Voyage Magazine Feature

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kenny Morgan.

Kenny, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.

Little did I know that a love for music and an unexpected call would guide me down the creative path. I had just completed a three month internship on the Vans Warped Tour and I was certain that a career in the music industry was in the cards. I followed that internship up with an entry-level opportunity at Sony Music in Nashville, TN and my 20-something-self was certain that the pathway forward was clear.

Despite being surrounded by a family of artists and receiving some recognition of my own creative abilities as a child, I had no real understanding of design going into college. I pursued a degree in marketing and was all but certain that would be the appropriate foundation as I sought out opportunities at various record labels in the Music City. As I sat in my coat-like closet of an office in the summer of 2007, I received a call that would change everything.

“Hello?” “I’m looking to design a business card and a friend mentioned that I should give you a call.”

More than a few thoughts ran through my head as I engaged in this unexpected conversation. While I was convinced that he had contacted the wrong person, I agreed to help without hesitation. Maybe it was the desire to help someone in need that pushed me into agreeing to something I knew absolutely nothing about. I have a belief that all people have an instinctive desire to be wanted or needed in some capacity. The initial joy of being an answer to a need was quickly followed by the fear of agreeing to something beyond my ability.

A new MacBook and a bootleg version of Photoshop later and I was on my way. I found myself surprisingly comfortable with the process and the work I produced on that first project must have been sufficient enough as the request for more quickly followed. It was either that or the fact that I charged nothing that kept those first clients coming back. I still laugh about that today.

Thirteen years later and I’m the product of the Lord’s guidance, being molded by some of the greatest creatives and leaders in the Southeast and life itself. Some of the hardest personal and professional seasons were followed by the greatest growth and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Over a decade in the marketing and advertising industry taught me a lot. I was groomed to deliver high quality creative as efficiently as possible. I was coached on the importance of communicating the vision and meaning behind the work, even before the visual fruit from that labor was shown. And though it took time, I eventually gained the humble confidence that this was the role I was created for.

I also experienced a lot of things that didn’t feel right. Agencies that cared more about their profit potential than the ROI for the clients they served. The selling of services that were not needed. The lack of respect for those they represented behind closed doors. And all too common environments that had very little respect for others.

As my wife and I made our way back home from a weekend away in the spring of 2015, we found ourselves thinking through a number of thoughts. What would it look like to create an agency that listened to their clients? One that diagnosed the pain points before any talk of creative services was prescribed or brought to the table. One that sees each client like family and takes the initiative to be available both on a professional and personal level when needed. Shortly thereafter, Counsel Creative was born.

We believe that all people can benefit from good counsel. We also believe that good counsel requires good listening. While some agencies like to present themselves as the expert in every industry, we take the stance that we’ll never fully know a product, service or organization quite as our clients do. In the same manner, we don’t expect our clients to be creative experts either. We’ve found that the greatest marriage between agency and client lies in mutual respect for one another’s abilities. It takes a collaborative effort from both parties to find the greatest success.

It’s been amazing to see the growth since the spring of 2015. While we’ll never feel comfortable saying we’ve arrived, we’ve been blessed with growth in each passing year. The growth that gives us the ability to serve others at an even greater capacity. Our humble beginnings remind us to never lose sight of the passion and the purpose that set everything into motion. Those two desks that graced our bedroom walls have shown us when a love for others is paired with creative storytelling, beautiful things happen.

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?

As much as I love the 1989 classic Field of Dreams, the line “if you build it, they will come” couldn’t be farther from the truth. Business ownership is tough. It’s an emotional journey that is constantly shifting and trying you in new ways. But while the moments of success remind us that we’re on the right track, the struggles along the way are what push us to be better.

As a small business, we’ve had moments where payroll looked like an impossibility. We’ve experienced days that were so challenging, we weren’t sure how we could continue forward. We’ve learned that being a leader can be a lonely place at times and the burden that you bare as an advocate for others can be a heavy one. But it’s a daily reminder of why we set out on this journey. We love others. We want to lead brands to success through the art of storytelling. And we want to be a light in an industry that isn’t predominately known for being honest and true. Even if that means having a target on your back.

Please tell us about your business.

At our core, Counsel Creative was founded to help product makers connect through the art of storytelling. Our group of creatives lead brands to measured success in their market by curating carefully crafted creative experiences that are meaningful and true. Through brand development, website design, and video production, our mission is to build relationships that last and tell stories that matter. While we are incredibly grateful for the growth that we have seen since the spring of 2015, it’s not about us. When our clients win in big ways, that’s what matters the most. We’re most proud of those who have given us a chance to serve. Without them, we are nothing.

We would be naive to think that we are the only creative agency out there that has a passion for doing good. There’s a lot of great people who want to bring a positive change to this world. We’re not afraid to tell others that we love them and care about them beyond the scope of work. We lead with our hearts and are fueled by one thing alone, doing good.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?

I convey this often to my wife. “If I ever reach the point where I think I’ve made it, it’s probably time to go ahead and put me in the ground.” I never want to stop growing. No matter our age, our successes, you name it, I believe there’s always an opportunity for growth in everything that we do. And I think that mindset is what has lead to success, both in the good times and challenging ones.

Testimonials

"Counsel Creative is a hidden gem in the creative space."

"My entire NYC team was blown away by the work they were able to generate in a matter of DAYS (which other agencies said would take weeks). Their production was so good, in fact, it opened the doors for us to participate in a series of added-value beta tests with Facebook, which have been invaluable as we grow.”

Elizabeth Durand Streisand
,
Broadway Roulette

"Your work will be a lasting tribute to Ruth's life."

"Their work on the The Truth Project website was truly spectacular. Unlike a business site, the level of compassion and emotional engagement to capture and organize the ideas and content took a lot of heart. And you guys delivered. Depicting and articulating a person with words and video as you did with Ruth forced you and your team to dig deep into an emotional well that ordinary websites don’t require. My family is deeply indebted to you and your team."

Ken Samuelson
,
The Truth Project

"They have truly become part of our family."

"I simply can't say enough about our firm's experience with Kenny and Rachel. Aside from their incredible creativity and step-by-step communication throughout the process of building out our website, Kenny and Rachel brought an amazing level of sincerity and professionalism to everything they do. I'm very comfortable in giving them my highest recommendation."

Dean Krech
,
JHM