What’s in a name? Sometimes millions. Just ask Pan Am, who long after going bankrupt sold its name for $1.3 million. Or check out the Internet domain name industry where dotcom addresses sell for millions. Then there are the professional football stadiums that have sold their naming rights for piles of cash.
These are lessons that haven’t gone unnoticed at Hinge, a Reston-based company, that’s made a name for itself in the nomenclature business. For the past 13 years, Hinge has helped launch new companies, or resuscitate old companies, with head-turning branding.
But they haven’t stopped there. Since their inception, Hinge has offered their services for free to help several local organizations.
“[The community] is part of where we are and we want to help where we are,” said Jennifer Sterling, president of Hinge, explaining why Hinge has always sought to strengthen community organizations.
FOR MANY organizations, Hinge’s pro bono work has made an “amazing” difference. “We just raised our millionth dollar,” said Robert Brennan, executive director of Fairfax County Park Foundation. “Without Jen and her staff, it would never have happened.” Brennan added that it took FCPF four years to raise its first $1 million, but they expect to do it again in one year.
“It’s because of Hinge,” said Brennan. Hinge worked with FCPF to develop its logo and letterhead, design direct mail materials and produce its annual report the past four years.
The company has volunteered to do similar services for other local organizations, including the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, Reston Interfaith, Friends of Reston and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce.
For its consistent commitment to help community organizations, Hinge was honored as a Best of Reston award winner in January.
The Best of Reston awards are given out each year by Reston Interfaith and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and presented to businesses, individuals and organizations that have gone above and beyond in their service to improving the quality of life of those in the Reston community. Hinge and this year’s other award winners will be honored at the 15th Annual Best of Reston Gala on April 20.
For the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, Hinge has demonstrated a corporate culture of giving “in a big way,” according to Tracey White, president and CEO of GRCC, which nominated Hinge for the award. “It’s a great testament to what makes them special,” said White, who has watched them volunteer their services for a number of nonprofits. “And they do it because they think it’s important.”
HINGE HAD HUMBLE beginnings to hear Sterling tell it. “I started with a desk in my bedroom,” said Sterling. It wasn’t long, though, before her operation moved to a bedroom, then a basement and then into office space. The company, which is actually three companies that came together had offices in Tysons Corner and Chantilly up until October 2004 when it relocated to Reston.
“I love being in Reston. It’s so central to everyone we work with and everything we do,” said Sterling.
Beyond their volunteer work, Hinge employees also enjoy their professional work.
They recently revitalized the branding of a floundering Delaware-based, family-owned office furniture company. “We renamed them, re-did their identity and all their collateral materials and direct mail pieces,” said Sterling. Then, Hinge sat back and watched as the company took their new identity to a national furniture store.
“After that show, they had more business then the previous two years combined,” said Sterling. “It’s neat to know what we did really had an impact on the company, to know that we made a difference.”
One of Hinge’s current clients, Bowman Consulting, a civil engineering, planning, surveying and environmental consulting firm, has found Hinge to be a perfect complement to their business goals. “We wanted something different than what our competitors had and something that really showcased the services and talents that we offer,” said Montgomery, adding that Hinge’s ideas have already helped business. Montgomery credits Hinge’s success to its unwavering determination to understand clients and not rely on a “cookie-cutter” solution.