Standing on the ACE Awards stage on Saturday, April 7, 2018 marked an important moment in the history of Top Draw. As we enter into our 25th year in business, the agency (finally) won a few creative awards, including an ACE. In all fairness to past members of the creative team here, we haven’t ever actually entered creative award shows before this year. That had a lot to do with the way we saw ourselves.
Two and a half years ago that began to change. Ken and Adriel had an employee recommend me for my current position (thanks!) and I was given the mandate to build a proper creative team, build a sustainable creative practice, and win awards – in that order. All of those things have already or are starting to take place.
It’s All Happening
I’ve been around long enough to know that even when there is a plan, there is no plan. So the fact that we have been able to make things happen, in the right order is pleasantly surprising to me. I suppose much of that is because we are humble enough to be self-critical about what is and what isn’t working, about what Top Draw is really good at and set goals that use our strengths and make up for our weaknesses. We also wanted to build the right thing, the right way. Step one was building a creative team that is high functioning and ambitious. We now have that.
The sustainable practice has been a harder thing to do. Even though Top Draw was founded as a graphic design shop in the early 1990’s, our approach to selling design had always been by treating it as a product to sell to a business rather than the output of strategic business activity. “Do you need a website? We make affordable websites that are Lead Generation Machines™.”
Of course that worked for a certain type of business, and still does because it targeted the thing that most businesses worry about the most – ROI. But if delivering ROI is the singular way you brand a creative agency, it becomes a certainty that creativity (as defined by Designers and Art Directors) will eventually wane, and that the creative reputation never fully matures. No reputation = no top-flight creative talent, and no interest from clients that want the kind of creative that wins awards and attention.
But, because work is not something we are typically short of, the past year and a half has led a small group of customers with broader needs to Top Draw. This group then discovers that we have a high functioning creative team that is worthy of being trusted with nuanced brand problems. Because of that trust, we have been able to start building a book of work that is winning awards.
To date, 2017/18 has seen us win 14 creative awards: 7 Muse Awards, 6 Hermes Awards, and an ACE award.
Of those, I’m especially proud of our ACE award for best logo and Word-mark. This is because it’s not any ACE award, but an ACE in a category that typically has a lot of competition, and is filled with a lot of high-level work. I’m also proud of that award because of who the judges were (like Gail Mak from ZAK). I have followed their careers passively for a decade, and their recognition carries weight.
A new stage
So we have a great team, and have won a few awards, but I want more. More work that is challenging and complex, more great people looking to join our team, and more awards (hopefully). But we still don’t get clients seeking us out directly because of the quality of creative work that we are capable of producing. So, as a team, we decided to change the way that Top Draw is structured to remedy the problem of how we are perceived.
In something of an emerging trend, we decided that the best solution was not to rebrand, but rather to spin off an additional brand which we have decided to call Haste Post Haste. In short – Haste Post Haste will have an explicit focus on branded experiences. We call ourselves a “Human Experience agency”. What that means is that we help businesses become brands by challenging conventional thinking and by brokering productive relationships between businesses, technology, and people.
In the following weeks, there will be more information on what Haste Post Haste means, and what we do on our new, official channels as well as the occasional cross-post here. For now, we have a not-quite-as-awesome-as-we-would-like placeholder website (Actual site will be live by/on May 9th, 2018) at hasteposthaste.com, and a bunch of soon to be filled with awesome and interesting content social channels: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Instagram.
Check it out.Pour praise on us. Be critical. Or just say hi.