OCDA Lookback / Sarah Armstrong
(A Name Brand Co)

The Orange County Design Awards (OCDA) are approaching and this is the fourth feature where AIGA Orange County looks back and reconnects with former OCDA winners. Today, we’re sitting down with Sarah Armstrong from A Name Brand Co to answer some questions about where she’s been and where she is going.

A Name Brand Co (ANBCO) is a creative agency based in Downtown Santa Ana that handles coaching new freelancers, consulting on new ventures, developing key art for campaigns or building brands for businesses they love. For all intents and purposes, A Name Brand Co is just Sarah on a day-to-day basis. She has the embarrassing luxury of getting to hire talented people to work on things as the projects demands.

“It’s truly a dream. I can’t believe I get to do this. I’m still sort of waiting to get caught. Like this whole business isn’t a thing I’m allowed to do. If that ever happens, I swear to God I’m going to be the BEST Kinko’s employee the world has ever known,” Sarah remarks.

A Name Brand Co has been sought after for craft food and beverage, but this year has been about going after things Sarah cares about, like comedy, queer and feminist issues, and facilitating creative community or curiosities (museums, spoken word poetry, etc).

The most challenging thing for her is definitely the “spec” work that comes with going after new projects. Luckily, it’s paid off almost every time so far. But choosing to invest your time and resources into work that you may or may not get paid for is really straining, especially for an operation as small as ANBCO.

Her favorite place to go to for inspiration? “Is there a not cliché way to answer this? Honestly, for me, it’s just being out doing other things. Reading in public. Museums and community events. Watching people. Watching people interact with each other and objects and the spaces they’re in. Overhearing conversations,” Sarah admits. “I think this all feeds into being a good problem solver. You have to watch and pay attention to what people do and how they are when they don’t know they’re being watched.”

Sarah wants designers to know themselves, especially if you’re self employed or running your own shop. “I really think we do our best work when we know how we work best. What rituals or practices help your productivity, what drains your energy, what challenges you in positive ways and what challenges you in discouraging ways. Play to those strengths and weaknesses. We’re living in a brand new time!” She states, “Stop judging your practices, your work, your successes by people before you. Figure out what really works for you and how you work best. That’s how you play the long game.”

For being selected for the OCDAs? She was happy. “It’s always validating when people with objective eyes, who haven’t been looking at this stuff nonstop like I have, recognize that the work is good.”

You can find Sarah on Twitter and Instagram at oohsarahcuda, and her agency at http://anamebrand.co.

By Archie Bagnall
Published November 1, 2016