Apr 28

We sat down with Oblique’s founder, Janice Ferrante, as she reflected on the challenges, accomplishments, inspiration and everything else that comes with running an agency for 20 years.

 

Q: Have you always loved art/design?

A: Ever since I was a kid, I have always had a passion for art, creativity and visual communication. I was fascinated with textures, forms, typography, and architecture. I exuded curiosity and needed to be in a profession that matched my creative ways of thinking.

 

Q: How did you decide to become a designer?

A: My mom knew early on that I needed to express myself in some way so she took me to watercolor classes when I was only 14 years old. I excelled in high school art classes and started out as a communications major in college. After my first lecture hall class consisting of 400+ students, I knew I was in the wrong place. I switched to a small design department with other creatives like me and it felt like home. I never looked back.

 

Q: What led you to start your own studio/agency?

A: I worked in various agencies in New Jersey, New York and Colorado for over 10 years as an Art Director. Unfortunately, mental health became an obstacle at a certain stage of my career. Even though clients were choosing my designs and I was successful, I was faced with a project that overtook my confidence. I became depressed and had to leave the agency. After taking some necessary time off and obtaining my own freelance projects, I soon established a name for myself and started Oblique Design. I worked with a variety of clients and sizes of agencies to assess what I really wanted for my future. My first clients were Ricola, Solidworks and BMW of North America. 

I developed the necessary tools, confidence and mentorship needed to start my own agency. I’ve always said that the birth of Oblique Design came from not being able to come up with a brilliant idea.

 

 Q: What are some challenges you faced early on?

A: Scalability was huge. Once I started working on larger projects and obtaining new clients weekly, I hired employees and got an office. I took a risk, worked hard at obtaining new business and eventually found momentum that felt secure.

 

Q: What are some of your most memorable clients/projects?

A: A few clients and projects come to mind. The first was working with the motorcycle department at BMW. Since I’m a rider, they asked me to design a brochure to encourage women to get out and ride their own bike. It was a brochure about building confidence for women and educating them on proper riding techniques. We conducted photoshoots in California with eight women and it was an absolute blast.

The second project was working with MINI. Oblique designed consumer brochures, POP displays and even created a commercial for their MINI Value Services Plan. The team at MINI was nothing short of a ride in and of itself with adventures around every corner. 

The other project that I poured my heart into was a CBD client called Cause+Medic. Our client sold an app he developed and took the money to create an all natural CBD cream to help his mother who suffered from multiple sclerosis. Oblique helped with branding and created package designs for over 4 products. His products are now in Four Seasons spas and sold on Amazon.

 

Q: How have you noticed the industry change in the last 20 years?

A: I started working in the design and branding industry 30 years ago. It has changed so much, most noticeably due to ever changing technology. My core experience was print design and throughout the years, print is becoming obsolete and most of the work we do at Oblique is website design, packaging and branding. I’ve learned to be flexible and adapt to meet the trends in our industry.

Q: What is the biggest threat currently in the design industry?

A: There are more and more online services that create quick, templeted logos, websites, marketing materials and everything in between. Our ideal client understands the value of an agency like Oblique who provides custom marketing and branding strategies and solutions by working with you and getting to know your team.

One more challenge is the aftermath of COVID. Many agencies had to close their offices and are now working at home. There is a creative flow and connection that gets lost at times when a design team is not collectively working in the same space.

 

Q: You spent 2019 working and traveling abroad. What led you to pack up and travel?

A: I was targeted on Instagram by a company called Remote Year and their tagline hooked me in…”Work in 12 countries in one year and leave the logistics to us.” Oblique was working out of a co-share workspace so we had flexibility. I spoke to my current clients and they encouraged the entire experience. They trusted me and my team that nothing would change from an accountability and performance point of view. I asked my Account Manager if she wanted to take this journey with me and we made the decision to have a traveling agency.

Q: How did working abroad change your creative process?

A: Each minute throughout the day was a constant stimulus. Working in co-share workspaces in Japan, Kuala Lumpur, Vietnam, Portugal, South Africa, Mexico City and other parts of the world was an incredible experience. Our creative juices were magnified and continually flowing. As a designer, I was influenced and inspired in each country we lived in and it showed in our work.

 

Q: What were some challenges you faced working and traveling?

A: The time difference was the biggest hurdle. We worked in Southeast Asia and Europe for 8 months, so our typical work day started at midnight and lasted all night. We established a solid routine and our clients actually said our commitment and dedication increased throughout the year.

 

Q: What is your most positive take away from the experience?

A: As our industry and the typical work landscape continue to change, we know now that we can adapt to pretty much anything. Oblique has the ability to work fully remotely and serve clients around the world, no matter what may come.

 

Q: What do you see for the future of the industry?

A: As more low budget, templated options for branding and website design become available, we predict that more small to medium size companies will be looking for nimbler options to meet their design and marketing needs. Oblique is already filling this niche by offering custom marketing solutions without the overhead costs of a larger agency. 

And with COVID’s work from home policies as a catalyst, it looks like the future is freelance. We predict seeing more fully remote client teams and working with more freelance talent to keep our agency lean and customize our approach with each individual client who knocks on our door. Video calls are here to stay, and while we love meeting our clients face-to-face, we’ve been working remotely for years and are no stranger to cultivating long distance relationships.

 

Q: What do you see for the future of Oblique?

A: We aren’t going anywhere! However, we do limit our client roster to only 3-4 clients at a  time to provide optimal personal attention for all of our projects.

 

Q: If you could do it all over again, would you do anything differently?

A: Life is full of experiences and lessons. Looking back, there is nothing I would have done differently. I reached out to mentors and experts in the industry when needed. My team and offices expanded when it was time. We listened to our clients and served as an extension of their team. We stayed flexible and nimble with budgets and deadlines where necessary. In other words, we were adaptable and still are. I’m grateful to say our current clients kept coming back for more and new business continues to flourish.  

 

Q: What are you up to beyond Oblique?

A: I am currently bringing a cannabis-infused gummy to the market. The gummies each correspond with one of our seven chakras, and the brand is called Root to Crown. We’ve created a hand-crafted gummy that includes a nutraceutical profile that removes the paranoia associated with ingesting edibles. Think of it as weed with intent and purpose, rather than just getting high. Keep an eye out for Root to Crown in stores soon! Stay in the loop on all things Root to Crown, visit the website and join the mailing list.

Feb 14

Creating or revamping a brand goes well beyond logo design. Before elements like color, shape or typography are even considered there is a lot of strategy and discovery that’s involved. It’s a “get ta know ya” kind of process, but in the process you get to know yourself a little better too. 

Clarity in your brand’s mission, values, personality, competition and–perhaps most importantly–differentiation are key to your success. It’s important to know who you are, what you do, who you do it for and how you do it differently from your competitors. A clear and powerful positioning should serve as much as a rudder for your brand, as it should for your business. It’s the voice and soul of your company—resonating across audiences, raising awareness, defining your customer, and galvanizing stakeholders and the broader public. This is where brand strategy comes in.

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Aug 9

Giving back is a great way to show you’re more than talk and it can serve to reinforce your brand’s identity while you serve your community. We aim to talk the talk AND walk the walk. After all, a successful company is only as strong as the communities and people it cares about. Some brands, like TOMS shoes, are building charity right into their business model. A lot of brands are giving back in other ways, whether it’s part of the way they do business or not. Using their powers for good has become a trend that we can definitely get on board with.

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Jul 26

To say Loui Pacheco is passionate would be an understatement. From the moment we had our first meeting, it was obvious the amount of work, emotion and passion Loui has put into his company and career. His success is a testament to this as he has become one of the most sought after Los Angeles based personal trainers and an ambassador for Lululemon. His energy and passion are contagious, to say the least. Team Oblique was beyond excited to partner with him on his branding efforts that are so close and dear to his heart.

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Apr 22

Every agency should have a roadmap for clients to refer back to in order to ensure that the agency will deliver the right end product. These methodologies are developed over time and experientially based so that the agency can recognize clear progress markers as they work with an array of clients. 

At Oblique, the SLNT (slant) Method™ is our roadmap to lead brands down an actionable, strategic path so you can get the clarity and results you want. Our approach is purposefully linear and methodical as we fully immerse ourselves in your brand’s objectives, giving your values the proper context to shine. Each step along our path builds on the previous in order to create and sustain momentum for your brand for years to come. 

 

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

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Nov 5

If 2020 has taught the world anything, it is that change is constant and innovation is continuous. You have to keep your brand fresh and current.

About four years ago or so, we launched our current site and since then, Oblique has changed quite a bit. If you really think about all that’s happened in the brand world, 2015 was a long time ago. Since then, we’ve transferred to a remote-friendly working model, our team has transformed, we offer slightly different services, and we have collected a bunch of amazing new clients. Our website needed a slight update to reflect our changes.

 

With that in mind, we did what we do best for our clients and applied it to ourselves. We put our SLNT Method into action and did a complete website overhaul. SLNT stands for Strategize, Leverage, Narrate, and Target.

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Sep 26

Our client Cause+Medic has a special place in our heart. The mother of Founder, Hugh Huffaker, was suffering chronic pain due to multiple sclerosis, and Hugh wanted to create a CBD cream that would help alleviate it. What resulted was Cause+Medic, you may have heard about them in Forbes, Organic Spa Magazine, or Dope Magazine. 

Upon product launch, Oblique was asked to do the original creative package design oriented towards the ‘everyday’ consumer. Our designs were colorfully eye catching and dynamic. As Cause+Medic began to gain more clout in the massage world, high end spas started to pick up on all of the hype. Soon enough, the Four Seasons wanted in on the action and requested that these massage oils be used in almost every one of their spas worldwide. This called for a complete packaging redesign. Oblique was on the case again, this time redesigning the original packaging to be more sophisticated and sleeker to appeal to high end clientele. 

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Sep 3

We’re about to toot our own horn here! Beep beep. 

Recently, we designed a logo and infographic for the House Democrats’ Member Online All-Star Competition. That’s right, we said THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES!  We wanted the competition logo to stand out and denote a fun creative pursuit (gaining social media followers- the competition’s objective) and we were also tasked to design an infographic to display the competition winners for this year and all past years in a fun and engaging way; and we did so with pride!  (more…)

Jul 7

Jake Pates is the coolest 21 year old we know. Olympic Snowboarder, nonprofit founder, Brain Health Activist, and Oblique Client. Born and raised in Eagle, Colorado, Jake began snowboarding as a little kid. By 8 years old, he was with USASA, which gave him the opportunity to create a career for himself in professional snowboarding. Over the past 14 years, Jake has had multiple concussions; and as a result, has suffered with anxiety and depression.

 

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Jan 17

2019 was an experimental year for ObliqueThe company traveled the world working remotely out of various co-working spaces (12 workspaces on 5 continents, to be exact)While fully immersed in the remote work lifestyle, they met many freelancers across the globe. That is not to say that digital nomadism is synonymous with freelancing. But, while traveling they noticed that freelance talent pools are growing quickly the world over and providing a flexible and viable business model for those who want a less traditional structure  

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