This week’s lecture was formed by four professionals who all run their businesses in different ways. Let’s start with the STUDIO
Kate Moross has been running their studio since 2012. It is based in London and their startup was as simple as, “choosing a name and buying a domain.”
The company is now split into two areas – Design and Video. There are up to 17 people on the staff list plus Freelancers who are employed on an ad hoc basis.
They share the companies success with employees by giving them a share of profits. They also give bonuses and FREE lunches. Kate says, “it’s a really great exercise to sit together and have food”. In an environment like this where multiple skills and jobs are needed at any one time, team morale is of vital importance. The free lunches enable a ‘family’ feel to the workplace.
Pro-rata jobs – where everyone is assigned an hourly rate. “between £225an hour, which is what I charge, to £60 an hour, which we might charge out for an artwork or an intern”
Fixed-rate jobs – make the budget for the job. This is based on the pro-rata rate and their experience of how things take to complete.
Silly money jobs – Big brand jobs where intellectual property is associated with a project. Length of the project plus this inference of IP means big bucks!
Losing money on purpose – Charity jobs, non-profits, favour and investments.
I really like the idea of investing in a startup or small business with the idea that they will grow and eventually pay more money.
Kate is always actively looking for work. It is their name on the line and they don’t employ sales reps to do this for her. They believe in a personal touch and ‘rapport’ with clients.
Some people come to the business because of previous work or word of mouth. Kate also says, “that 80% of our clients are repeat clients, people that have enjoyed working with us and have commissioned us again.”
After a client has been identified they ask LOTS of questions. This allows them to understand what is being asked and to appropriately quote for it.
Then the fun can begin! Internal briefing where colleagues are briefed. Ideas are thrown around and then they work independently to create a ‘first look’. This allows for a quick round of feedback to check they are heading in the right direction.
One person will then take the lead and liaise with the client until they are happy with the product…..hopefully within budget!
An important aspect of the companies growth is the evaluation period they have at the end of each project to discuss what went well and what could have gone better.
UsTwo – Neef Rehman
UsTwo made a name for themselves early on and wanted to continue and expand their business.
They kind of fell into games design. The first Monument Valley has been downloaded more than 1 million times and costs £2.99 – Not too shabby.
Their most recent adventure sees them look to give back to the community in a clever way which tends to benefit their business in the same way in the long run. By investing in startups with a unique selling point of, “you won’t owe us forever”, many take them up on their offer.
Giving more than just money, UsTwo provides an education plan and input from their other strands (Studio and Games) to provide a holistic support package.
Of course, if a business does pay back the 3x investment to break free, who do you think they will contact for design work?…..UsTwo.
Lovers – The Collective Agency
Made up of people who love what they do, Lovers works with an army of freelancers to get only the best, most passionate results. They call this their, “Collective Creative Power.”
Below is an example of their work born from inspiration.
So the idea is simple. They only work on things they love and employ freelancers to help them achieve their goals. As a customer, it must be a good feeling to know that someone is working with you because they love what you do. Not because they need to live and want money!
Whilst I think this is a great idea, I am not sure how long I would last in business if I only took on clients whose work appealed to me. Yes, it would be amazing to do that, but with projects that truly inspire few and far between would this be financially viable?
Maybe it’s just a marketing tool so the customer feels valued and that the designers find their work inspirational…..clever.
Working as part of a smaller group and outsourcing to freelancers is an interesting idea. I wonder if Lovers are transparent about when they do this?
As a side note, I really like the project management tools that Lisa spoke about2 and how the client can see how much ‘work time’ they have left in a non-confrontational way.
In agencies or studios where it is made up of creatives who have to also manage admin, technology has to be utilised to its full potential.
Theo Inglis – Freelance
Put yourself out there
Theo talks about how being a ‘freelance designer’ can mean different things.
You can be in-house, where you take home a day rate and are often employed through an agent. You can work for big studios and only have to focus on the design work.
Or, you can be completely independent – a studio of one with your own clients with the option to say yes or no. However, you have to deal with finding work, HR, admin, production and finance.
One of Theo’s first ‘jobs’ was to pitch for a magazine called, “Poetry London.” The brief was tight and didn’t offer much creative freedom. He didn’t spend long on the work and it was lucky he didn’t…..They didn’t like it!
I love this honesty. We can’t be successful all the time. Each failing is an opportunity to learn, however, and he suggests some of the things he has learnt in his career:
Panel Discussion Notes
Gaining the trust of your customers
A way to give potential customers peace of mind that you actually know what you are doing is to become a Chartered Designer.
It is something that needs to be maintained and shows that you are a practising professional.
There are 5 stages in the Pathway to Chartered Designer.
To gain the accreditation you need to demonstrate that you have the traits set out in the image. There is also a student membership that has no joining fees if the course is participating in the Course Endorsement Programme (CEP).
There are currently only 12 members in the East of England. One is highlighted below. I definitely feel this is a route to go down when starting in business and continuing to gain the trust of potential clients.
In 2011 Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II granted to the Society the sole power to set up and maintain The Register of Chartered Designers. At the same time the Society was also granted the power to award the title of Chartered Designer. Granting these powers recognises the role of the Society as ‘THE’ pre-eminent professional body for all design disciplines.
Visual digestion of research
I have found from previous modules that it helps me to go over my research and produce it visually. Please have a look at that outcome below.
Map a resourcing model for budget and staff allocation to deliver a project or creative initiative of your choice.
If you are thinking about a generic project budgeting exercise, the example below indicates the parameters for consideration. As the last week of this project brief requires you to write a more substantive strategic plan, please ensure you choose a topic or client that is most suited to your own practice interests.
Using methods discussed above I created an Excel sheet to ensure I was charging enough to make a profit. You can view the file below:
Chartered Society of Designers. 2021. Chartered Society of Designers. [online] Available at: <https://www.csd.org.uk/> [Accessed 6 August 2021].
AGENCY UsTwo Adventure (Links to an external site.): Neef Rehman, Community Manager [Accessed 6 August 2021].
STUDIO Studio Moross (Links to an external site.): Kate Moross, Founder [Accessed 6 August 2021].
FREELANCE Theo Inglis (Links to an external site.), Freelance Designer Writer [Accessed 6 August 2021].