NY Times, Small Business—Interview
The Byne Group
-November 30, 2007
The award-winning Byne Group is a full service strategic design, branding, web and advertising design firm. Founded by Ann Mendelsohn Byne in 1990 and incorporated in 1998, it is headquartered in the historic Montebello mansion in Rockland County. Since its inception The Byne Group has become a cutting edge marketing and design firm, with a diverse client base, encompassing health, technology, consumer products and services, higher education and B2B. The Byne Group’s goal is to create comprehensive marketing programs that meet the specific objectives of each and every client, regardless of size and budget. This personalized approach has helped The Byne Group attract and more importantly, retain its clients.
Q: Design is a black art for a lot of people, plus there is the issue of taste... "chacun a son gout." But sometimes-small businesses need to upgrade their look. How do they know it's time to make that project a priority?
A: The right “look” or “brand” should be a priority for any size firm and it doesn’t have to break the bank! I tell my clients to start small, you don’t have to build a mansion, just start off with a small home with a strong foundation and lots of room to add. Assess the materials you use, are they consistent in look, do they still reflect who you and your target markets are, if not its time to update their “look or “brand”.
I don’t know if most small businesses truly understand what a brand is. It tends to be the marketing buzzword of the hour. A “brand” encompasses a company name, logo, tagline, business cards, etc. But in essence it is much more… a brand is a piece of real estate your business occupies in a persons mind, and the related impressions, good or bad that it leaves behind. Wouldn’t we all want to control that? When you meet someone for the first time we are judged on so many levels; how we speak, our demeanor, dress, color of our hair, even how we shake their hand. Think of each trait as parts of your brand, and the whole package is the overall “brand” impression you leave behind.
Q: Running a small business for the first time means lots of new challenges. What part of entrepreneurship have you worked hardest on?
A: For me it has always been learning to take a “leap of faith”. I was the middle child, and honestly I don’t believe there were ever any high expectations for me other than getting married and raising a family. I am just not a risk taker and when I read books about entrepreneurs that’s always one the top personality traits. So how I approach growth throughout my 20 years of business is probably a bit different from the norm….. I look at where I am at any given time in my business and my personal life and ask myself one simple question, would I still feel good about my business and myself if 5 in years I was in the same place? When you make yourself accountable in that way it can really motivate you to make changes fast.
I will probably always struggle with taking chances, but I feel good about where I am today and look forward to achieving my goals for my next “leap of faith”.
Q: What would you do if you weren't in business for yourself?
A: In my generation all little girls wanted to be just like the character Nurse Nancy from the golden book series, the books had band-aids and cool stuff for playing make-believe, even then, cross-marketing existed! Unfortunately as a teenager I realized I couldn’t walk into a hospital without feeling horribly sad and sorry for everyone so my first dream was abandoned.
When I went to Pratt I had a dual major of art education and graphic design. I still teach classes on marketing and branding occasionally and love the interaction with the audience. Fortunately I have the opportunity as creative director of my own firm to mentor and teach my own amazing staff. I think if I wasn’t running my own business I would like to be a full time college professor trying to inspire the next generation of designers.