The small but dedicated staff at the branding agency Mediastudio was recently recognized by the Washington Business Journal. (photo: News-Press)“How much do you like dogs?” Harris Eisenberg, Manager of Client Services for the Falls Church-based Mediastudio, asked.

The dog in question, Beatrice, a large black and white dog that Eisenberg believes is a Beagle-Harrier mix, has free reign of Mediastudio’s casual, modern-looking office. Such is the attitude of the company — a place with no (or, at least, very few) boundaries and where creativity is encouraged to freely roam.

It is exactly this creativity that has led to the branding agency's recent recognition. Mediastudio took home the Excellence in Business Philanthropy Award, given out by the Washington Business Journal and DC Cares.

“It was really, really an honor to be recognized,” Eisenberg said. Despite presently having a staff of only nine, Mediastudio was recognized at the same ceremony and on the same plane as larger companies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“I was scared to death, because I had to stand up in front of an entire room of really heavy hitters in the local business arena,” Eisenberg, who did not know that the company was going to win, said of receiving the award. “Don’t ask me what I said [in my speech], because I don’t remember.”

Mediastudio won in large part because of CreateAThon, a 24-hour “creative jam session” the company hosts each fall. A volunteer group of writers, marketing strategists and graphic designers pitches in to perform many of Mediastudio’s services (which include branding, Internet and multimedia and strategic planning) for local non-profit organizations. The volunteers bounce ideas off of each other, letting their creative minds run wild as they enjoy the comforts of the barista and masseuse brought in by Mediastudio for the event. It runs from 8 a.m. one morning to 8 a.m. the next, and each non-profit usually walks away with a new brochure, logo or other marketing material. After the 24-hour period is over, the volunteers and Mediastudio employees go home and try to catch as much sleep as they can prior to that night’s celebration, during which all the finished work is unveiled. Since 2003, Mediastudio has donated more than $400,000 worth of services through CreateAThon.

“We feel it’s our duty as a local business to give back to the organizations that help keep everything together around here,” Eisenberg said.

While the company originally thought the only benefit of CreateAThon was having a chance to give back to the community, they soon found another benefit to putting on the event.

“We did realize shortly after [CreateAThon] that it was really, really good for the bottom line and just growing our business,” Eisenberg said. “But that wasn’t the original intention. It just sort of came out of it. And that made us really happy.”

Eisenberg added that, in Mediastudio’s field, word of mouth and positive recommendations are essential, which makes CreateAThon a marketing tool for them as a means of showing off what they do as a company.

Mediastudio has come a long way since it was first started as a custom fonts shop out of the Falls Church basement of Founder and Creative Director Matt Langley back in 1995. The company moved to its present location six years ago, and now usually staffs nine to 10 people, with four in management positions. The rest are designers.

Eisenberg said he hopes that their recent award win will lead to more applications for this year’s CreateAThon, to be held from 8 a.m. on September 21 to 8 a.m. September 22. Other than that, however, he expects business to continue as usual.

“We’re a little bit laid back,” Eisenberg said. “It doesn’t usually get tense around here. And that’s really, really nice.”