James Ramsden is a Creative Director at Rufus Leonard, an independent creative communications agency with over 25 years experience helping brands succeed in today’s always on world, located in the heart of London’s busy Clerkenwell district.
Tell us about Rufus Leoneard
We’re proud to have remained an independent agency for over twenty years and still thrive on our individual and entrepreneurial spirit. With creativity, strategy and technology at our heart, we work hard to build positive and long lasting relationships with some of the UK’s biggest and best known brands including British Gas, Lloyds TSB, Halifax, O2 and Virgin Media.
Our Creative Team is around 25 people including Brand Designers, Digital Designers, Retail Communication Creatives, Information Architects, Writers and Production Artists all working together to achieve creative and innovative ideas for our clients which make a real difference to their businesses.
When and why did you join?
I joined Rufus Leonard from Wolff Olins, and at the time (over ten years ago!) Rufus were one of the few agencies that properly understood how to connect brand and digital. Obviously the world’s moved on a bit since then, but this still interests me today, and makes for an interesting team of people and fantastic creative output here at Rufus.
What do you actually do?
In a nutshell, I’d say my job is largely about helping my team make sense of our clients problems and working in partnership with them navigate to the best and most rewarding creative solution against their brand and business objectives. That means my role at Rufus is to bring things together, co-ordinate our teams and to add a deeper more strategic angle to the way in which we develop and present our creative work and ideas. But there’s tons of other stuff thrown in there to, like mentoring and managing the team, setting creative standards and driving new business. What I actually do is pretty broad and stretches right across the agency which is what makes my job so interesting, diverse and rewarding.
How did you get started in the industry?
Since I was a young boy I was always the kid doing drawing and designing stuff, so as I got older I worked with my teachers to channel my artistic work at school into Graphic Design. Then I moved on to Loughborough Art College and met a tutor who helped me decide to move down to London to give myself more choice and be part of a bigger and more thriving creative community.
What would you be doing if you weren't in the industry?
Maybe something to do with technology – either product development or digital platform creation – I find these innovations really interesting.
What's your current favourite piece of creative work?
I have to say that I don’t think the world has seen anything really ‘game changing’ in the last couple of years, probably since the lovely work Wolff Olins completed for AoL and of course the brand for London 2012, although I felt the realisation of this brand at the Games lacked the sentiment, ambition and vision that was first communicated when it launched. I think this is interesting because it feels as though we are in the midst of a phase of much gentler branding solutions that are less visible and attention grabbing as the body language of organisations are adapting to the never ending troubled times. And I don’t think this means we all have to be less creative or courageous, just more in tune and appropriate. I’m still really liking the work that has been done for the Windows platform, the logo is a little sober for my tastes, but the platform branding that uses tiles and iconography, whilst it felt really flat at first, it has triggered us all to think differently about the visual language of Operating Systems and the familiar jewel like 3D quality of iOS. And on a more emotive front, I have to say the team over in Brazil working on the Rio 2016 have presented a fresh, living brand solution that feels as though its captured the energy and passion of the forthcoming Brazilian games. It’s so different to London – and I’m looking forward to seeing how this will be bought alive for their games in four years time.
What do you love about your job?
Solving problems, and the feeling you get when you’ve really fought to get a presentation to that place when it’s solid, bullet proof and bursting with creative ideas. I still get excited about sharing ideas with clients and seeing their reaction when it all comes together and it just works.
If you could give one piece of advice for someone starting out, what would it be?
Be smart about how you approach people and keep your book simple and short. Personally, I’d rather see one or two brilliant projects that demonstrate depth of thinking and creativity rather than numerous projects of ‘stuff’.
If you have one Super power what would it be?
To be able to be in two places at once so I don’t miss things.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I have two kids which means I have probably officially become a grown up!
What was your worst job and what did you learn from it?
When I was a student I worked in warehouse packing scientific equipment. It was full of lovely folk, who were great to work with, but the job was very repetitive and it was hard for me to get through the day. I learnt that you have to work hard and stick at something, no matter what, and I think that’s stayed with me right through to today. I stick at things.
You have already worked with some amazing brands, who would you like to work with next?
I guess from a personal perspective I’d like to work with the brands that are in my life. Sony, Costa, Waitrose, Zeebox, eBay, Spotify. They’re all brands I’d give my right arm to work with.
Your favourite app or website?
I love, love, love the eBay app. I simply can’t explain why I feel the need to watch upwards of 87 items I know for certain I’ll never buy.
Facebook or Twitter?
Twitter if I had to choose, which I think is a brilliant way to stay up to date with information and news for work.