Category: Making Waves

FINterview Series: BeiBei An

Get to know our digital designer, BeiBei An

What did you want to be growing up?

I told people I’d like to be an archaeologist as a kid because at the time I’d just learned the word, and I thought it was cool to say. (I said it with the most serious face an 8-year-old could give.) Now I think it’s not a bad choice to pursue since China, where I’m from originally, has lots of things laying underground. Later I started to watch Case Closed (a Japanese detective anime) and I wanted to be a detective. But it gave me the impression that I need to become a detective by the age of 18, otherwise, I won’t make it. So around 16, I knew it wasn’t going to happen for me.

What is your favorite thing about Four Fin?

Having autonomy here is big. I feel that I’m fully trusted and I’m free to explore and bring my creative ideas, all of which is accepted and encouraged by the team. I have space where I can make the decisions and truly own the work, and that is fully respected by everyone here. As a creative person, that’s something very valuable to have in the working environment. Four Fin’s growth mindset has also allowed me to grow into a direction that suits me the best.

You’re a new Pantone color, what are you called?

“50 shades of grey.” Cause my wardrobe is literally that. Somehow, whenever I went shopping, I ended up picking the color of grays, black and white. Recently I’m trying to add more hues to it, like orange and pink, but still with a certain amount of grays in them.

What is your dream vacation?

I have a group of really close friends from high school, but after graduation, we have been scattered all around the world: China, Japan, Thailand, UK, and the US. I really wish one day we can again gather and hang out on a tropical island for a week or two. Three of my friends have toddlers now and one of them just had her second baby, so I guess the dream will be pushed a little further out now!

Want to be an Art Director? Let’s talk to Macoe.

We’ve been getting a number of reach outs recently from designers inquiring about the team, gaining more design experience, and potential opportunities at Four Fin. Since we’re not really meeting anyone in the office as of late, we thought it might help to share an informational interview with our Art Director, Macoe Swett. She shares more on her experience and some advice for rising designers. 

How did you get to where you are as Four Fin’s Art Director?
Years of sweat and tears! JK, although I do have many years of experience. After college I worked as a graphic designer and eventually started teaching graphic design. This was really my first experience art directing, as you’re constantly doing that in the classroom. Then I worked as an art director on a contract basis with a couple other agencies. When I started at Four Fin, I came on as a Senior Designer first, and was then promoted to Art Director a few years later.

What have been some of the highlights of your design career?
Every time a client is really excited about something I’ve created for them, that’s the best feeling. One that stands out in my head though is when I designed a poster for a weekly service industry night party my friends and I were throwing in Philly. We printed up a bunch and plastered them on a wall near the venue. People loved them so much they all got stolen within a couple days.

What do you look for in a portfolio?
Good use of typography, a strong understanding of color and layout, and a bit of boldness. Technique is essential, but risks will get you noticed.

What can I do to get more experience in design while looking for design jobs?
Design yourself a kick-ass website and some promo materials. Do some friends some favors. Give yourself the projects you wish someone else was giving you, and create or expand your portfolio with the results.

What’s the best advice you can offer to young or aspiring designers?
Work for and with people whose design skills you admire. That’s key to improving and sometimes more important than money and security early in your career. Keep your interests broad and seek out inspiration from other fields as well as following graphic designers you admire. Challenge yourself to make every project a portfolio piece.

Thanks Macoe! Meet the rest of the Fins and keep an eye out for future interviews with the team.

Brand Evolution: GIA Wellness

GIA Wellness is here to tell you that hyped wellness trends are exactly that; hype. They focus on the pillars of foundational wellness from hydration to nutrition to skincare. After 12 years of successful growth, GIA was pivoting its marketing strategy to appeal to a broader D2C audience in the rapidly growing health and wellness space. 

A Brand Audit allowed us to identify challenges, opportunities, and areas where we could better align the brand (and this message of foundational health) across GIA communications. The audit revealed that no major overhaul to the brand was needed. Rather, an evolution to the visual identity (especially packaging) and messaging would assist in unifying the already established brand. 

More to share when the new packaging is launched, but in the meantime, check out other elements of the refresh making its way onto GIA’s Instagram

Surf Park Management is ready for its next swell

Surf Park Management is rad. No, really. The brand does exactly what their name suggests; managing the many facets of up and running a successful surf park (think feasibility analysis and operational planning). The San Diego-based company tapped the Fins to help refresh their brand identity as they continue to grow and gain exposure. 

A rise in new technology to create perfect waves outside of the ocean is leading to more and more surf parks being planned and built around the world. Nothing compares to a real wave, but these parks are gaining serious traction inland and for the surfing community looking to practice in a safer, consistent environment. 

Surf Park Management (SPM) works with investors and developers, so the refreshed brand needed to say “we’re professionals who also have fun in the sun.” Maybe not that exactly, but a balance of seriousness with shred was a key factor. 

 

There’s more where that came from. Stay tuned for more work we’re doing with SPM. Our branding dreams are literally coming true rn.

FINterview Series: Shannon Trimble

Meet Shannon, our newest Fin and stellar designer. When she’s not slaying for clients, she’s probably slaying a workout. 

What did you want to be growing up?
I dreamed of becoming a gold medal-winning Olympic figure skater. I wanted to be famous! Which is odd to me now, I am an extreme introvert.

Favorite thing about Four Fin?
So many things, but the transparency we have with each other and our clients. It’s refreshing to work for a company that is completely authentic!

What’s your favorite food?
My favorite food would have to be a huge, massive salad with all the toppings and fixins (not the healthy kind).

You’re a new Pantone color, what are you called?
Mysterious Mist, bright and light, but with a little bit of edge!

FINterview Series: Hillery Kemp

Meet Hillery Kemp, Four Fin’s Brand Strategist and gifted marble collector. 

What lights you up?
Truly well executed brands, Ah-ha moments, paper and stationery, finding marbles randomly, and inspiring people/companies making our world a better place. 

Who do you look up to?
Anyone who marches to the beat of his/her/their own drum. By that I mean the ones out there who don’t settle for the status quo. The ones who know what to prioritize in their lives — be it family, travel, creating something incredible — and go do it. The ones who are unafraid to say no. 

Favorite thing about Four Fin?
Our posture for openness, transparency, and clarity. I can also be myself around here and I can’t say that about every job I’ve had, but maybe I am just growing up and growing more comfortable in my own skin. 🙂 

Dream Client?
Oh my. LEGO and Cotopaxi come to mind. I am always in awe of the brands that do it right. FROM is pretty cool too!

Connect with Hillery on LinkedIn

FINterview Series: Jen Derks

Meet Jen Derks, Four Fin’s CEO and Creative Director. She makes the balance of business and ridiculous creativity look like a stroll in the park. She makes surfing look pretty easy too. 

What is the most uncomfortable thing you have done?
My friend Marina and I got in the car of two people we had just met at a bar the night before, and headed on a three-day Australian road trip.

What did you want to be growing up?
It shifted around a lot, usually between a hot-dog on a stick girl, a National Geographic photographer, or an associate (not owner) at a paper boutique or Kinkos. So you could say my ambition came later in life. 

What’s your 30 second story?
I grew up an extreme sports junkie in San Diego, schooled myself on advertising and design in Oregon, and followed my future husband to Alaska where I started my career in design, marketing and advertising. Six years later, I dragged him back to San Diego to settle down, start two businesses, have two kids, build a house, and wonder where all of our free time went. I identify as a gen-xer, which Macoe says is a very millennial thing to say. Enneagram 3.

Favorite thing about Four Fin?
All. The. Things. If I have to pick just one, it’s the team.

What is your dream vacation?
A Costa Rican surf, art, and yoga retreat with my closest people. #predictable

Find more Jen on LinkedIn

FINterview Series: Jess Winet

Meet Jess, Four Fin’s Director of Operations and Talent. She’s a master of ALL the details we don’t even think about and ensures our socials always look slick. Let’s learn more about our Americano-sipping Enneagramer (she’s a 1, obvi)…

What can you not stop playing on Spotify?
Brightest Lights by Lane 8 (our office listens to A LOT of Lane 8, sorry, you all love me).

Who do you look up to/ who is your role model?
Obvi answer – Brené Brown.  For all the reasons.  She is the pioneer on understanding vulnerability, and how showing up as our authentic selves is the most valuable (and productive) gift we can contribute in relationships.  She has brought me, and the Four Fin team, “Clear is Kind” in framing how we work, give feedback, and share ideas.  Total badass, follow her now.

When are you at your happiest?
When in WARM weather, sipping an iced coffee, at my sculpt class, listening to live music, having weird deep conversations, and when things are beautifully organized and executed.

Who’s your dream client?
This is going to be a tie between Michelle Obama and the USWNT. Both are incredibly inspiring to me, and are leading examples of how to create positive waves of change. Both have powerful brand identities that are authentic to their mission. I can only imagine organizing a joint event for these two (call me!)

Find more Jess via LinkedIn

FINterview Series: Macoe Swett

Meet Macoe Swett, Four Fin’s Senior Designer and resident DJ. We asked the Fin who knows a little bit about everything (really) to answer three questions about herself.

What is the most uncomfortable thing you have done?

Teaching my first design class was the most uncomfortable thing I ever did. I remember it was an 8am class on a Monday morning and although I was excited about it beforehand, when it came time to do it, I was doubting myself. I thought “I could just be sitting at my computer designing, and instead I have to go speak in front of a class of 25 strangers. Why did I agree to do this?” But within the first 30 minutes or so, my fear dissipated, the students were kind and genuinely interested in what I had to share. By the time I taught my second class that evening, I was much more confident. Teaching has taught me so much about speaking to groups, whether strangers, clients, or internal teams, and I’m grateful for that experience!

What is your favorite food?

I’ll eat just about anything vegan, but I do have a special place in my heart (stomach?) for Italian food. Nothing beats a good lasagna! Fortunately, there are so many good non-dairy cheeses nowadays and it’s not too difficult to make a delicious plant-based one. Growing up, my friend’s Italian mom taught me a trick: add sugar, a little cinnamon, and two egg whites to the ricotta. Now I use a plant-based ricotta (or just crumble some tofu) and of course I skip the eggs (or use Ener-G egg replacer), but I do still love the sugar and cinnamon trick! 

 You’re a new Pantone color, what are you called? 

Hmmm… the hair color I’ve been using lately is called Electric Paradise, and it’s the perfect meeting of hot pink and orange, but on me it fades quickly to a blorange tone (which I’m surprisingly ok with). With that in mind, I would name myself “Bellini Blush” (the original Bellini cocktail was named after the painter Giovanni Bellini, known for his warm yet subdued color palette).

Who’s your dream client? 

I would love to work with Arctic Fox! Not only is their hair color my favorite, it’s vegan, cruelty-free, and 15% of their profits are donated to prevent animal cruelty. They also have informative blog posts, including hairoscopes! Plus their IG is so colorful, it makes me smile.

Find more Macoe via LinkedIn or Instagram (and see that Bellini Blush in action)

Brace Yourselves, the Fins Have Rebranded

You may have noticed if you’re a Fin fan, that recently, we have been slowly rolling out our new brand across our marketing channels.

A branding firm doing a rebrand? So meta.

I get it, but this is big to us. It signifies a new era for Four Fin that’s hard to put into words, but I will sure try.

Started as a designer, now we here

8 years ago, when I started Jen Derks Design, there was a lot I didn’t know about growing a company, let alone a branding firm with four badass employees and an inspiring nationwide client roster. But that was okay. I was a good designer, wanting to do good work for good people, and raise some good kids with my good husband. Check. Check. And check mate.

Fast forward to today. Four Fin is a team of five with a list of well vetted partners, dialed-in business systems and tools, and a successful 2-week branding service called Brand Camp. We have a transparent office culture we’re proud of, health benefits, retirement, clients who are crushing it, an official @pandr office mural, and most important of all, a beer and La Croix fridge. I mean, we’ve officially ‘arrived’ with that last one.

We’ve also seen the impact of our work: Solopreneurs gaining confidence and momentum in their early days; small companies of 2-5 growing to exceed multi-million dollar revenues; and most recently, a start-up client announcing a $125 million dollar exit.

Shoes too small

Because of all of this growth, over the last year or so, we started to feel our Four Fin brand no longer represented us. 

We didn’t want to send visitors to our website anymore because “it didn’t feel like us.” We couldn’t quickly explain who we were and how we were different. We realized just how our clients feel when they come to us for help (talk about great UX research). It was clear, we were holding ourselves back by not doing what we do for others, investing in the brand.

Evolution, not revolution

So, who was Four Fin? Cue the strategy/therapy sessions. We realized that what matters most to us has always been there but we just had never put it into clear words. It isn’t learning new marketing tricks, competing for likes, or designing things that look cool for cool’s sake. The reason we love what we do lies in this purpose:
Connecting genuinely with others to help them see differently and live out the best, most contagious version of their story.
This is what we do every day at Four Fin with our clients, and with each other. We also know that we want to do this in our own way—as partners, above the weeds, fast and fun, thoughtful and honest.

The new Four Fin

With this clarity, and other strategy pillars defined, we were able to craft a new brand that speaks more true to who we are and how we work. The personality on our website matches the personality you’ll meet on that first phone call, or tenth meeting, because the whole team is clear on what it means to be a Fin. Our brand personality is defined as:

Direct   Confident   Informed  meets  Casual   Upbeat   Collaborative

A slab-serif typeface and deeper hue of Four Fin blue give the brand a casual,  confident and direct tone: Clear is kind. BS has no place here.

The logo for the name Four Fin was carefully crafted to make sure the letterforms were arranged in a fun, upbeat way, as if they were enjoying their successful collaboration.

A secondary mark was created for a more casual representation of the brand that nods to our surf-inspired name. We all thought turning a ‘Four’ into a surfboard for the ‘fin’ to catch a ride on was very clever. Killed it Kendall!

Alongside new marks, fonts, colors, images and visual language was a new upbeat and informed tone of voicelike a trusted friend who drops truth bombs in your best interest and has no problem poking fun at themselves. You’ll see it in our copy, and on the phone with us when you call to say hi. We think you’ll enjoy getting to know us.

Onward

Take a look around our new website and get to know the new Four Fin. An updated newsletter will hit in a couple of weeks so sign up to see it, and our social channels are always poppin’ with good conversations—don’t be shy out there!

Meanwhile, we’ll be over here—enjoying every branding project, every human interaction, and every gift this work provides as we head into the next 8 years of branding companies with passion.

Thanks for riding along with us to learn about this moment in Four Fin’s evolution. We wouldn’t be here without you.