The Group of Seven – The changing landscape of design

Published on 6th October 2016
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Named after a group of Canadian landscape artists practising in the 1920s-30s, The Group of Seven is a design and content agency with bases in Okehampton and Bristol. We chat to owner Jason Ewing about how the role of ‘design agency’ continues to evolve and become more versatile as the way we consume information changes.

The Group of Seven was created by Jason Ewing a decade ago when he decided to set up his own agency following roles in magazine publishing and design. He has witnessed numerous changes in design and marketing over the years, not least the explosion of the internet and social media.

“Like a lot of design agencies, our core business has traditionally been graphic design,” said Jason. “However, with more communication channels than ever to exploit we now consider ourselves a full-service content agency, with the in-house skills of an editor, animators and designers providing our clients with the full package from websites to printed collateral, illustration, social media and more.

“We’re not saying that print is dead – far from it! We often liken printed collateral to vinyl records. What was once the main avenue for design started to seem a bit archaic with the rapid growth of the internet and digital media. However, like vinyl records, good quality printed materials are now coveted again – they can be ‘cool’ and highly impactful but they will have the most traction when produced alongside high quality digital collateral to form an entire suite of complementary materials.”

A specific changing trend that Jason and his team have incorporated into their services for clients is the shift towards brand avatars. Whereas a fixed logo used to represent a company at the top of a letterhead or on a business card, brand avatars are more fluid, taking a set of design elements and using them in multiple ways, from an annual report to a Twitter icon or animation. Sizes, shapes and formatting can change but there will be underlying elements that keep the brand consistent – just without the constraints of a fixed logo.

“Avatars are definitely a trend that we expect to continue,” added Jason. “We’re also doing a lot more animation for our clients, which is helping their brands become more visually dynamic. Design now means so much more than static graphics!” Jason first came across Simpkins Edwards through partner Jean-Paul Quertier, with whom he runs regularly. After chatting to Jean-Paul, he decided to make the switch to a firm local to his base in Okehampton that he felt might take a more proactive role than his previous supplier.

We now undertake a range of activities from end-of-year accounts to payroll and recently helped the company through the process of setting up the autoenrolment pension scheme, for which they were fast-tracked by the Government.

“I really appreciate how proactive Jean-Paul and his colleagues are about keeping on top of what needs to be done and when,” said Jason. “Things like tax and dividends used to be so tiresome to deal with but now the team at Simpkins Edwards takes away the hassle and I can trust them to be on the ball at all times. It’s great because it means I can concentrate on doing what I need to do, which is managing my team and driving my business forward.”

So what does moving forward mean for The Group of Seven? About to relocate the Bristol office to an exciting new space in the Paintworks development in Brislington, Jason hopes to continue the business’ collaborative ethos by bedding into the vibrant creative community.

“We thrive on working with likeminded businesses and building our connections within the Bristol’s creative industry, which is really buzzing at the moment. With a base in Devon too, we’re well placed to enjoy the best of what the Westcountry business scene has to offer and will be looking to grow our links into Exeter too, having done some work with the Innovation Centre.”

On more of a personal level, Jason is very keen to meet fellow Okehampton businesses who
share his passion for the town and its position as gateway to Dartmoor. “Give me a call. Who knows, maybe there’s something we can do collaboratively to help develop ‘brand Okehampton’?”

For more information on The Group of Seven, visit thegroupofseven.co.uk or call 01837 659262.

Need step-by-step advice on the auto-enrolment pension scheme or any other aspect of your business that’s causing you a headache? Call us on 01392 211233 to see how we can help.