Gather around, it’s story time.
So here we stand today an accomplished creative agency that has rolled with the good times and ridden with the bad for over 30 years. Looking back over the life of our agency, we’ve had some really incredible years. The new business wins are always the highlights for any agency, and we’ve been lucky enough to experience our fair share. We’ve had years where TW smashed through annual targets and we couldn’t get talented people in quick enough to deliver the endless run of client briefs flowing through our inboxes. But we’ve also had some tough years, when clients have been lost and luck just hasn’t been on our side. However we’ve always picked ourselves up and learned how to keep evolving and developing our business.
Every business has to move with the times, especially in the creative sector and we are no exception. The agency we are now is very different from the agency we were 30 years ago or, come to think of it, even 3 years ago. It’s been quite a journey.
This is our story, warts and all…
Sometime last century Tileywoodman was created in partnership with my good friend Paul Woodman. He left just two years later and that was when the company we know now was born. Despite being in the midst of a recession, 1990 was a good year for us and work was coming in. With Paul’s departure it was me on my own, well almost, I had Pete and Suzanne for company, my first ever employees. Back then it was all drawing boards, Cow Gum and six foot rolls of typeset copy to create the artworks to send for print production… how things have changed!
These were the growth years. Business wins with British Airports Authority, Unilever, Canon Europe and Prudential came in. Then came the first mainstream Apple computers, they revolutionized the creative industry and created a world of wannabe designers who flooded the marketplace. Thankfully it soon became apparent that you still needed a creative brain – the computer merely being a sophisticated tool in the right hands. Then came the Y2K bug – a problem in the coding of computerized systems projected to create havoc at the turn of the 21st Century, needless to say it came to nothing but did cause a notable downturn in business at the time.
I cannot recount how many economic ups and downs we’ve experienced but the financial crisis of 2008 probably tested TW the most. We were a busy, 20+ person agency, with a number of very large, retained clients, about 35% of which were in financial services. The stock-market took a battering and a huge slice of our work with Barclays, HSBC, RBS and Lloyds simply disappeared. The briefs stopped coming in and for an agency like ours that can only mean one thing… cost-cutting and inescapably, redundancies.
Saying goodbye to good people is the most difficult thing to do and never gets any easier. But as any business knows, you do what you need to do to survive, driven by an optimism for the future. So we tightened our belts and took a long, hard look at the type of agency we needed to be. In the aftermath of the crisis, organisations became more focussed on building their internal work cultures. A happy and contented workforce in turn meant a dedicated team, committed to the role and to the business. Internal communications became the buzz words and clients all wanted to be part of the story that made their company, a culturally strong, diverse and winning place to work. So, we readily and quickly adapted to fulfil those demands and proudly originated some stand-out, internal comms and engagement campaigns for the likes of Canon Europe, RBS and Kimberly-Clark to name just a few.
We continued on this path for many years. By 2015 we had grown to an agency of around 15, we were proud to have client relationships that were 18+ years strong. Anyone who is experienced in agency life, knows this is a bold and unusual claim for an agency to be able to make. But of course, nothing ever stands still in the marketing world for long. Whilst the digital revolution had been in full swing for many, many years, it took some brands longer to grasp the power of digital and social content. But over time, even the slowest moving corporate giants cottoned onto the fact that audiences were consuming all their media online and spending a considerable part of their leisure time online as well. So once again, TW did what it does best. We adapted our skills and looked at how we could best flex our services to fit what our clients now demanded. I’ll be very honest here. This was a more difficult switch for some, than others. Brilliant people who had been working with us for years, found change hard. Fuelled by fear of the unknown and self-doubt that they could keep up to speed with the forever changing requirements, trends, software and shifts in consumer behaviour. Even as recently as two or three years ago, I can honestly say that TW were still in the throes of truly adapting to the digital revolution that we have been and are still experiencing now.
It takes a brave agency to admit they need to change. But we did.
We went outside our comfort zone to find people who were ahead of us in terms of digital skill and knowledge. We partnered with the best and we strove to ensure we kept up with the rest.
Today we stand as an agency ready, willing and able to compete with the very best in what digital agencies can offer their clients. We know how to shape and transform brands into forward thinking, digital first businesses. We have worked with countless clients to re-design and re-position their websites, craft their social media strategy, create engaging film content and thus connect to their online audiences, so they are fit for purpose.