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Brian Keenan of Openfield Creative

Meet Brian Keenan, founder of Openfield Creative, a branding, web design and video company.

How did you start your business?

In 2006, we had a very simple start. The most important thing was to ensure we agreed on a shared vision for who we wanted to be, both as individuals and as a company. So we spent a lot of time talking through the strategy and the tactics of how we planned to move ahead.
From there, it was simple. Plan for the worst and expect the best. Dial our standards for quality thinking and execution to 11. Treat clients like we’d like to be treated.
We built the company slowly through repeat business, referrals and great partnerships. Early on, most of our clients were outside of Cincinnati. But in the last few years as our work has gotten more recognition and we’ve been consistently involved in the community, we’ve gotten a lot of unsolicited business here in our region.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

For years, we each knew we wanted to start our own businesses. Like many others who have started creative agencies, we believed we had the skills, connections and drive to do it. But we’ve all worked for companies with sole proprietors at some point in our careers and we all preferred to avoid “lonely-at-the-top” syndrome. Back in the mid-'90s, two of us actually worked together briefly in Los Angeles, but we had no idea our paths would cross again. After moving back to Cincinnati and working together at another agency in town, we met our third partner, we found we had a great blend of complementary strengths and found we all had a common commitment to excellence and a shared belief in doing the right thing for our clients.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?

When we started Openfield Creative, we reached out to our personal network of clients, partners, friends and family. We had always taken great care of these people throughout our careers. Frankly, we were heartened by how quickly and decisively these people came forward to support us with advice, connections and opportunities. 

What would you do differently if you started your business again?

We don’t look back and wish we’d done anything differently from the start, but it would be fun to go back and relive some of the early moments knowing it would all work out. Not that we didn’t believe it would, but there are the early days of any business when you don’t know what the future holds. You spend a lot of time wishing you could get to the next milestone faster and you sometimes forget to enjoy the present.

What’s next for you and your company?

We love how technology is constantly evolving the design industry at a faster pace every day. Today, we create websites, mobile apps, brand identities and videos, but those things will evolve with technology and culture. Some will live on in new forms. Some will die out. The core of what we do starts with a deep understanding of our clients’ businesses and the markets they operate in. Then, we translate that and turn it into something the world can understand and enjoy. That will always apply to whatever medium we find ourselves working in.

Interview by Robin Donovan

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