It’s not often we get time to reflect on the past eight years but after sitting down and writing a 250 word awards submission (blowing smoke up our own arse) I quickly realised we’re actually awesome at what we do and create some pretty cool stuff! We’ve also learnt a lot, been through some growing pains but right now we’ve got the business on point with some great changes coming up.
Working from our spare rooms, working late into the nights, to our first pokey office, we’ve come a long way since 2008.
Here’s a tip. If you’re working out of home make sure you state meetings are by appointment only. Working from home with an untrained puppy, no living room furniture and clients turning up unannounced can be a tad embarrassing when trying to pedal big agency design.
Now we have an awesome office, an historical converted farm building that’s cheap, big enough to grow into and has that ‘cool’ bare brick agency vibe that clients love. We should have done it sooner, hot desked, anything, who knows we may have grown quicker and sooner. Being in a space that reflects you and your work creates an environment everyone wants to work in and clients want to visit.
Back in 2014 we looked at where the business had been and where it was going. We could have kept it as just the two of us, but where’s the challenge in that? We needed more control over where things were heading, our designs have always won us work, even over the bigger agencies and we needed to capitalise on that.
We’ve been fortunate to work with talented freelancers through the years but to make a real difference to our level of work and service to clients that had to come in-house.
In 2015 we found a fantastic developer in Seb. After a long search it came down to a simple DM on Twitter where we unearthed this WordPress Warrior. Now we have an indispensable team member we can start building a wider team around.
When starting out, if you can, get the roles balanced. It was always going to be harder to build our business when both Brett and myself were designers. Splitting the roles early between say a designer and a developer you’re going to have the two key skillsets to start building a full service agency. Obviously there’s more to it, like having an office from the off but getting the foundations right will see you grow quicker.
Now four strong after our intern Grant emailed his portfolio, this young budding design graduate is already breathing new life into our work. With Grant on-board it’s going to give us the opportunity to lighten our design load and for us to start pushing the business onto the next level. Focus on networking with our own clients and getting our name out there.
We can also start looking at doing some more of that free / pro bono work we did a lot of in our early days. It’s a great way of showcasing our strengths as there isn’t so much constraint on the brief and always leads to paid work in some way. Think of them as hack days, they’re a bit of fun and actually add a twist on everyday work. If you can get them, then jump at it.
We’ve always won work based on our style and level of detail. Businesses have gone on to be sold helped by the new identity we’ve given them. Whilst others have seen their site revenue or leads double because of our consideration to layout and ad placement.
And now with Seb on-board it’s given us the opportunity to add that little bit of sparkle to each project, helping us to once again stand out. The little touches such as fancy rollover effects or animated icons add a level of polish other agencies don’t always offer. Just take a look at some recent projects and you’ll see the difference.
Taylor Made Financial Planning – With no website and an old and tired brand we took Taylor Made back to basics. Starting with a complete overhaul of the brand from logo, stationery and marketing material we translated this fresh look onto the new site.
Quay FIFTEEN – A beautiful website that replaced an older rigid template website. The new site is now designed to show off all the desirable food and drink on offer.
SB Joinery – The new website needed to show off the stunning work SB Joinery are known for whilst also working hard to convert visitors into leads, tailoring each page to help maximise these conversions.
It’s not all about the work either we’ve also had the fortune to work with work placement students from residential school Grateley House, a school for young people diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Giving them an opportunity to experience the world of design and agency life these kids are pretty talented, know where they are heading and are a credit to the school and their teachers.
We also work with several charities and this year we’re supporting The Katie Piper Foundation to create an amazing new website and stronger offline presence.
So yeah we really do some pretty cool shit.
We don’t want to be a huge agency, maybe no more than eight heads. What we do want is to build a studio where people want to work, a small agency who create great designs, going above and beyond to please our clients.
The biggest challenge for us as we grow is not losing that identity, the transparency and honesty we can offer as a small and reactive team. Having come from bigger agencies where you’re swallowed up we know where we don’t want to be heading.
I love the fact we can be part of your team, we can treat you as friends and you can pick up the phone anytime knowing we’re there to help. I also love the fact I work with some bloody awesome people.
So here’s to you the client keeping us real and in check.