For more than a decade, 43K has been partnering with the great minds at kor group, a kick-ass brand strategy, design, and web firm located in the Seaport. I recently sat down with co-founder and principal Anne Callahan to talk about the company and the state of branding.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU STARTED KOR GROUP?
I started in multiple advertising agencies, but at the time, it was very male dominated, and I felt that environment wouldn't give me a chance to grow. From there I went to work at a small design firm, where I did branding and communications work for high-tech start ups. After that, I worked in the communications office at Boston College, and then I started the internal design group at Suffolk University.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW THE TIME WAS RIGHT TO GO OUT ON YOUR OWN?
(kor partner) Karen and I had gotten to the point where we were managing many of the client relationships at the design firm where we were working. We began to realize that we could do it on our own, in our own way. We connected with MB (kor's third partner), and we agreed that we could create a company that not only produced amazing work but also had fun doing it and took great care of its people. That was the inspiration for kor group.
LOOKING BACK ON 20 YEARS, WHAT PROJECTS MAKE YOU MOST PROUD?
I'm proud of all of our work, but there are some clients that have been very influential in the growth and evolution of the company. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (kor group spearheaded its $300 million State-of-the-Art Humanity capital campaign) was huge jump for us. It took the company to a new level in a lot of different ways. Emerson College was the first client where we did a complete suite of communications that ran the gamut from print to web. The work we've done for Berklee over the years stands out to me as being just incredibly expressive. And I'm extremely proud of the work we've done this past year for MassArt, which I feel a personal connection to as an alum.
YOU DO A LOT OF DEVELOPMENT AND ADVANCEMENT WORK. WHAT MAKES THESE PROJECTS UNIQUE?
There are a couple of different factors at play when you're working in development. Clients spend years building relationships with major donors and are understandably protective of those relationships. That can make it more difficult to get access to the audience that you need your work to reach. And the very nature of development is that the stakes are high: You don't take things lightly when you are charged with raising money.
WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY WHEN IT COMES TO WORKING WITH WRITERS AND OTHER CREATIVE PARTNERS?
I think the most important thing is respect. We bring a partner into a project because we value their expertise, and we want them to have the same respect for us. The other key is to get everyone on board early in the process—bringing in a partner mid-way through the project often creates more problems than it solves.
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE MARKET CHANGE SINCE YOU STARTED IN THE BUSINESS?
When we started kor group, designers weren't working on websites, social media didn’t exist, and you couldn't buy a logo online for $500. The pace of those changes has been incredible. There is so much competition for mind-share now, which makes telling your story more important than ever, but it's also more difficult. It makes having the right people on your team absolutely crucial.
SPEAKING OF BEING PART OF A TEAM, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO BREAK INTO THE BUSINESS?
Stretch yourself, be willing to accept direction, and learn from criticism. Have fun. And leave your attitude at the door—you're not going to change the world with your first project. Your creativity will get you in the door, but it's your willingness to be a team player that will keep you here.
WHAT IS KOR GROUP'S ONE-SENTENCE ELEVATOR PITCH?
kor group is a senior team that is passionate about branding and design.
JIMMY FALLON OR JIMMY KIMMEL?
STARBUCKS OR DUNKIN' DONUTS?
To learn more about the people and projects that make kor group one of our favorite creative partners, visit kor.com