Making Their Mark
In a city as rich in history as Montgomery, it’s not unusual to come across buildings that date back several generations. One such architectural find is on Washington Avenue. The more than 150-year-old structure is now home to Stamp Idea Group. Once you cross its threshold, however, cutting-edge technology and innovative design suggest more about the future than the past.
An advertising and marketing firm led by partners David Allred, Jim Leonard and Bruce Reid, Stamp has mastered the art of merging different elements to create better products. The agency office is only one example. Behind its historical façade are contemporary furnishings and high-tech elements, such as electronic glass that with the touch of a button can transform from clear to opaque for private meetings. Stamp has also been successful at integrating traditional forms of advertising such as print, radio and television with new platforms: Web design, mobile marketing and social media. What may be its most significant merger is the one that took place to create it. Stamp was born when former agencies LWT and Reid/O’Donahue joined forces.
When Allred and Leonard began discussing a possible merger with Reid, it seemed to make perfect sense.
“It was complementary skill sets,” Allred said. “I’m kind of a big operations guy. Jim’s a creative guy, and Bruce loves to do business.”
The partners also saw the potential in combining both companies’ strengths.
“Reid/O’Donahue was more of a traditional advertising, marketing and political media agency with extensive media buying experience,” Reid said. “While LWT did some traditional advertising, their emphasis was on Web, digital and interactive. So both companies brought different things to the table, so to speak. With the merger, we were able to combine our traditional strengths with LWT’s interactive strengths.”
The merger became official in April of 2013 and by the fall of that year, both companies were under one roof at the firm’s new home on Washington Avenue. It was also during 2013 that the partners decided it was time to rebrand.
“We probably had 100 names and it evolved down to Stamp,” Allred said. “We really wanted Stamp to be physical – the act of actually, physically stamping something.”
Once the name Stamp was established, the agency’s motto, “Make Your Mark,” was a natural progression.
“We’re telling clients we’re going to help you make your mark, and we’re telling employees if you come here we’re going to let you make your mark. You’ll get to participate in making really good work,” Allred said.
Those employees get to make their mark literally by designing their own Asian-inspired hanko stamp to denote their work. The look is similar to Asian characters but each employee’s unique design is based on a combination of his or her interests.
In terms of helping clients make their mark, Stamp’s ability to stay on the cutting edge of industry trends as well as offer many services in-house are pluses creatively and financially, according to the partners.
“At Stamp, we have been on the edge of change as one of the first advertising firms in Alabama – and certainly the first in Montgomery – to offer a digital development component,” Leonard said. “We’ve also seen the rise in importance of video content in every sphere of marketing. We are one of the only agencies in Alabama to have a videographer, photographer and a dedicated motion graphics specialist on staff.”
“We do go outside occasionally, but we are able to produce virtually everything we need in-house,” Allred said. “We’re able to deliver twice as much product for the same budget by doing it the way we do, which means clients are getting a whole lot more for their money and we’re getting to do some really, really great projects.”
No matter how complex the world of advertising may become, Stamp adheres to a simple mission statement: Do good work. Be good people.
“We want to be good people to our staff. We want to be good people to our clients,” Allred said. “You get to do good work when you have a good relationship with someone.”
For Stamp, being good people also includes giving back to the community. That is why the agency annually participates in CreateAthon, a 24-hour creative blitz during which promotional materials are developed pro bono for local non-profits.
“CreateAthon represents some of the most important work we do each year,” Leonard said. “Since 2003, we’ve worked for over 100 nonprofits and have produced over 200 pro bono projects. For us, it’s satisfying to be able to put our talents to work for the good of the River Region.”
This winter Stamp wrapped up another CreateAthon, just one of many projects keeping the agency busy as it tries to look for new and exciting ways to help clients make their mark.
“Our future plans are to continue to add talented personnel, grow our client base across the state, regionally and nationally, and challenge ourselves to produce out-of-the ordinary, non-pedestrian work that provides an edge against our clients’ competitors,” Reid said.