JDJ celebrated our 10th-anniversary last month. In that time, we’ve grown from a husband and wife team working from a spare room to a thriving team with clients across the globe. It’s been quite a journey and we’d like to thank everyone whose been with us along the way.
So in this article, we reflect on some of our highlights, bumps in the road and ultimate success stories that have encapsulated the first 10 years of JDJ Creative.
JDJ Creative – the early years
Back in the early days, JDJ consulted for other design agencies, providing artwork for several brands who would never even hear the name JDJ. A thankless task but essential in establishing ourselves in the market. It was when we were the team behind a clean sweep of award nominations at the Cambridge business awards – all with no form of recognition – that we decided to stand on our own two feet. Our larger clients had also implied that we needed to be a limited company to gain preferred supplier status.
Hence the formation of JDJ Creative Ltd.
A decade on and much has changed for our agency, even though for the past year, our team has been working in spare rooms, just as our founders Jean and Mario were in the early days. Fortunately, this time there’s the promise of a return to the office in the (hopefully!) near future. As events like the pandemic have shown us, it’s not always plain sailing in business, but it’s been an enjoyable journey to get to where we are today from a freelance set-up to a full-service design agency.
In search of wonder
Right from the start, Jean and Mario’s aim was to make JDJ different. Having worked for large design agencies in London, they wanted to create an environment in which their team could be comfortable, appreciated and able to develop.
That’s why, as a growing agency, we remain in search of wonder in everything we do. Whether that be making a client’s work as beautiful as possible, or pushing ourselves to learn more in our chosen fields. Our desire is for our team to be equipped with the skills to be art directors or managers in the future, hopefully with us, but wherever their careers take them.
Inspired by the scientific and mathematical pioneers of Cambridge, ‘In search of wonder’ became both a tagline and a company ethos. Energised by the pioneers who split the atom and mapped the oceans, we are always curious to learn more. It’s why we take the time to understand the data we’re producing for our clients. We never just flow text into a document without reading it first. Instead, we immerse ourselves in your content, understanding complex data so we are best placed to present it to a layperson audience.
The extension to global design teams
This is just one thing that set us apart as designers. Perfectly positioned to combine this personal touch and attention to detail with the expertise and resources expected of a much larger agency, we have grown to become extensions to design teams of many international organisations.
Pushed by a desire to turn even the driest subject into something beautiful, our favourite projects involve the transformation of a bland design through inspiring typography, illustration, or a layout tweak.
10 years of ups and downs
That’s not to say things have all been plain sailing. Brexit had a big impact, putting the breaks on some exciting projects before COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill. But through hard work, a dedicated team and excellent working relationships, we’ve been able to hurdle every obstacle that has come our way, and we’re delighted to have far exceeded the three-year barrier where most start-ups fail.
Even over the past year, we’ve continued to grow to incorporate a marketing team to improve the digital presence of both us and our clients. We have partnerships with web developers who can turn UX inspired paper prototypes into stunning looking websites and apps. And we’re still the same designers who once produced a billboard for a client that dominated Times Square and gained us enquiries from one of the biggest companies in America.
As we’ve grown along our journey from freelance designers to full-service agency, we’ve had to adapt our processes too. Where once we compiled quotes and accounts on paper and rudimentary spreadsheets, we now have an integrated project management system, so all stakeholders can contribute at every stage. We assign a project manager to oversee every project and have improved all of our internal processes to ensure we deliver all projects as efficiently as possible.
Our challenge now is to showcase our services to an even larger audience. To highlight the benefits we can bring to brands, both on our doorstep in Cambridge and the UK, and globally.
It’s an exciting time.