Empire Times Client Feature: GRAF-X Design Suite
Empire Accountants has had the pleasure of working with James from GRAF-X Design Suite, assisting with his compliance, taxation and bookkeeping requirements since 2018.
GRAF-X specialises in branding and design for small business owners in Brisbane. If your business is in need of some branding help and you don’t quite know where to start, reading on would be a great step in the right direction!
Q. Tell us about GRAF-X Design Suite? What do you specialise in?
A. My greatest passion when it comes to my work is the design of logos and company branding – creating something new that didn’t exist before is very rewarding. GRAF-X has been producing logo design in Brisbane for over 30 years, but we do so much more that that every day. We produce graphic design for print and digital marketing, advertising material and promotional assets for local, national and international clients. We also manage and coordinate production and distribution of material in many cases.
Q. How did GRAF-X Design Suite start?
A. The GRAF-X story began back in 1984, well before I took up residency. But the core values and product have been consistent throughout my time – which is producing outstanding graphic design. I joined GRAF-X in May 2002 as a Senior Graphic Designer, from there my equity in the business grew. In the early years it was purely creative input, this soon expanded to managing the design studio and junior designers, then account management, managing suppliers – the layers kept multiplying. Ultimately, I was managing and directing the entire creative side of the business. I formally took over the assets of GRAF-X in mid 2015 when the then Managing Director retired.
Q. What makes your business different from other graphic design businesses in Brisbane?
A. Coincidentally this very question was recently been put to me. The answer is that we genuinely care about the design we create for our clients.
What that means in the case of GRAF-X Design Suite is we possess an ethos to imagine and create based almost entirely on the needs of those that engage and trust us. Many other designers stray from this path.
My strongly held view is that as graphic designers our inspiration should be to create items that resonate with the client and their business. It is never about an egotistical craving to accumulate design industry accolades for ourselves.
There must be a connection between our clients and what we produce for them. It’s important to me personally that they are proud and comfortable with their branding. Pride and comfort in how their business is presented visually generates added confidence and resolve on their part.
Q. Starting a small business can be challenging in today’s market. What is one thing you feel was a challenge for you and how did you overcome that?
A. GRAF-X was well established when I took over, so I was intimate with the client base, staff and the day-to-day running of the studio. It was the administration side – the business aspect – that was the challenge for me. There were components of the business that had a resemblance to a start-up
I have been fortunate to know some gifted business people that I consider mentors around me, which has helped enormously. Continued learning, pushing out of the your known comfort zone, and being as proactive as the creative engine room allows me also helps development.
Listening to the advice of experienced business minded people, then taking and acting on that advice, has been an important key.
Q. When did you start using Empire Accountants and what difference have you noticed since working together?
A. Our first contact with Empire Accountants was in late 2017. We had become increasingly frustrated with our then accountant, the level of service and seeming indifference was wearing thin. I had met Beth Hodge through professional business networking and liked her savvy, but friendly, professional nature.
Initially we asked for a second opinion from Empire, then not very long after we very happily engaged them as our accountants.
One thing we have noticed is the proactive nature of Empire, they also present their work in a very professional manner, offer genuine advice, and have truly gone beyond with assistance when we’ve asked. The overall culture of the practice, and the character of the people is a great fit for us.
Q. If you were to recommend The Empire to a friend, what would you say?
A. I’d firstly reiterate the points I’ve just mentioned. Obviously, having a long creative based career means I’m not numbers orientated, but that’s a non-issue with Empire. You will always be treated and spoken to with respect. Empire are always professional, always sharply capable, always on and by your side – and always friendly.
Q. Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start a business in Brisbane?
Project confidence, even when you don’t feel it. Know, and let it be known, that you are very good at what you do. Seek, listen and act on good advice. And always pack your persistence and resilience.
How can GRAF-X assist with business branding?
We work with clients across the entire spectrum, we welcome all sorts, and all sizes.We are a small business, so we know and understand small business.
Sitting down with a client and getting to know their personality, their individual approach to business, their likes, dislikes, and to understand the demographics of their customers is vitally important at the beginning of the design process. Even more so when I meet a client with the emotional attachment of founder and proprietor.
A professionally designed logo is a genuine long-term asset to any business. It’s the visual symbol of the values behind the business; it’s the graphic embodiment of the saying – you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Dress to impress!