A creative agency called The Bananaland is infusing small businesses with a hip, urban, humorous edge that I haven’t seen here before.
The reigning monarch of The Bananaland, Marcella Kovac, is a benevolent leader, having devoted herself to helping emerging businesses reveal themselves with polish and whimsy.
Notice she didn’t call her enterprise Marcella Kovac Media, Kovac Small Business Solutions or Kovac Design. She sets the tone by calling her venture The Bananaland.
“We dabble in, but are not limited to: websites, IDs, brochures, monkey training, hand stamping, and intern torture,” it says on her carnival ride of a website.
Talbots and Pinkberry have not yet discovered the Arcade, where The Bananaland resides, or Bijou Square, where Kovac previously had her studio. Chains, aside from fast food franchises, the Holiday Inn and the drugstores, shun the Park City’s downtown. This spells opportunity for mom-and-pops, who might know their trade, but are unlikely to know how to communicate well with potential customers.
Bridgeport is filled with mom-and-pop operations, or outposts (Two Boots, Moe’s…) from serial entrepreneurs. The outposts have servicable websites, but locally owned businesses rarely do their businesses justice when it comes time to hang a shingle or place an ad. A brother-in-law does the website (probably on Homestead), a cousin picks out the light fixtures (at Home Depot) and Tony down the street will do up a logo (at logomaker.com). Their joyless output is derived from Microsoft templates. We’ve come to expect earnest, but clumsy, materials with no personality — or maybe a slightly malevolent one.
Independent shopkeepers typically possess plain tastes, tight fists and hard heads. Ms. Kovac, however, has obviously knows how to win over people like this.
Look at her client list. Good design is the great leveler when you’re competing with corporate competitors who understand the persuasive power of charm — make a potential customers smile and will reward you with a visit.
And on the side, Ms. Kovac has maintained one of my favorite local blogs, Be Our Neighbor, a meet-the-people site, where local notables introduce themselves to us — in their own handwriting. Very clever approach, and also charming — but also useful!
That magic blend of emotion and utility is what separates design from decoration.