Francesco is the Co-founder of Blend, a creative agency based in Italy and the US. Starting from the small city of Arezzo, Italy, Francesco and his team have successfully “blended” Italian design with forward thinking digital savviness and managed to establish themselves in the global creative hub of New York, USA. Great communication strategy makes wonders…
Blend is a creative boutique agency, that conceptualizes, develops and revamps brands that are seeking to make a difference in the digital world. We specialize in core services that allow the implementation of a meaningful brand presence for our clients, ranging from graphic design to UX, UI, responsive web design and cohesive visual content creation.
The project took off in 2010, with the idea of creating a small and intimate creative workshop for sophisticated clients looking for a personal touch for their brand. During the first couple years, we pursued this strategy by solely serving clients that found us through referrals. This was a great learning opportunity: we learned how to empathize with our clients, to know what they were looking for, visualize and refine their ideas until everything comes to life.
We soon realized that bigger clients were also interested in our approach. This led us to scale up our services by adding digital strategy, UX, UI and creative coding skills to our portfolio. Within 2 years, I moved to NYC and our business started growing steadily.
We then decided to address the growth/expansion issue by strengthening our talent pool. Our business model revolves around the concept of harnessing and believing in local Italian talents to produce high level digital experiences for highly competitive markets like NYC. This not only allows us to deliver high-quality Italian designs to the rest of the world but also proudly provide jobs for Italian talents, even though 70% of our business comes from abroad.
The biggest challenge for this business model is the perceived communication gap when handling creative services across borders and time zones. Clients are usually wary of “working with designers over Skype”. We solve this issue by easing our clients in the process from the very beginning. Clients often come to our offices in NYC directly. During an introductory meeting, we start discussing creative possibilities, brainstorming and sharing design ideas… And before you know it, the dialogue is already online and clients are exchanging comments and messages with our team on Basecamp! That is why I think it is essential to find a digital platform that allows you (and your clients) to communicate anytime and track every project’s progress.
Besides, we always try to maintain a sustainable balance between our team’s creative potential and project management capacity. Building a team that is fluent in your client’s language is the first step. Thus, in order to further enhance the connection and reduce the cultural gap, we will initiate this year an internship program that brings international English speaking designers to work at our Italian studio. We believe it is the only way to harness true global creativity, pollinate new ideas and enhance our team’s understanding of today’s multifaceted cultural scenarios…
In short, my recommendation to those who wish to provide creative services on an international level is to focus on communications strategy while working with your clients. Also, build a team that can have passion for each project and respect for one another; trust your network and believe in what you do!