Grow your design business without losing focus

Halo is an independent creative agency that has grown significantly over the past few years. Thankfully, an inclusive culture has ensured that everyone in the business can thrive as the numbers rise.

Here, account manager Jo Bryan-Smith and client partner Hannah Williams share how accepting ideas from non-creative departments gives a healthy feeling of shared ownership in the studio, and has helped the studio to retain a strong identity to go alongside its impressive design portfolio

Read on to discover their tips, or scroll down to watch the video interview.

01. Play to everyone’s strengths

“If you don’t have an in-house accounts team, everyone needs to have a defined role, and be clear about what they’re doing to help the client,” says Hannah Williams.

“There will always be someone who’s better at rallying the troops and making sure everyone’s doing what they need to, and there’s always someone who’s really good with a client. Smaller agencies need to focus on their individual roles, and how they work as part of the collective.”

When Williams joined Halo two years ago, there were 16 staff – now there are 28. “We’ve grown quickly, and the way we work with clients has changed dramatically, so communication is absolutely key,” she adds.

02. Encourage everyone to pitch in

Halo has welcomed a lot of new studio members over the past few years

Halo has welcomed a lot of new studio members over the past few years

“Our best work is created when everybody has had an input, and is aware of what’s happening,” argues Jo Bryan-Smith. “And it’s not just designers who get a chance to come up with concepts – it’s the web team, the accounts team, everybody has a voice.”

Bryan-Smith believes that despite Halo’s rapid growth in recent years, the agency has managed to keep that strong ‘collective’ mentality intact because the original small team all had to pitch in to make the fledgling company a success, and it's still keen for everyone to do so. 

“We’re all aiming for the same goal,” Bryan-Smith points out.

03. Add specialised roles as you grow

“As you get bigger, roles need to be more defined,” continues Bryan-Smith. “That’s how you get everything to work – account managers make sure that everybody is doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and everything gets delivered.”

“I’m not being biased, but I think a really good accounts team is integral to a successful agency,” agrees Williams. “We’re making sure projects come in on time, on budget, and let’s be honest – we’re the ones who get shit done.”

Video interview

For further advice, watch Computer Arts' video interview with Jo Bryan-Smith and Hannah Williams of Halo below.

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts magazine. Subscribe here.

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Nick Carson

Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.