A successful business needs several components to thrive: a clear vision, a strong knowledge of the customer and a winning team, one that embraces collaboration and creativity. We’ve teamed up with Adobe Creative Cloud for Teams, the software that powers creative collaboration, to bring you this business case study.
It takes all of these ingredients; research, strategy, courage, vision and a collaborative team, to create a successful and memorable brand, something the team at Rowdy Studio, an award-winning strategic branding agency based in London and Dublin, knows a thing or two about.
Founded by managing director Lisa Clarke, Rowdy Studio started out as a one-woman shop when Lisa was made redundant during the financial crisis. It's now grown into an award-winning studio representing a diverse range of clients including the Houses of Parliament, Europa Capital (currently redeveloping the landmark Clerys building in Dublin), digital courtroom platform TrialView and digital schoolbag Wriggle.
“I always wanted to do my own thing and thought I’d need many years under my belt. But having come out of the recession, at a time when a lot of the big companies were downsizing, I saw that as an opportunity to go out on my own. Essentially, that’s what I did,” says Dublin born-and-bred Lisa.
Lisa used her extensive Dublin network, including a large sporting community from her time in Ireland’s underage women’s hockey team, to reach out to prospective clients and open Rowdy Studio’s first office space in Clapham in 2011 (the office HQ is now in Bermondsey, with a Dublin outpost as well).
Building a business around strategy and culture
Lisa’s passion for strategy has dictated the direction of Rowdy Studio, informing the company’s tagline (“Matching brand with ambition”) – and how they do business.
"It’s not just about a logo or a pretty picture,” Lisa explains. "Strategy is the foundation of any project. You have to understand the client, their audience, the product and what they’re trying to do. It’s all about research first, getting under the skin of the business."
Rowdy works across a wide range of sectors (from Tech, B2B, Real Estate to Hospitality and more) which gives them insight and an ability to cross-pollinate new strategies, benefiting businesses.
Part of the job is knowing how to evolve with your client: recruitment platform Jobbio initially approached Rowdy Studio as a newbie start-up in need of a kickstart brand and strategy. They’re now an international business that’s raised over £16 million in funding. “The project might have started off small, but we grew with them and helped them reposition their offering as they grew over the years,” Lisa explains.
Creativity is central to everything Rowdy Studio creates, whether it’s reworking the tone of voice in copy for the Houses of Parliament to make it more layperson-friendly, or thinking about a new way to approach yet another London co-working space.
Rowdy Studio’s project for This Time Next Year, a co-working community for creatives in Leyton, won the studio a European Transform Award 2019 for out-of-the-box thinking, which comes across in various aspects of the project, like the name, which encapsulates a feeling and an ambition, and the bold colours and illustrations that make the space vibrate with life and energy.
Lisa stresses that in an oversaturated market – i.e. the world of creative branding – the importance of differentiating yourself is key. Knowing what the customer wants is crucial when crafting your brand identity and doing something to capture a distracted user's attention is essential (it's why animation is increasingly being used to engage end users and deliver core brand messaging).
The importance of teamwork
Company culture is a key component to Rowdy Studio’s success. While Lisa does use freelancers for projects, she stresses the importance of her core team, who can capably juggle multiple roles and responsibilities:
"Culture is very important to me – a studio is only as good as the people you have in it. Harness that and you get the creativity going. It’s second to none to get it right," says Lisa.
At Rowdy Studio, the core team is small, with six full-time employees and "trust partners" outside of the office that they regularly work with.
"What it comes down to is that it’s the culture that creates great work, not just the designer," Lisa says.
Some of the ways Lisa enhances creativity and promotes a harmonious company culture? Rowdy Studio has a weekly running club, monthly share-your-work sessions where everyone can bring something to the table – as well as giving their feedback to others – and eat pizza when someone is presenting their work on a new project.
Creativity also comes from encouraging employees to expand their horizons beyond client-based work: staffers discuss movies and exhibitions they’re interested in checking out, and are able to pursue their own personal creative projects alongside client work.
Collaboration among peers really gets the creative juices flowing, with team members regularly mood-boarding and workshopping ideas together.
"Everyone has these different skills so we pull on those, and we collaborate with other people when we don’t have those skills in house. Being a small agency, you utilise everyone’s skills.”
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