Raleigh communications agency Clean Design has a new owner and a new “partner firm” that focuses on high-level strategy: Clean Strategy Group.
Natalie Perkins, who joined the 20-employee Clean Design as president nearly six years ago, has acquired 100 percent ownership of the business from co-founder and CEO Chris Herndl. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
Perkins said that from the outset, the plan – on her end and Herndl’s – was for her to take over the business. The final phase of that plan was completed at the end of July but wasn’t previously announced.
Perkins said of Herndl: “He’s retired. He’s enjoying life on a boat and with his grandkids.”
Clean Design offers a range of services – including graphic design, branding, media planning and advertising – for a client roster that includes Red Hat, Lenovo, Duke Raleigh Hospital, UNC Kenan-Flagler and Lonerider. The agency also recently expanded into the public relations arena.
Perkins declined to disclose Clean Design’s revenue but said business was thriving.
“We’re seeing a lot of growth from current clients as well as new clients,” she said.
The recently formed Clean Strategy was created by Jeremy Holden and Jeff Burkel. Holden is a former chief strategy officer at Publicis New York, one of the world’s largest ad agencies, as well as former head of planning at Durham ad agency McKinney. Burkel is former chief operating officer at MicroMass Communications in Cary.
Holden said the guiding philosophy behind Clean Strategy is that in order to be effective, a company’s external communications strategy needs to be aligned with its internal operations and culture.
“It’s no longer OK to develop a messaging strategy that you can’t live up to because of how you operate internally,” Holden said.
Clean Strategy will focus both on crafting a powerful communications strategy as well as poring over a client’s operations “to figure out anything that is going on internally that might act as a barrier to delivering on the promise,” he said.
Although Holden and Burkel are Clean Strategy’s only full-time employees, they have a network of “senior strategists” with a variety of specialties that they can call upon as needed, Holden said.
Clean Design and Clean Strategy share the Clean name and share office space in Brier Creek, but they’re independently owned.
They anticipate working together on behalf of clients, but Holden noted that Clean Strategy also is interested in working with other agencies as well.
There’s another link that makes them “partner firms”: Holden and Perkins are husband and wife.