CorpComms Awards

Agency of the decade – bronze 2015

If content is the future, then independent design agency Luminous is assured of a bright one. In a hotly contested race for the Bronze medal, Luminous was chosen by the judges on the basis of its Design Matters ethos which delivers highly effective communications tools that become valuable assets for its clients.

Founded in 2002, with two people, no clients and working from a friend’s basement, today Luminous employs 22 people and delivers brand identity, corporate reporting, employee engagement and marketing communications solutions for its clients. Within 12 months, it was winning pitches against the biggest agencies in its sector.

Luminous believes absolutely in the power of design, positioning it as an investment rather than a cost. For example, its work for not-for-profi t organisation The Goldsmiths’ Centre helped to increase sales by 93 per cent while its work with National Express Group helped to reduce responsible major injuries by 60 per cent.

Its work has picked up many awards over the past ten years, and from a standing start in 2011, Luminous is now the fourth most successful winning agency at the CorpComms Awards.

It also produced the BBC’s first ever reporting award, and has seen its initial two year contract extended twice.

Customers and staff are obviously key to Luminous’ success. The structure of its organisation is based on clear team hierarchies, which empowers team leaders with ownership and management responsibilities and gives every employee a clear line of progression.

Last year the agency invested in new directors and junior and apprentice roles (it offers apprenticeships and placements) to ensure it has a clear succession plan and a strong pipeline of leaders, for today and the future. But employees are not pigeonholed: they have the freedom to work across all types of design challenges.

Luminous is constantly working to improve the service it provides to clients, and nowhere is that more evident than in the LuminousLive editing system it has developed. The bespoke platform has radically simplified the traditional production process, enabling clients to make online copy corrections within its files. This initiative has helped clients to save 50 per cent in costs against comparative industry systems, giving Luminous a competitive advantage.

To gauge client satisfaction, Luminous commissioned an audit from external organisation RAR. This year, RAR highlighted average client satisfaction grades of 87 per cent across client service, creativity, effectiveness, strategic thinking and value for money. Last year Luminous retained all its key clients and won four in five pitches for new business, against an industry average of 20 to 30 per cent.

The agency has worked hard to build a sustainable business. Its largest client accounts for just ten per cent of total sales, while its top ten clients contribute just 46 per cent of turnover.

With clients from 17 different industry sectors, Luminous believes it is highly resilient to economic downturns which engenders confidence in the future among staff . Its focus is on ‘being the best’ rather than ‘being the biggest’, and the agency is firm in its belief that you do not need large budgets to create something spectacular.

Article first appeared in issue 101