Interview Colin Green: Creative Director Wildfire Design

Colin Green is the Creative Director of emerging Consultancy of Wildfire Design, we are privilege to introduce Colin to you our readers through another insightful interview. We discuss with Colin how he made his way in the design world, his advice to emerging graduates, what work Wildfire undertakes and how his business has coped with the current economic situation.

Hi Colin, Thanks for taking your time out for this Design Juices interview, our readers and myself really appreciate you taking a moment of your time to complete this interview. Can you firstly introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is Colin Green and I am the Creative Director (& Co-Owner) of Wildfire Design Consultants, based in London.

You are part of the team at the WildFire Design Consultancy here in the UK, What is your role at Wild Fire. and Could you give us a brief introduction to who Wildfire design are.

My role as Creative Director at Wildfire consists of over-seeing all of the creative output from the studio. Essentially, I brief the creative team, advise and liaise with them to ensure there is a high standard of creative output across all client commissions. Wildfire is a young dynamic and growing design agency in Greater London. Established in 2005 with the ethos of being a client-centric creative agency. Achieving this by adding value to our clients’ offerings by delivering thoughtful, creative and engaging communications both on and offline.

Working out of Greater London, Is it a hindrance or a benefit being in such a competitive and thriving area for design?

We are based just outside of central London, which allows us to be more competitive in terms of cost, mainly because our overhead is slightly lower. We pass these savings onto the client and with all of our creative team coming from London agency backgrounds, we have the experience to deliver an equal level of quality.

What role did your design education take and how did that lead the path to your career today? As a designer who recently graduated, can you offer any handy career tips for getting on/working my way up the design ladder?

Having received very average grades from school and not being particularly academic, I decided that art was they way forward for me. I studied a Foundation in Art & Design, and quickly realised that graphic design was were my strengths lied. Subsequently, I studied for a BA in Design Communication and graduated with a first. Whilst this all sounds rosy, when I graduated we were in recession as we are currently, so as you can imagine opportunities were very few and far between. After endless job interviews and reams of CV’s being sent, I was finally offered a position as a Junior in a publishing company in London.

Not very exciting, but it did put food on the table! After working here for 2 years, I managed to get a position with a good agency called FRASERS but only as an art-worker. Although, I knew that if I could get my foot in the door this would give me the chance to show them what I was all about. I was soon put onto the creative team, and from there moved to a top 50 creative agency (J2) where I spent 8 years working on top accounts for Jaguar, Adidas, BP and similar working my way up to Creative Director, before leaving to start Wildfire in 2005. I suppose in essence it was the long way around, however if you really want to achieve something you just have to keep banging on doors until somebody listens to you!

If you are looking to join a creative agency and have recently graduated, you must make yourself stand out from the crowd. You do not have to be the best creative, you have to be the most industrious, its not about qualifications its about being dynamic and driven. Any good business owner will see this and look to harness your ability, every young person should look at working as an intern. This gives you the chance to gain agency experience, as the commercial world is very different to studying, this will also let the employer see what they are investing into, more often than not leading to a full time position.

What kinds of clients come through the doors at Wildfire? Have there been any particular clients which have been the most successful? or particular highlights to work with?

We have recently been commissioned by Citybase (Serviced Apartment Provider), to re-brand them and build the brand story and brand personality for them. This was a particularly interesting project, due to the fact that they were very sceptical of agencies initially (having had bad experiences in the past), which made it challenging to build the trust. I feel that our honesty and integrity has shone through and we have now formulated a very mutually beneficial working relationship.

Now into 2011, Are we seeing the end of the recession as far as your business goes? What effect has the recession had on a business such as your own?

I think that whilst technically we are out of recession (if you ignore the latest set of figures!), there still seems to be a very tentative approach to spending in terms of marketing, with many clients looking for an agency to really add value and go the extra mile. We have benefited from being more cost effective than the larger London agencies and we have seen approaches from larger prospective clients you would not expect to entertain a medium sized agency. As with most businesses we were effected by the recession, however we evolved as a result, and have refined our offering towards branding and digital mediums as clients seem more comfortable with budget allocation in these areas.

Since starting Wildfire in 2005; what have been the biggest challenges since establishing the company? Has establishing your own company been worth it? Would you have made any major changes?

Good question! I think the biggest personal challenge for me was (and still is to some extent) is letting go of responsibilities in the company. You have to learn to do what you are good at and put the people in place around you to assist in your areas of weakness. No agency can be run effectively by one person, you need a management team to bounce ideas off of. I think in general it has been worth it (depending on what day you ask me!), every day is a challenge, every day is different, I’m not the type of person who can punch in and do the same thing every day, I need variety and to be challenged both creatively and in the business sense – and running Wildfire certainly ticks both of those! The major change I would make with hindsight, is to install a new business team at the outset. You must be constantly looking to grow, rather than being content with were you are now.

Follow @wildfireagencySocial media is having an ever expanding role in design and features in many people’s daily routine. How has the expansion of social media effected yourself and the business?

We have fully embraced the use of Social Media into daily studio life, from advertising for new recruits, to promoting products and services relating to Wildfire. We find that Twitter in particular is a fantastic tool for connecting with like-minded businesses and we are currently working on strategic social media campaign management for some of our clients.

Who do you recognize as being essential people to follow on Twitter? Is there a specific role that Twitter plays in your personal and business life?

We work heavily in the travel and leisure industry, so we follow most of the big players in these sectors. This enables us to gain valuable insight into the type of marketing communications they are commissioning as well as keeping in touch with industry news and forthcoming events. Because we offer Social Media Management as part of our full service agency portfolio of it is essential for Wildfire to be at the forefront of Social Media to enable us to add value to our clients.

As a designer what kinds of things to do you do to turn off at the end of a day/week? Is it important to remove yourself at the end of a long week, to recharge your brain?

Turn off? I’m not sure that I ever do to be completely truthful. My wife normally confiscates my iPhone at the weekends – which normally works! Seriously though it is important to try and unplug yourself and spend time doing other things.

Are you still inspired after so many years in the industry? What places/magazines/blogs/sites do you visit to find your inspiration to work?

I am inspired every day by people and their ability to surprise you, I love what I do and couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. I don’t have a set place I visit for inspiration, it is all around you everyday you just need to keep you eyes open and absorb as much as possible.

We must offer our thanks to Colin of Wildfire, for taking his time out with this interview. It was a pleasure to put together and I hope you all enjoyed reading it also. Please leave any comments, thoughts and opinions below, you can follow @wildfireagency on Twitter.