Gray Gill, Southside Creative
When it comes to the ‘creative’ in ‘Southside Creative’, there are two designers responsible for the bulk of the design studio’s work—Kacie Yates and Casey Yoshida. Yes, they share the same name, albeit spelled differently, and the same job title (Art Director).
“People mention that all the time and I do think it’s quite comical that we’re friends with the same name and same job,” Yoshida says. “But I honestly think it helps kind of create our own brand. You know, I’m an identical twin and so I think whenever there’s some little quirk about you and another person it makes you easily identifiable.”
But really, they’re more focused on making a name for the agency’s clients, and making Southside Creative synonymous with quality design. Good marketing and branding can be somewhat subjective, but Yates has a simple guiding philosophy.
“I think knowing what your message is and being very consistent with it is probably the most important part of a brand. And knowing who your audience is and who you’re speaking to.”
Prior to working at Southside Creative, Yates, who is a Chattanooga native, spent time in New York and Atlanta. Developing a strong and unique identity for brands is what she does best. Yates worked on the design for Ponce City Market, the popular dining, retail and entertainment complex in the renovated Sears, Roebuck & Company building in Atlanta.
“I’m really proud of how it all turned out,” she says. “That will always be a jewel in my crown.”
Ronelle Sellers founded Southside Creative in 2007 to provide businesses with marketing muscle, but when she hired Yates, followed by Yoshida, the team continued its growth into a well-rounded branding agency. In the past four years of working side by side at Southside Creative, Yates and Yoshida, along with Southside Creative’s six other team members, have produced numerous campaigns, logos, videos, websites and more for local, regional and national businesses.
Yoshida points out that he and Yates have many common interests, but that they work well together because of trust.
“Anytime we tackle a new endeavor, it’s never alone,” he says. “And for creatives, that’s a great relationship to have. When you want to break out of your comfort zone and try something new, it can be isolating and you have all these doubts. Whether it is photo, video, interior design, graphic or web—we love all those things, so it’s nice to have someone you trust who loves creating as much as you do. It’s never felt like either of us was out on a limb alone.”
Perhaps the most evident proof of their collaborative process and design prowess is Southside Creative’s new studio.
“It was a completely different type of problem to solve,” Yoshida says. “I think it was the first time we spent a painstaking amount of time meticulously envisioning an environment.”
With the new office located front and center on Market Street, next door to Warehouse Row, the designers knew all eyes would be on their work. Judging from the feedback of passersby who stop to take photos—plus one couple who said they were using the office as inspiration for their new house—it’s safe to say Yates and Yoshida rose to the occasion.
From renovations to rebrands, Yates and Yoshida seek out projects where they’re able to start with a clean design slate. So, in the spring of 2018, when the team was tasked with creating an entirely new identity for the Northshore Chattanooga boutique Frankie & Julian’s, they jumped at the chance.
“We were able to feel proud of that project as a whole because we were able to do everything—the new name, the concept, how it looks, how it feels, how it sounds.”
Southside Creative came up with the name MILK and designed a website and persona that gave the new brand a posh, New York vibe.
Yoshida believes, “there are a few different layers” to great design.
“I think your brand visuals are extremely important, but I actually think an overlooked part of design is copywriting and brand voice,” he says. According to the art director, a business needs more than a great logo.
“That’s a big part of it, but words are also design. And we have talented team members who bring this part of the design to fruition. Words communicate things that graphics can’t. Seeing things gives us certain feelings, but a brand telling us can communicate a message on a more profound level.”
Yates and Yoshida enjoy being able to fill in those gaps in design.
“I think that’s a huge part of Southside now, having copywriting to go along with what we design. You have to get the words right first, then make them beautiful.”