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Meet Mike Jones of Resound in Tempe, AZ

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Jones.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
What do you do when you and two friends have a simple desire to do creative work together (like writing and graphic design) and get paid for it? Start a brand agency, of course! That’s exactly what I did in 2009 with my two business partners, David and Jeff.

Those early days were simple (in hindsight). Friends and family would engage us to help them market their businesses online. We’d do good work. Their business would grow. We’d get paid.

But as our fledgling agency picked up more clients and projects our team started to develop a core philosophy and purpose that has guided us to today: help our clients craft remarkable brands that deepen and sustain their own customer relationships.

We’ve found that far too many people think that their company or organization just isn’t that special. “We’re just like those other guys down the street doing the same thing,” they say. That’s wrong. Utterly wrong. People are remarkable. And so the organizations they form and create should be too. We want to help every organization understand this truth and live out their authentic identity every day. This has driven us to develop services (like branding and marketing), tools, and workshops to help businesses create their authentic brands.

This message has resonated with a lot of people – both with clients and our own staff. We’ve been able to attract some remarkable Arizona-based clients like Shamrock Farms, Infusionsoft, AppointmentPlus, and Henry+Horne. Working with them is a joy as they share our view of branding and marketing – that everything we create must be strategic, well-executed, and authentic to their identity – and, of course, work in a digitally-connected world.

And we’ve expanded from just to the original three partners to now 8 employees on our core team as a well as a roster of specialist contractors. Seeing how passionate each of them is about living out our purpose and values is such a joy. That’s been the strongest indicator for me that we’re doing this right.

The recognition of our purpose has multiplied as well. In 2014 I was recognized as one of Arizona’s top entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the Arizona Republic. And just this last year we were named one of the top web design agencies in the Phoenix area by Clutch.

While awards and recognition are great, it’s the relationships that keep us going day in and day out. Helping craft the identity of remarkable organizations who are trying to make the world better for others is the engine that is Resound.

Oh and I’ve started a couple other brands (because I just can’t stop making things): Taftly (an apparrel brand for the historically inclined) and AZ Brandcast (a podcast all about Arizona and the great brands that make their home here).

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Smooth? Ha! Definitely not. But I don’t think any business should be smooth sailing. And we’ve certainly had our share of bumps in the road over the years.

One of the biggest challenges early on was making the decision to quit my day job and go full-time with our agency. I spent the first couple of years of the business working it on the side while I worked full-time at a large marketing analytics agency. The safety net of a salary and benefits was great but we eventually grew to Resound to a point that I just couldn’t do both and still serve everyone well. So I made the jump. That was scary. Thankfully Adrienne, my wife, is incredibly supportive and cheered me on the whole time.

And of course, money – and in particular cash-flow – has been a challenge at times. In a service-based business, projects and clients come and go. As does the economy at large. Learning to manage those ebbs and flows of cash has been one of the biggest lessons in our business. It’s still something we learn new lessons about every day. But most of it really just boils down to being conservative and smart with spending – you know, just like we should all do with our personal finances too!

And let’s not discount challenges with relationships. I firmly believe that business is – at its heart – all about relationships. Whether that’s with employees, vendors, customers, or partners, every business is chalk full of relationships. And maintaining and growing them is paramount to successful organizations. I had some management experience coming into the business but nothing quite prepares you for the relationship management required of an owner. I’ve grown a literal ton in understanding people and how to serve them well while balancing the other relationships in a business. And of course, I can’t do it all. Building a team that cares as much as I do about our relationships with each other and our clients has been one of my biggest sources of pride in the business.

Please tell us about Resound.
At it’s heart, Resound is a brand agency. We help organizations (and specifically those selling professional services and software products) create authentic brands and market themselves to their customers.

We provide 4 primary services:
1. Brand development (like strategy, market research, naming, logo design)
2. Website design & development
3. Content marketing (like blogs, social media, and email)
4. Marketing Consulting (including workshops, training, and team development for marketing teams)

Our experience in the fields of professional services (like accounting, law, and engineering), software products, and business-to-business marketing sets us apart from most other brand agencies who tend to be more focused on consumer products.

We’re most known for our brand strategy coupled with quality website design. Cluth recently named us one of the top web design firms as well as a top market research firm.

One of our projects that I’m most proud of was our rebrand of Henry+Horne, one of Arizona’s largest private accounting firms. We took them through our unique branding process to define their authentic identity and then apply it across their company (including a new website). The positive response from their staff, clients, as well as their industry (including several awards from the Association of Accounting Marketing), was a huge confirmation that our work really matters.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Oh man, this is tough. I have a lot of good childhood memories. But one in particular has stood out most of my life: when I was 13 my dad took me on a 5-day backpacking trip in the mountains of Colorado. It was beautiful and yet a grueling trek through 35 miles of pure wilderness (with over 3000 feet of elevation change)…and with 30 lbs on my back.

I remember totally breaking down halfway through the trip, telling my dad I didn’t think I could make it. But he encouraged me to keep going and push through. It was tough but I made it.

While he thought he’d ruined me forever – that I’d never want to go backpacking again – I made it an annual trip for several years in high school and college.

I’ll never forget that trip. It taught me the power of perseverance. And that every great reward comes at the end of significant work. Definitely principles I’ve applied over and over in building Resound.

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