(Photo by LeAnne Matlach)
Instead of moving on up, Planit Agency is now on the ground floor. But the mood at the digital agency has never been higher.
“It’s really important because, with all due respect to the building and environment we were in before, we were sort of the outsiders,” said Planit cofounder Matt Doud of the agency’s old office in an Inner Harbor high-rise. “There were a lot of commercial real estate people, attorneys and brokers, and it just wasn’t our brand. It was a beautiful place and it attracted a lot of great employees and clients but it just wasn’t our culture.”
To help build an office and culture that fit the agency, the company grew its space by 150 percent. And the office building on Key Highway is proudly emblazoned with a green Planit sign and logo. The company shed its signature orange — featured in renderings from August 2015 — during the move across the harbor in May.
But Doud said the move wasn’t just about getting bigger; it’s about getting better at the way the company works. Gone are most of the closed-off conference rooms and rows of cramped desks filled with employees crowding around each other’s workspaces to check out projects.
“One of the really important things we learned when working with our design firm, Gensler, is that people work in a lot of different ways,” Doud said. “You work by yourself, you work as a pair, you work in a team, you work in a group. So we had to figure out, how do we create the right environment so you have all of the destinations for how you work?”
Now in addition to traditional desks, there are couches and tables for small groups, a large conference room and an almost movie theater-like setup for when clients come to visit.
Campaigns will no longer be unveiled around a conference room table. The new space is meant to make you feel like you’re in a friend’s home.
“So much of what we do is about storytelling and about building brands. This lends itself to more conversation instead of presentation,” Doud said. “With the best agency-client relationships you feel comfortable with each other, you trust each other. People sort of drop their shoulders and they feel more welcoming in an environment like this.”
The comfort will be extending to coffee service by the end of the summer when Planit opens a full-service coffee shop for the Locust Point neighborhood it inhabits.
“Part of why we chose this location was that we like this neighborhood, we want to be a part of the neighborhood.,” Doud said as he looked into the construction zone that will be the coffee shop. And the name of the cafe, Order and Chaos, is a nod to the two sides of the agency. The order of the accounts side and the organized chaos of the creative end of things.
For now the space is dust and exposed brick but Doud said the shop will serve coffee and also grab-and-go breakfast and lunch. Doud hopes Order and Chaos will serve the community.
“I think there is a little bit of intrigue with the ad agency world if you’re not in it,” he said. “Mad Men was a whole TV show about it, so we wanted to give people some peek into what we’re doing.”
It will offer a chance to interact with consumers. But also: “It will be a perk for our employees and a perk for the neighborhood,” said Doud.