With a combined decade-and-a-half of experience at two top Connecticut agencies, John Rudolph, principal and creative director of the Newtown-based Map Agency is ready to help any local business, nonprofit, or entrepreneur chart a course to greater brand recognition.
The former graphic developer for Taylor Design and creative director at Catapult Marketing told The Newtown Bee this week his new local agency will give clients access to all the experience he and his team have gained.
“I started at Taylor because I wanted to do something creative, and because I like problem-solving — helping people overcome challenges,” Rudolph said. “So I spent the first half of my career focusing on doing that through design for some high-caliber clients at Taylor. It was a 12-person studio there, and we did some really great work there.”
Then, his years at Catapult instilled Rudolph with a rich background in not only design, but marketing, promotional advertising, and positioning clients for visual media.
“Map Agency is about merging the disciplines of design, branding, and advertising. So I’m hoping to reach out and appeal to clients who are seeking those combined skills,” he said. “It’s about offering them something new, and not necessarily the combination they could get from any one smaller design studio.”
Rudolph hit the ground running on his own, but will tap a rich network of colleagues and experts as needed, based on his clients’ visions for their future brand prescience and marketing goals, “whether that’s social media marketing or media buying or any of a number of specialty talents.”
His short- to medium-range plan involves retaining his own staff to be able to directly and exclusively service his clients with top talent.
“What it really comes down to it, Map will be about helping people and companies break through the clutter and reach their audience,” he said. “That’s the best part of this business — I get to work with people who are passionate about what they do.”
And “what they do” is never specific to one industry. So Rudolph has developed the skills to quickly familiarize himself with the clients, nonprofits, and entities he has served and those he will continue to serve.
“I’m always learning different things from clients, so I can ultimately help them each their audiences more effectively. And it’s always done most successfully through partnership and collaboration. It’s using design to problem solve, and to help clients come up with really creative solutions,” he said.
One of those clients, Lisa Scails, executive director of the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut said, “It is rare for me to connect with someone in this field able to grasp and communicate so well who we are and what we do.”
Scails also appreciated how Rudolph and Map accomplished the work she retained them to do quickly and effortlessly, adding that despite the challenges her agency and constituents faced during the pandemic, she felt, “very lucky to connect with you during this enormously trying time.”
When the Alliance was unable to hold its popular and profitable breakfast fundraiser in 2020, Rudolph helped the organization develop and market a three-month-long virtual art exhibit where donors viewed and purchased those works, attracted by the Map Agency-created tag line of, “The Arts Are > Greater Than…”.
The lead-up invited artists to participate and share their perspective of how to be Greater Than during a time of need, with the common thread based on the adage that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
The art show highlighted the power of the arts through creative expression individually and as whole, and helped the Alliance net over $12,000 as a result — rivaling what they might have made from the annual breakfast.
Rudolph said that much of the work he takes on is subjective, in that there are many artistic components to the creative developments he delivers. At the same time, part of his talent involves harnessing the input and passion of each client to arrive at a finished product that is mutually satisfying and ultimately accomplishes elevating client brands and their presence in the marketplace to new heights.
“I never convey the thought that I am the expert in their field,” he said. “From the first moment of contact, it’s all about learning and listening to them. If I don’t know their business or passion as well as they do, I’m never going to be able to deliver creative solutions that work for them.”
‘Finding Common Ground’
Rudolph understands through his hundreds of prior client experiences that most clients come to him with their own vision of what their brand should look like, how it should sound, and how it should speak to their greater audience of consumers.
“So it’s often about finding common ground, learning their vision and then bringing to the table all the experience we can deliver helping them, as I said before, breaking through all that clutter that’s out there,” he said. “In that respect, there’s both an art and a science to what we do.”
These days, Rudolph said, everybody obviously wants to see a return on their creative or marketing investment, and today there are data metrics that can help affirm whether that brand management and marketing are busting through all the clutter of competitors and others vying for the eyes and attention of consumers.
The local creative is planning to share some of his expertise with fellow Newtown Chamber of Commerce members and guests in a June 8 webinar, as he explains what branding is all about. In this one-hour session (Zoom call or in-person TBD), Rudolph will outline the shortfalls of traditional advertising and highlight the benefits of strategic design thinking.
In an introductory essay he developed for his LinkedIn profile, Rudolph looked back while reflecting on moving forward, perfectly capturing the attitude he hopes to bring to every future client of his Map Agency.
In that bio, he shares, “I’ve always been particular and deliberate about the brand of creative problem-solving I get to call my career. And, as practical as I can be, intuition has always informed my best decisions.
“After two great companies, plenty of planning and internal debate, instinct led me to believe that 2021 would present the greatest opportunity yet,” Rudolph predicted, “That’s why I started my own agency.”
Any potential client who wants to harness that passion for service and results can learn more on social at @map.agency.