If you’ve eaten at Silver Dollar or Rye, had a drink at Galaxie or Please & Thank You, attended the Buy Local Fair or an event at the KMAC Museum, you’ve seen Mperfect’s handiwork. It’s hard to avoid.
But unlike many of its clients, the name Mperfect isn’t so well-known to the general public, more than a decade after principal Jason Pierce founded the marketing and design firm.
When working on a new project, “I feel like we’re just pushing pixels around and nobody’s seeing it,” Pierce said. Once the project debuts, they receive feedback from clients and can gauge the reaction based on the number of buttons, T-shirt, brochures or other items a client goes through, but beyond that, many people still don’t know it’s Mperfect behind the design.
The company has prospered by word of mouth, and in the past two years, Pierce has brought on Megan Mraz as a designer and illustrator in 2015 and Michael Trager-Kusman as his business partner and accounts manager in 2016.
The company’s roots go back 15 years when Pierce was doing cheap design work in Indianapolis for as many people as possible, creating fliers and album artwork, he said. The name came from a folded T-shirt Pierce saw in the Keith Haring Pop Shop in New York City. The shirt said “I am perfect” but folded showed only “m perfect.”
“I couldn’t let it go,” Pierce said, adding every design could be continually tweaked. “Never is a project actually perfect.”
When he moved to Louisville in 2006, Pierce made Mperfect his full-time job. Some of his earlier work in Louisville includes the logo for The Green Building and the building’s former bar 732 Social.
Mperfect started operating out of an office above Please & Thank You on Frankfort Avenue a year ago, after spending several years in a second-floor office in NuLu. The firm says it has 25 active clients, has just redesigned its website and is looking to add clients and employees.
It wants to expand outside of Louisville, Pierce said. “We want to be bigger than this city.”
This year, the firm has taken on clients in industries it hasn’t work in before. Mperfect is finishing up work for the insurance agency Sterling Thompson Co., and will debut updated branding and taglines for its marketing materials such as “Just one spark can make a hell of an insurance claim…“ printed on matchbooks.
It also recently rebranded the 138-year-old cleaning and maintenance supply company Leonard Brush & Chemical.
Restaurant and bar clients continue to be a heavy focus for the company, said Trager-Kusman, who co-founded Rye.
“We want to be in the conversation with everyone who opens a restaurant because that’s really what we excel at,” he said.
Mperfect offers a full-suite of branding and marketing materials including logos, taglines, brochures, screen printing, posters, business cards, websites, restaurant and bar menus, and more. The company uses mostly Louisville partners to produce materials like T-shirts and business cards that it can’t do in-house.
A full branding or rebranding can take 90 to 100 days, the firm says, depending on the needs of the client and if the client has a fully realized concept.
For example, Pierce said, they are working on a logo and other branding materials for Hell or Highwater, a secretive speakeasy that is expected to open at some point at 112 W. Washington St. “They knew they wanted to be this speakeasy type of place, so we knew their identity” from the beginning.
A company’s identity is more than the logo, Pierce said. “It’s your voice. It’s the way you talk. It’s your color scheme. …Part of building a brand is someone keeping a matchbox in their kitchen. Then you live in their space.”
Silver Dollar prints 12,000 postcards each year that the restaurant hands out with its customer checks. People end up taking the cards, which feature the restaurant’s catchphrase, “Whiskey by the Drink.” It can serve as a reminder, he said.
Mperfect clients “are flourishing businesses because people talk about them,” Pierce said.