Creativity paying dividends for Hamilton branding firm

LemonGrenade Creative’s explosive growth is bearing the fruits of its labor.

Located at 10 Journal Square, the graphic design and branding firm has mushroomed to four employees from the one it had when it launched in that space last March. It’s expanding its space on the fourth floor of the Robinson-Schwenn Building by adding a photography wing, renovating an existing conference room used for brainstorming sessions and adding marketing to its list of offerings.

It’s also garnering the business of a growing list of clients, everyone from Triple Digit Brewing, Johns Hopkins, Christian Moerlein, and Apex Eye to Butler Tech, Sara’s House, Municipal Brew Works and Fitton Center for Creative Arts.

“We’ve been doing almost everybody in Hamilton, it’s been great,” said Thommy Long, LemonGrenade’s founder and creative director. “We just got hired to rebrand Hamilton High School and it’s turning out fantastic. Beautiful new logo.”

Long, 40, said he previously worked as senior art director at another downtown studio but after 11 years there, he started freelancing, a decision that ultimately led him to branch out on his own in 2014 as LemonGrenade Creative. Originally running the business out of his home for a year, he opted to open a downtown Hamilton location last March.

“I’ve been in Butler County my whole life and I (realized) Downtown Hamilton is really the next big thing and that was a year-and-a-half ago,” he said. “It couldn’t have gone better.

“Everybody wants to work with everybody within the city.”

Long said he came up with the unique moniker while in art school at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and searching for a name for an eventual business of his own.

“I didn’t want to do ‘Thommy Long Design’ because that sounds like a lawyer or a dentist’s office,” he said.

Instead, he typed the words “powerful weapon” into slang site because “I always wanted to be my clients’ secret weapon.”

The site’s first result? “Lemon Grenade.”

“Being a creative professional, I think you need a clever name. I wanted to show our creativity in our name,” he said.

Besides paid clients, LemonGrenade Creative also takes on pro bono projects, the most recent of which is Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre. Doing so is about more than just getting the word out about its brand, Long said.

“I feel that within the community, I want everyone in Hamilton and Butler County to succeed and if we can help them with making their materials look better, you know, that’s what we do,” he said.

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