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The Business View – November 2014
SMALL BUSINESS OF THE MONTH
Hummingbird Ideas Blends Streamlined Efficiency, Powerful Results
As a youngster, when Crawford Binion watched his father leave on business trips from the GM&O terminal downtown, he found himself fascinated by the Humming Bird.
The Humming Bird was a train that once ran from Cincinnati through Louisville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn., Birmingham and Mobile to New Orleans in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.
The juxtaposition of a tiny, agile hummingbird and a big, powerful locomotive intrigued Binion.
Years later, it seemed the perfect symbol for a company that prides itself on both streamlined efficiency and powerful results.
Hummingbird Ideas, the advertising and marketing firm founded by Binion and two partners in 2004, is the Mobile Area Chamber’s Small Business of the Month.
The two original partners who remain, managing partner Binion and creative director Johnny Gwin, are native Mobilians who worked in bigger firms in bigger cities but were drawn back to Mobile by relationships and have become rooted on the Gulf Coast.
“Hummingbird was never a brilliant, planned idea. It was a necessity – form Hummingbird or leave town,” Gwin said. “In our ready-fire-aim approach, we have thrived and grown because of Mobile. Heck, we started out with three really good clients before we ever named the company.”
The approach, Gwin said, was to create a small conceptual advertising and design studio, providing the same quality work of larger, higher-priced agencies while focusing on efficiency, lower cost and maintaining close relationships with each client.
“Every client, every project, got the Hummingbird A-team,” Gwin said. “We would rather our clients invest their budgets in problem-solvers, thinkers, designers, creators, rather than talkers, hand-holders and middle men. A busy agency is a happy agency.
“We thought and have learned a smaller market like Mobile, without the bigger budgets, is perfect for our type of model.”
The company has grown since its beginnings, adding a partner in art director Tim Dozier, and now employs eight – including a web developer and two full-time social media content creators. While they work with a variety of clients both in Mobile and out of town, the agency’s success with an early client, Alabama Orthopedic Clinic, has brought an influx of work in the medical field, and their designs for Hangout Fest have brought them into the field of entertainment marketing, as well.
Gwin sees continued growth in the social media end of the business and notes that Hummingbird hopes to move toward being a creative consultant and problem-solver for its clients and not just a design and ad agency.
“We really see an opportunity to get companies to look at themselves, know their story and value and be able to motivate their employees, customers and communities,” Gwin said. As the company continues to grow, he said, managing that growth is important to maintaining the streamlined approach.
“We aren’t quite sure how big we can get,” he said, “But we don’t see ourselves as that local ‘little agency that could’ anymore.”
Want to be featured here? Go to mobilechamber.com to submit an application, or contact Danette Richards at 251-431-8652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to read The Business View – November 2014