you have the know-how to brand a Facebook page, or a Twitter page, or a blog and then through my help actually drive traffic to those social media pages and their own websites, and really educate our clients on how to be more knowledgeable about getting found, how important would you say that is?
WG: It is getting more and more important every day. The very precept of social media is not exactly a new concept, it’s just that it’s only now become viable as a real marketing medium. To be able to carry on global conversations with prospective customers, that’s a pretty new ability that we have.
There’s a lot of good synergy between my services and the services that you provide, Sandy, because yes, we have a lot of good experience with creating a lot of good Twitter arrangements and Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, that sort of thing – we can make those things look nice and slick and polished, and even augment them with features that most of your competitors are not going to have. And then you can then really use those things as tools to help get the word out and really start engineering a strategy where we are really putting out content that gets attention, we’re really getting those conversations going in a way that increases your footprint of awareness.
SG: Would you ever offer a free consultation, and if so, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
WG: Yes, we do offer free consultations. We try to be really generous with our time, we always try to get on the phone [+1-877-7000-AEI] or Skype [WhitGurley or SandyGans77], or whatever is convenient for you. Or just email and ask questions so that we can give you the lay of the land with regard to what your options are in terms of branding, web, or any other design pieces you may need.
You can start that conversation very easily by going to AngledEnd.com where there’s a button for a Free Consultation, or if you like, just give us a call at 877-7000-AEI. We are not high-pressured people, we are not going to beat anyone’s door down trying to compel them to work with us. So feel free to open up a conversation without worrying about us brow-beating you trying to make you jump in and spend your money.
SG: Alright, Whit. Well that’s it from me, and thank you so much for your time!
WG: Thank you.