Here at Toward we don't have a motto or mission that we stick by. We've tried a couple of 'purpose/strap lines' but usually find they become obsolete after a while. I'm sure, like other agencies, our biggest issue is how quickly and how often our industry changes. In the 11 years we've been running, I can honestly say that no two years have been the same — in both technology and business terms.
With that disclaimer out of the way, I would say, if we did have a 'motto' it would be — "Make the most of what we do." Rob hinted at this in a post he wrote recently about a new branding project we've just finished, which got me thinking...
You see, all design agencies have big jobs that they can stick in their work section, blog about, get press coverage for or enter into awards. The portfolio pieces. Not always the most valuable, or the most high profile, but usually the most successful, or the ones that show off a particular skill.
These projects are great. They're often really fun to work on, frequently involve the whole team to some degree and are an opportunity to learn new skills and challenge ourselves to try new things.
We realised pretty early on that we wouldn't always get to work on the big, exciting, challenging projects. Some of our time would be spent producing 'bread and butter work'. Work that pays the bills. Or work that continues a relationship with an important client.
It became clear that this type of work was important and could be approached in one of two ways. We could 'churn it out', invoice it and run. Or we could put everything into it and treat it like any of those portfolio jobs. Sometimes the easy thing to do would be to just get it done and move on, but business is not easy. We realised early on that this decision would form us as an agency and have a lasting impact on our work.
One important point to make — Giving a project 100 percent effort should not mean going over budget. We've found, with the right input and communication from a client, creating good work with a little extra thought takes about the same time as reproducing off-the-shelf, out of the box, boring design.
If we make the most out of every project, no matter how small or insignificant they might seem, this does a number of things:
- Creates strong and long lasting relationships with clients
- Opens doors to new clients and projects
- Strengthens our portfolio
- Allows us to experiment, rather than replicate stuff we've already done
- Keeps the excitement and buzz of good work alive in the studio
Most importantly, I think it's helped us build an agency that clients want to work with, and our team loves being a part of. We're really proud of the work we do, and it really does take every member of the team to buy into the idea of going a little further than needed to finish a job.
As creative people we're really lucky. We get to work in a fun industry, doing work we love. The least we can do is make the most of it.