21 Jan RONIN… 15 years on
It’s taken me a bit by surprise that Ronin reaches its 15th birthday this year – our crystal anniversary apparently.
A decade and a half ago, I stepped off a career path that having shown much promise in its early days, petered out in wholly uninspiring fashion. I’d always believed that one day I would run my own business and here I was suddenly faced with a compelling reason and sense of urgency. As I have found on numerous occasions since, help often comes from those of whom you least expect it – the opposite is also generally true by the way. A customer who I had previously not seen eye-to-eye with on his marketing, challenged me on what I would do instead. I told him; he said he had nobody to do; I volunteered; he accepted and Ronin began. We have enjoyed business success together over the past 15 years and he is one my best friends.
In those early days in my back bedroom, I took to my new role as the lone masterless warrior with great enthusiasm and a sense of freedom. Much to my relief and self-confidence, I found I really could make a difference. I loved it. The other day I looked at my first business plan for Ronin. It was written on a very small piece of notepaper and included just five things. There was a financial target, which was mostly around meeting my mortgage repayments. The other four things were:
1. Make sure customers get a tangible benefit from what I do
2. Only work for clients I like
3. Create the sort of company I’d like to work for
4. Keep improving and innovating
At that time my tag line was design, marketing and common sense. The words have changed (the art of communication is how we define ourselves these day) but the sentiment remains.
Even though the business has diversified in the intervening years, and has grown to employ a dozen people or so, I am pleased and proud to say the company still reflects those original values that I hold dear to my heart – or more to the point, the people within it do.
Now we have customers in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and America, as well as Bromley High Street. Some have been with us since the early days and I believe they have chosen to stay because we keep driving innovation so they can keep improving their businesses.
Looking ahead to 2016 and beyond, our plans are to continue to grow through innovation and providing an exceptional service for customers. Digital communication and social media in particular, is increasingly providing a pivotal role for clients and I expect this to carry on. It is usually the case that as soon as something new appears on the scene, experts pop up overnight; social media is no different. As with everything Ronin does, I believe we are providing an high-value service for social media, focussing on ROI, which is unrivalled; so much so that for our 15th birthday we are launching a new social media training division to share our knowledge with businesses that are trying to get their digital marketing off the ground.
One of our biggest assets is that we are a multi-disciplinary agency and are able to provide a fully integrated service for clients. Nowadays it is quite clear this strikes the right chord with more and more business and I see a lot of the big name traditional advertising agencies have been reinventing themselves in this content-driven and digitally-dominated world to meet the new demands customer are placing on them. Big businesses are cutting their agency rosters so they only have to brief one team of people; improve marketing integration; and reduce the number of meetings. Ronin finds itself in exactly the right place and I wish I could claim it was always part of my master plan; I’ve checked and it definitely isn’t on my piece of paper from 2001.
To start the New Year, we have divisionalised and specialised because we’re too big for everybody to do a bit of everything any more. Integration continues to be fundamental to us but we now have dedicated design, communications and social media departments, which form multi-disciplinary teams for our customers to work with. For our people this provides clarity for their roles and responsibilities, as well as a career path and opportunities for progression. We will continue to develop our own talent as well as recruiting experienced people market and by February we will have four new starters.
The young and very talented people here know that their role above all else is to provide exceptional work and to keep coming up with ideas to improve our clients’ businesses. Whilst I want our customers to love us, I also want them to be terrified at the prospect of not having us around.
This is an exciting year for Ronin; as well as taking the business forward we’ll be having some fun too.