Diversity fuels JXL Creative in every aspect of their work, from the team itself to the projects they work on.
As a creative agency, JXL is often hard at work to diversify its portfolio and make sure that they are always on the lookout for something unique. However, their new business is largely founded on retention and building solid relationships with their existing clients.
In this Company Spotlight, we are learning more about JXL Creative with Danny Ensanian (Managing Partner) and Jimi James (Founding Partner).
How was your company born and where are you based?
Creating our own agency was inevitable after having experienced the corporate agency model for many years. It was also a rebirth from the limitations we faced behind layers of indecisive senior management. JXL was born from those experiences but persevered to pair with brands we love and create work that we support.
Our team considers its home base in the New York Metro Area with two of our managing partners in London, England and Austin, Texas respectively. This blessing and advantage allows us to see more of the world, interact with different types of clients, and utilize larger networks.
What was the biggest challenge to the growth of your company?
Time management, scalability and developing credibility with prospective accounts. Brands want to see their end result before the discovery phase begins. Producing great work is natural to our team. Asking brands to entrust in our vision can certainly be a challenge.
Which was the first huge success that you can remember?
Our first huge success was scoring our first account and retainer as an agency – a relationship with a CBD Skincare line called Cannuka since 2019 that is still going strong today. Not only was this a success for the obvious reasons, but it was our opportunity to leap from our corporate careers. A close second to this was reaching our first $1 million in lifetime revenue earlier in 2021.
What’s the biggest opportunity for you and your company in the next year?
Our largest opportunity over the next 12 months will be our ability to focus on scalability. We have our core portfolio and relationships in place. We have our vision and our standard of work in place. We have the administrative processes in place. What’s left is to utilize that, recruit a diverse team of talent, and work with brands that get us excited.
Can you explain your team’s creative process?
Our process is a spinning frisbee that never lands. It’s a 360 approach to every project we encounter, considering a brand’s legacy, content platform, the product itself, and a cohesiveness that must exist between everything we create. JXL develops brand identity and packaging design, but also creates photography and video content. Once you have your product in hand, we like to ask, how will you show and tell the world? We always have our thoughts to riff on with you.
How does your team remain inspired and motivated?
Through diversity. Diversity within our team, and diversity within our project workflow. There are so many fascinating industries that require creative. Our core competency lies within the food, beverage, cosmetic, beauty and wellness sectors, but the worlds of fitness, fashion, automotive, or spirits for example are well within our reach. We always provide our team with something unique and engaging to work on. No two days at JXL are ever exactly the same.
How has COVID-19 affected your company?
The effects of COVID-19, in the beginning especially had allowed us to walk our walk after talking our talk. We had been “talking up” and refining our capability surrounding photogrammetry (photo-realistic product and lifestyle renderings) and composite photography.
During a time where planning a photoshoot was unsafe and widely unavailable, our model for digital shoots moved laterally to stay formidable and continue providing solutions to our clients. It also opened many possibilities for “what” could be shot digitally without limits to light, shadow, background, orientation, or texture.
Which agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
Jones Knowles Richie – not only in the work that they produce but the way in which their process and brand identity is presented. There is context to what they do and not simply attractive imagery. Other heroes include the Medici Family during the 15th century renaissance through their funding of paintings and classical beauty that can be traced through to the continued creative evolution of today. And of course, the “Father of Advertising” himself, David Ogilvy.
What is one tip that you would give to other agencies looking to grow?
Network and build your relationships for the long term - ask for advice from the people who have it all figured out…but never be afraid to do what you were going to do anyway as long as you fail fast.
How do you go about finding new clients/business? (Pitching, work with retainers, etc.)
Our wide network of carrier pigeons has proved a valuable asset in sharing information about our agency. Seriously though, in our campaign for scalability, this is an everchanging task. The one thing we will say is that client retention is just as important, if not more so than new acquisitions.
Client retention and referrals though aren’t 100% of the pie. Networking and exploring creative communities and companies on Linkedin is helpful but taking the time to build trust and relationships can yield higher value than the low hanging fruit. But really, all you need to do is say [email protected]
What’s your one big hope for the future of the industry?
For all creatives within our industry, we wish for there to be a true understanding and trust for what we do and how we do it. We wish to be understood and looked upon as creators, not merely executors. The same way that we universally understand to tip a waitress or a cab driver, we hope for the same understanding when it comes to allowing us to do what we do best, backed by strategic thinking and with the proper resources.
Do you have any websites, books or resources that you would recommend?
Website: nowness.com - A movement for creative excellence in storytelling celebrating the extraordinary of every day. A true look into the future trends of creative.
Book: Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy – A peak back into the world of creative and advertising in the 1960s and some fascinating tales regarding how creative continues to evolve and adapt. It also provides timeless insight into managing a creative team and working productively with your client accounts.