So what is it going to take?

While fumbling around with my application to Chivas' "The Venture", a contest for Social Enterprises,  I was looking at some articles and this one really said exactly what I wanted to hear, or I should say, exactly what I think is necessary to be successful in today's world. The moral of the story is to keep moving forward even when your not sure where forward is or how your going to do it. This is my favorite quote from the article, "Actually doing something was almost more important than what we were getting on with. Going on a pathway, even though we weren’t quite sure where we were going, is a very powerful thing to have." Applications are due by Dec 11 2015 and results are in July 2016. Wish us luck!

Moving Brands’ James Bull on how to build a sustainable business and perfect a brand

The founder of a leading creative agency unveils the secrets behind his company’s success.

When Jim Bull and his co-founders started Moving Brands upon graduating from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, they were armed with nothing more than the desire to run their own creative business. “We managed to cobble enough money for one month’s rent, borrowed a computer and took a student loan out to buy a few laptops. We had four weeks to make enough money to pay next month’s rent.” Their initial projects included producing an ice hockey TV show and designing a website for a local cable company. Even though they had to learn on the fly, the company quickly became adept in each field and impressed clients. “We’ve been good at not limiting ourselves,” says Bull. “We just believed that we could do it.” That mindset has transformed Moving Brands into a leader in the creative field. Today their clients include Netflix, Apple, Google and Flipboard. Bull talked to the Venture about their journey, including what it takes to create a thriving business and the importance for enterprises to tell their story.

What inspired you to take that risk to start your own company right out of school?

Our program was geared toward getting us to feel good about ourselves and to try to change things in the world. We graduated with that attitude, although it was a very naïve, wet-behind-the-ears way of looking at things. There was something about the act of doing that was very compelling to me and the other founders. Actually doing something was almost more important than what we were getting on with. Going on a pathway, even though we weren’t quite sure where we were going, is a very powerful thing to have.

What was the secret behind building your business and making it a sustainable enterprise?

First, you’ve got to be committed. In terms of being sustainable, it’s about building room in a business. As soon as your business stops changing, it is basically dead. The only real constant in a business is its ability to change. Over the years we’ve changed the makeup of the team, we’ve added consultants, added project managers. We started taking on people and paying them what we saw back then as large salaries, before we even started taking salaries ourselves as founders. There’s a lot of push and give to make it work.

How has flexibility and being able to adapt helped Moving Brands grow?

We always created room for people. Our CEO Mat Heinl is a great example of that. He came in as an entry-level designer and has been in our business 11 years now. During our initial CEO search we interviewed a lot of people and looked within our own industry. We tried for about two years to get the right person to push our business forward, but everyone we met felt like they’d make us like the rest of the creative industry and we wanted to feel more outside of that. We looked inside the business and Mat was the ideal candidate. Him becoming CEO creates an interesting dynamic in the business. That means that someone who’s coming in as a junior designer now, in 10 years time could also be a leader of our business. I don’t think most businesses are set up that way.

The other thing is about the offer. It’s really important to keep looking at what you’re providing to clients and listening to what they need and what they want. You can’t stick to something on a creative principle versus something that’s really needed by the market, so being adaptive to your own product, adaptive to the needs of the people who are going to buy your product, is important.

Why is branding one of the most important keys to a successful business?

Branding at its root is the story, the articulation of what you are as a business. Take a hard look at the story of the business, not just the product that you’re making. It’s good to step back and ask yourself, what’s the positive effect on the world that my story has?

Do social enterprises have unique advantages in telling their story?

They’re coming from a place that’s a lot more impassioned and I think that’s ultimately what other brands are trying to add—that story or passion moment, that part of the brand that people connect with. The problem is how you differentiate yourself. There’s a challenge in the mind of a consumer that they’re not going to be willing to engage with all social enterprises’, or partake in the journey with all of them, so what makes your social enterprise special? It comes down to the personality of the brands and what they’re striving to do. It’s part of the modern psyche right now: If I’m going to make some money, let’s also make sure it’s doing good in the world. But it has to feel honest.

Jim Bull is Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of Moving Brands, an independent, global creative company. Jim can be found on Twitter: @jamesmbull and on LinkedIn:

No endorsement or connection is meant between those featured in this article and Chivas.

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