We’re delighted to announce that Folk have merged with New York based creative agency Sweden Unlimited.
We were featured alongside some local agencies in a recently published coffee-table inspired book last week.
If you haven't been able to get your hands on a copy, we wanted to share Joanna Cruickshanks, our co-founder's interview with you. But no new book smell here. Pop in for a coffee if you'd like to see it. Failing that, you can read the interview below:
What do you do?
We're a content, commerce and strategy agency who leads with purpose and has worked with some of the best fashion and lifestyle brands since 2003.
Why would clients choose you?
Clients choose us because we have a new and different perspective to building brands, telling stories and designing ecommerce platforms online. It's one that is people-centric and based around connection and real human experiences. We have a 14 year heritage with fashion and lifestyle brands building on Magento, but now we're really keen to use what we know about discerning digital experience to all other industries. The key is, they have to want to do the things the Folk way. We're a B-corporation, so the 'Folk way' is a perspective on strategy, design and build that fosters good in business. So they have to be businesses and leaders who get that this is the basis of any good strategy going forward.
What is your opinion on the future of "your" industry?
The client/agency paradigm is one that has to shift because of the landscape and we're evolving the way we work to become more useful to our clients. It's no longer useful to use some of the old agency models - they are based in 1950's service business model - that's why we focus on being able to collaborate authentically and use our zoom in, zoom out thinking to transform our clients' businesses. We've been focussing on how to be agents of change for our clients - resilience is how we can most help our clients, so that's what is guiding us into the future.
We've changed so much of what the norm is in the industry at Folk internally and we're always innovating this. We now don't have one commercial team - when you start a project with us you work immediately and directly with the makers and there is utter transparency about the scope and the work. Every team member is a partner at Folk, there are no traditional hierarchies, no official job titles, is no set holidays, etc. We foster an environment of trust and autonomy - businesses based on people and trust are the future, so we have we re-organised the whole culture to embrace this.
What will be the biggest threat or opportunity to your industry in the next 18 months?
I'm going to answer this from a large perspective because 'our industry' is inherently linked to all other industries. I think 'old-thinking, outdated mindsets and siloed approaches' are the biggest threat for every industry and developing brave, purposeful, agile collaborations and strategies, with the right partners, from a foundation of trust, are biggest opportunities for us all.
What's the most exciting/interesting thing you've seen recently?
What excites me most is meeting, working and seeing people who want to make a change in their world. I meet and see a lot of people doing this, but one in particular interest me. A small local, company whose vision and mission is to re-think early years education. They have mapped all old models and taken research from the latest innovation in neuroscience to develop a new approach to nurseries. It's exciting because I think that a lot of our challenges today are due to old thinking in education, and because I know that getting these years right is crucial to having the leaders in the world who want to create businesses from a perspective of doing good and being commercial.
Bournemouth is one of the UK's top 10 digital helps why do you think this is?
A couple of reasons; I think we're braver and more entrepreneurial because we're not limited by the pressures and rules of London. If Folk was a London agency, we probably wouldn't be able to be as off the wall and different because we'd be bound by the same in London agency unspoken 'rules'. I think the sea air and having a broad horizon gives us headspace to be more creative business people. I think more and more people, through digital are wanting lifestyle and business. I for one moved back to Bournemouth from London when I was pregnant because I didn't want children up there. I also think our universities are great and getting better. I think we could be in Portland US of the UK - that would be cool.
Virgin Startup hosted an evening of talks and networking last week and Folk attended with both a desire to teach and a hunger to learn from budding entrepreneurs.
The talks saw entrepreneurs from different stages in their business. From established brand builders through to exciting startups in their infancy.
Silicon South produced a video from the evening with the help of their Bournemouth University interns, take a look:
Here is what we managed to take away from what was an inspiring and personal event.
Jimmy’s Iced Coffee
It’s easy to see Jimmy’s Iced Coffee as a success. But the conversation last week, at the Virgin Start-up Meet, was much more about ‘how are we making it?’. Put another way: the journey of a startup is not about getting there, it’s about the journey. Here are some takeaways:
Have hunger and drive
Tell a real story
Have a plan
Make a rad product or sell a rad service
Trust your instinct
Learn to say no
Build an epic team
Jimmy also loved finding inspiration in unexpected places, quoting Sister Act II, Babe, Steven Spielberg, and many more. Can you put the name to each of these?
"If you wanna be somebody. If you wanna go somewhere, you better wake up and pay attention."
"The little things that tickle and nag and refuse to go away should never be ignored. For in them lie the seeds of destiny."
"So you have to, every day of your lives, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear."
"Keep your chin up."
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Joanna Cruickshanks - folk
Twenty-something years of brand, business and yoga came together to build Jo’s talk: Liam and the Lama. These two pop icons - Liam Gallagher, and the Dalai Lama - offer very different opinions on what makes success. But by fusing their approaches, and passing them through Jo’s unique filter, the talk dramatically shifted the lens on the way we do business, and why we do it at all. Here’s a recap:
You don’t live forever
Jo began by thinking about the end. Cue the epitaph-writing task, where audience members were asked to think about the person they wished to be remembered as. The upshot: only by understanding our end goal can we can act accordingly to achieve it.
Your inner compass, and knowing what’s right by it are absolutely essential to business integrity. As a new startup, you’ll be pulled left, right and centre by a lot of different people. To know yourself is to know how to react to these deviations - whether it’s good advice, bad advice, roadblocks, hurdles, or celebrations.
Liam knew with great clarity what needed to be done and why, which ultimately contributed to the success of Pretty Green. “Pony” was always his way of saying something was superfluous or beside the point. No Pony equals success.
Connect with your fans
Liam’s decision to live-stream and chat with his tribe brought the people what they wanted: a direct link to the rockstar himself. That’s why they still continue to love him and his brand today.
Liam’s famously an in-your-face guy. The Dalai Lama once said, “Know the rules well so you can break them effectively”. Two kinds of fearlessness from very different perspectives.
Jo believes Liam understood the Lama’s breed of fearlessness. He knew exactly what the market was, and how it behaved… which is why he was able to disrupt it so well.
Different is better than better, or so says the Folk mantra. In a world where almost every market is saturated, running the path of betterment can only lead to a price war, which will ultimately leave you cheapening your brand just to get sales. The path of difference stands proudly above that problem.
Tell the human story
Today, the old model of ‘creating a service, and the customer will buy it’ doesn’t work. There’s simply too much choice, and the consumer now lives in an age where they call the shots. Only by listening deeply to what they want, and telling your story in a way they want to hear can a business be successful. There has never been a better time to be a startup, but you’ll only win by putting humans first.
Never, ever, give-up.
You will go home, and you will lose faith.
The key thing is to never lose hope. Up-and-downness is a natural part of running a successful business, and in fact, it’s only by facing these hurdles that you’ll become a more resilient leader down the line.
Make a difference.
“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
It’s often not about changing the world, says Jo. She believes that the small changes we make add up to create a positive impact for future generations.
Start a revolution from your bed
When we have something on our mind at night, we come up with ideas. These ideas spark motion, and these motions could be the start of a revolution. You just never know.
Buddhism teaches the art of non-attachment. Everything said here in this blog might or might not apply to you.
A key aspect of growing a startup is to drop and change things as they come. Be adaptable. Never let an idea that you’re attached to stay for sentiment’s sake.
Arun - Hollabox
Hollabox is a free to use social network that lets users discover the local world around them. The application allows people to see real-time activity from any local friends, people. events and businesses, including a wealth of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.
Arun pointed startups to some amazing online tools that can remedy common challenges. He also shared some clever ‘hacks’ to help you bring your startup to life visually and get you off the ground.
Arun’s main point was that you should begin trying and experimenting with creativity, something we strongly believe at Folk, as by exploring new territories allows you to learn.
Noel - Get lost sailing
Noel’s online business brought powerboat trips to Poole.
He learned early on that between 95-99% of people who found his website never came back. In fact, he needed to hit them with three touchpoints before they bought anything.
After lots of strategizing, he found that a video-based sales funnel was the answer. Noel shared his insights, tips and tricks he discovered along the way.
Naturally, you expect an event created for and by local businesses to be competitive. But on the south coast, we love to help each other out.
Think Create Do captured top digital leaders from the south coast, including ourselves, who came together just a stone’s throw from the beach to discuss the issues and insights discovered from their journeys working with clients across the world.
Each talk was an opportunity to learn something new, embrace different ways of thinking and push the boundaries of the way we do business.
The event was brought to life by the team at Think Create Do, who curated the collection of interviews which featured in ‘For The Record’, the book that features Folk alongside fellow creative agencies. Take a look at how good that looks here.
There was a wide range of diverse and talented speakers, but we want to focus on three in particular who talked about something that really resonated with us.
Andy Headington: What is attention?
Andy looks at what attention means to brands. “Attention is world encompassing.”, he describes and every brand wants to create a moment that everyone takes notice of.
Not every brand can compete with the same level of attention that the Red Bull stratos jump received. It’s not sustainable. As Andy says, “we’re moving from a world where computing power was scarce, to a place where human attention is the commodity that is now scarce.”
How brands and businesses capture attention is an interesting subject; one that Andy from Adido has explored relentlessly.
He admits we have an attention problem; a profound amount of things happen every minute of every day, we are overloaded by content and we are addicted to checking our phones.
Very few businesses focus on ‘why’ they do what they do. But when they do communicate the why, success, and attention, follow as a consequence.
To adapt to changing attention spans and to keep the scarce commodity of human attention alive, Andy advises us to seek out the rare moments when consumers are forced to concentrate deeply.
For example, the cinema, or in the gym with screens placed in your line of sight, provide situations when your attention is locked in without distraction and we are programmed to take notice.
Paul Hamblin: Why we suck at telling stories.
Paul delivered a talk covering three topics: ‘The web is more than just cat videos’, ‘why we suck at telling stories and ‘things Paul wishes we knew.’
In particular, Paul caught our attention as he described the common obstacles that stop us from being meaningful storytellers.
One such example is budget: often the elephant in the room for a project.
In order to support creativity, we require a stiff budget.
“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations” – Orson Wells
It can cost thousands to produce a video or it can cost a lot more, Paul says, which also transfers to any photo-shoot, web build or branding project. However you need to boil it down and overcome that first obstacle to begin accurately focusing on the project. Don’t make clients guess. Don’t make anyone guess.
Another common obstacle that can hinder the effectiveness of a good story is over complication. You can easily overcomplicate a project by shoehorning additional parts. This is only going to dilute the message, Paul says.
Spend time crafting what you’re trying to communicate by finding your purpose and don’t let others dissolve the message by adding parts that don’t fit your purpose.
It’s most important to ask yourself what the business is trying to achieve and what you’re trying to do and ground yourself to these answers throughout the project.
Phillipa Hale - Leading transformational change.
Phillipa’s talk resonated with the Folkers at this event, where she addresses her own personal experiences leading digital transformation and discussed the emotions of learning.
Persuading old-school clients with legacy thinking to embrace new ways of learning can be a difficult task. Teaching smart people to learn is based on emotions. Unless we are connected emotionally to what we’re learning, it won’t stick.
To overcome the task of dealing with transformational change, Phillipa offers 8 steps:
- Establish a sense of urgency and excitement
- Form a credible leadership team
- Create a vision
- Communicate the vision
- Empower others to act on the vision
- Plan for short wins, iterations and get agile
- Consolidate improvements and capitilise
- Keep scanning the horizon
Philippa shared with us research that says 90% of what we learn today doesn’t stick. We have to be mindful of the way we teach and implement change and add a level of emotion to our teaching.
Overall, we left fulfilled and motivated from all of the speakers, each talk representing the wealth of talent amongst the epicentre of digital and creative agencies here on the south coast.
With an appetite to move forward and implement the lessons we learnt, we are constantly looking to the horizon, as Phillipa says, to grow our team and abilities as a business.
Last Thursday, we hosted the first ever Dorset B Corp event. With a number of local brands, agencies, and forward-thinkers at our seaside office, we thought it was high time to share some stories about the B Corp community.
The event began with a passionate speech from B Lab UK representative, Aimie Cole, who explained what the B Corp community is all about and why the movement exists.
Aimie suggested that current measures of success in business - profit or short-term financial returns to shareholders, for example – are outdated and need to change. Instead it’s about people and resources as well as profit, and that businesses should operate to create value for every one of their stakeholders. And it's not all talk; there's a growing body of evidence pointing to great success in the long term.
Aimie's talk was followed by one from Folk's founder, Jo Cruickshanks. She spoke about how she discovered B Corp, and about her mindset when she decided that the B Corp Assessment was the ideal measure of how Folk was doing. The certification was the perfect benchmark for two of Folk's core missions - to become environmentally self-sufficient, and to inspire others to work and live with purpose - things which were historically hard to track.
The conversation then turned to Folk's recent transformation into a Teal organisation. Jo explained that the two could elevate one another, and actually speed up the change process... although implementing these changes wasn't entirely free from challenges. Afterwards, the evening saw some very insightful contributions from a number of the attendees - including Alex Shepherd, co-founder of Kids Love Nature, a collection of leading nature nurseries in and around Dorset.
Stay tuned for more on our B Corp journey. In the meantime, if you'd like to learn how to become a B Corp yourself, we suggest you log on to the B Impact Assessment. There’s also some more background information available here.
A big thank you to all our attendees, and a special thanks to our friends at South Coast Roast for bringing along some tasty beans.
We published something the other day about Millennials, which reminded me...
The planet's not in a good place at the moment. In fact, if you look at it objectively, it couldn't get much worse. It sounds pessimistic, I know - but hear me out.
There's this scale which classifies how advanced a civilisation is based on how well it harnesses energy. It's called the Kardashev scale, and it runs from Type 1 to Type 3. A Type 1 civilisation is able to harness the entire energy output of its local star; a Type 3 is able to harness the energy output of the galaxy.
Type 3's a way off yet, granted. Type 1 relates to you more than you might realise.
Because the sad truth is this: We're not even on the Kardashev scale yet. We're a Type 0 planet - that's one which still harnesses the energy of dead plants and animals. The experts believe that we'll probably take the leap to the mighty Type 1 in maybe a century or so, but that doesn't mean we can sit back and let these predictions come true. Quite the opposite, actually: We've got our work cut out.
Think about the world now. Then think about what it'd take for it to come together as one connected, purposeful organism - to do something as grandiose as utilising not just some but all of the Sun's energy. We've got some steps to take first, that's for sure. As the business and thought leaders of this generation, it's our responsibility to own this journey, and inspire the right kinds of action to move our planet forward. The fate of our civilisation depends on it: If we do choose to opt out, our great grandchildren may live their lives in scarcity and hardship.
We need to end poverty; how can we get everyone fighting for one united cause if we let our own kind go hungry?
We need to end conflict; how can we stand together as one planet, if we kill each other over small-minded ideals?
We need to be efficient and mindful; how can we adopt a cosmic source of energy if we can't even manage and maintain our own?
These are just a few of many, and of course, there'll be dozens - hundreds - more to master before we can conceive of upgrading to Type 1. But we have the power to take each one of these problems and challenge them. To make a difference. It's not for nothing; we're potentially on a path to something awe-inspiring. The time is now to decide: Does humankind thrive, or does it perish?
I'd love to chat about the Kardashev scale at length if anyone's interested. Drop me a message at email@example.com. Or, if you fancy reading about it a little more, take a look here.
Thanks for reading,
For a long time, the largest market segment by generation was the Baby Boomer: That's anyone born between 1946 and 1964. And, as with any generation, they were born into a set of ideals, values, cultures, and technologies which would ultimately have bearing on their world-view - specifically, their approach to business.
But now, according to the Census Bureau, that's no longer the case. Now, the group with the largest market influence - in terms of purchasing, employment, and business leadership - is the Millennial.
- Adapt rapidly
- Crave change and challenge
- Create constantly
- Committed and loyal when dedicated to an idea, cause, or product
- Accept others of diverse backgrounds readily and easily
Baby Boomer attributes
- Focus on individual choices and freedoms
- Ability to change in a diverse workplace
- Positive attitude
Millennials - who've come into the world between 1980 and 1994 - have been born into technology at a point of unprecedented innovation. Unlike Baby Boomers, they don't see iPhones and the Internet, and so on and so forth as great feats; they see them as the foundation - the basic level from which all else stems. For them, these things have always been available. But rather than take them for granted, we've seen exponential growth in connectivity and problem solving - and this has catalysed technology to advance at an incredible rate.
Combine that with their world-centric attitude, where everyone lives in a global village, and the only brands and products that matter are ones that have a cause behind them... truly, they offer the potential to radically influence the way the planet works for the better.
The biggest challenge for business owners is making the shift from this Baby Boomer mindset, into one which caters to these ideals. Whereas the Baby Boomer was focused on the road in front of the individual, the Millennial is focused on the road in front of the planet. In order to really cater to these tribes, you need to delve deep into the way you do things.
We could get into usefulness metrics, and purpose, and tribal leadership, but we'd be typing away for hours. If this is a challenge you'd like to embrace for your brand or business, there's no better time than now.
Book an illumination session today, and we'll show you that you've had the means to make the change all along.
It's often tough to accept a concept until it's put plainly and simply, so here it is: Industrialism is old hat. It used to be that businesses would build assets and use them to measure their growth and success.
(And lets' face it: That doesn't feel so great anyway, considering we're all about the tribe.)
But today, it's almost irrelevant - especially if you want and need your business to thrive in the future. Consider the following :
- Über is the largest “taxi” company – yet they own no vehicles and excel at connecting riders with drivers. (Did you know: They booked almost $4 billion in fares in just the first half of last year. )
- AirBnB is the largest accommodation provider – yet they own no real estate. (Did you know: AirBnB, with a hard-earned initial investment, are now valued at $1 billion?  I reiterate the point about having ~0 assets.)
- Facebook is the largest media company – yet they create no content. (Did you know: Despite not making any of their own content, Facebook saw revenue streams of almost $6 billion in 2015, and now has almost 1.6 billion users worldwide.  That's almost a quarter of the world's population.)
- Crowdfunding businesses like Kickstarter and IndiGoGo are expected to surpass venture capital for funding in 2016 – yet they have no funds to invest. (Did you know: Kickstarter reached the $1 billion pledge milestone a couple of years ago. Check out this page for an awesome breakdown of how that looks.)
I don't think it's misplaced to say that these brands are the key to the future of their markets. It's pretty hard to imagine a competitor coming in using an old-school model and surpassing any of them, in any way.
We've said it before, we'll say it again: These success stories all put the consumer - their tribe - at the heart of everything. They each give the people who believe in them the power to take charge and do things their way, on their terms. This truly is the key to building a successful brand and business for this generation.
That said, there's a whole lot of friction from businesses when it comes to shifting the lens on this. Less so from start-up types, granted, but often people are so firmly rooted in place, that they find it impossible - personally, when talking to the board, and so on - to make change happen.
If you're suffering from this friction affliction, and you need a hand turning the ship, do get in touch: Our free Illumination Sessions are just the tonic. In two hours, either in person or via Skype, we shine a light on what it is you're trying to achieve. In that time we'll dig into your business context, project goals and critical success factors in order to discover the best method of connecting you with your tribe. Please click below to find out more.
Thanks for reading,
. Ian Altman. (2015). Top 10 Business Trends That Will Drive Success In 2016. Available: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ianaltman/2015/12/01/top-10-business-trends-that-will-drive-success-in-2016/#39ed3e3e5571. Last accessed 5th May 2016.
. Brian Solomon. (2016). Uber's financials show huge growth, even bigger losses. Available: http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/01/12/leaked-ubers-financials-show-huge-growth-even-bigger-losses/#11624e9c5c99. Last accessed 5th May 2016.
. Morgan Brown. (2015). AirBnB: The growth story you didn't know.Available: https://growthhackers.com/growth-studies/airbnb. Last accessed 5th May 2015.
. Josh Constine. (2016). Facebook Climbs To 1.59 Billion Users And Crushes Q4 Estimates With $5.8B Revenue. Available: http://techcrunch.com/2016/01/27/facebook-earnings-q4-2015/. Last accessed 5th May 2016.