Behind the Business with David Moncur, CEO of Branding & Digital Agency, Moncur
It seemed unthinkable not so long ago, but Detroit is the perfect place for the headquarters of an innovative and successful branding agency. If ever there was a city that has flipped it’s image upside down, it’s Detroit. While the struggle continues, young and aspiring businesses like Moncur are being swept up in the feeling of a city on the rise, and setting up shop and putting down roots.
We interviewed David Moncur, CEO and Principal at the agency, and spoke about the company, the city, and how the two have found success together.
So tell us about Moncur. What is it that you do and who are your customers?
Moncur is a branding & digital agency. We specialize in brand development and advanced technology website development, along with digital marketing and social media. We are headquartered in Detroit, which is amazing place to call home; there is no place like the D. We also have offices in Miami and Austin, which are both cities I love traveling to and are great for business.
How did you get into the business of brand developement?
I started as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley 22 years ago. I was connected to a venture capital firm there and if a startup business got funding, we were the creative design team that helped get them off the ground. I came back to Michigan 15 years ago, and we kept an office in California until 10 years ago.
I actually grew up in Ann Arbor, and we’ve had a lot of success by moving our base to metro Detroit.
They say that to be successful you have to be passionate. Why do you love what you do?
There are several things I am really passionate about and I feel incredibly lucky that my career encompasses all of those things.
I thrive on learning and being able to figure things out. Marketing is a challenge that changes every single day; it’s a moving target. The challenge is always different and the moment you think you have it figured out, it changes again and you have to keep discovering. I truly love being able to discover new things on a daily basis. I also believe that creative expression is one of the cornerstones of a fulfilling life. I want to have amazing experiences, I want to spend as much time with the people I love and respect as I can, and I want to learn new things.
I love that I have found a way to make creativity my career.
Has it been smooth sailing or have you overcome adversity to get where you are?
Oh man, talk about adversity [laughs]. The first thing that comes to mind is the Tech bubble burst. It’s hard to forget that; our phone didn’t ring for 3 months. There was also a time when our biggest client filed bankruptcy the day after we shipped out an enormous in-store campaign to over 400 retail locations. We ended up having to pay for all of it. I remember being in a complete state of shock and panic, wondering if we would be able to stay in business. Somehow, with a sheer will to survive and perseverance, we made it. I’m unbelievably proud to say that with all the adversity we have faced, we have never had to lay anyone off due to adversity, we have always found a way to make it work.
Who can you turn to for help if you need it? Are there organizations or groups in the area that support small business?
Yes, there are definitely people and organizations I can turn to. I have been a part of a group called Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), which is a global network of entrepreneurs that come together around the premise of knowledge and experience share to learn and grow from each other. Everyone helps the other become more successful in business and we enrich our personal lives in the process. My business success is directly related to my efforts in that organization.
We all know that crazy happens. What’s the wildest thing that’s happened on the job?
Photo shoots are certainly projects that can get crazy. People are anxious and tense but try to be relaxed, and often times it brings out a part of them that is very unexpected. With all the energy in the room, you never know what can happen. One time we were doing a photo shoot of a radio personality and before the shoot was finished the woman was dancing around drizzling chocolate syrup everywhere, it was quite a sight!
What do you do with your time off? Are you familiar with that concept?
I try to tack leisure time onto the end of my work travel whenever possible. I also love biking and running, I find those two things very meditative.
I’m also really passionate about food and cooking. I love to cook.
This is the age of the social network. How important is social media to your business and how do you make it work?
Social media is a big part of what we do. These days, you have to have more than an amazing website– your digital storefront needs to extend into the social realm. Digital PR and social media really create a full online experience that consumers like to see and engage with. It can really humanize your brand. We have a dedicated social team that does a phenomenal job with our clients.
When it comes to running your business, what’s the one tool you couldn’t live without?
To make life easier as I travel between cities, I try to accomplish everything I can on my iPhone. I believe it’s the single best business tool I’ve ever come across and I try to keep up with the latest apps for prioritization and organization. Being able to prioritize and organize are two of the most important things needed to be an effective leader.
How are you involved in your community? What does supporting local mean to you?
I’m really thrilled that everyone at Moncur enjoys being engaged in the community and supporting local organizations, particularly the arts. I believe it’s important to always maintain a strong civic identity in the city where you live and do business.
I’ve chaired boards and been involved in many local organizations. As a company, we contribute by providing pro bono promotional materials, publicity, and creative and brand support to community organizations.
What does the future look like for you and Moncur?
It seems that all the skills, talents, technology, resources and clients are all converging in the same place and we are growing like crazy. We have everything in place: the people, the locations, and the jobs. It’s a really exciting time for us.
Do you have any advice for aspiring business leaders just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to stand out. The people that stand out are authentic, confident and unique.
Also, strive to be a great communicator. Communication is a fundamental skill in life. If you can communicate well, anything you want to do is going to be better because of it.
Detroit is an amazing place. What do you love most about the city?
Detroit is a city that embodies the concept of the creative class. The creative energy flowing into the city is powering its evolution. I’m really excited by the people and organizations that are contributing to the growth and change. If you drive down the same road every day, you will constantly see something new. It’s becoming a world-class city- again. I’m looking forward to the day the branding perception of Detroit catches up with the reality. We have something really special going on here.