And you decided to focus on community-oriented or non-profit work?

Vakser Zeltser: At the five-year mark, we changed our messaging. Then, it took us about two to three years to grow into that direction. Eight years in, we had very strong messaging on what kind of clients we wanted to take on and what kind of mission we had.

Peraza: Part of it is taking the leap of faith and saying, "This is what I want to do." It was scary to tell the world that we wanted to work for non profits and other organizations and initiatives focused on community good. But once we actually started publishing that kind of messaging on our site, the kinds of clients that came to us were a little bit bigger. We started working for the ACLU and the NAACP, which are more national. That helped us grow into a new tier outside of the local community.

Do you think that was a direct result of the change in messaging?

Peraza: That's a huge factor, just saying what you want to do. People will listen, and they will ask you to do what you say you are going to do. In our early years, we had this generic message that we were a design studio that would do print, web, identity, whatever.

Were you surprised that such specific types of groups started coming to you after you altered your message?

Vakser Zeltser: I found my old business card listing services we did. It was crazy. We did email blasts. We did campaigns. I wouldn't do this now. Yes, narrowing down the message was key.

Peraza: People told us we needed to narrow down and focus, but we didn't know how to focus. We thought focus meant limiting our services. We didn't want to do that because we liked being able to use all the tools at our disposal to tell stories. It took us awhile to figure out that what we really needed to focus on was who we were going to work for and what type of work we were going to do. Packaging it all into one easy-to-communicate message has taken a long time. How do you communicate to civil rights organizations, cultural organizations, and all of these vastly different groups that you do the same thing for all of them? We still constantly work on that, and we're about to do another iteration on our site to try to explain that even better, but over the last year and a half or two years, it's really helped that we've gotten some more recognizable clients like the UN, UNICEF, Good Magazine, Ford Foundation, and TED. Having those names on our roster allows us to say that these are the types of organizations that we work for. It took us a long time to get to that kind of base.

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