We have an ambitious goal: to reorientate the business world to rekindle the old fire of caring, compassionate capitalism. That’s reflected in the way we do things. It’s also reflected in who we are.
We are a bunch of geeks who care enough to combine excellent work with good social outcomes. The roots of the company come from friendships and ideals built at Oxford and on council estates. Several of us benefitted from the experiences, connections and abilities fostered by the privilege of an elite education. However, having gone our separate ways into the commercial and NGO world, we’re channelling those privileges into a business that profits by its ideals and shows others they can do the same.
Social responsibility, brand, innovation, capability
We genuinely believe that good social outcomes can be built into how businesses make profit. We do this by building our model on principles made famous most recently by Tom’s Shoes – for every paying client, take on a non-paying client. So, just by getting services from us, companies can ensure that their work does the same.
A core part of this are the Young Braves. We mentor and train a group of young people to be strategists, empowering them to contribute solutions to commercial and creative challenges. Many of those Young Braves are also young people who otherwise may never have had the opportunity to work in the industry. Together, we can offer insight and ideas beyond anything permitted by a traditional focus group-based approach.
Our drive to reorient ourselves and our clients comes from two types of historical source. Spiritually, we work in the socially entrepreneurial vein of the Victorian business-philanthropists such as Cadbury, Peabody, Carnegie and Burdett-Coutts; we believe, like William Morris, in the interconnectedness of the moral-aesthetic-practical.
Our commercial inspiration
Commercially, we’re fascinated by the interdisciplinary approach of The Design Research Unit (DRU), which produced inspired and highly successful ‘commercial’ output from a team which included poets and artists among the more workaday ad/design industry folk. They’re our creative solutions collective progenitors.
An early set of notes proposed a “service equipped to advise on all problems of design”, addressing the needs of “the State, Municipal Authorities, Industry or Commerce.” The DRU was one of the first generation of British design consultancies to combine expertise in architecture, graphics and industrial design. It was founded by the managing director of Stuart Advertising Agency, Marcus Brumwell with Misha Black (an architect) and Milner Gray (a designer) in 1943.
Well known for its work in relation to the Festival of Britain and its influential corporate identity project for British Rail, they anticipated a post-war demand for technical expertise and a need for “reconditioning and re-designing public utility services” recommending “contact…with the railway companies, motor coach lines and so on.”
Herbert Read became their first member of staff, sharing offices in Kingsway with Mass-Observation, another initiative that Brumwell supported under the umbrella of the Advertising Services Guild.