Sierra Madre Street hasn’t seen much in the way of pork since Giuseppe’s Old Depot Restaurant stopped slinging pepperoni pies in 2011.
But that’s changing thanks to Neon Pig Creative, which today celebrates its grand opening adjacent to the former eatery and historic train station.
Founded by locals Laura Cameron, Colin Christie and Mike O’Caña, the agency provides branding and graphic and web design, marketing services and social media support, and more.
Here’s the story…
Cameron began her career at Blakely + Company, a marketing firm in Colorado Springs. She went on to work at Oklahoma-based VI Marketing and Branding, where she was responsible for one of the company’s largest local accounts, Colorado Springs Utilities. Cameron also became involved with the American Advertising Federation early in her career, where she met O’Caña and Christie.
At the time, O’Caña owned his own web development company, Rootspring Studios, and Christie was doing design work for hotelier and entrepreneur Perry Sanders’ brand, to include his 365 Grand Club properties. The three worked together on an AdFed volunteer project and, due to some career shuffling, the three decided they could make a go of it in the business world.
Rootspring and its three employees merged with Cameron, Christie and a third employee of Sanders’ and, like the Brady Bunch, they combined their professional families to create Neon Pig Creative, which officially launched in January.
“Mike approached us in 2016 and said he was looking to expand his team and wanted some business partners,” Cameron said. “We said, ‘Hell yeah, sounds awesome!’ We took about a year from that point to get all our ducks in a row. We talked with Perry about retaining him as a client and getting the ‘Pigpen’ set up.”
O’Caña brought clients from his former business while Christie and Cameron were able to convince Sanders that retaining them as a marketing agency would be more economical than keeping them as employees of an internal marketing department.
“We also had clientele, apart from Perry, from our own freelancing on the side,” Cameron said. “We took that year to be sure we could support six full-time team members. That’s very ambitious — especially as young business owners. It was big to have a repertoire of clients in our back pocket.”
And while the team knew it would be able to market others, it still needed to figure out how to market itself.
“We had to figure out a name,” Cameron said. “We had to figure out our brand and how we would roll out as a new company in Colorado Springs.”
Sock it to ’em
The team came up with about a hundred possible names for its brand.
“None were exciting and we needed to stand out and be completely different from anybody else here in this industry,” Christie said. “We needed something that would make a splash. … Coming up with a name among six creatives can prove to be sort of difficult.
“But the name really came from a lucky pair of socks I put on right before my meeting with Perry,” he said. “The morning we went to pitch to Perry I said, ‘Guys, we’re good, I’m wearing my lucky neon pig socks.’
“The pitch happened and went well and afterward Laura threw it out from left field, probably as a joke.”
Cameron suggested Lucky Sock Creative.
“Or maybe Neon Pig Creative,” she said. “It stuck, and we came to terms with neon having this great history in advertising and being part of a pivotal time when you had all these neon signs across downtown lighting up the night sky. We thought it worked really well.”
Snout to tail
Neon Pig Creative calls itself a full-service creative agency.
“That’s anything that goes into the creative or aesthetic of a company,” Cameron said. “That can be anything from logos and branding to graphic design or collateral and website design. We do custom website design and development. We have illustration, hand lettering, a little bit of video and social media work — anything that’s visual to show off your brand.
“We don’t call ourselves an advertising agency because we don’t do media buys,” Cameron said, “but we do have partners in the community that we’ll collaborate with to provide a company with an entire marketing spectrum.
“We try and focus on the creative aspect and making your brand look awesome.”
The team said it studied and even worked for its competition before opening, but the creative community is especially supportive.
“In Colorado Springs we’re lucky because the creative community is really tight-knit,” Cameron said. “We had so much support going into this, even from our competition.”
So what sets Neon Pig apart?
“From traditional agencies, we do like to talk with clients and get into meetings with them,” O’Caña said. “Some agencies still have a layer of an account executive, so a person who has to go to meetings and then work with production artists, graphic designers, vendors. We’re used to doing that in other agencies we’ve worked in and we just like it too.
“That’s not to say we cut out the middle man, but in a lot of ways we’re really responsive to our clients and their needs.”
And Cameron said it’s also about giving clients more than their money’s worth.
“We also want to be approachable for small businesses and be able to provide really kick-ass creative for their brands,” she said. “We want to provide them something cool and edgy but without having to pay for the services of a bigger agency. … We want to be a partner to local businesses in Colorado Springs.”
Perhaps the biggest differentiator, however, is the company’s youth. No one is over the age of 35.
“Fortunately, clients have been receptive to it,” Christie said. “We haven’t gotten a negative reaction that I can think of.
“People seem to be eager to work with us and I think we’ve built a good track record in the industry. It’s a fairly small market and once you’re involved, you know a lot of the people in it and we were able to make a lot of connections because of that.
“If anything, our youth has added to our crazy brand — in a good way.”
Cameron said it sets them apart.
“We’re probably some of the youngest professionals around here in this industry and especially who have gone out and started a business,” she said.
Having grown up both as people and professionals in the Pikes Peak region, the team said there was never discussion of moving away to launch the business.
“We’re pretty passionate about this city,” Christie said. “That was a huge part of staying here: We want to build Colorado Springs. We want to be part of the young generations staying here and driving it forward.”
“I think we’re on the precipice of exploding and becoming something really cool,” she said of the city. “We’ve seen it over the last three to five years — really cool things coming and building here. There’s so much excitement. Why would I want to leave now? I’ve been here my whole life and now we’re seeing it turn into something really cool. Now we can be part of that growth.”