Generate Design: Begin at the Beginning
Tiffany and Paul Barth, owners of Generate Design, arrived in North Carolina in the early 1990’s with a dream to one day own their own design business. But like all things, it wasn’t easy to succeed, and it didn’t happen overnight. With every large undertaking, there’s always a mission, a vision, and a beginning. Read More…
Tiffany and Paul met at Iowa State University during their last semester of college, where they both earned their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design.
The two met during their last semester of college, a time when plans for the future, a sharpening of talents, and the pursuit of excellence are always on one’s mind. Their evening class was taught by an industry professional, so every project required the kind of research, listening, deep thinking and graphic design work that would really grab his attention. He ran a design firm in the daytime in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Twice a week, he would drive to Ames, Iowa and teach a blended mix of professional practice, and graphic design— bringing down brutal critiques and uplifting students with pinpoint praises and highly individual encouragement.
She Was Going To Be An Award-Winning Graphic Designer
A mutual friend introduced the two of them, and working shoulder to should on joint projects they found a rhythm of give and take, pitching their strengths together when needed and each doing their part to achieve success. Paul remembers the projects in that class as though it were yesterday:
“There was one memorable project that Tiffany really took us by storm with. We were working individually, but back in the days of CDs… [ does anybody out there remember CDs and designing CD Covers? That’s the kind of graphic design the professionals really pushed themselves to design ]… She created this look which blew the whole class away.”
“Following that, she created an exhibit design project in those days which would still really steal the show at most conferences today. That’s kind of why its such a joy to do trade show booth projects, I’m just instantly back in that class! But there was one project which really stuck out and took the cake. Tiffany created a packaging design for a tea company complete with branding. Not just the logo, the art, the box design, ingredients, the whole package design! Everything from the exterior, to the slotted case the tea bags came on the interior, to the copywriting.”
“Her attention to detail was absolutely amazing! Every element was really thought out well. The package design was absolutely unique and it just really stood out to all of us how well it was executed. Both the professor and I could easily see that package design going to market and being a real winner. If she could bring that level of excitement and detail to a project, I just knew she was going to succeed.”
North Carolina: Good Luck or Great Decisions in Graphic Design?
Paul Barth: Pursuit of Design Big and Small
Completing an undergraduate degree in design left Paul with a vast array of choices. Should he venture into the design field, continuing to sharpen his skills by putting them to use? Should he continue to freelance and work on his own satisfying customers and making a name for himself? Should he put his knowledge to work and increase the knowledge within the field of graphic design through expansive graduate work? With an eye on the future, Paul ended up traveling to graduate school after being accepted at the Art Institute of Chicago. Building on his knowledge of the craft, Paul hoped to be able to have big discussions and be able to integrate the 40,000 foot view of big business solutions with those of the important daily decisions needed by small businesses and those trying to rebrand and grow their small business into medium and large businesses.
Tiffany Barth: Corporate Design and Business to Business (B2B) Mastery
Nearing graduation, Tiffany interviewed and was selected for an internship at IBM’s Design Center here in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park (RTP). Giving every opportunity its due and never backing down from a challenge, Tiffany moved to North Carolina to accept a job with the IBM Design Center in 1990. At IBM, Tiffany designed in-house manuals, brochures, newsletters, department logos and invitations. Soon afterward, Paul joined Tiffany in North Carolina and was hired as a graphic designer for Glaxo Smith Kline’s design department in Research Triangle Park, where he designed logos, brochures, newsletters, manuals and other printed materials.
Greater Designs At Play
Tiffany’s job evolved from intern to supplemental to contract a full-time at IBM. In 1990, Tiffany invited Paul to visit her and see what design sensibility the southern United States had to offer. While Tiffany worked, Paul got to thinking about the climate. He had his portfolio with him and thought:
“I’ll just interview at a few places… you know… just for fun.”
During this process, Paul Barth interviewed and was offered a job on the spot with Glaxo Smith Klein. With that, it was really decision time— would he continue with graduate school and leave the woman he loved behind— or should he get launched in the industry, move to Raleigh, North Carolina, and maybe get engaged and married? Paul Barth made a decision to stay, and soon Tiffany made a decision to become Tiffany Barth. Tiffany and Paul Barth were married in 1991 and they have called the Triangle area home ever since.
Ready For The Big Leagues of Graphic Design
In 1995, Paul & Tiffany began talking about starting our own business. What were you up to in 1995?
Generate Design had already come up with a name, but still had to work on their company branding and brand messaging. So few small businesses realize how important it is that your business branding is properly built for success. So many businesses fail because without a powerful logo, business cards, advertising, or a web site that will get them noticed, they cannot bring in enough revenue to succeed. This was a mistake that Generate Design would not be making.
The two of the them had to work out a successful business plan. Then, they had to gather and make industry contacts, get referrals from past clients and new businesses, as well as acquiring a business loan— The basic trappings of a business which were required to buy computers and basic office supplies. It was a larger process to get things rolling, but once they began, everything fell into place.
Tiffany and Paul Barth both had experience in the working world, so things progressed smoothly. Paul had experience working in an advertising firm, Mock and Associates, and they both had extensive experience in corporate America. Paul’s variety of experiences with large and small business design and Tiffany’s experience inside large companies and meeting internal standards really bolstered their readiness. So, after about eight years in the industry They set out on their own.
“We thought that 8 to 10 years learning from others might be early, but we felt ready. We made enough contacts at that time— a lot of it was word of mouth from satisfied customers and we were offering some of the best logo designs in Raleigh Durham at the time, and Google wasn’t as popular as it is now. In effect, we did well because our customers did well. Its a beautiful cycle— treat your customers well, and more customers arrive. Treat them well, and the cycle continues. This is just how a business should be.”
1998 Launching Generate Design
In 1998, Tiffany and Paul’s dream of owning one of their own top design firms became a reality when they launched Generate Design, an innovative graphic, web and app development and design company specializing in creative, responsive design that brings companies closer to their clients. The firm was founded on the principle of being passionate about providing clean, clear design solutions and customized service to meet the specific needs of diverse clients in financial services, technology, education and health care. The company has built its reputation on timeless design tailored to each client’s needs, professional copywriting, and successful client branding with visual images that elevate their marketing. The firm delivers on its promises with the right messages to the right audiences at the perfect time.
First Big Client?
Generate Design treats each client to a great branding and design experience. The first truly large client for Generate Design was Raleigh’s Cotton Incorporated. At the time, they were headquartered near Crabtree Valley Mall, and they needed an annual report design. It is easy to reminisce about great clients.
“After knocking it out of the park with some of our best annual report design, they followed up with newsletters, and were similarly impressed. Cotton, Inc. needed a great deal of the science and research side support. Because all of their marketing focus was up in New York on Madison Avenue, they could think on a large and distant scale. But, because their headquarters and many of their key people were here, they needed local support. With our extensive background and branding expertise, they needed an outside design firm to help them with a lot of materials. We did some pretty thick books, booklets, and manuals with them. They looked great because they knew what they wanted, and all we had to do was deliver on their expectations.”
Division of Duties: Design Strengths and Business Brains
The Business began to grow and expand, and each had to play to their strengths. Paul Barth moved into a position as the president, working with customers and managing tasks. Tiffany Barth was the business owner, and stepped confidently into the CEO position.
As CEO, Tiffany Barth is chiefly responsible for the firm’s accounting system, identifying and managing Generate Design’s budgets, setting up pricing strategy, publicizing and promoting the company’s services, and developing comprehensive business plans. She’s truly the brains of the company. Her family comes from a strong business background, with both parents in the business field. Tiffany’s father was a designer, working with restaurant products and lighting design. Tiffany’s mother was in the grocery business, and she’s always been around businesses, imparting her sensibilities to the whole family. From this fertile soil, Tiffany Barth keeps a head for business and spends her time setting up strategies that helps customers succeed.
As President, Paul Barth meets with clients directly to customize strategic business and sales plans through creative art direction. This direction includes: app and web design and development, branding, logos, newsletters, E-newsletters, brochures, trade show displays, advertising, and public relations. Paul oversees Generate Design’s design, copywriting, editing, art direction and photography. Both of Paul’s parents are teachers and artists, imparting a strong sense of understanding, exploration, and holistic design where every piece of the puzzle must fit together to work properly. With their deep knowledge of relating to others, Paul Barth understand each client— discussing valuable tactics, how to reach their customers more efficiently, and helping small businesses grow and rebrand for the future.
The Pathway To Becoming A Woman Owned Small Business (WoSB)
What kept them on the path when times get complicated? Why succeed when many small businesses fail? Let’s hear it in Paul’s own words:
“Starting a small business on our own? This scared me to death, even with our preparations. Generate Design was really her brainchild, her idea, and it only worked because we worked hard and refused to give up. She convinced me that we could do it, and her strength helped me to believe it.
“We also had a family at the time, so we would split our business time a lot. I would work during the day, meeting with customers and putting on a public face for our graphic design. She would work on business primarily during the evenings, putting in the long hours of research and design that really took customer advertising and designs to the next level. With growth based primarily from Word of Mouth advertising, we had to get a nanny so we could both work together to meet customer needs and grow a small business. We were both very cautious and yest very optimistic. Working with people to find the best solutions to their advertising and small business needs required far more than a 45 hour work week. That’s why we still push beyond the 9-5 day.”
Generate Design is a Woman Owned Small Business (WoSB) that was founded Raleigh, NC where we continue to do business from today.
Working In A Woman Owned Small Business (WoSB)
Tiffany Barth is the visionary, the strategic mastermind on the marketing and business side of things. Working with a woman-owned business, our customers get a sense of balance around our designs. Working with Generate Design is not like receiving ideas from a bunch of guys in a room. Our customers get other viewpoints and opinions so they receive a balance of feminine and masculine ideas. This balance allows our team to fit an agile business methodology into our strategy for businesses and branding, pivoting and adjusting designs to really, really fit customer needs.
Traditional advertising firms can really only work with a single type of customer— small firms targeting small businesses, and medium firms targeting medium businesses. One thing that helps us to be an award-winning graphic design firm and website design agency in the Raleigh-Durham area is that we tend to cross over all of those. Our experience as a small business means we have the ability to recognize small business concerns and how growth factors into the decisions which need to be made. Working with medium businesses has allowed us to understand the need for rebranding, staying true to your customers, but still trying to grab a larger piece of the pie. Large businesses all seem to like to work with us and many admit it’s partially because we are a woman owned small business. We emphasize an understanding and empathy in our work. Tiffany has been on both sides of the fence, working for large businesses and with businesses.
Staying In Business Is More Than Money. It’s People.
Generate Design has managed to keep its graphic design staff for over ten years without turnover. Is there a method to this? Paul tells us his take:
“You’ll really have to ask the team. We try and make it comfortable here, and we try and not have our design talent work overtime. We break a lot of the rules and the stereotype of an award winning ad agency, where people get burned out, used up, forced to work overtime, have to share office space or have to share equipment. We keep updated equipment and give everybody their own space and work stations. Industry standard isn’t enough. We use current software and hardware to keep everything up to date , so everybody has the tools they need. We keep communications as clear as possible/
“It’s hard to juggle so many different things, but many businesses focus so much on clients that they neglect their team. Clients are happy when our people are happy. Our team is excited about the variety of clients that are coming in. It isn’t just the same thing over and over and over again. One week we’re running three new websites and annual reports. The next week we’re working on a logo for a small business and helping a company rebrand for enterprise-level growth. Next week we’ll find ourselves creating and experience room based on some successful package designs we did the year before. Repeat customers are a joy, and they love to show our work to their friends and colleagues. What could be better? We could never accomplish this without the people who work here. Its more than money which keeps this business running. It’s the people.”
Is This a Left-Brained Or Right-Brained Business?
One question that comes up from time to time relates to the Generate Design team. Is the business more creative or more analytical? Luckily, we manage to bring both together under on roof.
Paul Barth originally went to college to become a mechanical engineer, however at the end of his time, he finished as a graphic designer. The creativity and yearning to see a balance of technical and organic is built into the Generate Design aesthetic. We’ve had many people say that we’re unusual because we’re a creative group that they can also depend on because we keep schedules. Often, the most creative people are either unreliable, undependable, and work on their own timelines. Alternatively, a businesslike group might be right on time, but not very creative. At Generate Design, our team seems to have a good balance of both.
This Business Is More Than Just Four Walls, Customer Experience Is Key
What do customers say? Often, they tell us that responsiveness is just one piece of the pie. We hear about how our interior design in this location is just fantastic. It strikes them as soon as someone walks in: there’s art on the walls, there are nice places to sit and wait, each office is designed, and everybody’s happy. Phones are answered right away or within the first three rings. The break room is always stuffed with snacks and cold beverages to keep customers satisfied so they can focus on getting their ideas across quickly and clearly.
Tiffany Barth designed each interior space. Her focus is very much on serving the customer, serving others, and making them comfortable. Offering our customers a drink when they come in, having a personable interaction with each individual, satisfying small needs and larger concerns is what we’re all about. At Generate Design, we don’t want to have a phone tree. We don’t want to be robotic and automated. We’re maybe just a little more boutique because people that want to work with us like things that way. We deliver a great experience because we deliver a great product.
Don’t take our word for it. Contact Generate Design today about your project, and let’s put together the graphic designs which will move your brand forward!