Raleigh IDUG is full of talented designers who have created amazing projects. We recently chatted with Marc Gura, who works as a designer for Sensus, a Raleigh company that helps utilities and consumers make the most of finite water and energy resources.
How did you get started in graphic design?
Really, my start in graphic design began as a very young child. My brother attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for a degree in “commercial art.” Just old enough to pick up a pencil, I’d copy his work and he’d instruct me based on what he learned. I would sketch and design things all through elementary and high school – event posters, programs, logos and more. However, there were many finer artists in my class and I didn’t feel as though I’d make my career in art with so many more talented people out there, so I planned on becoming a funeral director. For my undergrad work I went to Coastal Carolina College, at the time a branch campus of the University of South Carolina, and received my bachelors in marketing. My first job was in customer service at a cable company, next was a position in universal services for a gas utility. At the utility, I began working up promotional and communications programs which caught the eye of one of our executives, Greg Spencer. He liked my work and dedication and offered me the opportunity to create more for the company – advertising, newsletters, reports and much more. The rest is history.
What kind of projects do you work on now?
You never know what you’ll find coming across my desk. I develop a lot of sales materials – brochures, presentations and more – all focused on water, electric and natural gas products for utilities. In addition, I’m the creative strategist behind promotional efforts in other vertical markets the company supports. I do some pick-up work on the side in off-hours, mostly pro-bono for our church and some non-profits that my wife and I support.
Tell us about a project you’re particularly proud of. What were some if the technical challenges you had to overcome?
Off of recent memory, I’d have to say the Sensus Rule-the-Road promotion. It was to promote smart grid communications product manufactured by my company and targeted to natural gas utilities. The challenge was to create a unique item that was different and keep our name in front of the recipient. Instead of going with some catalog promotional item, we created our own! I found these great 1:16 scale delivery truck models (you know, the large-sized Hot Wheels cars) that just happened to be – literally – in our company colors. But the coolest part is that the truck the recipient received was customized with their name and company name!
How it was accomplished: I sent a customized letter to each targeted recipient, complete with their name, company name and unique claims code (taught to us just weeks before at our IDUG meeting by Kelly Vaughn). We used a “biker” theme to really stand out. The letter was mailed in a kraft corrugated envelope, for the rough texture, and offered both a Web or prepaid mail reply. All the recipient had to do was answer four questions about their plans to buy a product like the one we sell. Upon submitting their request, we used the same “merge” feature in Adobe InDesign and a local sign vendor printed the graphics on vehicle wrap substrate. We shipped the vehicle complete with the decals. The mailing had a seven percent response!
What type of projects do you look forward to doing in the future?
I really enjoyed the Rule the Road promotion and am looking forward to doing something similar. The project gained me a lot of visibility with our senior management team and I’ve been gathering quite a variety of projects – including presentations for our board of directors.
Are you currently accepting freelance projects?