Let’s start at the very beginning. In early 2014, Justin and I were approached with an offer that would forever change our lives.
“Do you want to buy the company?”
Rewind a few years. I was sought out to be the Creative Director of Image Factory DC, a Silver Spring, MD based post facility focusing on network promo launches and topicals. Within three months, I was instead offered to run the day-to-day operations while the owner focused on finding potential buyers for the shop. I was intrigued and up for the challenge but knew that post production wasn’t my background. I came from the client side with 16 years at Discovery. I had one of those rare unicorn stories, working my way up from the ground level as Promo Scheduler to Writer/Producer to Creative Director. At the peak of my time there I was directing Deadliest Catch launch campaigns in Dutch Harbor, AK with Kyle Cooper (Prologue) and leading our multi-screen Upfront presentations in NY. I was a savvy creative, but I didn’t know how to fix the problem if Avid or any of the other systems crashed.
Enter, Justin Kanner. The young hot shot who had recently hit the scene and fast approaching most requested new editor in town. He understood production as he grew up in the post house his father co-owned. He was the kind of person that could figure anything out, and that did not go unnoticed. He was also incredibly driven and I saw a like-minded hustler quality that was necessary for a partnership with me. I am a collaborator and someone who has always understood the value of teamwork. I was a good partner to my strategic counterparts and co-Creative Director while at the networks. I would much rather share in any success than be isolated with it. And I know where my strengths lie and where I need a team to round me out. And so we began this journey of running a company together.
When the question was presented to us we knew what we had to do. Go to the bar, order all the vodka and bourbon and hash out what that meant to us as individuals and as leaders. And the first question we asked each other was, “are you in it for the money or the art?” This is a tough question. I am not some naive artist who is delusional about how important money is to running a business. But what motivates me is making good quality work founded on strategically sound ideas. I chose art. And Justin smartly replied that money follows good art. We spent the next few months leading up to the takeover discussing aesthetic and approach. It was exciting, and frightening. But on November 4, 2014, we founded AlterEgo, the parent company that would legally buy Image Factory DC. And the rest is …
Cut to- our rebrand. It’s June 2018. After almost four years of learning and shaping through some major disruptions in the industry & client changes that come with such a change -we were finally ready. We knew what we stood for and our feet were firmly planted on the ground. What we also knew was that you can’t see the label from within in the jar. So I reached out to my friend, fellow WPO member and mentor, Nancie McDonnell Ruder of Noetic Consultants (A WBENC Certified Women-Owned business) and began the exciting journey of articulating our positioning, developing a brand brief and creating a solid marketing plan. Over the next few months we dove into competitive analysis, employee and client insight and our plans for the future with some of the most insightful women in the business offering a 360 degree partnership. With their help and guidance, we were able to roll out our rebrand alongside our production work with one of the most influential women and new authors, Michelle Obama, and her best selling autobiography, “Becoming.” It will forever be one of the biggest honors of our careers to have worked alongside the former First Lady in telling her story and I am grateful for the opportunity. It was also the perfect opportunity for Justin and me to take our team along with us for this journey in our own becoming story. And by the time our four year anniversary of AlterEgo’s founding rolled around, it was time.
Brand promise: Harness creativity, unleash greatness.
Once the baton was passed from Noetic back to us, it was in the hands of our talented friend and former Art Director Fabian Tejada to lead the team in our logo exploration. The amazing thing about Fabian is that like us, he is a true collaborator. At every step of the process he insisted that we throw each iteration up on the wall at our regular Friday happy hours so the the team could weigh in with thoughts and feedback. But before we could throw any art at the wall, Fabian met with us to get the analysis for our vision and then conducted his own series of strategic sessions before exploring a new AlterEgo mark.
Using Google docs, Coggle, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop. After Effects and good ole pen & paper the team got to work. Beginning logo development with tried and true research. He started with a diagram that connected all the brainstorming information to the central question: What is AlterEgo? Our design team looked at bold art that demonstrated how to visualize complex themes in psychology with a minimalist execution. Key sources of inspiration included works of Rene Magritte, iconic book covers and cover art from Penguin and Pelican, and photos by Matthew Spiegelmen, Bobby Becker and Michael Bieganski. The resulting logo was a selection of simple graphic shapes and a contrasting color palette. Both elegant and timeless, Symbol & Lettermark, a combination mark that was perfect for AlterEgo.
But the logo was only a piece of our story. I was also working with Justin on crafting the perfect BRAND STORY for AlterEgo that could explain our partnership and our creative mission. At its core, it was all about being this perfectly complementary duality. Always both; and. Never or. Both feminine and strong. Both individualist and team player. Both Gen X and Millenial. Both artist-at-heart and technical problem solver. Both driven business owners and thoughtful creatives. Together, we are AlterEgo. But we also wanted our story to explain the OTHER meaning of AlterEgo. Along with being your second self, alter ego means “trusted friend.” And that is what we are to each other, our team and OUR CLIENTS. Driven to win, we want to make you shine. And that means the world to us. The more we wrote and explored, the more this name felt perfect.
We were finally perfect.
The next phase of our launch felt like a whirlwind. Our first podcast with Joel Pilger of RevThink. Our first interview with the Daily Brief secured by our amazing Executive Producer and head of Business Development, Monesha Lever. And my first live interview with Nancie McDonnell Ruder of Noetic for the launch of her new book, Jack & Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science. All encompassing, the rebrand also required the launch of our new website, Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter and YouTube. And that took a prodigious amount of strategic management as well.
Led by our Producer & Digital Content Manager, Kristen Edgell, and partnering with outside social media marketer and digital strategist, Cory Lawrence, we meticulously planned the run up to our launch and into the January 7, 2019 launch. I don’t think I have ever written so many case studies, posts and commentary in my entire life but the media plan means nothing without our meaningful stories and thoughtful words. It was paramount that this rebrand be communicated in our own words. This was our baby. AlterEgo is US. It’s all of us working together to create something meaningful and lasting.
And to that note, we parallel pathed this rebrand with a studio renovation which was redesigned to reflect AlterEgo’s mission and core values. Soliciting the help of architect, Naomi Behrens, we “broke ground” in late 2017 to finish Spring of 2018. Based on a clean modern design, the new studio comprises of five fully loaded edit suites, Design/ animation area, producer pod and a fully calibrated DaVinci Resolve color finishing suite. But fear not, we still allow dogs and Bodhi is still waiting for all the belly rubs.
We look forward to all the fine work to come. To sharing our mission with you. To harnessing creativity, and unleashing greatness.