To commemorate Design Inc’s 25th anniversary, we look back over the years from when it all started to the present day, stopping along at some creative milestones along the way.
25 YEARS of IDEAS
Dan meets Frank
Daniel Gilbert first meets Frank Norman when they both worked at the same company, Badge International Group. The company manufactured just two core products: name badge and business cards. Dan had joined as Repro Manager in the design studio and Frank was one of the senior sales team. Over a shared interest in motorsport, they hit it off and kept the friendship long after Dan leaves that company.
Design Inc is founded
Following 5 years working as a designer in various agencies in Surrey, Daniel Gilbert set up Design Incorporated in 1997. Working out of his mum’s spare bedroom in Staines, Dan had one chair, one desk, one computer and a mission to provide high level creativity. The name ‘Design Incorporated’ was selected purely because ‘design will be incorporated in everything we do‘.
Getting the name out there
In early 1998, the company established its first brand identity and, with the revenue from the very early projects, invested into some (very) simple marketing collateral. Bit by bit, these were modified, refocused & improved for different types of client or enquiry. Dan spent many hours every day contacting local companies either by phone or walking the streets leafletting local businesses. It was a process that was to open many doors in the local community.
First client from the aviation sector
Having seen an initial advertisement in a local trade publication, Dan received a call from the Heathrow office of fractional jet ownership company, Flexjet who were looking for a fast turnaround of just a single CD. They needed it to be duplicated within the hour and wanted to know if Design Incorporated could help. Dan jumped at the opportunity, invited the client round to his ‘office’ in his mother’s house and copied the CD there and then. That phone call was perhaps the single most important call the company receives and that first job for Flexjet would become the catalyst for Design Inc specialising in business jet marketing.
Design Inc’s first website
Our first website is launched and Design Inc goes online for the first time. Whilst very basic, it becomes the cornerstone of our future marketing activity. Our work with our own website provides us the tools to offer web design services to our clients.
First client website delivered
Having delivered the new brand, vehicle livery and printed collateral for OCS Worldwide, we turn our attention to the build of their first website. Design Inc was still a one-man band and, working with a small team of local web developers, Dan turned around is first client websites in a couple of months. This was to become the first of hundreds of websites we would go onto build. And, with this new service required by many other businesses, Dan knew he would need some extra support.
Frank Norman joins the company
Since first meeting Dan at a previous company, Frank has always kept in touch, checking in to see how Design Inc was doing. In 2001, Dan & Frank start discussing a partnership but the time never seemed right. Finally, in March, 2002, they agree terms. This would lead to Frank joining Dan in September initially in the role of Sales & Project Manager responsible for client acquisition, business development, project management and company growth.
Design Incorporated becomes ‘incorporated’
With the company now working hard in securing new business and delivering profitable projects, it was time to move to take the company to a Limited status. At the end of 2002, the company was incorporated and therefore making the company name even more relevant.
Company moves into Centurion House
Working out of Dan’s small spare bedroom in his flat was always a means to an end. The end being eventually to move into corporate (and more comfortable) premises. In 2003, after six months of working together in a confined space, Design Inc move into a larger room in Centurion House, Staines, committing to a two-year lease. Who would know at that time that Design Inc would eventually become the longest-running tenants of the building.
Jon Turner joins
With the company taking on a lot more projects, it was time to add a designer to the team. After interviewing a dozen of candidates, we made the decision to appoint Jon Turner. Jon joins the team, bringing wholesale experience in branding, advertising, publishing and web design. He was to become pivotal as a step change in creative capabilities.
Diving into the subsea sector
Having supported local company, Wood Group Kenny for a couple of years, the marketing director asks us to pitch for the Subsea UK account, the board of which he sat on. We are delighted to win the account to provide ongoing creative, branding and digital support. Not only did this become a very long-term client but it also brought us to the attention of the rapidly growing subsea sector.
Adding a creative powerhouse to the team
Coming with a mass of experience on a number of major accounts including Dominos, T-mobile, Orange & Motorola, we appoint multiple award-winning designer, Paul Munday to join us as Senior Creative Designer. Having worked for some of London’s top creative agencies, Paul would be instrumental in us winning and retaining new large accounts.
Company appoints new Creative Director
With Paul on board and faced with bigger, meatier creative projects, our focus turns to taking on a creative director to help shape the creative and brand strategy. We appoint brand strategist and marcomms specialist David Parker who not only supports our client projects but also works closely with Paul to help shape Design Inc’s own brand as well as the push into new market sectors.
One Great George Street – first venue client
Following a successful pitch, Design Inc wins the account to support prestige London venue, One Great George Street with their advertising, printed collateral and website. This is the first company we have supported in this sector and we decide to actively make inroads within venue marketing.
Venue marketing division is launched
Following a few account wins within the venue & events sector, we successfully appoint venue marketing specialist, Darren Scurville to help grow this prestige area. With a well-networked background, Darren would go on to win many new accounts for us including Roof Gardens, London Film Museum, Royal Opera House, Thistle Guomon Hotel group and many more. His first project win for us; new branding and website marketing for Senate House, University of London.
Design Inc win commendation at National Calendar Awards
The 2010 calendar produced for client, NOV Elmar is nominated for an award at the prestigious National Calendar Awards, held within the Stationers’ Company Hall in the City of London. The calendar, ‘Toy Story‘ was created to showcase the ‘building toys’ their own engineers used to play with with they were younger. Here, we recreated the client’s own equipment via these ‘engineering toys’ including; building bricks, fuzzy felt, balsa wood, needlework, Etch-a-sketch, mould maker, Lego, Meccano, Airfix, etc.
Huge account win: Airbus Helicopters
Following an intensive & successful pitch in London and Paris, Airbus Helicopters selects Design Inc as the creative agency responsible for their five-year global product advertising campaign and across each of the five core sectors (oil & gas, law enforcement, business, military, medical, events, construction) Our winning idea was to juxtapose one of their relevant craft landing onto a specific sector-related item.
Another client win: Royal Opera House
Following a five-way pitch and presentation, David, Paul and Darren help Design Inc secure Royal Opera House as our latest client within the venue marketing sector. The project is to deliver a new B2B advertising campaign to promote the Royal Opera House as a viable venue for daytime business events. The idea behind our award-winning print & digital campaign was in the creation of a series of effective juxtapositions featuring a business item (writing implement) dressed in recognisable ballet or opera clothing. This campaign was to be so successful it would be talked about for years to come.
Winner: Best Digital Marketing Campaign
Royal Opera House were so pleased with the advertising campaign we had created that they persuade us to enter the campaign into the MIMA Awards. We are glad they did because Design Inc wins the Best Digital Marketing award at the awards ceremony.
Enhancing the web division
To add more strength to the ever growing web division we employ graduate, Chris Grace. Woking under the tutorage of the web team, Chris is to grew with the company to eventually lead the division.
Sponsorship of the Autosport Awards
Design Inc brokers sponsorship of the prestigious Autosport Awards with long-time client and diamond investment consultancy, City Diamond Exchange. The company, based in London, Antwerp and New York were looking to expand their network into new HNWI segments and with Design Inc’s network within the motorsport sector, a deal was quickly negotiated for full sponsorship of the televised awards along with a diamond-filled cocktail reception.
Working with a record breaker
Cargiant, the world’s largest single-site car dealership commissions us to design and publish a coffee table brochure which would serve to highlight the value of the business to the local economy the wake of HS2 breaking ground nearby. The project involved two intense weeks of indoor, outdoor and aerial photography before the design work could commence in the showcase of this impressive 40 acre site. The publication would become one of the most successful coffee table brochure we would go onto create.
Supporting inter-schools design challenge
Learning of the merger of several local primary schools into one main school to be called Riverbridge Primary, we initiate a logo design competition among all the pupils. We manage the competition as well as the judging. Moreover, we translated the winning entry into a dynamic new logo for the school.
Senior Creative Designer, Goldie joins us
Sadly, we say goodbye to Paul who moves onto greener pastured. In his place comes Paul Goldring (aka ‘Goldie’) as our new lead designer. Goldie comes with tons of agency-side, luxury brand experience – just what we need as we move even further into the private aviation & yachting sector.
Design Inc win the Surrey Police account
Following a successful tender bid, Design Inc secure the Surrey Police advertising account with the first project being the public information campaign regarding burglary. This was the first project of what was to become a very valuable & long-term partnership between the two organisations, with Design Inc providing many successful campaigns over the years to come.
Finger-licking interior design
We are excited and proud to have been approached by a certain 3-letter, US fast food chain to develop their in-restaurant graphics. We are asked to pitch fresh, new ideas that would provide additional appeal to women. Although Design Inc does not win the account, we forge strong relationships with our new friends from across the pond.
Design Inc win global account with IBA
We celebrate another international account win within our fast growing medical & healthcare portfolio. This time to support the world’s leading cancer treatment specialists, IBA Group with the creation and supply of their radiopharma and proton therapy marketing collateral. this account would lead to hundreds of individual projects including advertising, brochureware, exhibitions & live presentations.
Surrey Police – Domestic Abuse campaign
Joining up with other police forces, Surrey Police commissions Design Inc to establish and roll out a public information campaign regarding domestic abuse. Our ‘give and take’ idea featured the abused person shedding a tear against a backdrop of a crumbled piece of paper upon which was written their sad & desperate message. The campaign was highly successful and was placed at bus, rail & tube stations as well as shopping centres & malls.
Nick Bennett joins the team
After several years of freelancing for us, we agree terms to employ Nick Bennett as a full time member of the design team. A specialist in design & artworking for all types of marketing comms, Nick becomes a much welcomed and familiar addition to the company.
Kelly Halford joins as Finance Manager
After months of searching for the right person, Kelly Halford replaces the outgoing finance manager. Kelly brings new skills and processes to the team and is responsible for all things financial including company accounting, invoicing, supplier management, forecasting, etc.
Elmar’s augmented reality calendar
Eight years on from the ‘Toy Story’ calendar we produced for them, Elmar came back to us in August wanting a creative calendar for 2018. With 2018 hailed as the year in which augmented reality would become mainstream, we devised a calendar via design, print and AR technology. Our idea was to link the company’s own timeline years with global technological advances. Each of the 12 months featured an image of a major scientific or technological breakthrough and, when viewed via a smartphone a branded video would commence, each promoting one of the client’s own technical advancements within the same year. https://youtu.be/htaU4tRrsGo
REVving up for the Pakistan Auto Show
With a requirement for the new motor oil to be launched at the Pakistan Auto Show, we worked with a bunker oil specialist to establish the new brand identity and move into the motor oil sector. It was agreed the brand values should evoke both a British origin and a performance pedigree. The new brand was named REVS with the word mark including a section of the union flag along with a typestyle inspired from corners at a motor racing circuit.
Marine & Yacht ‘division’ launched
With the short-term appointment of an account manager heavily networked within the marine & yacht sector, we secure a number of new projects for brochures, advertising and websites. We make the decision to actively push into this sector. This would serve to complement the work we currently provide to those within the private aviation sector.
London Film Museum release ‘Signature’ ad campaign
Working with the London Film Museum, our creative team present the new above-the-line advertising campaign highlighting the Southbank location as a viable venue destination for business and social events. Our ‘Signature’ campaign was created to elevate the venue’s event spaces to the venue finding audience.
New brand and collateral for Bambooth
Design Inc were commissioned to create the new brand identity, packaging & website for Bambooth – the only bamboo toothbrush approved by the Oral Health Foundation. Our brand concept was inspired by the physical nature of the bamboo plant especially the stems. Simple, smooth lines, lower case lettering, and with 45degree cuts added into the letters. Our work for the brand led to the creation of a powerful e-commerce website
Surrey Police – Hate Crime campaign
The creative idea was deliberately led by a ‘less is more’ approach. We created a new ‘STOP HATE’ brand icon and simply added that message to a plain white t-shirt. These were worn by models at a photoshoot standing against a relevant & colourful background. To differentiate between the six defined categories of hate crime (eg. sexuality, race, religion, etc), different backgrounds were created. For the ‘sexuality’ category, we utilised the Pride rainbow.
New brand rollout for Farnborough Airport
Following three months of intensive design & strategy, we roll out the new global brand assets for purpose built business aviation FBO, Farnborough Airport. The new ‘Ahead of the Curve’ campaign is to include global advertising campaigns as well as the client’s new website and app.
The pandemic hits
The pandemic hits and all staff move out of the office and begin a new way of life working from home. It is not easy as we have been used to always working in a team, collaborating on creative projects but we implement new processes to help optimise the situation. We correctly estimate a huge drop in client marketing as all companies close the doors on marketing collateral and all planned exhibitions are cancelled.
Repifix is launched
As the country continues to work from home, Design Inc is busily working with Kybrook Building Services to establish a new name in the property maintenance sector; ‘Repifix’ which has been established to provide a one-stop solution with experts & engineers covering plumbing, electrics, heating, carpentry, painting, decorating, gardening, etc. Design Inc are fully responsible for the creation of the new brand, brand assets and marketing.
Winners: Spelthorne Business Awards
At the locally-prestigious Spelthorne Business Awards, Design Incorporated are the first winners of the night – announced as ‘Best Business in Staines’. Frank Norman was there to collect the award and takes the time to thank the Design Inc team and all clients past and present.
New Project / Account Manager
Julia Girling joins us in the role of Project / Account Manager. Coming with a hugely impressive skillset in account handling solutions, processes and knowledge, she is the first new member of our team since the pandemic. Jules will be responsible for ensuring all client projects, large and small are delivered on time, on brief and on budget.
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