Design Work

Creating Change with Onwards

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“We love working with founders because they’re passionate about creating change in the world” says Chris Banks, Creative Director of Onwards. “They are invested in the branding process and want to get stuck in, which gives us loads of energy.”

Based in Dalston, London, Onwards is a brand & design agency for ambitious young businesses. They’ve been using Streamtime to run their business for two years. For them there’s nothing better than channeling that energy to help founders and their businesses build brands that supercharge growth and create change.

Helping Got-it take their product to market in the US and UK

Over at Streamtime we’re on a mission to create a product that empowers our customers to be successful in their creative endeavours. For us reward comes from seeing how our work can enable others to do amazing things, that have a positive impact on the world around us.

That’s exactly what we’ve found in Onwards work. We’ve been fans for a while, so we caught up with Chris to hear all about how they run the agency, how they manage their projects and what they’ve got planned for the future.

On who we are and what we do

“Our core offer is brand strategy, brand identity and digital design, and we also do a lot of campaigns.

Because of the diversity of our clients and their needs we find ourselves doing everything from typical branding projects to UI design to TV commercials to swimwear design so it’s very varied. At the moment we’re working on a ApartHotel concept, a behaviour change app, a fashion brand and an online marketplace.”

Launching global men’s wellness brand Manual

We work with a lot of amazing creative partners for things like photography, film and 3D, but try to create as much as we can in house from illustration to digital design. We also put a lot of emphasis on writing and storytelling, it’s one of our core strengths and we feel many agencies overlook it.

Having a succinct narrative and distinct tone of voice are vital for the guys we work with. Particularly when they’re doing something new, that needs explaining as quickly as possible in a way that gets people excited and interested.”

On who we work with

”We mainly work with high-growth, scaling start-ups looking to create a stand out brand with a focused message.

This new type of business often has limited marketing capability and capacity but wants to grow extremely quickly which is a very interesting challenge. It requires a lot of flexibility from us around how we structure a project and what we deliver.”

Campaign work for Spoke London’s trouser wear brand

On our creative approach

“We’re a small team and like to collaborate closely with all our partners. We do all we can to avoid a client & agency / us & them dynamic – we just want to create great work together. We like to think most of our clients don’t get a typical ‘agency’ experience, they just get to work with smart, passionate people who want to help them build a great brand.

Most projects start with a strategy phase. But we try not to do too much navel gazing and focus on defining a very simple idea that forms the basis for all visual and verbal decisions.

Collaboration is key when it comes to the agencies creative approach

Then in our design process we think very broad and conceptually initially before switching our attention to equipping our clients with practical creative tools. Big ideas need to be deliverable – whether they’re strategic or creative.

Most of our clients don’t typically have a lot of creative firepower (I hope they won’t mind me saying). So we can’t create a brand that is too complex, nuanced or that requires a lot of creative interpretation.”

On getting things done

“We purposefully try to keep project management as informal as possible as it helps build trusting relationships with our partners. Many of our clients end up feeling more like friends, and that leads to great collaboration and great work.

The great thing about working directly with Founders is that they own all the decision making, which fast tracks the process, helping us to run a lean project.

Better space
Brand identity work for a new wellbeing platform BetterSpace

We’ve been using Streamtime for two years now and it’s the a perfect tool for us to keep on track in an effortless way.

We tend to over deliver, normally because we get very into what we’re working on and want to push the brand as far as we can. So then we use Streamtime to better understand how our projects go – that means we can learn from them (and of course make sure we get paid fairly!).”

On our recent work

“We’re really excited about the launch of Shepper. It’s a digital product that helps businesses check their physical assets in real time, using their global network of ‘Shepherds’. It’s an innovative idea but explaining it isn’t easy. They needed help defining their brand, and bring it to life in a way that captured their audience’s imagination.

Their new brand new identity for Shepper

Just as shepherds take care of their flocks, Shepper takes care of businesses’ assets. We defined the Shepper brand around this overarching concept of ‘caring’. Then we used it to create a brand story, tone and identity that brings their proposition to life in an engaging and emotive way – through every stage of their customer journey.”

On the future of Onwards

“Over the past couple of years we’ve built our reputation in the startup space, but unlike our partners we’re not aiming to scale. Instead we want to focus on improving the way we work with start-ups, being increasingly selective about the projects we really want to work on, and keep delivering better and better work for businesses that are making a positive difference in the world.”

Helping a startup legend Silicon Milk Roundabout build their new brand

We’re over the moon that Onwards chose Streamtime to run their business. Knowing that we’ve been able to help the team out while they create such amazing work is greatly rewarding for us.

Thanks guys for sharing!

You can check out more of their work at or follow them @onwardsagency

Christian Hewitt

Leading all things design at @Streamtime. Instructor @GeneralAssembly. ex @R/GA, ex @ForThePeople.

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