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Miranda Creative celebrates 30 years in business

August 26, 2018

Norwich — The longstanding logo for the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut. The website redesign for Olde Mistick Village. The rebranding of the Area Agency on Aging as Senior Resources.

If you’ve spent time in southeastern Connecticut in the past three decades, or on its corners of the Internet, you’ve probably seen an image with Maria Miranda’s mark, without even knowing it. It’s fitting for someone born with a Connecticut-shaped birthmark on her knee.

Her clients have included Dime Bank and Guilford Savings Bank, the Connecticut Wine Trail and the Connecticut Art Trail, The Dinosaur Place and Essex Steam Train.

On Aug. 22, Miranda marked the 30th anniversary of Miranda Creative, the marketing and design agency she has run throughout its lifespan in her hometown of Norwich.

It all began when she was seven years old, with a poster-design contest for AAA.

In an interview at her 18 Elm Ave. office on Friday, Miranda pulled out a Miranda Creative branded sheet of paper and a red Sharpie. She proceeded to write, “WEAR WHITE AFTER DARK” above an image of headlights streaming toward a person.

At age seven, the drawing made her the national winner of the poster contest, and made her realize that she “really enjoyed creating designs that visually present a message.”

Now, at age 54, the drawing was the first of six she would do over the course of an interview; Miranda is someone who likes complementing her verbal points with charts, lines, arrows and targets.

One such diagram illustrates how she looks at her life like a series of waves, with dips leading to the peaks. She took time off in college after experiencing a crash caused by a drunken driver and the death of her brother just seven months apart. But this was enough time off for the first Mac computer to come out, giving her an advantage.

At 23, she launched her company – first known as The AD Agency – out of the apartment she was renting from her parents.

One of her earliest customers was Dime Bank, and Miranda questions incredulously, “Who turns to a 23-year-old and says, ‘I’m going to entrust my bank to you to help market it?’”

But considering Dime Bank is still a client, she was doing something right.

“We were a fraction of the size that we are today when Maria first started doing work for us, and didn’t have a marketing department,” Dime Bank President and CEO Nick Caplanson told The Day. “She pretty much acted as our marketing department, and today we now have a marketing department but still utilize her for supplemental work in graphic design and advertising and brainstorming, and just a whole host of issues.”

He said that unlike a lot of larger marketing companies, Miranda is plugged into the local community and cares about the success of businesses.

2018 and beyond

As she conveys in another diagram, Miranda says the three most significant things to happen to the marketing and design world over the past 30 years are the Internet, mobile devices and social media.

“With every new opportunity will come the loss of an opportunity, and what you have to do is you have to be prepared as a reliable resource, as someone that people trust,” she said. “You have to be prepared to show them the good and the bad of moving forward.”

Miranda Creative began advising political campaigns in 2011, and the agency has worked on the 2014, 2016 and 2018 campaigns of Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme.

Formica had previously hired her to do work for his business, Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant, and was impressed with her “unique approach to getting the message out.” He also appreciates Miranda’s mentorship of young women – including his daughter.

Miranda Creative works on the campaigns of Republicans and Democrats alike; she bases her political work on her “love of conveying core values to help people who want to make a difference get into office.”

In 2014, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut named Miranda its 64th Citizen of the Year.

Chamber President and CEO Tony Sheridan said last week that Miranda is “very generous with her time,” citing the series of social media workshops she runs for the chamber.

This generosity is also seen in how Miranda is celebrating her agency’s anniversary: by providing one gift per month, whether it’s a physical gift or the gift of labor or the gift of an idea.

On Sept. 16, Miranda Creative will have a 30th anniversary gathering at Mitchell Farm Equine Retirement, which will also act as a fundraiser for the nonprofit.

Miranda currently has 13 employees working under the roof of the tight Elm Avenue offices, plus another dozen or so partners and consultants. She has plans for another three team members over the next six months, but they’ll have to work remotely.

Miranda Creative has satellite offices in New London and Guilford, and she is looking to open satellite offices in Old Saybrook and Glastonbury in 2019.

Her other goals are to make Norwich a hub for learning about brand management, and to see small businesses adopt the kind of smart-speaker technology offered by Amazon Echo and Google Home.

“I’d like to say that I wish her the best in business for the next 30 years,” said Caplanson, of Dime Bank, “but I hope she’s not working when she’s well in her 80s, but knowing her she probably will be.”

Miranda said she’s ready to be around for awhile, and that the anniversary has made her “become introspective and retrospective and perspective. I just gotta get some work done.”

e.moser@theday.com

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