Features: ‘This is why creative industries thrive in Bristol’

Alan Thorpe, August 31, 2017

We’re lucky in Bristol and the west of England. We live in a great region that is culturally rich, socially diverse and commercially vibrant. Bristol regularly features in top lists – such as being ranked number one in the Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide earlier this year as well as being named Britain’s coolest city by Rough Guides just last month.

It’s what draws large numbers of people to live here, and inspires businesses to set up. Bristol’s business sector is thriving across financial and professional services, food and drink, tech and manufacturing.

These factors also make Bristol and surrounding areas a great place for creative communications agencies: wherever business thrives, they will too. With creative organisations, including the world-famous Aardman animation studios, the BBC and dozens of smaller branding, digital and tech companies, making up an estimated 10 percent of the local economy, or a workforce of approximately 16,000 people, the industry plays a significant part in the region.

The marketing industry is flourishing in Bristol, from start-ups and specialist independents to in-house teams and a growing freelance market. It’s easy to see why a forward-thinking, media and technology savvy industry like marketing and creative communications might succeed here.

People often think of creative agencies as being overwhelmingly clustered around London. This may have been true in the past – but I think it is much less true now. One of Bristol’s strengths is that, because of the quality of life it offers, it can attract top talent, in particular those who are looking to move outside of London, but to continue working in a thriving, dynamic environment. For instance, our digital director is ex-Google while our strategy and innovation director has previously worked with leading brands such as Coca Cola, Sky, Microsoft, and Apple.

Not only this, but Bristol and the region can capture talent early: we have two excellent universities in the city, meaning many young graduates fall in love with the place and don’t want to leave. The industry is an appealing one to today’s young talent, with its focus on media content, social media, interactivity and digitisation.

With top quality transport links added to the mix, clients view Bristol agencies as great partners and real contenders for their accounts.

What’s more, regardless of any uncertainties that may be hovering over our economy, it’s clear that businesses are placing greater emphasis on their communications and marketing strategies, knowing that this can be a key differentiator in a crowded marketplace. Businesses are refusing to stand still and want to engage and add value for their customers in innovative ways – meaning that the demand for creative agencies is only set to grow.

The challenge for agencies is to keep on delivering great results, rather than just one-offs, and developing trusting relationship with their clients that grow over time. After all, the cost of finding new business is significantly higher than retaining an existing client base, so the focus needs to be on building long-term relationships rather than short-term wins.

For clients, communications agencies are as much business consultants as they are communications experts, and in today’s multichannel world, when it can feel harder than ever to stand out and be heard, this is more vital than ever.

With the West Country becoming ever more popular for people and businesses alike, it’s clear that the future is bright for the region’s creative agencies and their clients.

This opinion piece comes from Alan Thorpe, managing director at creative communications agency Bray Leino Yucca.

Read more: Sector spotlight: marketing

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