The Nine Series, No. 1. Our Ways.

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At N9, we have 9 (natch) rules we endeavour to abide by. It's not a check-list or mission statement, just a list of points we can refer to as a group. It means we all know what N9 stands for and how we want to work. Then we can naturally react or make decisions with a voice that fits within our brand language. 

Other companies may have similar points included in their brand or values documents. But I thought we'd share ours to show how simple it can be to communicate your ethos to your team and clients.

1. Listen first. This is a given for all firms who need to understand their clients’ business, goals and market. It's especially relevant for a brand design brief which needs an extremely high level of understanding to translate the correct message.

2. Know the market. Another 'must'. There's no point putting out a message where there's no one listening. Demographics, segmentation are the big words for targeting the right people. This is not only in visual styling but where your brand's touch points are.

3. Keep learning. This is so true in many ways as a designer trends, software, media and cultural influences are constantly moving. We saw (printed) press advertising output drop 90% in twelve months several years ago. So we learnt digital very quickly! 

4. Communicate well. The relationship between clients and suppliers are no different to those between individuals. Treat people how you'd like them to treat you and this will make your business survive longer, word of mouth being your best and worst marketing friend.  

5. Avoid a free pitch. At N9 we take the view that a free creative pitch is never in the best interests of clients or us. Past actual work and experience is a far better indicator of an agency’s worth. An indicative design is a false indication of the capabilities of any design agency, you have no way of judging whether any work done is a result of luck or judgment.

6. Do not fib / jibba-jabba. We have a jargon-free, no-nonsense approach. Honesty and transparency at all times is the best and simplest way to work. Clients will appreciate it too, even when the news is bad.

7. Be ethically aware. Things to do so it's easier to sleep at night. When a new client approaches, question wether you’re comfortable working in their sector and check their credentials. Also, know where your paper comes from, try to keep the miles down getting things from A-B and of course, cycle to work!

8. Respect the budget. Ultimately everyone needs to get paid, so have the money questions out in the open early on. We ask for budgets, insist on deposits and payment plans and highlight immediately anything that may change any agreements before it gets awkward.

9. Be proud. Whatever your business, you want your team to look at their work and be proud that, 'Yes, I did that'. At N9, we strive to ‘Just Do It Nice’ - this has become our mantra, a short-hand that reminds us that everything we do must have value and impact.

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