We’re the small agency working with massive names.
Times were, you’d look to a large creative agency for all your design needs. These days, it seems that the trend has turned 180 and more and more companies are partnering with smaller, more niche teams to get to grips with the challenge at hand.
We believe that having a tight-knit team of highly skilled, hard-working creatives at the helm helps us be more responsive, more engaged and more productive. We’re nimble so we fit neatly into existing teams, filling any internal knowledge gaps to boost a whole division. It’s how we worked with HMRC’s 30-strong inhouse design collective and how our information design expertise was single-handedly responsible for bringing in an additional £600 million in six weeks. We may be on the smaller end of the scale but we continously deliver big results.
And it’s not just HMRC, all our other clients seem to like it – we work with some of the biggest players in insurance, financial services and utilities like Guardian Life, Legal&General and United Utilities, just to name a few.
1. We’re leaders in information design
Our heritage is in a niche discipline called information design and we’re proud to be leading the way as it becomes more and more mainstream. But what exactly is information design? Focused on usability and making complex content easy to understand, information design is the quieter family member making sure everything works how it should, and looks great too. As our founder, information designer extraordinaire, Andrew Boag put it, ‘We are all used to the feeling of drowning in a sea of information – it comes at us so thick and fast that it is increasingly hard to sort out the irrelevant from the vital… Information design helps people cope with this information overload’.
Essentially, it’s creative, user-centred problem solving. Ask one of our skilled designers to reduce error rates on forms and they’ll take you on a journey of user experience with shiny brand application rolled in too. So not only do you get a form that ticks all the brand boxes but it really works. After all, the bigger picture can only come together when the smaller elements are all behaving.
Or take our hefty experience in designing utility bills and statements. They’re one of the most important components of the customer relationship but time and time again, we see them crippled by a design that puts customers’ needs at the bottom of the priority list. So we take things back to the beginning and apply a bit of common sense, logic and creative flair to break down the communication barrier between detail and meaning and show that bills don’t have to be boring. In fact, our recent work for United Utilities combines colour, iconography and graphics to bring clarity to a document that’s so often discarded for its difficulty. Jen Felton, Head of Communications, certainly agrees: ‘outré certainly live up to their mantra of making complex things simple.’ So who says bills had to be bland?
2. We put this skillset to good use when creating visual identities
A great visual identity grabs the eye and draws you in – some of the world’s most recognisable brands have existed in the same guise for decades and longer because, as the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ But what happens when the above the line (ATL) customer experience far outstrips the below the line (BTL) experience? It can have a real impact on revenue.
So, over the last few years, we’ve risen to new challenges and organically diversified, combining our expertise in the transactional and operational side of things with big ideas to bring brands to life.
Whenever we develop visual identities, we take a look at the whole picture to understand it from every angle (and not just from the billboards and bus liveries). We know you need your brand to deliver on a promise that’s more than purely physical.
3. We balance creativity and compliance
Working in heavily regulated industries isn’t for everyone – there are often so many rules threatening to ruin the creative process that most other agencies run a mile. Not us. We relish the challenge and its rewards because it helps us sets the precedent for industry-wide change for the better. Take our work with Ofgem, we teamed up with them during their Retail Market Review consultation to talk best practice and how clarity can be compliant, contributing to the guidelines that all energy suppliers need to follow.
Crucially, we’re not simply yes men. Our designers know how far to push the brand with an eye for detail to make sure even the tiniest of terms doesn’t go amiss, while demonstrating that accessibility standards require a little bit of interpretation to be usable. Meanwhile our copywriters are wonders with words, translating legalese and jargon into effective English that doesn’t alienate. And even the most risk-averse compliance teams needn’t worry – our writer with a PhD in Law will make sure you’re covered. It’s this kind of balance that saw us win first place in the US Center for Plain Language ClearMark Awards for our clear and effective dual-language energy bills and letters for First Choice Power.
4. We deliver results and returns on investments
While it’s all well and good to produce something pretty, we know that design has to go further. Much further. It’s a popular refrain these days but we’ve been banging the results drum ever since we opened our doors back in 2000 – delivering measurable, quantifiable results is what gets us going because we know there’s nothing better than cold, hard facts to get the people higher up on board.
With design being a pretty subjective subject, and with the world and its wife having an opinion, we’ve always kept sight of the KPI at the end of the tunnel. Because being able to prove that a design decision has directly increased operational savings, improved customer satisfaction and reduced churn means we’re a force to be reckoned with.
Proof of the pudding? We’re not ones to brag but…we doubled a year’s digital uptake in just two days for Philadelphia Insurance Companies, we reduced inbound phone calls by 56% in a single quarter for Aetna International, we increased funding applications by 83% for King’s College London and we won 1st place in the US Center for Plain Language ClearMark Awards with First Choice Power. How’s that for a hitlist?
5. Who you see is who you get
We don’t hide behind pitch teams or draft in expensive consultants to help us seal the deal. Instead, you’ll always meet and work with the team who’ll be flexing their muscle on your creative from beginning to end. Not only is there complete consistency in whatever we produce but you’ll also get to know us as people too.
We’re an honest bunch – we’ll always tell you when there’s something that needs that little bit of extra polish and then we’ll jump to it to make it happen. And even if we’re not working together yet, we’re more than happy to take a look at what you’re currently doing and give you a few tips.
What’s more, we tell it like it is. We’re a no bull agency so you can sit back knowing you won’t need to play buzzword bingo in our meetings. We’re outré by name, outré by nature.