FLYING KITES

FLYING KITES

Kitestring Creative Branding Studio 65 Walnut Street South

For the first official tour stop of September, I had the pleasure of dropping by Kitestring Creative Branding Studio on a chilly afternoon that already felt like a fall day. After finding each other through Hamilton’s huge and incredibly supportive Twitter community, co-founder Chris Farias offered to have me visit the studio and I was excited to meet him and find out what they’re all about. I had perused their website several times to get a feel for the company and I loved it right away – from the arts and crafts and candy motifs, to the brightly coloured profiles of each Kitestringer with their playful job titles and descriptions. It was really accessible, friendly, and inviting, as were all of my interactions with the team, through e-mail and Twitter, prior to meeting them. I was pleased to discover that walking into their studio was the same experience, like I was stepping into the website itself. The office has a very welcoming and homey feel to it, so bright and colourful, while still being a professional space. Each room is painted a different colour, and candy, toys, and books are sprinkled throughout the agency on the tables and shelves. There was such a positive energy about the studio right away.

I sat down for a chat with Chris, as well as Margaret Lintott, the Client Bedazzler, who I actually took a few theatre classes with at McMaster, and told them more about our objective for the Tour, what some of the highlights have been so far, and what we’ve learned about our city. Meg Coppolino, the Communications Rockstar, then joined us and I got to ask them all about the history of Kitestring and what they do. The agency was co-founded by Chris and Jenn Hudder four years ago, with their original location on James Street South, before moving in March of this year to their current location. Basically, they create and support brands, giving them the tools they need to communicate with their target audience. This includes everything from creating a logo, to setting up a website, to helping them work with social media. All of the essentials for starting up a brand, they’ve got you covered. As their tagline states, they’re all about giving you, your business, “what you need”. Everything is backed up by extensive research, the results determining the target audience for your company and what they require, and developing business strategies from there.

Kitestring have worked closely with all types of local businesses, both large and small. One of their most recent projects has been the re-branding of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, with their clever “Hipster Beethoven” campaign to attract a younger audience. Another client is Mabel’s Labels, which began as a small business by a group of mothers who created a unique product for labelling their kids’ various belongings.

Through learning about how Kitestring approaches their clients’ brands, I found out that my first impression of the agency is exactly their goal – they believe that “brands are experienced through all of the senses [and they] think of their studio’s brand in the same light” (taken from their book, Sweet Success). Consistency is essential with every aspect of Kitestring; whether you are speaking to them over the phone or walking into their office, they aim to give you the same feeling every time. As noted, this is also their objective with all of their clients. It is a unique perspective to take, giving them so much potential and opportunities to be creative.

By getting the chance to experience another local workplace, this was another inspiring example of people doing what they love. Chris reflected on how he has worked for several ad agencies over the years but was not happy with the work environments, which is why he took it upon himself to create his own agency, a place that is a positive, relaxed, and fun place to work. It’s this type of setting that is conducive to the creativity that thrives at Kitestring.

The team also hosts events called HYPE (Hamilton Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs). These bi-monthly mixers are a chance for young business-savvy individuals to chat and network, but the catch is, no business cards allowed! This avoids the stuffy atmosphere that can come out of typical networking events, creating a more laid back atmosphere to mingle while still making connections.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Kitestring has written two books, Sweet Success: A Short Story on Brand Baking and Make Lemonade: A Short Story of Social Media. Both of these miniature, colourful books with simple illustrations are written playfully as children’s narratives, outlining strategies for creating a brand and using social media, respectively. Make Lemonade is available for purchase on Kitestring’s website, and all of the proceeds go towards buying books for local children’s hospitals.

Before leaving the studio, I took a walk through the office to snap some pictures and to take a peek at more of the brightly coloured rooms. I was introduced to another Kitestringer, Josh Gordon, the Creative Cowboy, who handles the graphic design. I even got to meet their intern, Ben, who is a puppet. Yes, a puppet! This is my kind of place.

It was fantastic to get to meet more creative, innovative Hamiltonians who contribute great things to the City. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at Kitestring and hope to visit again!

– Kristin