(Photo by Tony Abraham)
Hendrik-Jan Francke walked into his design class at the University of Delaware one day after the university’s spring fling to find a classroom full of, well, “exhausted” students.
“It was a good group of kids, but the work just stunk that day,” said Francke, who was an assistant professor at the time. “There I am, stuck with two hours of class time, with nothing to do.”
"It sounded fun right from the get-go, though I wasn't quite sure what it meant."
That’s when the lightbulb in Francke’s head flicked on.
He had been meaning to change the name of his digital marketing company FranBach Creative to just about anything else. “I said, ‘How about you guys help me out? You come up with a name that’s better … and I’ll take it,'” Francke said. With that, he left the classroom for one hour to allow the students to devise a name without his influence.
When Francke re-entered the classroom, he saw the words “Bright Orange Thread” written on the board.
“It sounded fun right from the get-go,” Francke said, “though I wasn’t quite sure what it meant.” As it turns out, Francke’s students had figured out that he always wears the same bright orange shirt on the first day of class.
And so, Bright Orange Thread was born.
Though the company maintains client bases in New York, Chicago and Winnipeg, Canada, it often works with local B2B technology firms and nonprofits, including Special Olympics Delaware and the Catholic Youth Ministry in Wilmington.
Bright Orange Thread isn’t new by any means. Actually, Francke has been running this business for over 12 years now — no easy feat for a small design-centric digital marketing agency.
“Design just constantly changes,” said Francke, who labelled himself the “computer jock of art school.” “The pendulum always swings.”
According to Franke, Bright Orange Thread’s specialty is creating easy-to-use, easy-to-read designs that break text out into chunks. He calls it “Chunkify!”
“I’m very cognizant of how people consume information on the web,” Francke said. “How you write, create and organize information that works on a small screen as well as a big screen — how do you get that to be an effective marketing message?”
As for Francke’s old students? Up until recently, one was still sewing bright orange threads through his business cards. Now, that’s Francke’s responsibility.
According to him, he’s already broken the family sewing machine twice.
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