6 Words That Best Describe Howell & Hicks
Our 60 combined years in the design industry, and our experience of working with ‘big’ clients like Mars, Britvic, The Caravan Club and P&O, means that we’ve both learnt a lot. I know some people don’t like the word ‘expert’ these days, but that’s exactly what we are. Design experts.
And with design in our ‘DNA’, it’s easy for us to turn our creative hands, eyes and brains to a huge range of projects – a new corporate identity one day, an impactful exhibition stand design the next, and a craft beer label the next.
It also means we’re constantly on the hunt for inspiration. We can’t help ourselves – it’s a long-standing (and enjoyable) addiction! But by keeping an eye on trends in art, fashion, architecture, retail, travel, food & drink etc. we’re not just keeping ourselves up-to-date and relevant, we’re keeping our clients a few, vital steps ahead of their competitors too.
Hopefully our combined 60-years design industry experience proves that we’re not just playing at our jobs? And it’s important to us both that we do them really well.
That means any designs we produce need to look professional, and of the highest quality. The proliferation of ‘free’ online design tools means more people can (and will) try to ‘DIY’ their designs at home. But let’s be totally honest…what we produce will always look better. 🙂
So our creative quality lies at the heart of our professionalism, but our responsive client service, our effective communication, and our ability to be proactive thinkers, as well as responsive doers, are also key to it. As design professionals, we need to be proper ‘all-rounders’.
You’d probably expect a design agency to say they’re ‘creative’? But there are lots of creative people and businesses out there who struggle to manage the creative process, ensuring that first moment of inspiration (the genius idea) then gets expertly developed and delivered through to the final ‘end product’, so it works well and gets real results, without losing any of its original magic.
Unlike a fine artist, a graphic designer’s creative thinking should always have some commercial focus and direction. At the end of the day, we have to grab peoples’ attention and sell ‘stuff’. And when a customer actively chooses our clients’ products and/or services over their competitors, it’s because they’ve decided 1) that they look better, and 2) that they’re ‘for them’. And that still makes us ridiculously happy, even after all this time.
OK, so this one’s maybe less expected? But instead of being a stereotypical, ‘scatty’ creative type, Linda takes a super-logical approach to every H&H design project. Everything we work on needs to make sense – as much as it has to look great. And that’s why we both take the time to really understand our clients’ businesses – and their objectives for any project – before starting any major design work.
It’s also why – before we start designing – that we’ll review any content our clients send us and go back to them with suggested changes to make sure their messages as clear, concise and effective as they can be.
It’s an approach that’s supported by our staged design process (www.hh-creative.com/about-us/#designprocess) – based on open, honest communication and decades of design experience, it’s the logical way for us to deliver smooth-running projects.
As consumers, we all want to know the cost of something before committing to buy it, so it makes total sense to us to be transparent about our design fees. Our website (www.hh-creative.com/about-us) even shows ‘typical’ project costs – highly unusual for a creative agency!
So why be transparent? Well…firstly, we’re confident about the quality of our creative work and the responsive, efficient service we provide, and secondly, because we know we offer great value versus our competitors. If someone visits our website, sees the quality of our work, sees our fees, and still decides they can’t afford our services, they’ll probably just stay away – saving their valuable time, and ours.
Usually though, as soon as people understand our £50+VAT hourly rate covers our professional design expertise, outstanding client service and support, and that the resulting logo, leaflet, brochure etc. will not only look great, but deliver them a competitive edge, they usually decide it’s a vital business investment. Whether it’s a logo for a start-up, or a pack design for a well-established company, if it’s going to be seen by customers and/or potential customers, then paying for professional graphic design usually pays off. In spades.
I originally wrote ‘no bull’ for this one, but that’s two words, so hopefully you’ll excuse my hyphenation cheat? 🙂
This is basically about being upfront and honest. It’s how we deal with people because it’s how we like to be dealt with ourselves. We’ve never pretended to be something we’re not, because by being ourselves (a small agency with a small team and no flashy office), we can respond quicker, have better quality control, and charge less than our competitors.
Any ‘strategic’ (non-creative) input they need from us is factored into our ‘standard’ design process and our upfront project costs, so there are no nasty surprises. Our clients trust us to deliver exactly what they ask us for – brand impact and effective design. (And that’s no bull).
“Pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”