Brave People

Brave People is a creative agency in Tampa, Florida that provides branding, interactive and production services to its clients.
You are part of Brave People, can you tell us a little bit about the company and its history?

Brave People is a digital creative agency in historic Ybor City (cigars and Cuban food every 50 feet). I started the company 4 years ago in a 400sq ft. studio apartment with some simple goals — focus on design, lead with excellence, fight for innovation and protect passion. From our inception, we were structured remotely with contractors in different parts of the U.S. until a year and a half ago when we rebranded, moved into our own space and hired in-house creatives. Best decision I’ve ever made. Today, we’re a growing team of problem solvers and storytellers passionate about the products we create and the people we create them for.

What is your typical work week like?

Mondays are always nuts. It’s a crucial day because we’re naturally framing the week’s workload and carrying out essential admin tasks. The rest of the week is made up the usual: client calls, video hangouts, in-person meetings and Basecamp discussions for days. We have a pretty relaxed work environment but we’ve also structured our workdays in such a way where we’re work in and out of the office to make sure we get that valuable in-the-zone time where the social dynamic doesn’t detract from productivity.

Do you have the proper educations, or are you self-taught?

I’d like to say we’re self-taught but the reality is, although none of us have actually received formal training in design through a university, we’re all students of the craft via today’s modern means. Our degrees say YouTube and Google on them. They way we look at it, education is free and as ubiquitous as the Internet in which we find it on. Whether in a magazine, a book, a TED talk or an online tutorial, we fully leverage the resources available to us. So stay in school and pass on grass.

What do you listen to on the workfloor? Could you share some tunes?

We’re a bunch of straight up Wanksters; lots of hip-hop and lots of group singing/rapping. Kendrick forever. We all have different vibes that we work to. Some of the dudes dig classical or super folksy stuff, some like trap or 80’s jams. We’re all musicians so we get down on some blues and good old fashioned straight ahead R&R. Currently, I’m on an electronic kick with Active Child, Tycho, Daughter, Chvrches, Purity Ring and M83’s Oblivion soundtrack to name a few.

Your website describes your work process very well, how strict do you follow this process? Or is it there for marketing purposes?

That’s definitely our literal process, which we distilled from tracking our behavior across several projects over several months. Instead of creating some clever forward facing set of diagrams and then trying to retrofit our actual process to an arbitrary flow, we wanted to honestly observe what came naturally and then communicate that to our potential clients. And also, it’s there for marketing purposes.

You offer a wide range of services. What are you working on the most?

Our approach on every project is earnestly holistic and multidisciplinary so our wide range of offerings reflects that. As our site conveys, our 3 main buckets are branding, interactive and photography/videography and I’d say we rock at least 2 out of 3 on every project. Web is most certainly the cornerstone to each project but it’s rare that we’re not discussing branding or photo/video in the process.

Your identities all have a authentic feel to them. Most of them are using real world metaphors. Is this something you try to create on purpose or is this simply a coincidence?

It’s not necessarily something that gets specifically articulated in our brainstorming meetings but I would definitely say that we’re always aiming for a balance of creative and pragmatic in our identity designs.

Another important part of your identities are the stories behind them. Do you create these stories yourself?

Some yes, some already have an incredible story that just needs to be distilled into a more compelling narrative. We’re just listening until a new perspective pops out at us and serves as the platform for the brand to stand on and reach out from.

Which tools do you use for designing interactive applications, like websites / apps ? Do they meet your needs?

27” iMacs. Adobe Creative Suite. Sketch pads. Text editors. Whiteboards. Brains. Hands. It takes a village. We make sure that if we’re hitting a block on one application or process, we switch it up to another; digital to analog and back again.

Ever forgot to hit command+s after a stressful day?

Oh gosh, so many furious panics after losing hours of work that it gives me heart burn to even talk about it. It’s fewer and farther between these days but it can still happen to the best of us. Thank God for auto-saving programs like Premiere Pro and Photoshop’s recovery feature.

What projects are you most proud of  and why?

Honestly, we’re stoked to be working on the projects that aren’t yet finished. Lots of hush, hush stuff but as much as that sounds like a cop out and as much as we’re proud of our previous body of work, I think if you’re still sitting at the bar bragging about that website you made 3 years ago, you’ve seriously missed what this craft and industry is supposed to be all about. We’re producing the best work we’ve ever produced right now and it’s because we’re constantly chasing excellence and innovation, not trying to hit a prior stride. The past is cool but you know what’s cooler? The future. (Said in a Justin Timberlake voice from The Social Network) Keep an eye out for some exciting new projects from us later this year!

What would be the greatest thing to achieve with your work?

Steve Jobs famously said, “Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.” I’d love to achieve a legacy where our agency isn’t just known for creating beautiful products but more so beautiful products whose functionality revolutionises a company’s trajectory or even an entire industry.

What do you think about upcoming services like themeforest or graphicriver where your potential clients can buy pre-made designs and themes for peanuts? Does that affect your business in a way?

I don’t think it affect us at all because the people who are purchasing those themes are really not in our target demographic to begin with. We are a boutique firm with a very tailored process and if you spend at least 60 seconds on our site, you can figure that out. Our clients know that about us and choose us for that reason. They see their competition spending a fraction of the investment cost on template design while also seeing a fraction of the conversion. So although I’m not exactly jumping for joy that those resources exist and dilute the pool, I’m also not worried that theme sales will encroach on our segment because there is no theme in the world that can meet the unique business goals and needs of a multi-million brand straight out of the box.

In what way do you keep up with new developments in the field? Like new techniques, software, trends. Do you follow (online) courses or visit conventions?

I’m like a broken record on personal development around here. I’m constantly pushing the guys to make improvement a habit. Whether it’s mass emailing them links to articles or discretely slipping magazines on their desk or making book recommendations or calling an impromptu “Hey everyone watch this video with me right now” meeting, I’m definitely a proponent of staying inspired and being intentional about creativity. We love building relationships with other agencies that are where we want to be in a few years. That’s probably been the most refreshing mode of inspiration is just being in the same room with people who are vastly smarter and more experienced than you.

Your thoughts on the following hypes:
  • Mobile First Design — Nope.
  • Responsive Webdesign — Nonnegotiable.
  • Flat Design — Guilty pleasure but probably a bit overplayed.
  • Agile Workflow — Love the principles behind it.
  • Posting work on dribble — A bit self-indulged (then again, so is posting on every other major social network) and definitely warrants unwanted critique but overall Dribbble is a HUGE work source for us. No hate here.
  • Having really neat looking beards — If you can pull off a handsome man sweater on your face, go for it. But let it stop there. Selfies are for girls.
How do you cope with clients that ask for a specific hype from the previous question?

We listen first and educate second. The truth is, some times hypes evolve and become staples in the game. The key is to test their requirements against what is sustainable and equitable for the project. If a client is truly focused on finding the most effective solution for their creative problems, there is usually room for informed persuasion. Clients that listen, what a novel idea! Blessed to work with several.

How do you convince clients to invest in a less conventional concept?

Candy. Lots of candy. Fortunately, we rarely experience a lot of pushback in this area however whenever we do have a client set in their ways, we try to provide clear evidence of why said concept would be worth the risk. At the end of the day, it’s about measurable results and if we can’t promise that, we’re probably off base to even recommend an unconventional concept just for the sake of it.

Wouldn’t it be nice to hire a nice woman to manage your projects?

Haha, this is an awesome question. You’re probably making note of the sausage fest we currently have going on here in the cave. The answer is yes. And we’re waiting for her to reach out to us and force us to shower and shave on a regular basis. Until then, we’ll revel in our boyish ways.

We really like your inquiry form. Does it work? Does it keep demanding clients with low budgets from trying to hire you?

Our project planner is my favorite part about our site because it serves the most useful function. A few months back, we blocked out some time to outline the kind of questions we typically ask in every discovery session and which of those could be helpful to already have answers to going in. We wanted to make our process more efficient while not appearing lazy with a thousand dead end questions. From there we made the necessary changes to our existing form and have seen exciting results in the kind of work that comes in as well as the type of information we’re able to process even before we ever hop on a call.

Where do you go to relax and chill from a hard weeks work? What are your favourite spots and why?

Ybor is definitely a sprawling hub for craft food and coffee in the Tampa area so it’s not uncommon that we’ll just walk down to the strip to take a load off. The Bricks is a stellar local spot that we frequent and owned by a friend of ours. Living close to some of the most sought after beaches in the country doesn’t hurt either for a weekend chill sesh. If we’re feeling a bit more adventurous, we’ll take a Friday off every now and then and hit the roller coasters at Busch Gardens. You know, super dangerous, living-on-the-edge kind of stuff.

Do you have something to add to this interview?

I think your readers have endured enough of my long-windedness. But I will say, I love what you’re doing with the site and Los Bangeles brand. Honored to be a part and looking forward to seeing all the new content to come!

Who should we (try to) interview next?

I’m putting my buddy, Bobby Jones, on blast. He runs an amazing agency called Purple Rock Scissors in Orlando and they’re killing it. Ask him about all his business secrets and then shoot me a private copy of the interview and then don’t even post it and just tell him your hard drive crashed. He’ll understand and I’ll be rich.