David Henderson is Founder and Creative Director at DHD an award-winning multimedia design company based in Kilkeel, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. We talked to David about the future of design, sales in a Creative Agency, and why video is so important.
How have you seen the creative industry change since your first job as a Freelancer and where do you think things are headed?
The creative industry has changed in huge ways! Since starting, back in 2008, there has been changes in almost every area we work in: branding, graphic design, animation and 3D but by far, the area we have seen massive developments and technical transitions is the world of UI, UX and web development. If I were to narrow down to 2 areas which have forced us to adapt and evolve our creative working processes, in the last nine years, I would suggest the explosion of smartphones/tablets and the rise of social media. Both of these trends have opened up so many opportunities for new ideas, creative processes and even businesses to develop, but along with that, we have to ensure we are not only keeping up with the changes but are both technically and creatively aspiring to be innovative in our creative approach.
Concerning design, trends are always shifting, but as creatives, we should hold these “trends” lightly and always ensure the client’s needs are the forefront of the creative brief.
Over the last year to 18 months, we see new technologies like VR, IoT, and 3D printing push more boundaries for our industry. Smart design and the need for new creative ideas will never change, but we as a company have to carefully watch how technology and industry moves and to which mediums we then apply our creative skills.
What do you think is the most powerful part of your design process?
There are so many aspects which are critical to a successful design process, but for us, I think the ‘power’ actually lies in a very under-rated but essential part of the creative process: listening and communication. As we start each project, whether it’s a re-brand, a new e-commerce website, a large magazine or an animated explainer video, we have to listen to the purpose and needs from our clients. As we talk through the purpose and target audiences, we begin to piece together the creative brief which informs, directs and most importantly guides our creative thinking. Only then, from that strong foundation, can we produce the designs and creative ideas to produce the best project possible.
You’re based in Northern Ireland but currently working with a range of global companies from New Zealand to New York. How do you manage your sales process and stay on top of things?
It’s alway a challenge being able to plan and organise a steady flow of projects. We have found that because we work with so many clients within so many different time zones and industries, we are constantly having to tweak our workflows to maximise our time and communications. In recent years we have started using a number of tools and apps that allow us to capture our new projects and position them in our sales pipeline, now we have found Tubular it makes it so much easier for us at a glance to see which projects are at which stage and then communicate effectively with my team and clients to ensure everything keeps moving in the right direction as efficiently as possible.
You recently completed our Explainer video which we were excited to put on our new website. How have you seen these sort of video impact Sales and signups in online businesses?
We loved working on the Tubular explainer video and are very happy with the result. We have been providing animated explainer videos for around six years now and have seen changes to how these are now being used. Almost every year or even every few months we are seeing new ways for our explainer videos to reach even bigger audiences. With the continued growth of social platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and many others and the development of targeted ads we are seeing our videos reaching greater audiences and engaging directly with the carefully targeted people groups.
This has meant that there has been a shift from traditional broadcast advertising to social and online. The power of video is evident to more sales and sign ups because as studies have shown, in engages audiences more than static images and text and if you can hook viewers in the first 3 seconds, they will usually watch up to another 60 – 90 seconds of video! Over the last five years, we have seen more start-ups, organisations and companies recognise the value in animated explainer videos to increase engagement, sign ups, and sales.
How is your team set up?
We are a small team of 6, who all have our unique skills and talents. I’m the Creative Director, and my role includes managing the team, business development, and from time to time branding, user interface design and animation. Paul is our Lead Developer, and along with planning and building our web projects, he also manages and organises a lot of the client’s relationships. We also have Aimme, our Junior UX Designer, Ciara our Junior Graphic Designer, Ryan our Junior Designer and Melissa our Digital Marketing Manager. We have a lot of fun, really love working together and combine our skills and creativity to work on some amazing projects for our clients.
What’s the one thing you would have done differently when you started your business with Sales? How would you approach it now?
I think if I had the chance to start again I would have looked at smarter ways to capture our leads and new clients rather than sticking them into a spreadsheet which I used for years. Also, I would plan to be more strategic in our approach to gaining new customers and aim to be more proactive than reactive.
Do you have any advice for young designers or anyone thinking about starting their own business?
Yes: Go for it! It seriously is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It takes a lot of time, sacrifices and hard, hard work, but I love running my own creative agency and the opportunities that come with working with so many amazing people across the world.
Thank you very much for your time, David.
You can see more of the DHD Teams work here: View DHD Portfolio