At O Street, we’ve always loved bringing others into our creative circle when working on a particular project. These others are often our clients but where possible, we love collaborating with other creatives.
When we first started out as two upstart designers in an attic, we collaborated a lot to help establish larger creative teams for big projects (PriceWaterhouseCooper, Celtic Football Club and The Edinburgh International Film Festival with photographer Peter Dibdin.
As we grew, we started to bring those skills in-house (artworking, illustration, animation etc.). However, we still recognise when external specialist skills are required, be it a professional photographer or a website developer for a complex build.
When pitching for the visual identity project that became HOME a number of years ago, the marketing manager suggested we work alongside a local Manchester agency called Creative Concern. I’ll admit, at the time I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t win the project outright. However, we genuinely clicked as a team and we’ve worked on numerous projects with Creative Concern ever since (Thackray Medical Museum, National Trust, Johnstone Credit Union.)
Even now, when we have a broad range of design skills in our company, we still opt for collaborative teams when we can. Working outside the creative echo chamber of your own studio can lead to unexpected inspiration, the discovery of new development tools/tactics and even (dare I say it) some healthy competition.
It’s hard though right? Working in an industry where the development of brand new ideas and unique takes on briefs requires a great deal of confidence in your own thinking. Letting others influence these early, febrile musings requires a skill many of us designers don’t have: a lack of ego.
During our redesign of Scotland’s banknotes for Royal Bank of Scotland, led by service design agency Nile HQ a panel of our peers was appointed to scrutinise our design concepts, sense check our visuals and critique our work. With our egos left at the door, we embraced the approach and truly believe that the results of that project were made greater by the input from the broad range of creatives involved.
It was a model we also adopted when working on the Ulster Bank notes with Belfast agency shesaid. Again, a relationship we’ve continued, most recently on a project for a new global player in the Irish Whiskey space, Outwalker. Check our socials for some exciting announcements about that very soon!
With jobs like these, the other important dimension is including the authentic voice of a geographically local agency, so we often look to collaborate with studios around the world to ensure that voice is present within these projects too.
Collaborating well takes skill though. As the saying goes ‘Opinions are like assholes… everyone’s got one’. It’s possible to take on too many opinions and try to please too many people. Most of us can spot the ‘design by committee’ ideas a mile off. They are the brand identities or campaigns that seem to tick all the boxes (approachable font, neat motif, bright colour palette) but they just feel a bit… meh! They lack a spark, a bravery that a bold creative often brings to a project. There will be times when an individual needs the freedom to disagree with others’ opinions and push on. It’s good to realise that that’s okay too.
As we grow and develop our agency, I don’t think we’ll ever stop collaborating with others. This approach has allowed us to work on massive global projects in the drinks, TV/music streaming and beauty spaces, whilst maintaining our creative-led boutique agency size and approach. We’re small, but mighty—with an agile, creative team that delivers big ideas.
It’s at this point in a blog where I realise that I haven’t mentioned half the projects or collaborators I meant to. So, very briefly, take a look at our recent project for Santini Cycle Jerseys with Fourtwentyseven, Stuco and Patrick Hughes and keep your eye out for soon to be released This Day branding project—a global philanthropy brand created with Good Point and Atime.
We haven’t mentioned everyone, there are too many to list, but we want to thank all of the talented people we collaborate with. You know who you are!