Rebecca Kincade hears from two designers who in the depth of the recession took the plunge and set up their own company. It’s proved to be a gamble worth taking
While 2010 was not the easiest year for companies throughout Northern Ireland, one North Down design agency, which started trading last February, has already had the opportunity to work with some easily recognisable, international and global names.
Account director Andy Hill and creative director Rick Smith combined their talents and passion for effective marketing strategies and eye-catching designs to launch More Design, confident that their ability and hard work would lead to a loyal customer base.
Starting a company in the middle of a recession would be a daunting prospect for any entrepreneur, but More Design raised the stakes even higher, beginning as a purely self-funded project.
Mr Hill recognised at the time that this was a gamble.
“We started from scratch, with no clients and no financial help,” he says. “It was risky and it would have been nice to have had a cushion to fall back on. But we feel that this way, we are more focused and determined to give the clients we work with exactly what they want in order for the business to succeed.”
It was the joint recognition that there was a gap in the local advertising market for creative, engaging work, provided at a fair price, which led to them taking the leap of faith.
“When starting the business, we felt that our different backgrounds would give us an advantage over similar agencies,” says Mr Hill.
“My background in marketing for a large top-10 company definitely helped, as 90% of our time is spent dealing with marketing departments.
“Rick worked in several well-respected advertising agencies in NI as a leading designer before starting More Design together.”
Why the name More? “We want to build long-term relationships with clients, so we don’t mind going that extra mile to make sure they are happy,” says Mr Hill. “We don’t charge clients for picking up the phone and giving advice, and we give free consultations to any new clients.”
This attitude has helped build its impressive portfolio. “The most successful and recognisable campaign we have worked on was the Tayto Nation campaign. Some of our other clients have been 3 Mobile and NatWest Bank, who we created a discount card and microsite for their advantage blue account. ”
Mr Hill understands that as an up-and-coming company they have to explore every avenue for possible new business and it is through their hard work in these areas that they have generated such high-profile commissions.
“Social media has been invaluable in generating leads,” says Mr Hill. “I run the Northern Ireland business group on LinkedIn and we have more than 600 director-level members. Networking has also been vital and we know it’s all about building relationships, not just with individuals but with organisations, communities and local traders.”