Despite our ‘studio next door’ vibes, O Street has been operating as a global agency since our inception 15 years ago. Over the years this has included work with Google, Spotify, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Bacardi to name a few. We’ve run in-person brand workshops in Kenya, Italy, Denver and even Glasgow (sounds like an Abba song!).
During Covid, remote working seemed the new norm, particularly with a business like ours that was already accustomed to it. However, in the last few months, we’ve rediscovered the importance of face-to-face connections with our clients. This prompted our very own Tessa Simpson and David Freer to make a trip to the US earlier this month. It’s an expense and effort to undertake business travel of this scale, yet it’s something we greatly value, and here are a few reasons why:
Meeting over marketing
Agency marketing budgets can easily get used up on lead generation, design awards and conferences. These work for many people, but we’ve found spending our allocated budgets on building tangible relationships with existing clients/peers or being introduced to real people so much more valuable for building our business. We see the return on investment straight away.
No matter how fast your broadband speed is, some things can’t be replicated with video chats. Since our trip, we now know what the view looks like from our client’s office window; the choice of sandwiches in TIFIN’s local deli and even the high score on the pinball machine that sits in the reception at Paralel. These are the things that make us human, and despite the professional nature of our service, in the end, we do work with humans and we appreciate the ability to understand them on that level too.
Seeing a brand exist in real life
Over in the US, it was a delight to see our logo creations on hoodies, fluorescent signs, etched office doors and meeting room murals. Talking to our clients, it was even more enlightening to see them embody the values and personalities we had helped craft at their inception. Standing inside the offices of the businesses we work with is a reminder of the impact and value of the work we do.
Understanding a place
We spent time in New York and have clients all over the US. But, our spiritual home seems to be in Colorado. As with our UK base in Glasgow, Denver is a place that balances both the cosmopolitan culture of a big city and the lifestyle of its proximity to the great outdoors. Again, like Glasgow, people living here seem to appreciate the balance of work/life alongside tech/nature. As well as our kind of folk, it also attracts brands like Crocs and VFC whose values align with our own.
Same same, but different
The UK and the US may have many similarities, but it’s understanding the unique qualities of each that allows us to communicate a brand in an authentic voice. Experiencing the positivity of every shopkeeper who wishes you a ‘wonderful day’ in the US explains the bright bold unashamed tone of voice required to engage with US audiences. In the same way that the bad weather and slightly grumpier shopkeepers in the UK explains the importance of humour in the design work we have here.
Between the lines feedback
It’s all well and good getting direct feedback from clients via email or video. However, it’s the between-the-lines information you get from those more casual conversations that often holds the real value. When discussing our work with the team at Google, we realised that what gets them the most excited are our creative side projects, like our Roadliners documentary film or the Label O’ Love book. It’s also reassuring to know that people are reading our newsletters and social media posts! If you want in, sign up here.
One of the biggest value-adds that we bring to our American clients is a European design sensibility. At the same time, cross-pollinating our work from both sides of the world gives us a new perspective on what we create. Plus we’re getting eyes on emerging trends (design or otherwise) from America that often make their way over to us in the UK. Speaking of, anyone for Disc Golf? If you haven’t heard of that, check out the Glasgow contingency.
Small world, big impact
Our nine-strong designer team is about the size that any creative team would be in a larger organisation, but we often view ourselves as small. However, when we step out into the wider world, we realise the big impact we have with the work we do. These reminders include the billboards we pass on the street and the banknotes we designed in people’s wallets. On the other side of the world, this includes bottles we designed lined up in a bar and logos emblazoned on the walls of a skyscraper in downtown Denver.
From sunny Colorado straight back to torrential rain and flooding in Scotland, we landed with a bit of a bump, but still feeling super inspired and motivated with new projects on the horizon.
That feeling might be a leftover from the lasting effects of American positivity… not the only souvenir we brought back from our trip!