Francesco Piattelli Palmarini, Beeleever & Co-founder at Blend, a creative agency based in Italy, has conquered the American market and insured his position in New York. He explains how giving all its importance to communication enables the team to work with international clients and to take on the challenges this business model presents.
Blend is a creative boutique agency, that conceptualizes, develops and revamps brands that are seeking to make a difference in the digital world. Over time we specialized in those core services that allow the implementation of a meaningful brand presence for our clients. These services range from graphic design to UX, UI, responsive web design and cohesive visual content creation.
The project was born 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 direction by solely serving clients that found us through word of mouth. This was a great learning experience: we learned how to empathize with our clients, to know what they were looking for, visualize and refine their ideas, until they come to life.
We soon realized that larger 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 team. Within 2 years, I moved to NYC and our business started increasing steadily. Then we decided to address the growth/expansion issue by strengthening the talents that had lead us here. Our business model revolves around the concept of harnessing and believing in local Italian talents, to produce high level digital experiences for competitive geographic areas such as NYC for example. This does not only allow us to provide beautiful Italian designs to the rest of the world but we can also proudly provide jobs for talented people in Italy, even though 70% of our business comes from abroad.
The biggest challenge for this business model, is filling 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 and meet with me in person. I usually give them a good feel of the experience they would have by working with Blend. 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 at all time and track every project’s progress.
We also 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 furtherly 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 this is the only way to harness true global creativity,
pollinate new ideas and enhance our team’s understanding of today’s multifaceted cultural scenarios…
Finally, from this experience, my recommendation to those who wish to provide creative services on an international level, is to focus on all the communication aspects while dealing with your clients. But mostly, build a team able to maintain passion for each project and esteem for one another; trust your network and … Beeleev in what you do 😉