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CASE STUDY FOR LEADING EDGE COMPANIES
Spiro & Associates worked with Leading Edge Companies for several years beginning in 2012. Over that time, we designed and developed logos, print collateral and online materials, social media pages, website and a total brand evolution, as well as provided ongoing public relations services. This case study is presented in two parts to capture two significant timelines.
PART I
THE CHALLENGE

Leading Edge Companies provides expert advice and guidance to small and medium-sized businesses about human resources, wealth management, retirement and employee benefits. The client wanted to redefine their brand after many years in business, so they brought the Agency in. Company leaders were enamored with the idea that Leading Edge Companies was much like a dragonfly as portrayed in the book “The Dragonfly Effect.” The book is named for the only insect able to move in any direction when its four wings are working in concert. The dragonfly is also quick, nimble and agile. Central to The Dragonfly Effect is the notion that small acts that are coordinated well can result in big change. Also, the dragonfly can symbolize transformation and a rebirth, as Leading Edge Companies was in the throes of just such a change. The dragonfly is also the only insect that can fly in any direction, and silently hover as its four wings beat in unison. A challenge posed was ensuring the dragonfly could be effectively woven into every aspect of the business.

THE SOLUTION

Using the dragonfly as the foundation, the Agency created an elegant look and feel using the insect as the main graphic but finessed enough so that the company would not come off as some type of bug-related business (not that there is anything wrong with that industry). Clever headlines played off the attributes of the dragonfly’s quickness, agility, nimble behavior, and ability to move in any direction, and tied it back to the similarities of working with Leading Edge. It was important to convey this messaging because the rebranding came at a time when the entire human resources world was being turned upside down with colossal changes, healthcare reform, and new compliance regulations that affected all four divisions of Leading Edge Companies. The creative was applied across the board to all of the client’s print collateral, website, online marketing tools and online ads.
THE RESULT

The agency successfully positioned Leading Edge Companies as the one-stop source to navigate the changing landscape that so many businesses were encountering. While Leading Edge already was profitable and flourishing, it needed a new brand to become even more recognized as the go-to experts to help keep organizations headed in the right direction quickly, efficiently and with agility.

PART II
THE CHALLENGE

Once again the firm turned to The Brand Architects at Spiro & Associates as it had done three years earlier, this time to evaluate their entire brand, including the logo, and decide whether it was time to evolve it or change it completely. The invitation came as Leading Edge Companies noticed a marked change in the inner workings of their industry and wanted to further evolve and keep pace with it.

As noted in Part I, Leading Edge Companies adopted the dragonfly as its corporate symbol, using it to draw certain parallels between the dragonfly and its four divisions. The device worked nicely in brand communications, but caused some concern when communications focused on product-related topics. The Agency identified three main issues moving forward:

  1. How do we evolve/rebrand the Leading Edge brand?
  2. How do we accomplish this while preserving the equity Leading Edge has in the dragonfly symbol?
  3. Any new logo design must be more “production-friendly,” particularly when it comes to reproducing it on apparel, etc.

THE SOLUTION


After examining the client’s goals, the Agency recommended more than just a logo overhaul. If Leading Edge Companies was to change with the times, a more well-rounded effort was in order. The new Leading Edge Companies logo incorporates the infinity symbol, giving rise to the notion that the firm offers limitless value and ambition, infinite possibilities across the clients’ business spectrum. It also features a multicolored icon of arrows pointing upward, signifying the company’s never-ending quest to move their clients forward with the best services and benefits. Of course, four arrows also represent the four Leading Edge divisions not only by number but color as well. In addition to creating a clean and bold new logo, the Agency also refreshed their collateral, website (working with Stickboy Creative) and stationery with the new theme.

We also introduced “Stick Man,” a stick-figure spokesperson that comes across as a mad scientist in a laboratory who helps clients sort out the super-complicated world of corporate benefits. Stick Man came about because it seemed like a mad scientist was running the business universe, what with the new managed care and other complex regulatory requirements. An animated figure was mostly unheard of in Leading Edge’s conservative industry so Stick Man was created to break through what the competitors were doing. Stick Man loosened up Leading Edge’s image while still delivering serious advice and messaging.

In April 2015, the branding evolution was rolled out to a large crowd at Leading Edge’s first “Mad Science” Affordable Care Act (ACA) event held at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs. The “Mad Science Behind the Future of Employee Benefits” program involved discussion and guest participation about the future value of employee benefits under ACA and the impact on employers and their business. A “Top Secret” announcement also was made – a Stick Man video projected onto an oversized screen to explain how Leading Edge had taken a step back to evaluate all the changes in the industry, their brand and their place in the market, and how that would help clients and prospective clients. Thus the new brand was launched.
THE RESULT

As of this writing in 2016, Leading Edge Companies continues to attract new clients, maintains an extensive client roster, and enjoys a reputation of excellence in their field.

Sarah Melland 

Writer and Social Media Expert.

Sarah Melland was writing a screenplay as a third-grader, a children’s book as a fifth-grader and winning numerous English scholarships while in high school.  She is an accomplished author, publishing 10 books. Now, she takes those writing talents and accomplishments to Spiro & Associates as a writer and social media expert.

A native of Wisconsin, Melland’s journey to Spiro & Associates included stops in Milwaukee to study film production, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and then to Los Angeles and Hollywood, where she wrote TV and movie scripts.

While in California, she also worked at a tanning salon and wrote her first self-published book called The Breakup Band Aid – 12 steps in getting over a relationship break-up. What followed were many other books, including A Singles Girls Guide to IVF, A Single Girl’s Guide…: to Hilarious Facts You Never Knew About Sex, A Single Girl’s Ultimate Bucket List and A Single Girl’s Guide to the Movies. She continued her self-help repertoire with a book called Practicing Love: A Message of Love, Hope, and Renewal, focusing on turning a negative experience into a positive outcome using universal laws.

She returned to school and finished her bachelor’s degree in communications, graduating summa cum laude from Arizona State University in 2021.

Melland also wrote Jane Austen, Unabridged: The Complete Unpublished Works and Private Letters of Jane Austen. The e-book version reached No. 1 on Amazon’s new releases list.

She also started a consulting company, helping aspiring authors get their books published, branded and ready to sell.

Angelica Kelly

Web Developer

Born in Guaira, Venezuela, Kelly came to Fort Myers and this country for the first time in 2017. Already an expert in website development, database management and programming languages, she helped Spanish-speaking clients create web services that ultimately gained them brand recognition and increased revenues. In 2019, she became an E-Commerce web developer as owner of Kelly Web Design, LLC.

All the while she was learning English, met her future husband, Michael, and had a child, who also is named Michael.

At Spiro & Associates, her primary responsibility is website development, working with a variety of clients.

Interestingly, she grew up wanting to be a scientist, but quickly realized her love for technology.

“I wanted to make websites,” she said. “How to take transitional businesses and teach them to use all their tools – phone, website, tablet, computer.

Although successful as a business owner, Kelly wanted the experience of working for a large marketing boutique, where she could learn from others. “It is an opportunity to meet people, see how they work and to learn more about communication, social media and websites.”

Christopher Spiro, founder and CCO of Spiro & Associates, added: “Angelica is very dedicated, very creative and very knowledgeable as a website developer and will be a great addition to our team.”

Spiro & Associates is one of Southwest Florida’s largest marketing, advertising, public relations and brand architecture boutiques. The company serves local, regional, and national clients in the fields of land development, construction, retail, residential and commercial real estate, law, marine, business, residential services, and many more. Online: Spiro&Associates.com or contact (239) 481-5511.

Tracy Crowell

Still Not Hemingway

Originally from the Salt Lake City area and spending his high school years in a small, cold, isolated southeastern Idaho town of 3,000, Tracy and his wife moved to Florida in 2015 and to Southwest Florida in May 2020.

Tracy owned one of Utah’s top ad agencies for 27 years, which may have been a few too many. He’s worked as an account executive, strategist, and copywriter for local, national, and international clients in just about every industry.

Surprised that he’s now “old,” Tracy tries to balance that with a semi-large dose of immaturity. It aggravates his wife, neighbors, kids, and friends – always has – but it seems to work for him.

Tracy and Julie taught their kids that being normal was not the goal – that it was a tedious and wasteful way to live. For better or worse, their kids are not normal.

Blessed with a “lemon” for a body and no lemon laws to prevent this, Tracy has had 21 surgeries – ankles, knees, wrists, thumbs, elbows, and shoulders. A lobotomy is next on his list.

Whenever Tracy thinks his job as a Creative Director with us is difficult (which is often), he thinks back on his summers moving irrigation pipe, picking rock, and bucking hay for local farmers and realizes that maybe his job ain’t that hard after all.

A true sun bum who likes it hot and humid, Tracy is often on the beach and the water and is thinking it’s time to get back into scuba diving. The Parrothead in Tracy is trying to “live happily ever after every now and then” while deciding what he wants to be when he grows up.

Savannah Phillips

Account Executive

This fifth-generation Floridian was raised in Ocala, Florida, the horse capital of the world. But then, the sunshine capital of the world beckoned and off to South Florida she went, graduating Cum Laude from FGCU in Communications in the process.

She soon acquired knowledge and experience in the building and real estate industries—both of which are key specialties of this agency. So, like the opportunists we are, we lured her away from her previous position to lead up some of our related accounts.

Here, as an Account Executive, Savannah leads overall account management, strategic initiatives, and marketing programs for a number of select agency accounts. She also manages new business efforts which means we have someone to blame if a particular pitch falls short! We jest, of course.

In her spare time, Savannah enjoys fishing and boating with her fiancé and friends, and spending time with her 2 dogs, Koda and Ava, and cat named Manny. She also has a very cute nephew, named Jett, she loves to hang out with when visiting her family back in Ocala. We suspect that boy gets whatever he wants when Aunt Savannah is in town.

Len Eckert

Senior Art Director

Hailing from ‘The Burgh’ (Pittsburg), this Steel Town native isn’t like most art-side creative folk. Len is an extrovert and has never been shy about getting involved in professional and civic organizations.

Len was a Board Member of the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and currently sits on the Board of the Rotary Club of Bonita Springs. Len believes in getting involved and making a contribution to organizations like these, helping grow area businesses and helping people with professional development.

Professionally, Len brings over 20 years of art direction, graphic design, and brand development experience to our creative team as a Senior Art Director. His experience in the construction and hospitality industries was of particular interest to us. Plus, with brands like Heinz, 7-Eleven, and Tabasco under his belt, he’s no stranger to the taste level and collaborative efforts it takes to make an impact at the national and international level.

Unity Culbertson

Social Media Marketing Specialist

Where most marketing agencies promise to bring unity to their efforts on your behalf, we deliver on that pledge, literally! Evidence; Unity Culbertson, our Social Media Marketing Specialist.

A transplanted Ohio State Buckeye, Unity brings experience on the Certified Angus Beef brand, as an emerging influencer/vlogger, and much more to our team of marketing mavericks. In fact, her eclectic array of experience in the field fit our ‘We’re Not Normal’ requirement to a T.

Unity’s proactive mindset is no accident, either. As a ‘dyed in the wool’ product of the 4-H organization growing up, she raised over 100 show lambs each year, served as president of both her 4-H AND Future Farmers of America chapters, and was named Miss Ohio Agriculture United States in 2020.

Free time? Well, what little there is gets spent with her fiancé and puppy, ‘Lady Mae’.

TOM HAYDEN

Writer

Tom Hayden worked 41 years as a journalist, serving newspapers and digital sites in Indiana, Pittsburgh and Fort Myers, Fla. He started his career as a reporter with the Muncie (Ind.) Evening Press in 1978, moving to the Marion (Ind.) Chronicle-Tribune as a sports reporter and sports editor from 1981-1992. He moved to Pittsburgh as assistant sports editor and eventually sports editor at the North Hills News Record from 1992-1996. He became sports editor of the Fort Myers News-Press in 1996, holding those responsibilities until 2001 when he became Cape Coral editor of The News-Press. In 2012, he accepted the position as the main editorial writer for The News-Press and remained in that role until March of 2019 when he retired from the newspaper. He was elected to the Cape Coral City Council, representing District 3, in 2020. He and his wife, Joanne, have five children and stepchildren, as well as eight grandchildren. Tom is a graduate of Ball State University in Muncie with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism.

KELLY LAMAGNA

Public Relations Specialist

Kelly LaMagna brings a professional marketing and communication background, a passion for writing and strong knowledge of the area to Spiro & Associates as the brand architecture boutique’s new Public Relations Specialist.

She is responsible for public relations communications projects for assigned clients, from business meetings to news media pitches, press release development, and dissemination.

LaMagna is a 31-year resident of Cape Coral and a graduate of Mariner High School, Florida SouthWestern State College and Hodges University, receiving a degree in healthcare administration and Cardiopulmonary Sciences.

Inspired by some of the nation’s top minds, Tony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki, Marshall Sylver and Russ Whitney, she landed key marketing, administration, and event planning positions for area orthopedic and senior living facilities, including Shell Point Retirement Community, as well as other physicians. Those positions allowed her to travel the world and focus on the words delivered by Robbins.

“He taught me to live life to its fullest, to be yourself and fulfill your needs,” LaMagna said.

That fulfilling lifestyle takes her to the water where she enjoys paddleboarding for about five hours each day, mostly along the Calusa Blueway. Those water journeys have taught her to appreciate what is around her, especially the wildlife. “It’s the solitude,” said LaMagna, who keeps a journey of her adventures. “It’s addicting.”

She is excited about her new challenges at Spiro & Associates. “I have always been interested in getting into marketing fulltime,” the Hampton Roads, Va. native said. “The main reason is I want to learn and grow.”

Added Spiro & Associates President and CEO Chris Spiro: “We welcome Kelly to our very talented team. Her experience in this industry and her other life experiences will be an asset not only to our company but also our clients.”

JEFFREY ABBOTT

Contracting Software Engineer & Website Developer

Jeffrey is a leader in software engineering with 20 years of experience in the analysis, design, development and implementation of high-performance technology solutions.

He gained all that knowledge working for International Business Machines for 12 years.

Jeffrey holds a Graduate Certificate in Creativity Studies and Change Leadership from Buffalo State University; a Master of Business Administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati; and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Analysis from Miami University in Ohio.

When he’s not toiling away on technology solutions and websites since joining us in 2016, our nerd dad enjoys “kitchen chemistry,” engineering experiments, and building robots with his sons.

JESSE ROBINSON

Software Engineer & Website Developer

While most of us spent the eighth grade taking the SATs, playing videogames and running around with our friends, little Jesse Robinson was learning how to develop software. And while we spent our last year of high school driving to the mall and thinking about prom, he was preparing for his first software-developing freelance position. Today, the fruits of that labor can be seen on TheMakoGroup.com, WorkforceSolutions.com and WingsNY.com, just to name a few.

After obtaining an associate degree from Nassau Community College, Jesse took a walk on the wild side when he was accepted into South Carolina’s former Iron Yard — a six-month-long cram school where he earned a certificate in Ruby on Rails full-stack software development. This prompted a General Software Engineering position with an advertising and marketing agency on Long Island, New York. He then relocated to Fort Myers, took on a freelance position with Spiro & Associates, proved himself and the rest — as they say — is history.

Today, Jesse continues to create killer websites, enhance search engine optimization, develop apps and execute the e-mail campaigns that everyone knows and loves. But when he’s not working, you’ll find him jamming with his band or playing piano and solo singing during events at Lee Memorial Hospital, Hurricane Charley’s and 88 Keys. Yes, he’s pretty cool in a techie geek, musician-like sort of way!

GABE MIRANDA-SOUSA

Junior Account Executive and Content Production Specialist

Gabe Miranda-Sousa wears many hats at Spiro & Associates, often being called “utility knife” because he comes in handy for almost anything. As a junior account executive and a content production specialist, Gabe pretty much has his hands in all things Spiro.

During his time in college, he completed an internship in London for a full-service ad firm. He also worked as a worked as a copywriter and creative director for a student-run advertising agency at Boston University. After graduation, Gabe started at Spiro & Associates as an intern in the social media department before being recruited to stay with us full-time.

Born in Lima, Peru, Gabe is fluent in Spanish and intermediate in French. In his free time, he likes to practice his film photography and hang out with his two French bulldogs.

APRIL MELLOTT

Staff Accountant & Human Resources Officer

Not everyone can balance a checkbook, our misfit marketers, and a rare personality like our Chief Creative Officer’s, but for April, that’s just another day at the office. As a seasoned account-industry representative, she manages accounts payable/receivable for all clients, processes payroll for all employees, Human Resources and Compliance, and even finds time to bust our CCO’s chops about the ongoing LSU — Florida rivalry.

While April hails from Louisiana, she spent a decade in “The Volunteer State,” monitoring cash flow and maintaining books for local, regional, and national companies, such as Paschall Truck Lines and Land Solutions. Before joining Spiro & Associates, she worked as the Office Manager for Land Solutions Company, LLC. There, she led human resources, served as the right-hand man for the COO, and did many other tasks.

Naturally, April attended LSU. From there, she received a personal training degree — naming her a certified personal trainer — from the National Personal Training Institution in Georgia. When April is not in the office, you can find her cheering on her team, boating, paddle boarding, or spending time with her adorable nephews.

KRISTIN THOMAS

Social Media Marketing Specialist

Have you ever met someone who is a social media guru by day and a classically trained dancer by night? We have, and her name is Kristin Thomas! This social media marketing specialist significantly adds to our unstoppable digital department with killer content, highly curated Hootsuite scheduling and the very best campaigns this side of the Gulf Coast.

Adding to our list of Midwest-native Brand Architects, Kristin hails from Illinois but launched her academic and professional careers in North Carolina. She attended Appalachian University, while working as a social media manager for a national cleanup/restoration franchise, Servpro.

Kristin then turned things up a notch in 2016 when she moved to Southwest Florida. With a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Florida Gulf Coast University, she conducted a Golisano Children’s Hospital service-learning project that was ultimately showcased as a community partnership. But before that, she joined the social media team at G-Force Dance Company in Fort Myers where she currently teaches ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop and contemporary.

When Kristin is not working, you’ll likely find her at the beach or exploring new sites with her sons, Sawyer and Onyx.

HEATHER DAUGHERTY

Senior Art Director

Heather Daugherty, affectionately called “New York Heather” at the Agency, is our creative and spunky Senior Art Director. Born and raised on the West Coast of Florida, Heather attended the University of Tampa where she studied photography and later transferred to the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University. After spending 20 years in New York working in the publishing industry for Harper Collins, Penguin, Random House Publishing, and most recently Scholastic Publishing, our resident Parrothead has returned home to Florida.

As an award winning Art Director and Designer, Heather is going to be working with her creative peers to bring the best concepts and designs to our Agency’s clients. Her love of branding and logo development coupled with her incredible graphic design skills makes her an asset to our team.

In addition to being a graphic design maven, Heather is a proud working mom, a design nerd, type geek, and only child. When she’s not surrounded by art at work, she is at home with her husband, an accomplished fine artist himself, her daughter, and two enormous (her words, not ours) cats.

TAMMY BIRCHFIELD

Account Executive

Account Executive Tammy Birchfield is a ray of sunshine at Spiro & Associates. As an Account Executive with over 30 years of versatile skills and experience, she is in charge of overseeing the workflow and creative development of projects for her assigned clients.

In addition to her years in customer service and office management, Tammy is a licensed esthetician. Her diverse background in the spa sector, healthcare, real estate, and construction industries makes her a well-rounded and dynamic team member for the Agency.

A self-described gym rat, Tammy loves spending her time working out and paddle-boarding, so don’t mess with her. When Tammy isn’t working out or working hard, she’s spending time with her beautiful grandchild. Also, if you want to know what CMO Chris Spiro was like in the ‘80s, ask Tammy, they go way back!

MARK HEIDEMAN

Senior Art Director

Mark’s design experience brings creative concepts and ideas to life for our clients’ campaigns — everything from online to print. His career prior to joining Spiro & Associates includes working for clients such as Kraft Foods, Adidas, American Heart Association and the Indiana Pacers, as well as writing and designing publications for major corporations such as Intel. Off duty, he is a zealous traveler, gym rat, runner, trail blazer and cyclist.

GAIL GUBELMAN

Senior Art Director

For Gail, affectionately called GG, all roads seem to always lead to Spiro & Associates. Sure, she may have taken a six-year hiatus to pursue her own design studio out of Cape Coral, but she’s back and ready to take on more outstanding concepts, filled with depth and imagination.

Gail’s journey to agency life started in Singapore, her native country, which she left for California at the age of 18 — for ambitious reasons, of course. She graduated from the University of San Francisco/Academy of Art College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in advertising design. This degree opened the door to art director jobs in Southwest Florida like those at WCI Communities and the former AdWorks, Inc.

But it was in 2007 that Gail first graced us with her presence at what was then Spiro & Waites. Ultimately, her ambition inspired her to launch Gohman Design, a boutique shop serving companies of all sizes — even to this day.

Thankfully, though, she returned to good ol’ Spiro & Associates in 2018, transitioning into a Brand Architect™ and continuing to become an integral part of our growing design team.

DON GROSS

Media Director

Don has come full circle back into the media profession that he loves, which actually started out while in high school and followed up in Florida State University, where he graduated with a degree in mass media communications. He’s also a former commercial real estate professional, specializing in retail, negotiating large acquisitions for big investors, locating tenants for shopping centers and the like. And of that wasn’t enough, he also was a financial advisor for several years dealing with private wealth management. Additionally, Don is one of the only guys we know who has worked radio, broadcast TV and cable TV in Southwest Florida in terms of media and sales. With that kind of background, our clients get a lot of insights, media buying and negotiating power that is more like investing, and finding the right media for the client to get the best possible return.

THOMAS CALABRESE

Creative Direction

Tom is takes the lead in our Creative Department bringing nearly 30 years of strategic and creative experience to the team at Spiro & Associates. A native Wisconsinite, he started his career as a copywriter and account executive, giving him a combination of strategic and creative thinking that is rare among agency creative leaders today. Tom’s category experience is quite varied—including marine products, healthcare, homebuilding/development, retail, financial, automotive, hospitality, tourism, sports management and many others. He has also been involved in planning dozens of large-scale business meetings, trade shows, and other branded events. Understanding how to dovetail these into a brand’s overall marketing efforts, he has successfully themed, written, and produced all aspects of them.

Throughout his career, Tom has earned a reputation as a strong conceptual and strategic thinker and has won dozens of awards for his creative work as a copywriter. Beyond creative discipline, Tom’s background in the business gives him a unique, broad perspective when working to solve clients’ marketing and brand-building challenges. A believer in examining a brand’s challenges from all angles prior to putting any finished ideas on paper, Tom often likens doing anything on a knee jerk to malpractice–and with his Italian last name, legal entanglements are something he tries to avoid.

KENDALL CARSON

Senior Account Executive

It’s been said — and, around here, proven — that senior account executives save the day by managing new business initiatives, interacting with clients, overseeing operations and more. And with Kendall’s previous manager and administrator experience, as well as take-it-in-stride attitude, she’s pretty much superwoman!

In any Bull Gator’s mind, this heroic persona was formed at the University of Florida where Kendall earned a Bachelor of Science degree in food and resource economics. Not to mention, a concentration on business management and marketing strategies — music to our CEO’s ears.

From there, Kendall worked in health care management for nearly two decades, most recently at Avidity Home Health. But her expertise doesn’t stop at ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations. She also has a diverse background in event planning and contract administration — and that suits us just as well!

When Kendall is not working, she’s tailgating and attending UF football games. Perhaps you’ve seen her cheering on her beloved team — much to our LSU-Tiger-loving bookkeeper’s chagrin.

CHRISTOPHER SPIRO

President, CEO & Chief Creative Officer

Chris launched his advertising career as an art director 30 years ago and furthered his expertise as a designer and creative director, and then set up this shop as The Spiro Group Inc. in 1989. His experience spans many industries, including hospitality, real estate developments, home building, automotive, marine, law, government, medical, health care and way too many more to name here.

Always civic-minded, Chris is active throughout Southwest Florida, including serving on a number of boards of directors and executive committees. He loves the architectural challenges involved with building or evolving clients’ brands.