A Conversation with Creative Director Chris Coe

Our trusted partners are an integral part of our team — and we’d like you to get to know them. Meet Chris Coe, independent creative director and brand strategist.

Can you tell us a brief history of your career?

After graduating from The Columbus College of Art and Design, I took a graphic design position with a small design firm (two principles and myself). I spent three formative years working shoulder to shoulder with two young guys passionate about creating great design work. Unfortunately, the firm dissolved and I was crushed, but it was a valuable business experience for me.

Dusting myself off, I took a design position with a large retail company in their internal marketing department. I hoped to work/learn with the creative director who had really made an impression on me. Lesson #2 — don’t plan your path based on others. She left right before I started.

Door closes, window opens right? Next, I went to work for a large hospital in their internal marketing department. I was drawn to the potential of working with a small, energetic team designing communications for patients and visitors to the hospital system. I relished the contact I had with patients, families and other staff. It was a great experience but, after seven years, it was  time to seek other design opportunities.

After what I considered “a due diligence of experiences,” I joined Salvato and Coe, a graphic design studio serving ad agencies and corporate clients. I grew tremendously during this period of my career and I will always be grateful that I had the opportunity to work side by side with my father. The studio was a small, passionate group of talented folks who made a great impression on me and helped shape who I am today.

After my dad’s partner retired and he became ill with cancer, I joined forces with another art director at the firm to move the business forward. I eventually joined an agency out of Toledo, Ohio where I spent more than three years observing the ups and downs of the agency world.

I joined FrazierHeiby in early 2020 after a number of years as an independent creative director and brand strategist.

What has changed most dramatically in your profession over the past few years?

Much has changed as far as delivering brand communications and how people receive and interact with those communications. It may sound cliché but I learn something new everyday in this business. I love strategizing with clients to effectively deliver on-brand communications and I’m constantly consuming design input from digital and print resources.

Looking ahead, how will the world of branding and design continue to evolve?

I’m just excited to do what I do everyday. I’m a constant learner and thrive by interacting with design daily. Branding is so “pull" these days, with audiences empowered by digital data and I only see that getting wider and deeper.

Can you tell us about a time when you solved a problem for a client and what impact it had?

Solving problems via designed communications is what drives me everyday. We once worked with a credit union to express how it was different from a bank and what the advantages were — that was an amazing and fulfilling experience for me as a designer. The client was so close to the problem that they didn't have a clear picture of how the public perceived them. Working with their team, we created and delivered a new branding campaign that helped them increase membership, deposits and loans by more than 30% in each category. What's not to love about that?  

What's the most rewarding part of your profession?

Working with creative teams and clients of all sorts to solve communications challenges with design will always invigorate me.