Creatives assemble: how Cornish collaboration outguns big agencies

With the quality of life on offer, it’s no surprise Cornwall is home to a small but increasing number of talented creatives. Together, we’ve teamed up to achieve amazing things – as illustrated by another record-breaking Looe Music Festival

Collaboration makes sense in Cornwall. We don’t have the economic climate to sustain big agencies, where everything’s covered in-house, but with a growing number of creatives relocating from the capital, you can now assemble a crack team of smaller studios and freelancers without even having to cross the Tamar. What’s more, you could be saving yourself far more than just the occasional bridge toll in doing it. With this year’s LMF boasting a 97% rise in ticket sales on 2014, we’ve helped prove you don’t need a huge budget to get your message across – you just need the right people.

Like big agencies, minus big cost & big competition

Over the past year or so, we’ve been working ever more frequently alongside the guys at Studio Wallop – Liskeard based film and motion-graphics maestros with a frankly astounding CV. As well as on the LMF website, we’ve worked together to produce one of our most well-received, popular websites to date – Beach Retreats. Wallop did the camera work, we did the copy, design and development. And by delivering a custom-built website at great value rates, that has already boosted bookings, we’ve proved how cost-effective small teams can be.


As Stephen Tolfrey, Creative Director at Wallop, puts it, “Together we can offer just as much as other, much bigger agencies. And big agencies cost clients so much more money!”  With small studios, time can be tailored much more efficiently, and it’s often much easier to build up a strong client/agency relationship. Not only that, but with smaller agencies and freelancers, you can be sure of the individual skillsets on offer – and it’s much easier to know where you stand. “You know what you’re getting”, says Stephen. “The pecking orders between clients that you get in big agencies are lost.”

The great thing about collaboration is that it allows us to bring in specific skills like these, wherever they’re needed. At Voice Group, we don’t have an in-house photographer or videographer. Instead, we’ve always gone out to find whoever we think best for the job, and put clients directly in touch with them. With their broad, very accomplished skillset, that’s often Studio Wallop. But we’ve also been able to introduce clients to people like David Griffen – the award-winning Cornish food photographer. It’s when those clients go on to win awards themselves, you can’t help but think the collaboration strategy is working.

“The business partners I have in Cornwall are some of the best”

The reality is, teamwork is so routine in Cornwall that it’s possible to miss altogether. That was the realisation for our Creative Director, Nick, when he recently spied something familiar amongst the columns in HMV. It was the latest album from Looe folk band, The Changing Room: Behind the Lace – with logo designed by Nick, and artwork by Studio Wallop. It was no coincidence – The Changing Room’s lead vocalist is another client we have in common, and for whom we and Wallop have worked together before: Tanya Brittain, Events Director at Looe Music Festival. It’s obvious Tanya has her go-to people when it comes to promotion, and she’s pretty clear on why:

“Having worked on brand development, sales and marketing for large corporates for the past 20 years, I’ve dealt with some top name agencies and service providers. But the business partners I have in Cornwall are some of the best I’ve ever worked with.”

For music & events, we’ve got everything covered

Looe Music Festival 2015's main stage, as seen from the East Looe Beach promenade

Looe Music Festival 2015’s main stage, as seen from the East Looe Beach promenade

From Tanya’s point of view as a client and festival organiser, custom-built collaborative teams are the way forward. “I’ve built up a network of highly skilled specialists that I trust to deliver a great result. They work together as a total creative solution, which is more effective than what I’ve experienced previously.” It’s a strong statement, but it’s backed up by the broad skillset of her team, not to mention the exponential success of the festival itself.

Over four years, Voice have provided Looe Music Festival with a custom-built website, branding, logo design, copywriting and marketing strategy. For their part, Wallop have provided photography, video and animation that’s been instrumental to getting the message across. Stroll down any street in the town during summer, and you’re sure to see a few of LMF’s stunning posters, designed by another key member of the team, Tom Baker. Now the festival’s chief graphic designer, Tom’s a prime example of why Cornwall’s got talent.


“A massive effect on quality”

Like any rural area, Cornwall has tended to lose much of its young business talent to the capital. But from all over the country, from every industry, long-time fans and former residents are returning here to set up home. Some have decided it’s the perfect place to start a family. Many more are simply looking for a more relaxed pace of life, a change of scene, or an up-and-coming place to start their own business. In fact, it’s probably the mixture of all these factors. As is the case for Mr Baker.

Tom grew up in Looe, and is currently Senior Designer at 2K Games in Windsor. He’s halfway to coming back for good – spending as much time as possible working from home in Widegates, where he lives with his young family, and works on LMF in a converted shed in his garden. As a local, he’s really keen to be involved with the festival, and is clearly impressed by what it’s brought to his hometown.

“I only wish we’d had something like that growing up!” laughs Tom. “When you take a step back, you can see that since the festival started it’s had a massive effect on the quality of restaurants, for example, in Looe. You see places opening up that it wouldn’t have had before. Like the design for Mama J’s. It’s always been quite bucket-and-spade-y but it’s moving away from that now.”

Business talks – so back up your claims

That’s not to say Cornwall doesn’t still have its own style of business, or that the influx of newcomers has necessarily changed that. “Commerce in Cornwall works on a traditional recommendation and respect basis”, says Tanya. Which, for those dedicated to getting work done right, can only be good news. “Word of mouth and showcasing must be the primary sales tool for Cornwall-based businesses. Deliver a good job and news travels quickly.”

There’s a strong community in Cornwall, and businesses talk to each other – that’s why it’s so important to maintain a presence, both on and offline. The opportunities may be fewer, but the aggressive, all-in competition you’d get in London is completely absent. Work hard on your reputation, make sure your brand is saying the same things you are, and you’ll get the recognition you deserve. 

“Cornwall brings out the best in the creative industries”

Far from its provincial reputation, Cornwall nowadays – even South East Cornwall alone – has an extremely rich, growing resource of creative talent. And with its melting-pot quality, it seems to just work. “Maybe it’s because of the relaxed environment, inspiring surroundings and a good work-life balance”, says Tanya,  “but for some reason Cornwall brings out the best in business people – particularly those involved in the creative industries.”

Listening to Tom, that would certainly seem to be the case. “What I love about Cornwall is that there’s all these little creative pockets”, he says. “There’s you guys in Liskeard and Stephen over at Studio Wallop, there’s a lot of creative talent dotted around. I mean, not many people would know about me, working away in my shed in Widegates!”

Whatever it is about Cornwall, it’s attracting the cream of the crop. So next time you wish you had a budget for a big agency, remember that you could assemble something even better – for far better value – right here.

Get award-winning creative from Voice Group:
Call us on 01579 349 910 – ask for Nick