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Fast Start: Black Bird Design stresses beauty of branding

We see them all the time, but only some are remembered.

When it comes to signs, logos or design in general, the key is to have a point of view.

That’s what Brady Fogle has set out to do with Black Bird Design, the firm he co-founded with his partner, Melissa Kane.

Branding is so much more than a sign, Fogle says. It is a company’s first chance to say something.

“Right from that first point when someone sees your storefront, they either trust your company or they don’t,” he says. “Put some money in branding and make it look like a reputable place (and) people are going to automatically think you’re a reputable place.

“Even if you have an old sign, if you revamp it to a new sign, it’s bound to draw more attention to your company no matter what,” he adds.

Fogle, 34, loved to draw as a kid growing up in Dansville. He studied for two years at Monroe Community College before transferring to Roberts Wesleyan College. He graduated with a degree in graphic design in 2012.

After school, the job search was difficult, he says. While working as a bartender on the side, Fogle landed a job with a local sign company and did freelance work under the moniker Black Bird Design, which helped him develop his skills further.

“I was bartending and wanted to do this for a full-time thing,” Fogle says. “I wanted something that was more stable, something I could rely on and depend on. I felt like doing this on my own (would leave) me a little more flexible in life but secure in my future.”

By 2015, Fogle was ready to design his way.  He shifted his focus to Black Bird Design full time and launched the firm with his partner, Kane, 30.

Every entrepreneur needs a support system.

“I think for me—you just have to have a partner who is by your side who is reassuring you or pulling back the reins a little bit,” Fogle says. “I don’t think this company would have started if it wasn’t for her (Kane) pushing me. I think that it’s always good to have somebody that you trust to bounce ideas off of.”

Today the couple runs the firm together, employing freelancers on projects as needed.

Clients include Genesee Brewing Co., Trillium Health and College Town tenants such as Rochester Running Co. and the Cabot Group Inc., which owns College Town.

The goal is to make Black Bird a one-stop shop for a small business’ design and printing needs. The firm creates everything from signs, logos, T-shirts and embroidery to printing on promotional products.

Helping a company stand out using promotional items is one of the company’s biggest challenges, Fogle says.

“We always have companies that come to us, and they say we need some ideas for promotional products. But they don’t have any idea of what they’re looking for. Everybody is looking for the new promotional product, but there’s not really that many new products,” he says. “But we can find you the solution that really fits your brand, that fits really well.”

The item with a logo on it helps the recipient build a relationship with the brand, Fogle says.

“When you leave the office with that pen or mug or something, it looks like you’re taking a part of the office with you, which begins that attachment,” he says.

A lot of being a business owner is being able to learn on the job. What helps a business grow also requires a relentless drive to learn and overcome. In the next few months, the focus is on consolidating Black Bird’s two workspaces as well as adding equipment; the firm recently purchased a silkscreen printer.

“It’s a lot of stress and a lot of learning because the stuff that you need is not cheap and you have to know how to run it,” Fogle says. “I like solving problems.”

While there is plenty of competition in the graphic design arena, Fogle believes Black Bird Design offers something that not every company does: a person at the other end of the line.

“There’s somebody to answer to if something doesn’t go right,” he says. “There’s always a person on the other end of that call.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4020

#Team PXY with Carter and Corey on 98PXY is a partner with Fast Start. Listen on Monday from 6 to 10 a.m. for their interview with Brady Fogle.

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email [email protected].


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