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Looking to make Bonzai a brand name

What’s in a name?

For Bonzai Design Group of Elmira, in ‘Bonzai’ exists a similarity between the ancient art of growing and cultivating aesthetic miniature trees and branding in today’s consumer driven world.

“Branding is really no different than that – you can’t just turn around one day  and say ‘I want my brand to be this and do it overnight; you have to really work at the different touch points and all the different areas within your business to establish that and it takes years to do that,” said Iles Guran, creative director at Bonzai Design Group – recently moved from Church Street to its new Arthur Street storefront location – likening the process of cultivating a miniature tree to that of creating a solid brand and trademark.

Darlene McMurdie and Iles Guran of Bonzai Design Group in Elmira are looking to help local businesses define themselves and their products through their branding. The graphic design company recently moved to its new Arthur Street location.
Darlene McMurdie and Iles Guran of Bonzai Design Group in Elmira are looking to help local businesses define themselves and their products through their branding. The graphic design company recently moved to its new Arthur Street location.

“Nowadays there’s so many commodity products in the market it’s really hard to differentiate yourself,” said Guran, noting that in a  market glutted by countless types of beers and automobiles, for example, it is crucial to help clients differentiate themselves and their products from the competition.

That is Bonzai’s objective, to help the client build a brand that will help consumers understand the importance and value of creating an image that sets them apart from the competition.

“We try to help clients identify a real, unique difference and then bring out a story – and by story I don’t necessarily mean a fictional type story – I just mean really explaining to the consumer what it is that you do and why they should buy from you.”

The Elmira business offers corporate clients services in graphic design, or as Guran puts it “visual communications.”

Bonzai helps clients establish, define or perfect their branding and its presentation to potential customers. That may include designing or redesigning catalogues, logos, websites or packaging.

“However you interact with your consumer or your client, we design and help you define all those touch points so that you develop a coherent story and message and brand out to the world.”

Currently working with Drayton Entertainment, Bonzai has also done work for Samsung, Royal Bank, and GE. Bonzai has also done work for smaller companies around town including Schaaf Foods in Waterloo.

One of the things that makes Bonzai unique, said Guran, is that the company does not focus on niche markets, whereas other companies do. That diversification helps keep the company fresh and on edge.

“We find that by doing all kinds of different work it really keeps us open to new ideas and new influences,” he said, adding that the company is now seeking business from smaller local companies, starting with Elmira and then branching out through the townships and into the Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge areas. Guran said that Bonzai is working to spread the word that to acquire professional graphics services, local companies can hire local help rather than venture out to Toronto.

Bonzai’s recent move to the downtown area reflects growth and a capacity for further growth in the company’s business. Having grown from a one-man company, Bonzai now also employs Guran’s colleague Darlene McMurdie, and will likely hire another employee in the fall.

In an economic climate where downsizing seems to be the norm, some agencies like Bonzai appear to be picking up more business, said Guran. Some clients are turning to smaller agencies for their marketing needs as they deal the same marketing needs but also with smaller budgets. And often, it’s the smaller agencies which are “a little bit more cost-effective yet quicker and more agile to compete in this type of economy.”

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