I didn’t want to waste my life. That’s really how it all started.
When I joined the team in January 2011, Trevett’s was primarily a print and mail facility. They were beginning to add some digital capabilities but did not specifically offer graphic design services. My role was going to primarily be printing and working behind the scenes on some digital set-up, while seeing if there was any market for my design skills.
In the world of high-end graphic design, print-shops are notorious for having low tier design services. By and large, the goal of a print-shop designer (at least back then) was NOT to solve a creative problem, but rather to take orders.
About taking orders…
When I worked at Chick-fil-A as a teenager I was a really good order taker. I was almost always on the front lines because I could listen well, work fast, and had a nice smile (or so I was told).
But when it came to graphic design, I couldn’t seem to just do what I was asked — especially if the person making the orders didn’t seem to know why they were ordering in the first place.
In my early days at Trevett’s (now Trevett’s Print + Mail), I was always asking questions, pushing boundaries, and trying to help people think before paying us to design something.
“You want a business card for your business, but you don’t have a logo, website, email, or even a business to put on it?”
“Who is your audience for this brochure? Would a short video be more effective?”
“Why do you want to pay us for a logo and website for a business that isn’t even viable?”
These kinds of questions illuminated a divide between two types of clients.
Some people appreciated that we were helping them think.
Some people… did not.
“What is this garbage that I do not want, did not ask for, and will not pay for!!! All for something your guy should have been able to point and click and do in his sleep!!!!!”
(Actual customer feedback — I was “your guy” and the something he would not pay for was my attempt to “help” a very poor design.)
I didn’t want my work to go to waste. I had to find a way to work with clients who valued how graphic design could help solve their problems.
BUT as a print shop, Trevett’s still needed to be able to provide design services for those who simply wanted to have their order taken.
So, we wanted to figure out a way to serve both customer types well.
Behind the scenes we were trying to brand our design department as its own entity. But, nothing ever felt quite right. We didn’t have clarity on our mission nor how we would co-exist with the overall Trevett’s brand, and therefore many of our efforts felt like spaghetti throwing — nothing stuck.
In 2020 we finally took the time to treat the creative team branding like a customer project… and suddenly there was a breakthrough.
What is it we actually do and how does it all work together?
Trevett’s: Print + Mail & Trevett’s Creative…
We were almost there. It was while actually working on the brand identity, that the final detail fell into place — the plus.
That was it. And we didn’t just jump on the PLUS bandwagon just for kicks — our plus actually has two meanings.
1) Think beyond.
Our creative problem solving is not limited to a specific industry, so, we are ready to grow with our clients. While we focus and begin with a brand identity as the foundation of a successful brand, we help customers solve a wide variety of creative problems.
On any given day, we could helping an organization define their values, designing signage, creating a slide deck, or actually developing a cohesive brand identity.
The plus says we can think beyond what a customer may be asking for in order to solve the underlying problem.
2 ) Make it better.
Even great ideas can be made better. Never settle.
When Walt Disney would visit the Imagineers at his studio, as he assessed projects that seemed ready and finished he would tell them to “plus it” — to take something good and make it even better.
He understood that the details, the plus, is what makes the difference between ordinary success and extra-ordinary impact — between responses like, “That’s nice,” and “Oh my gosh that is incredible!!!”
We soft-launched the brand for Creative+ in 2021, but we continued operations under Trevett’s while we got our legs under us. Now, as of January of 2024, we officially split the books and launched Creative Plus, LLC as a separate entity.
The great news is that we still continue to serve both customers. We have designers on both teams, and can share workload seamlessly depending on customer needs. Meanwhile, Creative+ can more clearly market to organizations who are looking at the big picture of their brand and how every touch point interacts with their audience.
That is how (and why) Creative+ was born.