Unbeknown to most, there's something which links Rolls Royce and Domino's Pizza, BAE Systems and Hewlett Packard. Multi-million pound turnovers and the kind of brand recognition reserved for truly global big-hitters aside, they also have one other key thing in common: a Preston-based digital and design agency.
Having started life as a one-man freelance design firm operating out of a back bedroom in a semi-detached house in Penwortham, Forepoint Limited has come a long way in its quarter-of-a-century lifespan.
Now a burgeoning 20-strong team of award-winning professionals working out of swish offices in Preston and London, the company's client-first approach to business has seen them work with some of the country's biggest brands.
And what is more, despite swimming in the crowded waters of 21st century marketing - there are over 30,000 agencies operating in the UK alone - Forepoint's work nevertheless stands out, earning the company a place in The Drum's prestigious Top 100 Independent Agencies list as well as Design Week's annual Top 100 Consultancy Survey.
“We’re extremely proud," said Forepoint’s director, Keith Noble, with The Drum's census collecting data on everything from client ratings, financial performance, and to company vision. "It’s always a great boost for the team to receive external recognition and is testament to way we’ve grown and developed the business.”
"We continue to enjoy producing fantastic projects that deliver great results for our clients - they are, after all, so fundamental to our success," Keith added, with the company having recently taken on new staff and moved to a new office. "Receiving recognition gives our plans for the next 25 years real momentum and helps us to reinforce Preston as a centre of high quality, creative design, and digital services."
Founded in 1992, Forepoint - whose first commission was to produce work for British Nuclear Fuels Limited's (BNFL) Springfields site in Salwick - have grown into a marketing force, creating everything from brand identities and e-commerce platforms to websites and apps for companies working in myriad sectors across power and utilities, aerospace and defence, retail and consumerism, hospitality and leisure, and both the government and public sectors. But, crucially, they have stayed true to their roots.
With long-held close ties to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Forepoint have employed several graduates from the university's highly-acclaimed graphic design course: two of Forepoint's current directors are themselves former UCLan alumni.
Keen to nurture the next generation as well, the company also provide placement opportunities for students, while Forepoint employees regularly work closely with the uni on various projects, with one student lauding the "all-round, in-depth experience" of working with the firm.
“We’ve built an absolutely incredible team," said Keith. "We’re also vastly more experienced and knowledgeable than ever before, we remain passionate about what we do, and we’ve a reputation as an agency that works closely with its clients to deliver the best, most effective solutions possible."
Time to sit back, relax, and crack open the bubbly?
“Absolutely not; this is just the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, celebrating what we’ve achieved is certainly part of the plan," said Keith. "Forepoint have been responsible for developing creative design and digital solutions for the likes of Preston Harriers, RAC, the University of Liverpool, Moto Hospitality Ltd, the Royal Navy, Northern Powerhouse, TATA Steel UK Ltd, Liverpool Women’s NHS Trust, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), AWE, Claritas, and Ofwat.
"My advice to those reading this would be to watch this space – there’s more to come," Keith added. "The fact that we’ve clocked up 25 years is a major achievement, particularly in what has recently been a tough economic climate [but] we see the last 25 years as a mere springboard to take us to our half century - though I’m hoping by then the next generation of designers will have taken the reins.
"Personally, I can’t wait for the next phase in Forepoint’s life - it’s going to be brilliant!”