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Metro unveils first ticket vending machine, allowing more flexible public transit

On Thursday, March 27, Metro, Southwest Ohio’s Regional Transit Authority, will unveil its first ticket vending machine. The machine is located at the Government Square information booth near the intersection of Fifth and Walnut in Downtown Cincinnati and provides 24/7 access to Metro passes and stored-value cards.
“This project has been in the works for several years, but it took some planning,” says Jill Dunne, public affairs manager at Metro. “We want to make riding Metro easier, and this is one way we can do just that.”
The machine is similar to standard vending machines, and offers all Metro 30-day rolling passes including Metro/TANK passes, and $10, $20 and $30 stored-value cards. The machine accepts cash (exact amounts only) or credit cards. Up to four passes can be purchased per transaction.
More ticket vending machines will soon be available in the Clifton area near the University of Cincinnati in the new Uptown Transit District and at other high-traffic transit hubs.
“The Uptown Transit District is a big project for Metro this year,” Dunne says. “The new district consists of four distinct areas or hubs that will serve as the major connection and transfer point for many Metro routes and several Uptown shuttles offered by the University of Cincinnati and area employers.”
Currently, Metro is in the construction phase for the shelters in the Uptown area. The machines will be installed later this year once that process is complete.
“This project will better serve the thousands of people riding Metro to and from jobs, education, medical services, and entertainment in Uptown every day,” Dunne says.
Metro is working on additional fare options for customers that will be available in Metro pass sales outlets and ticket vending machines. Metro passes will continue to be sold at a dozen Cincinnati locations and online at www.go-metro.com.
“The good news for Metro is that Cincinnati is talking about public transportation. We are seeing a positive trend with young professionals embracing alternatives to cars. People are seeking green and money-saving alternatives, and Metro fills those needs.”

By Mike Sarason

The Garage Group adds training services, hosts innovation workshop

The Garage Group, the Cincinnati-based consultancy that helps larger, corporate companies engage with and activate their entrepreneurial spirit, has begun offering training services in addition to their focus on market research and insights and ideation workshops. In conjunction with these services, they will host a two-day workshop in Cincinnati on April 24-25 entitled “Enabling Corporate Teams to Innovate Like Startups.”
The company, located in the historic Longworth Hall amidst several other startup, design and production companies, was co-founded nearly three years ago by Jason Hauer and Ann Lauer, two entrepreneurs who left small firms to start their own business together.
“Three years ago, when we started, the concept of making a corporation more like a startup was very hard for people to understand,” Lauer says. “It was not common language, and we wrestled a lot with it. We got into the training business because we had to do some education to get people to understand the concept.”
According to The Garage Group, things have changed since then.
“Cincinnati has become a more innovative entrepreneurial region in that time,” Lauer says. “We’ve benefitted from that and hopefully made a contribution to it as well. We sit in an interesting position where we get to bridge between the startups and larger companies.
In those three years, The Garage Group has trained more than 1,000 people from large service and Fortune 1,000 companies nationwide on topics such as skills and behaviors for entrepreneurs and how to develop and collaboratively co-create ideas with stakeholders.
“When we think about a traditional company being more entrepreneurial, it’s on two levels,” Hauer says. “At one level its really about developing and launching new products, services and business models. At another level it’s about getting people within the base organization to think more entrepreneurially in terms of how they approach their day-to-day job and continually improve the value that they are bringing to their company, brand or service they are working on.”
The Garage Group will hold their two-day workshop in Cincinnati in April and will follow it up with an additional workshop in Chicago in June. To learn more, visit their website.

By Mike Sarason

SCORE celebrates 50 years of helping small businesses

SCORE, the nonprofit business counseling organization, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Cincinnati chapter of the national organization was initiated in 1964, originally offering free business counseling through retired executive members, primarily focusing on businesses with 25 employees or less.
SCORE’s purpose today is still to provide free business counseling through its members, who include working and retired executives, with the Cincinnati chapter counting 100 volunteer executives and specialists who donate their time. Most chapters also offer business seminars at a nominal cost.
In Cincinnati, SCORE helped more than 1,500 clients in 2013, leading to more thab 350 new jobs in the area. The local chapter was also picked as the runner-up for Chapter of the Year out of 360 chapters nationally. SCORE held 47 free or low-cost workshops for 938 attendees locally, covering topics such as business plan development, startup basics, marketing and sales strategies, and more.
“Even though we are considered a small market city, we as a chapter consistently out-perform the major cities, such as LA, New York City, Chicago, etc.,” says Dennis Murphy, SCORE counselor for the last six years and chair of the SCORE fundraising committee. We have been a Top 5 Performing Chapter ever year that I’ve been with SCORE Cincinnati.”
One of Murphy’s clients, Mary Helen Boedekker, owner of Mary Helen Clothing, began working with SCORE a year ago.
“After my first meeting with my mentor, I knew this organization was special,” Boedekker says. “SCORE gives small business owners the opportunity to move beyond being a small business and get to the next level. Their ability to guide me in the right direction has helped more than I could have imagined. Any time I have a question or need help, I call Dennis and he helps me find a solution.”
“The time is right for the Greater Cincinnati area,” Murphy says. “Cincinnati is well-positioned to lead the Midwest as a hub for entrepreneurs and startups. The investors are here, the support is here; I don’t see any deterrents to huge area business growth on the horizon in 2014 and beyond.”
To learn more about SCORE Cincinnati, visit www.greatercincinnati.score.org.

By Mike Sarason

Cincinnati Chamber launches $1.7M minority business funding campaign

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) announced the launch of the first phase of funding for the L. Ross Love GrowthBridge Fund. The MBA is the Chamber’s economic-development initiative focused on growing sizeable minority firms.
The fund will provide flexible debt capital to finance growth projects of established, highly competitive African-American and Hispanic-owned firms in the region. The average loan size will be $175,000. It is anticipated that three to four loans will be made per year. Once they are, they will be the first of their kind in the country.
“The combination of the target market, the geographic focus and the financial product makes the L. Ross Love GrowthBridge Fund unique,” says Crystal German, vice president of the MBA and economic inclusion at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “The fund will help us grow our impact, the number of firms we touch, and continue to help us fundamentally change the conversation about economic inclusion.”
The fund was named in memory of media owner L. Ross Love. The entrepreneur, philanthropist, former Procter & Gamble executive and founder of Blue Chip Broadcasting was dedicated to minority entrepreneurship. During his career, Love created Blue Chip Enterprises, a company that helped African Americans start their own businesses.
The fund has raised more than $1.7 million from 28 investors since being announced in June 2013, representing both corporations and private commitments.
“The opportunity to make the L. Ross Love GrowthBridge Fund come to fruition was seeded by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, who was looking for opportunities where they could provide financial investments that also created positive social impact,” German says.
Since its inception in 2003, the MBA has created 1,800 jobs in Cincinnati. The success of the Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator has served as a catalyst across the country including in Charlotte, Cleveland, Lexington, Dayton and Greenville, where MBAs have since been launched. Learn more about the history of Cincinnati's MBA and how it has become a model for other MBAs throughout the country.

By Mike Sarason

New downtown law firm is geared toward startups and small businesses

The Law Office of Paul H. Spitz announced the opening of its new office in the Cintrifuse space at 299 E. Sixth St. in downtown Cincinnati. Headed up by attorney Paul Spitz, the boutique business law firm opened its doors in December 2013, offering entrepreneurs, startups, and small and mid-sized businesses legal counsel for their business law and transactional needs.
Cintrifuse is an innovation network designed to successfully launch high-growth startups, specifically focusing on tech companies, and also offers a co-work space for entrepreneurs, programs, mentors and business consultants in its downtown office. Spitz, who had been living and working in San Francisco for the past 14 years, is excited not only by the substantially cheaper cost of doing business here, but also by being a part of the nascent entrepreneurial community in Cincinnati.
“Working out of Cintrifuse puts me right in the center of the startup scene,” Spitz says. “I'm able to interact with the other people using the Cintrifuse space to launch their businesses. I see a lot of enthusiasm from people, a real desire to build something and make an impact. I also see them struggling to find resources that are abundant in the Bay Area, like software people and access to capital. But the community as a whole seems really dedicated to working together to provide mentorship and other assistance to entrepreneurs.”
The law firm provides services such as startup counseling, business formation, choice of entity, founder agreements, contract review and negotiation, commercial real estate leasing, non-disclosure agreements, consulting agreements, employment agreements, corporate governance, and other business law services.
Recognizing that many startups and small businesses are priced out of the market for legal services by high billing rates, Spitz designed his firm to be lean, with very low overhead, so that he can pass those savings on to clients through lower rates and flexible billing arrangements.
"My firm is also just starting up, so I share many of the same experiences and struggles of my clients, giving me a unique empathy as I serve their needs,” Spitz says.
 By Mike Sarason

Cincybite offers city's first third-party restaurant delivery service

A new way to order restaurant food recently made its way to Cincinnati. 
Cincybite, a third-party food delivery service created by local restaurant owner Robbie Sosna, who runs Freshii's downtown franchise, opened December 2 and is now fully operational.
Sosna, who grew up in Cincinnati, returned from Los Angeles after working a variety of jobs in the film, television and restaurant industries. He then began laying the groundwork for Cincybite, met with support from many surrounding restaurants.
"Once I got established in Cincinnati, I started looking for a third-party delivery service, and it just didn't exist," Sosna says. "I kept saying, 'Somebody needs to do this, somebody needs to do this,' and at some point I said, 'Well, I'm going to be the person who does it, because I understand the value and benefit, being a restaurant owner'."
Cincybite, functioning both online and by phone, currently delivers food from Freshii, Buca di Beppo, Jefferson Social, El Coyote, Local's Bar & Grill, and M Wood Fired Pizza.
"I started talking to some people and to the restaurants, and everybody realized very quickly that this was a service necessary for the city," Sosna says. "I wanted to do a smaller platform launch, so now that we've kind of worked out all of the kinks and everything seems to be functioning properly, we're getting ready to put up the additional restaurants and keep on going from there."
Cincybite service extends to downtown Cincinnati, OTR, Clifton, Columbia Tusculum, Walnut Hills, Hyde Park, Oakley, Norwood, Covington and Newport, with plans to expand to the northern suburbs along I-75 as the business develops.
"We have four restaurants that we will launch by the end of January, and then after that, now that we're an established business, many restaurants are contacting us," Sosna says. "Up until this point, for the most part, all you've been able to deliver is pizza or a random Chinese restaurant that might be in your neighborhood. But delivery has not been an actual part of our life here."
Open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Cincybite's delivery prices range from $4.99 - $6.99, varying by location. 
"We're 30 minutes for downtown deliveries," Sosna says. Or if you live in Hyde Park, Clifton, Oakley, Norwood, Columbia Tusculum or Mount Adams, we'll say it'll be 45 minutes from a downtown restaurant, and vise versa."

By Kyle Stone

Tom + Chee prepares for rapid growth in 2014

Tom + Chee, the locally owned purveyor of grilled cheese and tomato soup, has quickly and perhaps not so quietly become the fastest-growing grilled cheese empire in the U.S.
After starting in 2009 as a food tent on Cincinnati’s Fountain Square, the company opened its first brick and mortar store just under a year later. In the past three years, that number has gone from one store to six (three in Cincinnati and three in Louisville), with two more opening before the year’s end (Lexington and East Lansing). But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In the first quarter of 2014, Tom + Chee will open 11 more stores and is currently under contact to open more than 100 locations in the next three years. The catalyst? Getting dunked in the Shark Tank.
In May of 2013, Tom + Chee was featured on ABC’s hit reality TV show “Shark Tank.” Founders Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward appeared on the show, when they won an investment deal with “shark” Barbara Corcoran after pitching expansion plans for their restaurants offering fancy comfort food with fresh ingredients. In the time since then, they’ve been inundated with franchise requests.
“We’ve had over 9,000 requests,” Ward says. “They’ve come from all 50 states, Canada, the Phillippines, Dubai and even the Czech Republic.”
In spite of their impending growth, Ward mentions that many things have and will stay the same.
“When we started this, we wanted to provide fun and inexpensive food, and that hasn’t changed,” Ward says. “And with lots of people getting into the foodie culture, we wanted to provide a fun option that would appeal to that but also didn’t exclude anyone by being too costly.”
“If there’s one thing that has changed it’s that now we actually have some money in the bank,” Ward laughs. “When we were still on Fountain Square, we were putting all of our own money into this, so it’s nice not to worry about being able to pay our rent.” 

By Mike Sarason

German company Forcam brings best in class manufacturing expertise to Cincinnati

FORCAM, the technology and consulting company based in Friedrichshafen, Germany, has continued growing internationally and, more specifically, here in the United States, where its offices are located in downtown Cincinnati.
Founded in 2001 by former SAP managers (another massive German-based software company), FORCAM creates MES (Manufacturing Execution System) solutions for clients like Audi, BMW, Daimler, MTU Aero Engines and more. More practically speaking, the technology they develop helps create more transparent manufacturing plants, giving their clients more reliable data on performance measurement of their machines, maintenance needs and more.
Just over a decade after their inception, in the summer of 2012, FORCAM decided to establish a United States branch of the company in Cincinnati. As its business in the states grew more extensive, the company found it necessary make the move. CEO Franz Gruber’s partnership with Jay Lee, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Material Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, proved crucial in FORCAM’s decision for where to locate.
“Although we are new to the U.S., we are growing fast,” says Julia Brochheuser, Marketing Manager for FORCAM. “We have 21 employees here at the moment but plan to double that size locally within the next two years. We feel very comfortable in the Cincinnati area. It’s good to be a part of the continuous growth and recovery of the city.”
FORCAM’s Factory Framework solution is the worldwide leading MES system. The technology connects, collects and designates real-time data of various computer-controlled types of machines. The signals deliver comparable web-based operating state modes of machines and facilities for each production stage.
“Factory Framework is easily one of our most innovative solutions,” Brochheuser says. The technology was awarded with the Baden-Wuerttemberg Innovation Award of 2006. FORCAM’s first customer, the engine plant of Daimler AG, was chosen “Factory of the Year” in 2008 and 2009.
“To be exceptionally innovative, it takes exceptional people who are motivated to develop new ideas continuously," Brochheuser says. "We maintain a culture of openness, friendliness and a dynamic relationship with our employees.”

By Mike Sarason

Urban League president joins leaders in hailing streetcar construction

Donna Jones Baker, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, has joined the ranks of leaders applauding job creation tied to Cincinnati's streetcar.
"The streetcar is happening," Baker says, "and the Urban League wants to be part of it." She notes that rails are being laid through Over-the-Rhine right now, providing jobs and new options for startup businesses along the line.
Citing the rise in employment in downtown and uptown, Baker says the Urban League wants to "go to work on getting the streetcar to Uptown," where job growth is booming. The initial phase of streetcar construction will run from The Banks to Findlay Market, with “Phase 1b” aiming to stretch uptown to Clifton.
"The Urban League wants our progress to continue, and the streetcar has a major role in connecting important places in our city," Baker says. "If we can re-create neighborhoods where people can live with fewer cars and commute to work by high-quality transit, we're all for that."
“The concept of connecting the 70,000 jobs between uptown and downtown through the streetcar is very valuable,” adds Derek Bauman, Co-Chairman of Cincinnatians for Progress. “There will be a compounding effect, as more people start to move to downtown and Over-the-Rhine … these people will need more services like grocery stores and dry cleaners, which will necessitate new businesses and create more jobs. Those are the true benefits.”
“Another important factor is that the development potential does not just center around a specific neighborhood,” Bauman continues. “The mayor of Kansas City was recently in town, and we learned from him that they are expecting a total of $4 billion to come from streetcar development. When you are able to attract that kind of growth and keep the dollars in the community by spending locally, that’s where the development will far outweigh the expenses.”

By Mike Sarason

CincyTech invests in Mason-based Cloud Takeoff

CincyTech, a public-private venture development organization focused on funding high-tech startups in Southwest Ohio, has invested $300,000 in Cloud Takeoff, a Mason, Ohio-based company that offers an easy and powerful cloud-based tool for contractors in commercial construction.
Cloud Takeoff was named one of the construction industry's Top New Products for 2013 by Constructech Magazine. Cloud Takeoff provides construction estimating (or "takeoff") software coupled with the ability to share digital blueprint plans and  collaborate in real time. The initial target market is contractors and material suppliers who desire an easier way to estimate, share and collaborate online without having to download plans.
The CincyTech investment will allow Cloud Takeoff to accelerate product development, including solutions for all types of  mobile devices. Cloud Takeoff also plans to expand product integrations with plan rooms and content providers around the globe.
“Our mission is to drive talent and capital into high-potential technology companies in Southwest Ohio,” says CincyTech President Bob Coy. “We believe that Cloud Takeoff has the potential to create high-quality jobs and returns for investors.”
"CincyTech was attracted to an experienced management team, led by Phil Ogilby, a seasoned entrepreneur," says CincyTech Entrepreneur-in-Residence Douglas Groh. "Moreover, Cloud Takeoff has already developed a basic version of the product that is gaining traction in the marketplace. The investment and support provided by CincyTech will enable Cloud Takeoff to more quickly build features and functions that greatly enhance the user experience. This, in turn, should accelerate customer adoption."
Truly a family affair, Cloud Takeoff was founded by Phil Ogilby along with his wife, Jane Baysore, and his son Justin. Phil and Justin created a successful estimating software program called Buildware Pro in the 1990s before founding iSqFt construction bidding software. Initially focused on the development of takeoff and estimating software for the commercial roofing and sheet metal industry, iSqFt is now the construction industry's leading online preconstruction management service.
To learn more about Cloud Takeoff, visit their website here.

By Mike Sarason

Fifth Third Bank launches new branch concept

In what seems to be a growing trend among banks, Fifth Third Bank has made some changes to its Carew Tower location, dubbing it a “micro branch." The branch has been scaled down, gone are the bank tellers, and an increased amount of the process has been automated.
“This is the way customers want to interact with us,” says Kevin Sullivan, Fifth Third’s head of distribution strategy.
While the tellers aren’t there to interact with customers, the Carew Tower location is still staffed by two personal bankers. Employees greet customers at the door and can help them throughout the entire visit whether it’s for a transaction, to open a new account or for other needs. The shift is designed to free the employee from having to manage a cash drawer and allow for a more consultative conversation.
While the Carew Tower bank is the first location to adopt the micro branch format, Fifth Third expects to have about 20 micro locations throughout its 12-state footprint by the end of 2014 (the Cincinnati-based company currently operates more than 1,300 branches).
Meanwhile, if customers do need assistance with a more complex transaction, the Fountain Square location still provides the traditional teller experience just a block away.
Fifth Third Senior PR Manager Stephanie Honan notes that, “as technology and customer demands change, we continue to review our branch design.”
“Although customers continue to migrate to mobile, online and ATM banking to service their accounts, our branches continue to play an important role in terms of sales, service and interactions with our customers,” she adds. 
Currently, there are 20 other branches Fifth Third has classified as “heavily automated," but only the Carew Tower has been designated as a micro branch. They plan to monitor each location closely to understand how customers prefer to interact. 

By Michael Sarason

Film written, produced and shot in Cincinnati debuts nationwide

Cincinnati-based Rebel Film Productions debuted its newest film, “A Strange Brand of Happy” in more than 40 markets across the United States during the past two weeks. The film is set in Cincinnati, where it was also written, produced, shot and edited in its entirety. Cincinnati-based
“We wanted this film to be a love letter to Cincinnati,” says Brad Wise, writer and director of the film. “I spent time living in Boston; whenever I watch a movie set there, I get very excited when I can recognize a location. We wanted that same experience for Cincinnatians.”
“A Strange Brand” takes the form of a romantic comedy in which, “an aimless bachelor loses his job and finds himself chasing the same girl as his manipulative ex-boss.”
Wise, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP program in graphic design, found the inspiration for the story while driving to a college roommate’s wedding on New Year’s Eve 2008. “I liked the idea of a guy in his thirties going through a mid-life crisis and getting help from a wily group of retirees,” Wise says. “That combination of ages and personalities seemed like a fun story to play around with.”
Since opening nationwide, including locally at the Kenwood, AMC West Chester and Springdale theaters, the film has already outperformed expectations.
“What we're hearing is that people of all walks and faith backgrounds leave the theater happier than when they went in,” Wise says. “That's about as much as I could've asked for. I've been surprised how many people have said they cried at the end.”
Rebel Film Productions cites its mission as telling stories that, “spark hope where there is apathy, confusion or despair and spark action where there is inaction.”
“This is a story about people you can relate to who are trying to figure life out, even though they don't have all the answers,” Wise says. “When we see and hear stories of friends helping each other ‘find’ themselves, I think that sparks a sense of hope that it could happen in our own lives.”
To learn more about “A Strange Brand of Happy” and watch the trailer, click here.
By Michael Sarason

Scott Belsky kicks off Cincinnati Mercantile Library's new lecture series October 21

Cincinnati's Mercantile Library is reaching into the past with its new 2035 Lecture Series.

The annual series, which kicks off in October, taps forward-looking business leaders to talk about the "future of business, management, design, philosophy, science, and technologies and the ways those will shape the economy of Cincinnati and its region."

"It's a nod to those guys who started up the library," says Mercantile Marketing Manager Chris Messick. "The library was founded in 1835 by young clerks and merchants who were the startup pioneers of their time."

This year's inaugural lecture features creative entrepreneur and best-selling author Scott Belsky who will speak October 21 at 6:30 p.m. downtown at the library. Tickets are $20. You can purchase them here.

Belsky co-founded Behance, a platform that allows creatives to show and share their work online. Adobe acquired the company in 2012, and Belsky is Adobe's vice president of products-community, according to his bio.

His lecture will be based on his book, "Making Ideas Happen," which walks readers through the process of making a creative idea a reality, Messick says.

"We have a lot events where authors speak, but this is something new. A lot of people in the design world use his site to display portfolios online, and we have a lot of activity around marketing and design downtown. I think this will get a lot of interest," Messick says.

The Mercantile is city's oldest library, with a mission "to make a difference through literature and ideas, advancing interest in the written word, and celebrating the best in literary achievement." A diverse group of authors including Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Saul Bellow and Salman Rushdie have spoken at Mercantile events.

The year 2035 marks the Mercantile's 200-year-anniversary, and this lecture series reflects the historic library's mission to remain a relevant part of the city's creative and business community. The library is supported by membership fees, with memberships starting at $55. The library's blog, Stacked, is popular in local literary circles.

Kroger, dunnhumby, and Murray Sinclaire, Jr./Ross, Sinclaire & Associates, LLC are the inaugural sponsors of the 2035 lecture.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter.

Speed dating event pairs entrepreneurs with designers

On October 3, an innovative twist on speed dating called Meet Your Match will pair Cincinnati-based entrepreneurs with local designers. Hosted at The Brandery—one of the top startup accelerators in the U.S.—the goal of the event is to introduce budding startups to design firms and help them obtain essential services for getting their businesses off the ground.

As part of Cincinnati Design Week, which runs September 30 through October 5, a secondary objective of the matchmaking event is to educate entrepreneurs about what types of services designers can provide; how those services can elevate their business image; and how those services are priced.

The event is sponsored by Artworks' SpringBoard, a business planning and development program that helps artists, artisans and creative entrepreneurs achieve their artistic and economic goals by creating a unique and collaborative learning environment.

During the 90-minute event, entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to interview three designers who are interested in meeting that entrepreneur’s design needs. Rather than paying cash, participating businesses can offer $500 of goods or services in exchange for well-designed collateral that will take their ventures to the next level. Business owners will identify their design needs by selecting from a set menu of services that includes everything from T-shirts and web ads to brochures and business cards. Entrepreneurs will also disclose the goods and services they are prepared to exchange if a match is made at the event.

"Meet Your Match is designed to give entrepreneurs an opportunity to meet multiple designers in 90 minutes," says Sarah Corlett, Director of Creative Enterprise at Artworks. "Finding the right person or firm who can visually represent your company is a bit like finding the right mate. Rather than spending weeks scheduling interviews, this event facilitates those first interactions, saving both the entrepreneur and the designer time and resources."

The event is scheduled from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on October 3. Spaces are still available for both entrepreneurs and designers who want to participate. You can find a simple application form for entreprenuers and application form for designers at the Springboard website. Applications are due September 25 by 5 p.m.

By Sarah Whitman
Sarah is Managing Editor of SoapboxMedia.com.

Sunrise Advertising begins a new day, unveils new branding

Sunrise Advertising, in line with their tenth year anniversary, has unveiled a new look and positioning designed to better reflect their expertise with established brands. The full-service marketing and advertising agency, located in downtown Cincinnati, has rolled out the rebranding throughout the agency’s collateral and unveiled their new website in August. This marks the first time in the company’s history that they have gone through such a process.
“As we prepared for our tenth year in business, we spent a considerable amount of time evaluating our corporate direction and our greatest opportunity for continued growth and success,” explains CEO Brian McHale. “Strategic planning is about making choices—it’s probably more important to agree on what you’re NOT going to do as it is to decide what you will do as a company.”
The new positioning, dubbed "Energizing Established Brands," calls out the agency’s specific area of expertise.
“At Sunrise, we pride ourselves in our ability to help give everyone’s favorite brands succinct messaging and a relatable personality with their key audiences,” McHale says. “It’s only appropriate that we also re-energize our look and feel to reinforce our expertise in helping companies who want to maximize their reach in a timely, relevant way.”
Sunrise’s clients include Skyline Chili, Cintas, US Bank, the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network and more.
“We have a strategic process called a New Day Process that we used to guide us,” McHale says. “Throughout our history, we have had a tremendous amount of success energizing established brands, so it is a natural place for us to live. It is also a position we can own, as we are the only ad agency in the country with this focus. It is a true differentiator for us.”
CEO McHale has owned the company since 2008, but has been in the marketing industry for 25 years. Previously, he worked on the production side in California for the NBC Network, working on TV shows like "The Tonight Show" and "Wheel of Fortune" before returning to the Midwest and getting into the ad agency business. He hasn’t looked back since.
“2014 is already shaping up to be a very interesting year for Sunrise,” McHale says. “It will be a year to continue to fine tune and focus the Sunrise brand. We also have several new clients that have recently committed to work with us, like Ashley Furniture Homestores and Morris Furniture, so next year will be a year where we will get to roll out our initial thinking for those brands. I’m looking forward to our brand’s continued evolution!”

Michael Sarason
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