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SMPS Maryland Spotlight: Substance151

This interview was first published on the SMPS Maryland blog. SMPS Maryland sat down with Ida Cheinman, Principal and Creative Director, to learn more about this strategic brand communications firm.

How would you describe your company to someone at a cocktail party?

Substance151: Substance151 is is a team of brand strategists, designers and professional services marketers helping companies evolve their brands and stay ahead of their competition.

Describe your company culture.

Substance151: We earn our clients’ trust by asking the hard questions, telling the hard truths and demanding, of ourselves, hard results. We are:

  • Creative
  • Curious
  • Invested
  • Collaborative
  • And, above all, committed to creating positive, lasting change – both in our world and in the worlds of our clients

Does your company support the local community? What does your company do to promote philanthropy and volunteerism among your employees?

Substance151: Substance151 is organized as a Benefit LLC (under the Maryland Benefit Corporation law), so environmental responsibility and community involvement are baked into our corporate DNA. Since its inception, Substance151 has made a commitment to help foster a new sustainable business model through its design practice, education and example.

Through professional services, pro-bono work, hands-on volunteering and financial contributions, we’ve supported numerous organizations that work to improve our lives and benefit our communities, including Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance, Baltimore Bioneers Conference, Koolhof Earth, Maryland CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Social Enterprise Alliance, Open Architecture Collaborative (formerly Architects for Humanity), Delaware Valley Green Building Council and U.S. Green Building Council Maryland.

You can learn more about how we live our commitment here and see our annual Benefit Reports here.

What is one fun/interesting fact about your company?

Substance151: We are often asked about the company name.

What differentiates us from many others in our field is that we practice strategy-based design. The “Substance” part of our name was a way to lead with this differentiating quality.

We also believe that design is more science than art and the scientific methodology, discovery and research, and relying on data not guesswork are all a part of our process. And so in the spirit of science, we turned to the Periodic Table for some inspiration. Through a series of computations that involved dates significant to the two founders, “151” emerged.

And this is how the name Substance151 was born.


Ida Cheinman is founding principal and creative director of the strategic brand communications firm Substance151. She has more than 20 years of branding, marketing and design experience for professional services, with a niche focus on the A/E/C industry. She is past President of SMPS Maryland and can be reached at ida@substance151.com.

Did you miss Substance151’s first spotlight, click here to read more.