On 3 Years of Owning Markon Brand Design

It’s not a memo. It’s a Mission Statement.

February 1st marked the 3rd anniversary of me buying Markon. Have I told you this story before? Sit down, it’s a pretty good one. You see, this business crossed my path in a rather mundane way: via a business broker I had contacted to inquire about businesses that were for sale. Very transactional. You know, general mergers-and-acquisitions-territory... except it was just me. Looking to buy a business.

I did quite a bit of looking into various businesses, even franchise opportunities (eek!!) and let's just say that Markon wasn't the shining star of the listings page. Sure, the company had made some pretty strong inroads into a few particular niche markets. And it did have more than three decades of history in this county, doing work that was good enough... for a time that appeared to have long since past. There were other deficiencies. Quite a few of them.

The company had no real website.

No social media accounts.

No established price list.

No professional marketing materials.

No order process.

Outdated equipment.

Obsolete computers and software.

And, if you ever saw the old place, well... let's just say organization and cleanliness were a little lacking. And that's putting it mildly.

So what was the appeal? Why would I walk into that place, situated smack dab in the middle of a quickly changing and increasingly competitive industry and... see my future? Was I crazy?


I mean, I was basically doing the equivalent of walking into the animal shelter and asking to take home the dog that has been there the longest. The one no one wants to adopt. The one with a rough and questionable history, potentially unknown issues and a few "quirky" behavioral problems. The one that barks and scowls and comes with a warning that things could be... rough.

But anyone who knows me knows I love animals and I love a challenge. I'd be the person to take that dog home. Because in him I would see loving eyes. And a coat that just needs brushing. And a tummy that just needs rubbing. And a sweet soul that just needs loving.

And that is what I saw in Markon.

Let’s be honest, the past three years have not always been a leisurely stroll in the park. The time has been punctuated by both highs and lows, the inevitable pain of an intense series of learning curves. But every day I come to work with one simple goal: Do Something Today To Make The Company Better.

I do this when so many other small business owners focus only on: Make a Dollar.

{Hint: They're wrong and I'm right.}

And here's why:

If every day over the past three years I panicked because the phone didn't ring that day... or no order big enough to pay the rent came in on any one month, I'd be toast. I’d be back working for someone else instead of for myself. No. Instead... on those days, and in those slow times, I slowly but surely began ticking everything off that list above. And then some. Shiny, new, efficient location? Check. Improved operations? Check. A better understanding of our market? Check. A new website? Check. (Actually... several different iterations of websites... but, hey! That's growth!)

There are still so many things on my list. And I know I'll get to them- we'll get to them! (That's right, I have a great little team when the company I bought those years ago had no real employees!) But we're too busy these days to do as much of our own work as I would like. Because we're pretty occupied taking care of you, our clients. Our friends! Helping you build your own amazing little empires.

Over the past three years, we've grown into a fantastic small agency that above anything else understands business. Sure, we're great graphic designers and pretty kick ass marketers. But at the end of the day, we mean business. It's the drive in each of you entrepreneurs that fuels us. It's that passion that's my passion.

It's the reason I love coming to work every day and the reason I put in long hours and read industry trade magazines for fun on weekends.

It's the reason why I know the next three years are going to be NOTHING SHORT OF AMAZING.

So maybe, á la Jerry Maguire, my decision to buy this company was my breakthrough. (Though, trust me, there were whispers of a breakdown.) And maybe what I've written here is somewhat "touchy feely." But I don't care. I'm the me I've always wanted to be. In my vision for Markon's future, I see us savoring the simple pleasures in creating amazing brands. It's all pretty clear, really. The answer is focusing on our quality clients. Caring for them, and caring for ourselves.

And maybe getting a dog. ;)

BrandingKristine Neil