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The Brixton boys with ambition on the brain | #CompanySpotlight

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This week, we shine our company spotlight on Paul Crump, Co-founder and Creative Director at Fellow Studio.

Fellow is a design studio that believes "effective design builds lasting connections and can tell your story and encapsulates your brand in one glance." Led by Paul and his co-founder Anthony Chapman, they work in partnership with clients to "make design second nature."

As Paul himself says: "Once we know what makes you tick, we share it with the world."

How was your company born and where are you based?

Fellow was born out of friendship and a shared passion for branding. My co-founder, Anthony Chapman, and I met at university and developed a close friendship. We both worked in the industry at global agencies but thought we could offer something different.

We started Fellow to shape a new way for clients and agencies to work together to build iconic brands–and for creatives to be seen as trusted advisors and valuable problem-solvers rather than service providers. Our studio is based in Brixton which is close to both of our hearts, being south-London boys. We’re proud to be part of a thriving business community in an area we spent our university days hanging out in.

What was the biggest challenge to the growth of your company?

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As with any business, working with the right people is crucial to success. We want to work with brave and ambitious brands to foster a creative partnership–and open up the limits of their business through strategic creativity.

As a small studio, we have to be selective about who we work with, so it was a challenge to grow the business in line with our process and vision–rather than simply doing what was easy and expected of a studio.

Which was the first huge success that you can remember?

Though not huge to anyone but ourselves, our first official client project had a massive impact on me. It proved that there were like minded-clients who shared our vision of what can be achieved with a brand–clients that wanted a more personable relationship where we could be strategic with our creativity and expertise. In a way what made it a huge success was the fact that we had made the first step in our business journey. 

What’s the biggest opportunity for you and your company in the next year?

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As we go on to grow our existing partnerships and work with even more ambitious brands, we look to create more education and awareness around the power of a strategic brand world.

There is a big opportunity for brands who want to engage with their audience in a more immersive and holistic way across touchpoints–considering all the various ways we can communicate with each other and how to stay true to your brand. This doesn’t need to always be tech-focused, instead, we feel it is more about how you reflect and shape your value to your audience.

Can you explain your team’s creative process? What makes it unique?

When we built Fellow we wanted to ensure our team shared the same value for brand and expertise. We spent time on our processes and how best to benefit our clients' needs–combining visual and strategic thinking to ensure we listen and understand the challenge at hand.

I feel it is this level of connection and understanding of our clients' needs that makes us unique–allowing us to offer our expertise where it can add the most value.  

How does your team remain inspired and motivated?

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We work hard to create a certain work culture at Fellow, one where we encourage growth and passion throughout the team and strive to offer the best-in-class level of expertise. There is no simple solution to building this type of culture but I have found listening to your team and focussing on the quality of our work are good places to start.

How has COVID-19 affected your company?

COVID-19 allowed us to reassess the business and how we work with each other and clients. It helped to highlight what we truly value and reflect on our journey. For Anthony and myself, it offered a unique challenge to navigate the business through an unprecedented challenge.

For us, this meant refining our processes and treating ourselves as a client so that we can address our needs as a brand. It is a well-known joke within the industry that agencies are terrible at showing themselves the same care they show their clients.

Which agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

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For me, I look to the classic industry heroes - Wim Crowell, Dieter Rams, and Josef Müller-Brockmann for inspiration around design and its role in the wider world. I also have a lot of time for Jonathan Barnbrook.

One of my first internships was at his studio and I had the chance to work on some great projects and learned so much. It was also fun working alongside a fellow Luton lad.  In terms of other studios, I really like Collins’ approach. I like how they don’t enforce a particular style of work and instead focus on the best solution for the client.   

What is one tip that you would give to other agencies looking to grow?

Spend time looking at your business as you would any creative brief. Understand the business and interrogate its challenges. Choose a strategic solution to those challenges and measure the results–making sure to stay innovative and push to be the best your business can be. 

How do you go about finding new clients/business? (Pitching, work with retainers, etc.)

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For us, it is important to focus on the right client relationships that would benefit from our expertise. Finding new clients is about conversations and understanding their business. We put the research in to focus on who we are speaking to and the challenges they face. This is great for creating a variety of clients and projects.

What’s your one big hope for the future of the industry?

I would like to see a focus on the value agencies can bring to their clients–acting more as problem solvers and collaborators with brands to really push the boundaries of creativity– building relationships on a problem shared rather than a problem between them. I think this will go on to elevate our industry as a whole and move towards a healthier work culture. 

Do you have any websites, books or resources that you would recommend?

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Raster Systeme by Josef Müller-Brockmann has been a bookshelf staple of mine for years, along with Symbol by Angus Hyland and Steven Bateman. As for websites, I really enjoy the curation of bpando.org and underconsideration.com/brandnew.

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