During this long stretch of winter in January and February, our minds start to wander a little, particularly when we start daydreaming of places where it is warm and sunny.
San Diego fits that description nicely. Residents there enjoy balmy 72-degree days while most of North America is busy shoveling snow. That was all the inspiration necessary to begin investigating what marketers, designers and developers are doing out there.
A lot of good work, it turns out.
Below are 25 digital marketing shops and agencies in San Diego whose work deserves a little extra praise. Some of these teams are full-service agencies, and some specialize more toward design or web development or brand management.
Mindgruve, a full-service agency, is one of the big players in San Diego. Their previous work includes overhauling eBay’s user interface and building a March Madness bracket for Budweiser’s content marketing campaigns.
Jason Paul Marketing features a super-slick site and includes a Jay-Z quote in the blog’s header. Those two details make for a pretty good starting point when talking about this web design and marketing agency. Its clients include nutrigenomics company Metagenics and the San Diego Zoo.
This creative, branding and web design agency boasts nearly 1,000 clients, which include the San Diego Airport — for which Jacob Tyler created a brand strategy and a nice new responsive website — and a Southern California community bank called Vibra Bank — for which the agency created a whole brand narrative and nice-looking marketing collateral.
Buchanan Design focuses on what it calls “brandworking” to cultivate a client’s brand. It does a good job of this, too, and you can see two examples by taking a look at the websites for The Pacific Arts Movement and Austrian chocolatier Dallmann Confections.
Digital Operative is a full-service marketing agency that’s scaled up to 30 employees over the last six-plus years. Its clients include makers of some big consumer products such as Coffee Cargo, which offers single serve coffee K-Cups in subscription form, and Otter Box, which makes popular smartphone cases.
Cuker is a full-service marketing agency that has an impressive list of clients: Nike, Sony, Quicksilver and Red Bull, to name a few. In 2014, Cuker took home gold at the Davey Awards for its branding work for client Eldorado Stone, a manufacturer of stone veneers for homes. Cuker’s SEO work also resulted in a 20% increase in organic traffic to the company’s site, and a sweepstakes brought Eldorado Stone 7,000 new Facebook fans.
Monk Development specializes in digital marketing for churches and faith-based organizations. If that sounds a little boutique, then get this: The team at MonkDev has built a proprietary CMS just for church websites called Ekklesia360, and they say more than 8500 churches are using it. As with a CMS such as WordPress, there are ready-made themes, or the MonkDev crew can do custom web design for you.
Taylor & Pond is a 20-year-old full-service agency that’s headquartered in San Diego and has offices all up and down the western half of North America. The industries in which the agency specializes are health and wellness, beauty and fashion, and entertainment. “Our uniqueness lies in being born interactive and staying agile for optimal project results and customer service,” the company writes.
Self Image Media is a design and marketing firm in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter whose clients are largely local. In fact, that is Self Image’s bread and butter: They even have an ebook available for download called 7 Tips to Grow Your Local Business Online.
Top Ranking Media is another niche agency that focuses on Internet marketing for surgeons and dentists, and their clients are pretty far-flung. Here is what Dr. Damian Marucci, a plastic surgeon in Sydney, said about the agency: “Ryan and the team at Top Ranking Media have made things easy for me – they made the transition from my old company seamless.”
Speaking of international clients, graphic and web design studio Ypsilon Design has done work for a beach club in Bratislava, Slovakia; a dance company in Leicester, England; and a Thai restaurant in Surfers Paradise, Australia. Local clients includes a couple of solar panel companies.
Pixel Me Pink is a web design company with a sense of humor and an exacting client pre-selection process. “It is one thing to own and operate a business for the sake of making money, and an entirely different thing to do what you do because of an underlying passion and purpose,” the company’s site reads. “If you are starting or already have a business that exists just so that you can make money and pay your bills, we probably aren’t the provider for you.”
Whack Media Design has offices in three of America’s coolest cities: San Diego, Austin and Savannah, Georgia. It looks as if the team has leveraged its cool — and some strategic agency partnerships — to land some pretty nice clients, too, which include Visa, Axe and Miller.
Videy is a design and development agency that can do pretty much anything a client could need. This includes SEO, CAD design and custom software development. In 9-plus years of business, Videy has completed more than 1200 projects for numerous clients.
Bulldog Drummond is a design consultancy that extends its competence beyond the realm of marketing. In addition to branding and UX design, Bulldog Drummond consults small companies on how to grow and innovate strategically.
As with a couple of other firms above, H&H targets a certain industry — real estate — for web development. Apparently, this industry specialization serves H&H well because clients offer effusive praise: “I have never had such a fulfilling team supporting me in my business and I have been in real estate since 1989,” said one real estate agent in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Gaslamp Media is a full-service marketing agency that specializes in website design and web development. Since 2008, Gaslamp has worked with more than 200 clients, one of which is the Harvard International Review, for whom Gaslamp built a great-looking Drupal site.
Former clients rave about Nathalie at N Halie Designs. “Nathalie consistently produces amazing work,” one client said. “We’ve had her design multiple websites for our company and they always look exceptional!” N Halie Designs creates websites, print media and brand assets for a variety of businesses.
FYC Labs is a small team of designers who create gorgeous websites. Take a look at what FYC has done for mobile eyewear retailer Mobileyes or beachside pub Wonderland Ocean Pub, a local favorite, to get a feel for the agency’s design skills.
Cofa Media uses its distributed team — with offices in San Diego, Holland and Serbia — to build user-friendly digital properties for some big-name clients, which include Aramark (a company with a quarter-million employees) and Burton Snowboards. Cofa specializes in building mobile and ecommerce sites, but its team is experienced enough to handle any job you throw at it.
Storm Brain Designs celebrates 10 years in business this year, designing and optimizing websites, and also building mobile apps for clients. Storm Brain counts TV host Elisabeth Hasselbeck among its best-known clients; they built a website to promote her bestselling gluten-free diet book.
Sage Tree is a web development agency that has built websites for the University of California, San Diego as well as the San Diego Comic-Con, among other clients. Sage Tree’s team primarily works with Drupal, and they are experts at integrating third-party platforms such as Zuora and ExactTarget.
Piston is a full-service digital agency with offices in both San Diego and New York. In 2014, the agency won an American Advertising Award for its integrated campaign for Cars.com that allowed users to choose their own journey in car buying by giving them the choice between drama-free and high-drama adventures.
L7 Creative’s strength is building brands across digital channels. Among its client list is smart-outlets startup Brio, for which L7 created a brand, a Consumer Electronics Show strategy and even a crowdfunding campaign. Smart outlets sound esoteric, but L7’s branding is strong enough that the startup successfully positions itself as family-friendly, safe and accessible.
Parallel is a full-service agency with a sharp value proposition. The agency first determines a potential client’s business mode (“sprout,” “grow,” “weed” or “harvest” — perfect visual metaphors) then asks the potential client whether it needs a virtual marketing agency, bolt-on marketing, or projects on demand. Its clients include heavy-duty companies such as San Diego Caterpillar machine provider Hawthorne CAT.
lead image by:
Peasap / Flickr
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