Category Archives: Misc

Up skilling at the Pen with Certitec (Adobe Authorised Training)

Keeping up-to-date with new developments in our industry has always been something that we’ve been keen to do. However, when it’s a new skill sometimes attending a training course can be the fastest and most efficient way of up-skilling. So we sent Jack on a Certitec Digital Publishing Suite, 3 day Masterclass  in London to further his knowledge and improve our offering in the process.   

Here’s the basic info of the course, taken from the Certitec Website: 

DPS Masterclass – 3 day
In this highly detailed Adobe Authorised DPS training course which includes hands-on project building on the afternoon of the last day, you will learn how to use the Adobe® Digital Publishing Suite to build Single Edition and Multi-folio magazine apps to deliver innovative reading experiences and dynamic content on leading tablet devices such as iPad, Android and Kindle Fire. This course is delivered by an Adobe InDesign and Digital Publishing Suite Certified Instructor.

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Never go back!

 

Call, Email, Tweet – say hello today!

 

because we’re different!

As you’ve probably gathered by now we’ve undertaken a brand refreshing exercise, after taking stock of our own values and aspirations for Black Sheep. Early on in that process we realised it was time to make a few changes to the look and feel of the company as it has a renewed sense of direction, service offer and restored vision.

At the core of the brief we set ourselves, we wanted to achieve an authorative voice with a friendly, approachable face. ‘Dolly’ our signature sheep also got a little make-over for good measure.

Our raison d’être, ‘Because we’re different!’ also came out of that brief. Where we asked questions about our relevance in a crowded market and how could we differentiate our offer from that of our peers. It was quite simple really…

Part two. We’re back!

Part two

At the tail end of 2010, when the UK economy was at it’s lowest ebb, we found ourselves in a place that we didn’t recognise any longer, the phone stopped ringing, our clients went quiet and we’d lost track of our vision. That’s when we realised that if we were going to continue in this industry then we needed to go away and rediscover what made Black Sheep the success that it previously was.

It’s been 6 months since we decided to go quiet and fall under the radar. Precious time which allowed us to take stock of what we achieved during Part One. It was kind of like, taking a sabbatical from the company to concentrate on finding out who we are now and where we want to be in the years ahead.

We looked at what was good and bad about our company and how to improve its offering. We revisited our early vision, of not being the biggest, but striving to be the best at whatever we do. It’s an ideal that continues to drive us on, but with a new twist ‘If we can’t do it to the best of our ability, we won’t do it at all’.

In building the brand through printed matter is where our strength had always been, but over time became diluted by a work mix that evolved as our staffing skill set did. We dabbled with interactive game design, 3D architectural visualisation and media buying amongst other things. All of which we successfully undertook, as they were extensions of our core branding service, but were always supplementary services that we offered, but never actively marketed. This quickly saw our focus become blurred as we headed down the ‘Full Service Agency’ route, where handling every aspect of a clients work became the driver rather than taking on projects what we were suited to.

Another ideal that we still hold true, is that we’ve always wanted our clients to choose us specifically for the type of work we produce and that they feel comfortable working with us, not just because we’ve got a name and have been tried and tested over the years. Now it’s ever more important, with so many small agency start-ups and design buyers increasingly more happy to cut their costs by using one-band companies and freelancers working out of their bedrooms.

So, we’re at the mid way point of 2011 and if we are to compete with our contemporaries and these new kids on the block, then we must differentiate our offering from them in every way. Otherwise, how can we expect a client to choose us, in a saturated market place, where anyone with a computer who can assemble a page layout (not necessarily a good one) thinks they’re a graphic designer. As we’ve seen so many times, buying creative solutions as a commodity doesn’t work, one creative designer’s ideas are different to another’s and therefore, their worth cannot be solely bought on a cost effectiveness basis.

After some serious soul searching we realised that our offering needed to be clearer, concise and relevant to the market that we want to operate in.

So, in the future won’t be referring to our agency as ‘full-service’, as this doesn’t really mean anything! Well maybe that you try to do too much, without actually doing it very well. Which on occasion, we might have been guilty of.

Our offer is simple! We offer a consultancy service that specialises in building brands that are delivered through all print media channels.

We call it ‘Design for the Printed world’.

So, whether it’s; new brand creation, a re-fresh of your existing brand, advertising of your brand, product or service, informing stakeholders of your performance & values through an annual report or simply marketing your services through a leaflet or poster. Black Sheep has a relevant case study with tangible results that show you how effective brand building and awareness can drive your business forward through great creative solutions.

Where does that leave us in an evolving digital world? We’ll be there to help and guide you through the challenges of migrating your brand and its values into a digital space. We can advise you in the marketing aspects of implementing e-marketing in to the mix & how to integrate it with a social media channels strategy. Or simply, help you find the right supplier of such services and work with them on your behalf, we’re here to help you.

As for Black Sheep, we’re going to continue to strive for excellence in the way we operate and the standard of work we undertake and deliver.

Thanks for reading.

Neil Asher & Jack Bland

Here come the Men in…

End of Part One

In November 1998, Jack & I opened Black Sheep with one goal in mind, ‘to become the No.1 agency of choice in Wales’. Since that day, we’ve built a reputation for great creative work and a client service that’s second to none. We’ve done this by providing strategic and creative thinking across all media, building strong and consistent brands for clients in the public and private sectors from our pen in Cardiff Bay, Wales UK.

Becoming the agency of choice was always was a big ask, we know. But an idea that’s stayed with us, having spent the last 12 years driving towards that dream, through good times and bad.

It’s been a roller coaster ride that’s seen the agency grow to 19 staff at our peak with a turnover of 1.3 million. However, our passion and commitment to achieving this shared vision has never faltered, even when the odds were stacked against us. Especially in recent times where economic pressures have taken their toll on our clients and subsequently us.

So we’ve come to the end of our 12 year apprenticeship in Wales’ creative sector and are looking forward to the next twelve years with a renewed sense of focus and direction.

This post is dedicated to the people who made Black Sheep, the agency what it was and still wants to be. A celebration of who did what and when. Their contribution to the agency, large & small, helped make it exciting, creatively stimulating and a pleasure to have worked along side (most of them anyway). Seeing how most of them have developed and moved on to new challenges has been a real thrill for us and we wish them every success in their future careers.


The mix of staff from 1998 through to November 2010 changed as the needs of the business changed. Here you can see when each member of the flock played their part in Black Sheep.

Staff in order of service and where they are now (if known):
Neil Asher_Creative Director
Jack Bland_Account Director
Dion Hester_Graphic Design Intern
Dan Clemo_Graphic Designer — Senior
Joanna Cook Abbott_Graphic Designer
Lee Griffith_Graphic Designer (UWIC PDR)
Chris Coles_Consultant — Chairman
James Osgood_Account Director (Peter’s Pies)
Jason Veal_New Media & Interactive Developer
Ruth Tuttsel_Finance Manger
Marc Jennings_Junior Designer (The Undercard)
Clare Scott (was Sinkinson)_Graphic Designer — Senior
Graham Hutchings_New Media & Interactive Developer (Atticus)
Gareth Wall_Graphic Designer — Senior
Katherine Formosa Bown_Account Executive
Rebbeca Holliday_Finance Manager
Jane Barker_Studio & Production Manager (Westdale)
Tom Tribe_Graphic Design & Interactive_work experience
Robert Cozens_Managing Director (RCA Marketing)
Nicola Osgood (was Northway)_Account Manager
Tom Dixon_Graphic Design Intern
Amanda Hopkins Maclellan_Finance
Aled Jones_Graphic Designer (Notjones)
Anne Scourfield_Graphic Design Intern (Teaching)
Catrin Lewis_Graphic Designer (Neat Supreme)
Darren Scammell_Sales Director
Gavin Richards_Graphic Designer (Horizon)
Jon Paul James_Graphic Designer
Darren Jamieson_Web Developer
Gareth Acreman_Studio & Production Manager
Terry Evans_Artworker
Claire Siggery_Graphic Design Intern
Kevin Poole_Account Executive
Emily Scott_Account Executive
Kate Achterlonie (Deceased)_Junior Account Executive
Alice Child Dabiri_Account Executive
Alexis West_Graphic Designer (The Swinging SeeSaw)
Pam Toye_Finance Manager
Kim Manson_Junior Account Executive
Steve Leard_Junior Designer – Middleweight (StazikerJones)
Ana Rita Cruz_Graphic Design Intern (SpinDogs)
Gemma Roberts_Graphic Design Intern