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When money doesn’t make the world go ’round

Whilst being profitable is key to being a well run design business, for many it’s not what drives them. 

This year we’ve been exploring the characteristics of “Small Giants” –  businesses which look beyond the standard definitions of success (money and size) to focus on goals they consider more important.

Operating as well run, profitable design businesses, but at the same time understanding that they do not exist in a vacuum; many DBA members recognise that by engaging with their local community they can both add value and gain value from the communities around them, with their activity delivering meaningful impact, beyond money, to all involved. 

From packed-out monthly movie nights for the elderly to hands-on voluntary work, DBA members are inspiring in their community engagement:  

ep_0445Connecting with your wider community can take many forms. When DBA member Mr B & Friends moved their office from Bath to Bristol they decided they needed to contribute more to the local economy. They developed a roster of local supplier businesses they rarely deviate from.

Simon Barbato, CEO of Mr B & Friends explains “We felt there was a need to put some corporate social responsibility into our thinking and demonstrate that we want to be a meaningful organisation within the business landscape in Bristol. We have an operating budget of £2.5m a year and so support the circular economy in Bristol by spending it locally.”

unknown-2For agencies like Spring, based on the Suffolk coast, community work is at the heart of their ethos as they cement their reputation as one of the most active businesses in the community. “Springers”, as staff are known, are encouraged to volunteer for local projects and get half days off so they can participate in on-the-ground support for voluntary organisations undertaking everything from painting to gardening.

The agency sees itself as an organisation that can help facilitate action – by getting stuff done.

Read more about the importance Spring places on community in their own words here.

High Tide Foundation - Presentation Event - 19/7/2018On Teesside, Better is a brand agency that believes they have a responsibility to the next generation. Better is deeply committed to supporting the High Tide Foundation and invests heavily, both as a business and as individuals, in its growth. MD Mark Easby has been a trustee of the Foundation for over four years and helps drive the strategic growth, programme delivery and scale. This includes sector driven Work Experience programmes built around a number of sectors including Creative, Digital and Media, as well as the development of a pilot for a Creative and Digital Cadetship. The programmes delivered through High Tide not only provide real life work experience, they also offer genuinely unique and life-changing opportunities for young people. High Tide Foundation - Presentation Event - 19/7/2018

Mark Easby, MD, Better says “It’s fantastic to see the impact these programmes are having with our graduates now going on to begin apprenticeships and further study, many within STEM, creative and digital areas. That’s the real magic of High Tide, seeing the Teesside spirit grow and come to life through the achievements of our young people. At Better we build world class brands right here on Teesside with a team of people born, bred and trained in our region, so using our agency skills to support High Tide’s brand development, marketing and membership growth is very rewarding. We’re very proud to be members of High Tide and I am personally honoured to be a Trustee of a Foundation that’s making so much difference to the area we love and inspiring the next generation of talent.” 

unknown-1Sometimes some ideas can snowball. Thompson Brand Partners are based in a residential area in Leeds and have always felt a part of the community. For Owner and Creative Director Ian Thompson, this engagement is “simply good citizenship and it stops you feeling separated and in a different world to everyone else around you.” Three years ago Thompson Brand Partners helped to found a community cinema with the express wish of getting elderly local residents, many of whom have lost their partners, out at least once a month. Three years on and they sell out every month with 150 visitors.

Ian explains “It’s strictly old school but with new technology. We deliver a proper big screen experience with good sound and a proper screen and projector. But we have an interval, so people can mingle and we’re happy for people to take their drinks into the auditorium. The fact people now expect it, is really the key to its sustainability and we really enjoy being involved.”

To learn more about Small Giants, read Adam’s last blog post from his recent visit to Leeds where DBA members discussed the importance of professional relationships and how to manage these for success; and this article on how foregoing a preoccupation with growth is good for business. 

Image credits:

Mr B & Friends



Thompson Brand Partners

Joshua Rawson-Harris | Unsplash


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