22squared

Business: branding & communications

Founded: 1922

Headquarters: Atlanta, GA

Employees: 250

When brands become personal, people stick with them for the long haul. For 22squared, the Atlanta-based agency, relationships—between consumer and brand and between agency and client—lie at the heart of the branding practice. By exposing clients to project expenses, Argos plays an important role in building an honest, transparent relationship with clients.

The average person has 484 friends. That’s the square of 22, and the basis of 22squared. The Atlanta agency focuses on brands as friends: done right, consumers establish lasting bonds to brands. It’s an approach that 22squared applies to its own clientele. “We maintain relationships with clients over a long period,” says 22squared System Administrator Bill Seybolt. Part of maintaining those ties is accurately showing clients their project costs. 22squared relies on Argos cost recovery software from Sepialine to capture and report reimbursable expenses. The result, says Seybolt, is not just increased metrics and data, but greater accountability to clients.

 

The long and winding road

Tracking in-house printing was a long-standing goal for the firm. Employees were initially instructed to log printing by hand. “Manual logging,” says Studio Manager Lynn Hawkins, “only captured about 25 percent of our printing.” Hawkins struggled to convince busy designers of the importance: “just because it’s done internally doesn’t mean it’s free.” Seybolt recalls those early days: “we knew we had to a better job of tracking.”

 

Seybolt and his team were asked to research tracking software to solve the problem. Like most design agencies, 22squared is a mixed Mac and PC environment leaning toward Mac, which eliminated any Windows-only print tracking products on the market.

 

The firm settled on tracking software from Equitrac. “It was okay for a while,” says Seybolt of the firm’s experience with Equitrac. At design agencies, the Adobe software is the bread-and-butter software suite, but when 22squared upgraded to Adobe Creative Suite (CS), Equitrac had trouble keeping up with the large print jobs that CS produced. When the problems became insurmountable, the firm abandoned the Equitrac system.

 

Change is good

Seybolt and his team started the search for a new cost recovery system with a clear directive: “The managers told me ‘this better not be like Equitrac’,” recalls Seybolt. Research led him to Sepialine and the Argos software suite. As one of the few Mac-compatible tracking products on the market, Seybolt was willing to try it. “Once we discovered that we could actually trial the software ourselves, we thought, ‘this is fantastic.’ Large-scale software of this kind is usually difficult to try, but Argos works well.”

 

Seybolt views the decision to use Argos as a positive one for 22squared. His team has integrated Argos with the firm’s COBOL-based accounting software to keep client codes synchronized, so designers can always bill against live projects. For Seybolt, the ongoing investment in Sepialine is easy to justify. “We give kudos to Sepialine technical support,” remarks Seybolt, “our support contract is worth every penny.” When employees complain about having to account for printing, Seybolt’s response is simple: “show me something else that adds 100 thousand dollars a year to the bottom line.”

 

Maintaining a relationship takes work, and 22squared has made the investment.

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