If you are in the fitness industry and want to create an image for yourself but not quite sure where to start or how to approach branding yourself, this is a great interview to check out. Ben Guerra, Co-founder/Operations Lead of Modern Whole (est 2008), grew up in El Campo, TX and now lives in Houston creating brands for professionals in the fitness industry as well as other industries. Ben graduated from the Art Institute of Houston in 2003 and his technical experience combined with his ability to understand who his clients are to put together a strong brand in the social media world is amazing.
1) Ben, how long have you been doing brand and web development?
After graduating from the Art Institute of Houston in Dec 2003, I immediately was hired by a small firm in town. I mainly focused on web design and development, but would occasionally touch projects that were focused on brand identity, logo design, etc. Obviously as the years pass, your skills and knowledge expand and you are able to provide more to your clients. Since 2003 I have probably helped create / revise over 40 brands, designed and coded over 50 websites, and worked on many other things like video, photography, magazine ad design, social media design, etc. I have worked on all sorts of digital media projects.
2) Your company does more than just brand development, can you tell me how your company brings it all together and how a person in the fitness industry can benefit from have an effective brand?
Yes, Modern Whole works on all types of digital media from web design, web development, logo design, brand development, application development, etc. And for the past 4 years we have been doing a ton of Social Media Marketing as well as Online Marketing for a lot of our clients. So when a client approaches us we like to ask a few questions (which can be found here: www.modernwhole.com/project-starter) so we can get a better idea of where they currently are and what they are looking to do. Then we suggest a few things that we feel would help their business grow. You can have a great logo, but a crappy website and vise versa. So you really want to make sure that everything you put out goes hand in hand. Sometimes people choose to work with a few different teams depending on their industry, which is not a horrible way of approaching it, but usually from our experience if you can work with a team that can handle many of your needs it usually works out better.
Here’s a full list of our services:
Web Design & Development
Logo Design / Brand Identity
Social Media Marketing
Newsletter Design & Development
Print Design (Business Cards, Letterhead, Flyer Design, etc.)
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Ben Guerra, Co-Founder/Lead Operator
3) Your company created my brand and web site (and I love it!), and I notice things on my logo that I didn’t notice at first. Like how you use subtle differences in the fonts, colors, and lines but still kept the logo clean. I mean, the attention to detail in the little things were pretty impressive. Can you explain the process on how the final logo/brand came to be for CAC or any brand you begin working with?
From our initial consultation I was able to gather many of your ideas, your personality, your focus and tie them into our ideas, research, etc. This initial process is done with all of our clients looking to build a brand, and create a logo identity. Something that sets our company apart from others is not only our eye for design, but the minimal design approach that we take. We believe strongly in clean, modern and minimal design.
We had a few ideas when it came to your logo design /brand, but one thing that you and I kept talking about was showing a silhouette of a woman. After trying different ideas of random women / images we thought… what better silhouette than YOURS?! So we then went through about 10 of your photos and picked one that defined you well. We then took that design and placed it inside a few shapes (the circle ended up looking the best) and came up with your logo. After getting the iconic look down we needed to place text in the design to complete the brand. This is when we started trying out different type faces / fonts. Keeping the clean look and feel, we chose san-serif fonts that were smooth, straight and very easy to read. Because of your industry we wanted to keep it ‘sporty’ but obviously with a feminine touch for you clientele.
Modern Whole created the CAC brand and re vamped CAC web site.
Before designing a logo for any client we run them through a creative process that we have created over the years. It is a creative brief which helps get as much information as possible on the client, their ideas, their competition, style, etc. This helps us nail down great ideas from the get go, without having to go through many trial and error phases.
4) For people that are considering creating a brand for themself, what would be some simple suggestions for them in choosing a) their brand, b) the right company to develop their brand.
Everyone is different. So we love to tell our clients to come up with their own ideas, visions, etc. before approaching us. This helps build a foundation around their brand allowing us to spin ideas off of that. There are many things to take into consideration when building a brand. One of the first things that should be done is finding out if your idea is already taken. You do not want to spend a lot of time with an awesome idea to later find out that the name you chose is already taken and you cannot proceed. So we like to have our clients verify that their name of the business is available.
Secondly, you should do your own research in your market and scope out competition. See what other businesses are doing and figure out what you can do to stand apart. You don’t necessarily have to come up with some new technology or out of this world ideas, but it’s good to know what you are going to be competing with before you start.
Lastly, when looking for the best company to develop your brand, it’s quite simple. Open up a browser and type this in… www.modernwhole.com =) No but seriously, choosing the right team to help build your brand is crucial. You need to ensure that they know what they are doing, they have a nice portfolio of work that you like, they pay attention to details and that you feel comfortable working with one another. The relationship is a key factor.
5) Do you just create brands or do you attempt to create a long term vision with the brand?
In my early years of design I would just put a design together for a client, call it a logo, get paid and deliver it. My clients were always pleased, I was making a little money, and I was having fun. However, as you evolve and learn more, you start to deliver a complete understanding of the brand / logo identity. You want to create something that is timeless and meaningful to the client as well as their audience. After the brand is completed visually we like to suggest ways to promote and market themselves to an audience. We believe in helping all of our clients become successful. Now ultimately it is up to them on whether or not they choose to try out some of our suggestions.
Frank Torres is a Professional Trainer and had his logo and web created by Modern Whole.
6) What should an effective brand/logo possess? As an artist, I’m sure you have a vision of your work. Have you ever had a situation where your vision of a brand was so clear but the client was not quite getting it?
Each business has their own vision about how they view their brand, how they see their brand in a few years, etc. However, a lot of times they need that extra set of eyes, the extra creativity which is what we bring. We like to look outside the box and help our clients see things from different points of view. Like I mentioned earlier, getting as much information from the client initially is very important. This allows us to conduct our own research in a particular industry to help solidify ideas, concepts.
We do not always nail a concept down on our first try. Sometimes it take a few tries, multiple meetings, explanations of the ideas, etc. We understand that not everyone is visual either, so sometimes we provide a write up of how we conceptually created the design. That seems to help as well.
Something that is also very important is that you do not go for a ‘trendy’ design. What I mean is that let’s say that a certain style is in at the moment. You should not just go and create a logo / brand based on that. Because in a few years, when that trend is gone, you will be stuck with a dated logo. That is another thing that we take pride in as well. We like to come up with timeless concepts that can be used for many years. I mean, over time you may want to change a few things on your logo just like the major companies do… but you do not want to have to change it completely every 5 years or so.
7) What are words you live by?
Wow, there are many sayings, quotes and words that I live by, but pertaining to our industry I tend to find myself saying these few words quite often.
“You get what you pay for.”
Many have heard these words before, but they really have a deep meaning. When someone is looking for a service, whether it be a doctor, a barber, a personal trainer or a designer there are many things to take into consideration. Obviously money is always on people’s mind, however you cannot let that be the deciding factor. The reason being is, in our industry for example, there are many people out there that claim they are designers / developers and offer a very cheap price. But because most people don’t know what kind of questions to ask, what kind of things to look for, etc. many go with the cheaper company. We have had many potential clients choose another firm or another designer to do their work instead of us, but it always seems like they lack the passion, skill set, professionalism, etc. In some cases they may only lack one thing while in others they lack EVERYTHING.
Here is another phrase that we like to live by…
“A client is more than just a revenue stream.”
We like to build long-term relationships with our clients vs. just getting a client to make a quick buck. We really like to educate our clients to better help their business in any way that we can.
I would say more often than not our clients get our vision immediately. However, we have had instances where our ideas may have been too creative or ‘outside the box’ and we would have to go back to the drawing board. It’s all part of the process. We love what we do so we’ll keep trying until we nail it.
Pin Fit is owned by Professional Trainer, Delano Daniels. Modern Whole created and designed his logo.
8) Can you list your website as well as your social media and where people can contact you?