Location. Location. Location. Is it everything, nothing, or somewhere in the middle?
“You’re a designer, so lucky, you can do your job from anywhere. All you need is a computer.” A phrase often said by some outside of our industry. Technically we can perform functions of a creative job anywhere. As with many professions, the industry allows for a more free-flowing commitment to a central location, whether you are part of an agency or a contractor. That leash has become far longer as we all navigated through Covid. However, where do the clients, inspiration, and relationships come from? The magic box only gets you so far (there will be another post on the misconception computers produce effective design all on their own later). Generally, you still need to build a presence, reputation, and revenue stream from somewhere.
Having a home base that carries those opportunities for income and relationships is essential for us. As professionals that must pump out thought and visuals as a product daily, being in an environment that breeds creativity is as valuable as any skill. As humans, having all of these aspects in one place that offers inspiration, adventure, and amenities, improves our capabilities as a service.
Dropping a pin.
Enter Chattanooga, Tennessee. Much like when your Spotify goes off on a rogue shuffle, and you discover a track that just clicks with you, it’s a revelation. You immediately follow the artist, start liking specific songs, and eventually, they become your standard for a morning motivator, an afternoon inspiration, or an evening reflection. Upon our first visit, it was clear Chattanooga needed to be on repeat.
Before Saint Emblem, my education and career had spanned markets like Phoenix, Spokane, Seattle, and Portland. A move from those larger West Coast markets to North East Mississippi several years ago was a significant transition on many levels, professionally and personally. I immediately appreciated the history, loyalty, and connections those in the South value while still feeling the pull of the pace and possibilities a broader region offers.
Chattanooga quickly felt comfortable, a hybrid of Southern tradition and many of the offerings that made markets like Portland, Oregon, great. On a business level…see personal level. I feel those two aspects are equally important and can have more crossover than differences. Access to the landscapes that allow us to decompress, the services that bring convenience, and the people that inspire us ultimately allow us to perform best. In my meetings with Chattanooga business and community leaders, I found aggressive but thoughtful growth as a consistent theme. That’s our agency’s philosophy and how we approach problem-solving for our clients. With the rebranding and evolution of Likemind to Saint Emblem, the flexibility to grow strategically was the backbone in choosing our next location.
Some of our spots for inspiration and indulgence.
On the flip side, I have heard an alternative view: “The market already has several brand/creative agencies.” As long as the Tacos are amazing, can you have too many Taco places? One of the many great things about our field is the visibility and importance of what we do is often amplified when there is a creative culture established. In my view, agencies and creative professionals often thrive when we can collaborate, socialize, and learn from each other.
The access to a wide variety of business genres that we can provide a benefit to, the talent we can work with, and a culture we can learn from made this move the ultimate no-brainer. Chattanooga has benefited from its forward-thinking, as evidenced by strong economic and population growth in recent years. As in our case, many have noticed the surge in tech and manufacturing companies relocating to or expanding operations partly due to advancements like being the first city in America to introduce community-wide 10-gigabit internet. Just as Covid forced us to re-evaluate and take notice of opportunities, Chattanooga has become an attractive hub for professionals and businesses that may have otherwise set roots in larger markets like Nashville, Atlanta, and those on the West Coast. The quality of life and centralized location regionally offers professional flexibility, vast entertainment options, and business resources, all flowing along the gorgeous Tennessee River.
Our agency will use these advantages as a valuable tool for keeping existing talent at home and recruiting on the outside as we tactfully add to our staff in the future. Saint Emblem has been built with relationships in Manufacturing, Food/Alcohol Service, Retail, Financial, and Non-Profit fields. The Chattanooga market leans well to us building upon those experiences while providing many new ventures to which we can be an asset…so long as I don’t spend too much time at Five Whits Brewery. The Frieda Kettle Sour will change your life.
Although on different scales, I find many common threads personally and professionally with Chattanooga. The city has undergone an evolution in a short time, overcoming hardships and ultimately making progress mandatory over optional. Our agency has followed suit, with years of peaks and valleys and rebuilding from the ground up. Our responsibility is to move others forward, using our talent and experience as the vessel, much like the city’s attitude. Our new home offers us a wide array of thinkers, makers, and leaders, the heart of what makes any brand impactful. People working cohesively to ensure their individual successes are still forwarding the community as a whole. We look forward to pulling our weight in the Scenic City.
Location. Location. Location. For us, it is everything.