Point B Communications does better branding, faster.
A midsize agency in Chicago, Point B builds lasting brands and strategic marketing campaigns for businesses, many of them small to midsize themselves, through a collaborative process that, simply put, works.
Everyone starts at point A. Point B meets its clients there and guides them to the next level as a business and brand — mavericks on the move together. How? By doing work that’s about the client, not the agency. And by being smart, efficient and genuinely good people. After more than 40 years in the industry, with an emphasis in hospitality marketing, you learn a few things. (Being nice, though — that’s just who Point B is.)
Point B has honed its distinct process of brand development over time. Practice made perfect, in other words. Brand discovery, the first stage, brings Point B and the client together in an exhaustive workshop-style session to lay out the client’s strengths, core values, pitfalls, needs and wants. Brand articulation, the second stage, turn that information and emotion into words, pictures, designs and solutions — ultimately, three separate, strategic branding concepts from which the client can choose. For as long as Point B has been at this, the client has always chosen one.
All sides are in constant communication and collaboration. The process takes about eight weeks from start to finish, a pace virtually unheard of in the industry. At a typical agency, this takes months or longer and tens of thousands of dollars more.
While branding is its bread-and-butter, Point B does other stuff (also really well) that an agency its size typically doesn’t or isn’t able to execute, most notably in the digital realm. Its full suite of digital media tools enables Point B to do programmatic ad buying. They produce videos and TV commercials and build websites from scratch. Point B’s holistic capabilities cover strategic planning, media planning and buying, digital and search engine marketing and collateral and direct mail marketing. If you want a new logo, they’ll create it. If you just need a brochure, they’ll make you a brochure. They do what makes the most sense and has the most impact for the client, who’s involved every step of the way.
Point A for Point B was as The Grusin Group, a tiny agency in Northbrook founded by PR pro Edward Grusin. Grusin’s foray into hospitality marketing was by happenstance. He got a cold call from Roger Dow, then the marketing director for the Chicago Marriott Lincolnshire, who needed fliers. That meeting with Dow, now president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, led to the fledgling agency’s work launching hotels for the Marriott brand and eventually Interstate Hotels & Resorts.
Rob Grusin joined his dad soon after college as the fourth hire. He took on accounts and established a media planning department as the agency grew in size and services, moved to a larger office in the suburbs and underwent a series of name changes.
In 1999, Rob Grusin bought the agency, marking the start of its next phase that included broadening its scope beyond hospitality, moving to downtown Chicago in 2003 and rebranding as Point B Communications. In the summer of 2017, Point B moved to its current home in a loft building in the West Loop.
Nice guys don’t finish last. They end up at Point B. This is as true for Point B’s clients as for the 20 people on its permanent team, two of whom have been with the agency since its early years in Northbrook. A veritable mish-mash of personalities, Point B’s writers, strategists, account executives, designers and media managers are experts in their respective fields who tend to push the status quo aside and have fun while doing it.
A great idea can come from anyone, at any time. That’s why everyone at Point B gets to weigh in during a brand articulation session, which usually happens in the big breakout room — the one with the oversized couches.
There are couches throughout the Point B office. There’s also a dedicated beer fridge, copious snacks, an arcade game in the kitchen and a giant gumball machine filled with orange gumballs in the reception area. When Point B renamed itself and moved downtown from the suburbs, it mailed the announcement to clients with a box of orange gumballs. People loved the gumballs and asked for more. They still do, and Point B still gives them out to clients and new hires. Anyone, really.
Another fun habit at Point B: occasional staff outings to cheer on the Cubs, volunteer at a food bank and play ping-pong.
There is no ping-pong table at Point B.