Gravity Group is a full-service marketing agency located in Harrisonburg (107 E Water Street) that creates specialty branding to grow individual businesses and bring them more clientele. I had the privilege to sit down with Steve Gilman, President and Brand Strategist, and Lindsey Laughlin, Vice President and Marketing Strategist, to ask them more about Gravity and their time in Harrisonburg.
Before graduating from James Madison University (JMU), Gilman grew up in the DC area, where he initially started Gravity Group. For him, lifestyle pressure was the spark that encouraged him to move the company to Harrisonburg.
“I didn’t want to live like that anymore,” Gilman said, referring to the DC traffic and fast-paced, high-pressure work environments.
The work Gravity Group does is transformational. As brand storytellers, Gilman, Laughlin and the rest of the team help companies clearly tell their stories so the audience will emotionally connect and become more invested in these companies. Having a team where each member specializes in a different area of storytelling allows Gravity to offer everything needed to clients. The team offers boosts in forms of TV production, web design, and other digital media to make clients the best business they can be.
“Something we hear from clients when we first start working with them is how excited they are because they ‘feel professional now’,” Laughlin said. “They get excited that they ‘look like a real company’ and are getting more business and customers because of it.”
“Something we hear from clients when we first start working with them is how excited they are because they ‘feel professional now’,” Laughlin said. “They get excited that they ‘look like a real company’ and are getting more business and customers because of it. When we’re helping businesses achieve their goals, and getting their teams excited, and showing off their brand and how special they are, that’s something that really makes me happy and excited about what we do.”
Looking back on the history of Gravity Group, Gilman noted a couple personal favorite projects, including a collaborative project between the U.S. Postal Service and the Justice Department that won an award, and, a more recent example, the building of RMH hospital. The project with RMH required years of marketing, and involved telling a story of how the community would benefit from a new hospital. The team created commercials and videos for a hospital that didn’t exist yet, so months of animation work had to go into the marketing strategy.
“Telling the company’s story isn’t just one thing,” Gilman said. “You have to be holistic in how you successfully position a company, and that’s what we do.”
Having lived in Harrisonburg since 2006, Laughlin has seen the city landscape grow and thrive in unmistakable ways. In her hometown in Pennsylvania, Laughlin said that new businesses coming in were frowned upon, so it is encouraging to see how this is treasured in Harrisonburg.
“Harrisonburg reminds me of home,” Laughlin said. “There’s a very homey feel here, but with opportunity and optimism.”
Gilman said that he can’t go anywhere in town without seeing a company or logo Gravity Group has been a part of. He said they’ve been part of the downtown growth, and have loved every aspect of it. The Gravity offices were specifically placed downtown years before it became the downtown it is today, because they wanted to be able to have the “downtown experience” and connect with the community.
“I remember when downtown was a ghost town,” Gilman said, with a laugh. “We’ve really enjoyed partnering with companies that have changed and grown over the years to make Harrisonburg a better place.”
For Gravity Group, being in Harrisonburg is part of who they are, and it’s the sense of community that brought them, and has kept them, downtown.
“I was a city kid,” GIlman said. “When I came to JMU, I noticed the sense of community. You get treated like a human being here and you form real connections with people, which allows you to do better work. It’s a place where partnership and community matters.”