Posts in January

Sterling Principles

posted on: January 30, 2013
in: Uncategorized


Sterling Design & Communications has redefined the advertising and communications field. We develop communications plans which start with, and rely heavily upon, the internal audience of our clients and reach out from there to customers and other publics. Because of this unique approach and our experience, we are not subject to traditional competition.


The quality of everything we generate must be measured against one criterion:

Does it communicate?

Does it solve the customer’s communication challenge? Does it represent the client appropriately? If so, our personal pride in craftsmanship, our individual aesthetic sensibilities, and our chance to win awards are insignificant considerations.


Doing what is best for the ultimate customer (often the public) in every case will guide our decision making. We will not participate in any program which does not serve the greater good. Every assertion we make will be true, not deceptive in any way. We are obligated to be true to ourselves.

Honesty is the only policy. Client confidentiality is sacred. Mutual respect and trust are prerequisites to fruitful work relationships.


If you take care of the customer, the finances will take care of themselves. —F.A. Putnam, Markem Corp. Founder

Price, Quality, Speed: Choose two . . . we’ll still strive to give you all three.

Our objective is to serve clients who recognize the value of our work and remunerate us according to the benefit they derive. We never intend to compete on the basis of price. We strive to offer excellent value, superb craftsmanship and work that is 100% defensible by design and communication standards.

We promise $1 solutions to $1 problems.

What does it take to hire us? A good cause. (Kathleen Turner once said this in a detective movie.)


Our clients hire us for what we know and for how fast we can learn. We are challenged to learn all about our clients in order to help them communicate effectively. We also owe our clients the finest service available which requires keeping technologically current.

We subscribe to a philosophy of lifelong learning.

Success is not a destination; it is a journey.


Sterling Design & Communications is most effective when working with clients over time, rather than on a onetime project basis. The degree of understanding developed initially can serve clients well for years.

It is our intention to become “adopted” into our clients’ families—the bond is much deeper than a routine consulting relationship. However, because Ruth Sterling considers herself a teacher and coach, it is also our intention to share what we know with our clients, in effect working ourselves out of jobs. Seeing clients not need us any more because they have become professional communicators themselves is the ultimate job satisfaction goal. Our work then is to provide graphic and creative support and find new customers with whom to share our communications talents.


Our goal is to live full lives by putting our talents to use for the greater good and putting our families’ quality of life first in every decision we make.

Respectfully balancing devotion to clients, our life’s work and our jobs as parents and family members is an ongoing challenge.


30 years of service

posted on: January 2, 2013
in: Ideas

Ruth Sterling

When I interview entry level candidates for internships I ask them “What is your dream job? What does it look like? Are you in an office? Are you in a city? Who else works with you?” My questions are intended to get people started on envisioning their career paths. If the reply is, “I’d like to work outside,” they might not be suited for the kind of work we do here. And yet, some of our most important projects do take us outside, including events management.

Looking back, I have always known I would like to own a very special ad agency where everyone cared about what they were doing and did the right things for the right reasons. I thought the environment should be well-lit, professional, comfortable, stimulating. There would be ten or twelve co-workers coming and going—all dedicated, capable and inspiring. I’d work really hard, learn difficult things continually, stay young at heart while growing wise. Stunningly beautiful work would be displayed without dominating the scene. It would all be brilliant.

If life is what happens while we’re busy making plans, my case is a good example. I settled in Keene, NH, by happenstance. The opportunity to work at a corporate communications job one hour from my hometown was enticing. Although I thought I was heading to Boston, I in fact was sent in the opposite direction to Keene, NH, where Markem Corporation was headquartered. The opportunity to “grow up” in a 5th generation multi-million dollar, international enterprise was life-directing. Markem’s mission, vision and values resonated with me and taught me how business should be conducted. The experience was more precious than ten college degrees.

I took a leave of absence from Markem to have a family and finish two degree programs. Just a few weeks into that leave, Markem hired me to design a commemorative issue of their corporate magazine. I was all ready. My co-worker at Markem, an illustrious writer, had asked me to design the MacDowell Colony annual report. And so, Sterling Design & Communications was born and grew along with a beautiful family that after a while became a single-parent household. Busy, busy times. My son and daughter kept me up to date with trends and popular culture, knew more about my office computers than I did. Helped brainstorm logos and themes. Were my priority clients. Played three varsity sports each. Excelled and went into the world.

Clearing the way for a growth spurt of projects and revealing that my dream job was the job I have. I manage a very special ad agency where superbly talented, caring, amazing co-workers, sub-contractors and clients come together in a beautifully lit, wonderful creative atmosphere. And create solutions, design magical things and work very hard.

Sterling Design & Communications: Ready to embrace change, respect tradition, and help make good things happen.