You may have seen Bhargava Chiluveru hustling around Switchyards, camera in hand. Whether he’s working on a new video or rebranding a startup, Chiluveru and the team behind branding agency Chil Creative think beyond your product and highlight the true message of your brand.
“Atlanta’s creative community has made a huge difference in our lives,” says Chiluveru. Aside from the community, he attributes “a lot of hustle and dedication” to the agency’s growth in the past year.
The agency focuses on helping clients’ marketing and social media teams to craft, grow, or reconfigure their brand strategy through design, videography, and photography. Chil Creative’s clients range from small, early-stage startups to established non-profits looking to rebrand like CARE and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Learn more about how Chiluveru’s agency is becoming the go-to within Switchyards and beyond, why he believes that user experience is essential for your company, and his tips on avoiding burnout (hint: passion is key).
How did Chil Creative come about?
After many years at a corporate job, I left to start my own business on April 1st, 2013. In the spirit of entrepreneurship, I started a company called “Chil Media.”
Chil Media was literally modeled around all the skills I had to offer: Design, Photography, Videography, Marketing, E-commerce, etc. My message was jumbled and I soon realized I had too many audiences looking at the same entity. We ended up splitting into Chil Creative, an agency with a focus on conceptual branding and marketing which aimed to help other businesses, and Chil Studios, which became the production entity that focused on photography and video production with a B2C model. Over the past two years, my wife Anu has taken more of a lead on Chil Studios as I’ve switched my attention more on Chil Creative.
How have you built the Chil Creative brand?
Community engagement has been a huge part of my approach and it’s really helped us in the long run. I try to keep myself at the forefront of our brands to try and maintain a level of first-hand connection with the community.
As we grow, I want to do so responsibly. We want to make sure our employees and consultants are able to grow with us. I also want to make sure that we are spending time on the right projects. I’ve noticed that no matter how big or small a project or a client may be, we are giving it a 100% . I’m constantly engaged in my mind about all of my clients and ideas come at random times. I think that’s just how creatives work. I just want to make sure those solutions or concepts are for the right clients and the right projects.
When approaching a new client, how do you earn their trust?
Truly getting to the problem that needs solving and trying not to sell anything. Being honest and showing the clients that you have their best interest in mind even if it means hurting your own income stream early on. We would rather see and be part of successful projects and campaigns and build long lasting relationships with our clients.
We also try to be very open with our thoughts and creative input from our first conversation. Even though it’s important to try to protect your ideas and put value on your creativity, an empowered client is more willing to trust you than one whose lost.
Why is UX important for a company? What would you say to a CEO that keeps putting it at the bottom of their to-do list?
There is no room for a cluttered experience. There are too many options and too many interactions that happen on a daily basis so people have options for the products they use. In a B2C world, it means everything because people want to engage with pleasant experiences.
We place a tremendous importance on UX within our organization. When it comes to imparting this knowledge onto our clients, we make sure they are educated on how they can improve upon their current processes along with any opportunities we see for improvement.
Putting user experience at the bottom of their to-do list is an unwise decision. A CEO might see short term success with whatever alternative he or she might choose, but long sustained growth comes from a fine tuned User Experience.
Chil Creative is a mainstay at Switchyards. How has the agency immersed itself in the co-working spot’s community?
We love Switchyards, the whole ethos of the building, the level of involvement that Michael Tavani and Dave Payne have with the community, and what they are doing for the B2C community in Atlanta. It was easy for us to get involved because of our natural excitement to do so. They also give us a lot of creative freedom which allows us to create some great stuff. We were able to create very conceptual event videos which were fun to execute. We are excited to be working with them on more projects that are currently in production.
We also love everyone that comes through Switchyards. There is a level of hustle and drive within the building that keeps us all motivated. We tend to be very open with our advice and ideas with members. Understanding the lives of (early) entrepreneurs and founders, we try to keep the human element first and help out in whichever way possible. In terms of helping, we try to stick to our expertise which is branding, content creation and social engagement.
As CEO, how do you avoid burnout?
Having the right team in place who are invested in your vision, and see your passion and work ethic makes a huge difference. Streamlining your processes, establishing best practices and providing the right tools to your team can alleviate a some of the burden. At the end of the day, it’s still a tough job.
A focus on health and good habits has also played a huge part in our ability to tackle multiple projects. We became entrepreneurs because of our focus on health, we always notice a direct correlation between the amount of focus we put on our (physical and mental) health with our level of productivity and success.
My passion for a project is also the ultimate factor. The more passion I have for a project, the easier and more natural the work becomes. The difference between art and advertising is problem-solving and logical thought, both of which are naturally fun things. I can be enjoying myself if things are set up in a systematic way (and reduce work that is painful).
Photos by Jason Seagle