digital, creative, branding

Posted by Kevin 04/01/2022

A decade of Umber Creative

A decade of Umber Creative

Back in March 2020 we reached a very important milestone...our 10th birthday! This may seem like old news, but we couldn’t mark the occasion at the time as we were in the midst of a covid lockdown. Sadly, instead of hitting the town and popping the champagne, we had a quiet night in with the rest of the country! 

We may have missed the chance to celebrate, but we couldn’t let our 10th (and 11th!) birthdays pass us by without looking back on our story and sharing it with you. Here goes...

How it started

The concept for Umber Creative started whilst we were both working at a local marketing agency, which focused primarily on print. We could see the landscape changing, and it really excited us. The digital industry was just emerging and we knew that was going to be the future. We wanted to be part of it, so plucked up the courage and handed in our notice! 

Our first home was in the Enterprise Centre at the University of Hull, which was a great base for a start-up like ours. We received lots of support whilst we were there and established our business from an excellent facility at a small cost. We genuinely can’t recommend this place enough to other local start-ups.

We won’t lie, those early days were pretty daunting. We went from secure jobs in a busy agency to an empty room with no clients. Argh! But, we always had faith in what we could do. Building something from scratch is always going to be stressful, but you have to believe you can do it or you won’t get anywhere!

How it’s going

The business has grown a lot quicker than we ever imagined. We hit our 10 year targets within 6 years. After starting out as a small design and marketing agency, we’ve now realised our dream of offering our clients ‘digital creative solutions.’

We still do print, that makes up a big part of the business, but we now approach all of our projects a bit differently. We offer solutions in a digital space, creative thinking and innovation. That’s how we add value, and how we’ve carved our niche.

From day one we’ve also always focused on looking after our clients, which has naturally helped us to grow the business. When we looked at our client retention rate recently it was an amazing 95%! Whilst this way of growing the business isn’t always the fastest, we’ve been able to build some fantastic relationships with our clients that we hope will continue for the next decade.

Covid-19 obviously threw us a curve ball, and when we reached our 10th birthday we were fearing the worst. But, we carried on doing what we do best and actually came out the other side stronger, having worked on some pretty impressive projects throughout the pandemic. 

We’re really proud to have navigated our way through what was undoubtedly one of our biggest challenges whilst keeping the team safe and business running.

A few of our favourite highlights

Aside from turning 10, one of our most significant milestones was buying Umber Towers in 2016. It sent a signal to our clients that we meant business and were in it for the long haul.

From clients to staff, over the years we’ve worked with some amazing people and we’re so proud to be part of their stories. A particular highlight was seeing our very first apprentice, Kara, excel in her career and move on to an agency in London. Also welcoming Tom as our Technical Director in 2016. His contribution to the business has been invaluable, though he’d always been part of the Umber Creative story from his help and advice in our early days.

Project-wise, it has to be building the Mumbot app for Fitmums and Friends. We’re proud of all our projects, but this particular app has truly revolutionised their organisation and is allowing them to help more people. Seeing our work have such an impact is really inspiring.

A few thank you’s

We’re thankful to all of our clients and team members past and present, without you we just wouldn’t be where we are today!

A special mention has to go out to Andy Barber and the whole team at HEY Smile Foundation. We’ve helped each other to grow over the years and their trust in us has taken our business to the next level. 

Pete at Smailes Goldie, Gill Poole from Matthew’s Hub, David Dean and Steve Todd all opened doors or gave us some fantastic advice at different stages. In recent years For Entrepreneurs Only has also helped us and has offered us a great sounding board during the pandemic. We can’t stress how refreshing it is to find a network of other business owners who are willing to share their knowledge, experience and understanding without ‘selling’ to you. 

Last but not least, our partners, Faith and Anna. Thank you for putting up with our moans and groans over the years!

What does the future hold for Umber?

Well, we obviously hope the next 10 years are going to be just as successful as the last! We’re continuing to focus on growth, delivering creative digital solutions to our clients and expanding the team. It’s our ultimate dream to secure the business’ future beyond our tenure. 

And hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate our next decade in style!


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