One Year Down

by Sarah Burley on 17 January 2018
graphic design branding studio ampersand john & jane

John&Jane turns one today. Admittedly we’re still very much a baby, but we've stayed alive and kicking for a year and become what we hope is a fully fledged, bone fide agency. Starting your own business is scary, there’s so much to learn and so much insecurity to endure, so if there’s a milestone up for grabs, we'll take it! One year in is as good a marker as any to reflect, appreciate and look to the future.

graphic design branding studio ampersand john & jane

It’s hard to believe that a year ago Gareth and I were working out the fundamentals of what we wanted the business to potentially become, and perhaps more importantly what we didn't want it to become. Naming a business can be a tricky task, but luckily we'd come up with the name long before we decided to start the business. So for us, this was the easy bit. 

graphic design branding studio ampersand john & jane
Unused concept from before we started the business.

John and Jane are our middle names—they're simple, memorable and equal. There were questions about whose name should go first, which we discovered there was no easy answer to. That didn’t stop us trying though.

Cracking on

We've loved having the chance to work on projects with some really creative and interesting clients over the last year. We’ve worked on projects where we were part of something bigger, like The BAFTA Cymru Awards where we partnered with The Social Club Agency to provide illustrations for the 2017 Welsh BAFTA Awards. 

graphic design branding studio ampersand john & jane bafta cymru

We’ve enjoyed the challenge of rebranding existing businesses. Last summer we worked with Welsh company Cover-Up to create a beautiful brand that reflects the craftsmanship and heritage behind their business and products. 

graphic design branding studio ampersand john & jane cover-up macbook

We’ve worked with small businesses who trusted us enough to let us help shape their entire marketing strategy. Prosecco Pronto was one of our first John&Jane projects and we learnt a lot about how we wanted our process to work. It also helped us refine our service offering in terms of how we can best serve our clients when delivering a cohesive brand that works hard for the business.

graphic design branding studio ampersand john & jane prosecco pronto

We’ve learnt from every single project and suspect that we'll never stop learning. There was no way to predict that in our first year we would be helping produce a life-size ape for the global Planet of the APIs event for our brilliantly creative client Rubrik. And another life-size animal (what is it with the animals?) for The Grazing Shed. This time it was hand painting and lettering a cow, this was an experimental project that took us places and taught us things we could never have predicted.

graphic design branding studio ampersand john & jane grazing shed cow painted

Working hard and trusting our process

We’re thankful to have had the opportunity to work with old friends and new clients alike. We’re well aware that clients put their faith in us when they hire John&Jane and that this agency isn't a vanity project about our own creative development. Businesses and individuals need a brand strategy and a visual identity that works hard for them. It needs to raise their profile, make them recognisable and showcase and celebrate what they offer. It needs to meet their business objectives.

We have believed in every single client we’ve worked with, whether their business is selling manicures, burgers, furniture or a lifestyle. When you've worked in branding long enough you start to realise what companies like these have in common rather than what sets them apart. All of them believe in their product and all of them are passionate about their idea. 

It's our job to translate that into their branding, their marketing, their content and thankfully for us, collectively we have found that we can usually find an effective way to do this. From the moment we meet a client, online or in real-life, our heads start to fill with ideas, visuals and solutions that will help showcase them or what they do. 

We have grown to trust our tried and tested process that takes our initial creative ideas and formalises them into a schedule of work that fully answers the brief. To do this we have to be completely clear on what’s needed and when, and that we've done all we can to advise on the best strategic design approach before we begin.

graphic design branding studio ampersand john & jane Sarah Burley Callum Richards Gareth Strange Liam Williams
Clockwise: Sarah Burley, Callum Richards, Gareth Strange and Liam Williams.

Two become four

Six months ago we were lucky enough to have Callum join us as junior designer and he has brought more than we could’ve imagined to the mix. He brings an invaluable third critical eye to our design process which reflects his fresh approach. His love of typography, design and great music all add to the fact that he’s simply great company.

We’ve also had Liam over in Bristol working as brand ambassador, representing and inspiring us with a fearless approach to his creative endeavours. We’ve had some brilliant strategic chats, meetings and some invaluable advice and for this too we’re grateful. He'll be acting as ambassador next month for the upcoming Social Media Week Bristol so we're looking forward to getting involved with that. 

What about the future?

We’re heading into our second year feeling like we've grown in every sense, creatively, personally and in confidence with the practical skills needed to run a business. So far we've managed to stay focused on the key things we wanted John&Jane to be—creative, genuine and experimental

We have days where we feel like running a design agency is what we were all born to do and of course we have days where progress feels a bit more painful, but that's the challenge we chose. We're grateful for it.

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