This article was originally featured in ColoradoBiz magazine. Click here to read the full feature.
YellowDog is a local, values-driven design, print and marketing studio dedicated to serving their Denver area clients and community. The company was recently recognized in PrintingNews as one of the Top 100 Small Commercial Printers in the country. We spoke with Cynthia Ord, marketing manager, to learn more about this Best for Colorado company.
Best for Colorado: Can you tell us a bit about YellowDog and how you found your way there?
Cynthia Ord: YellowDog has been around for 15 years, and I’ve been the marketing manager since January 6 of this year. I’m new to the scene, but YellowDog has gotten really far without a marketing manager. The business has gotten such good organic results through networking, word-of-mouth and referrals, so there’s a lot we can do to grow even further. I’m part of a new strategic team: we have an HR person, a creative director, a production manager and Jenny, the owner and the account director. It’s really fun to be on an all-female strategic team.
BFCO: Do print shops commonly have strategic teams? What is the market landscape like for printing?
CO: A lot of commercial print shops are structured as franchises. There are also a lot that are purely online, so self-service or e-commerce. With these kinds of online e-commerce platforms that do print, there’s no contact with a person; it’s all automated. YellowDog is unique in the industry because we are a local small business. We highly value customer service and contact. Each client is assigned an account manager that makes sure their print project looks good and is on track before it’s printed in large quantities. Unlike large franchises, we offer our clients a lot of guidance and quality assurance.
BFCO: How does YellowDog approach corporate social responsibility? Do you see customer service as a CSR focus?
CO: We really want to help our customers thrive and get results, especially because we work with so many other small businesses and nonprofits. Nonprofits are a huge part of our client base. If a nonprofit succeeds because of a print campaign we helped with, then that ties into being values-driven for us.
Dan and Jenny are the two owners, and ever since the beginning it’s been really important for them to run their business as environmentally responsibly as possible. We’re tracking our energy use so that we can contribute to an offset program, offering recyclable options and we’re involved in other programs like Certifiably Green Denver. Corporate social responsibility has been baked into the business’ culture from the beginning.
BFCO: How did you all first hear about Best for Colorado, and why did you decide to join?
CO: It was one of the alliances that was already on the table when I came on board, so when I learned about it, I recognized it was aligned with our values. We renewed our Commit to Action pledge and made a commitment to get engaged and work toward a B Corp certification. YellowDog decided to join because we want to measure and understand our impact and create goals and baselines for improving and hold ourselves accountable to do the right thing based on objective standards.
BFCO: What is a challenging aspect of YellowDog’s work?
CO: One of the challenges is people think of print as a dying industry. It’s a challenge to make sure people know that print is still very much relevant and part of an effective marketing mix. We have to really demonstrate the value of print campaigns. That said, there’s always basics people will need, for example: signage. There will always be physical spaces to maintain and promote and print has a role in that. One way we’ve adapted in the last few years is expanding our digital services such as design, marketing, website development, rebranding and packaging. We have one foot in print, which is where our roots are, and another foot in the creative digital agency space.
BFCO: What’s one achievement YellowDog is most proud of?
CO: In just the last few months YellowDog has received a finalist status for the Denver Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year, has been listed on Colorado Companies to Watch, was featured in the Denver Business Journal Small Businesses in 2020 and now we’re listed in the top 100 Small Commercial Printers. The first three awards/mentions are local, but that last one recognizes us at a national level. This is great validation especially for a company of our size.