Bate Brand Communications is named after Founder and Creative Director, Mark Bate. With 28 years experience in the industry, and 15 years running Bate Brand, it's fair to consider him an expert in all things brand and design. But where did it all begin?
Bate Brand Communications was founded by Mark Bate, graphic designer and brand management specialist, who felt that small to mid-sized organisations were missing out on effective brand identity programmes, typically supplied by the larger design and marketing agencies. In the search for an alternative solution Bate Brand was born. Mark’s guiding principles of integrity, respect and passion were prominent in every relationship he forges along the way.
We put the spotlight on Mark and find out more about what drives him and what advice he'd offer to other young, up and coming designers.
How did you get into
the design industry?
I always had an interest in illustration and completing my A Levels I joined Kingston University to study Foundation Art with the aim of focussing on my illustration skills. It was there I discovered graphic design and my love for typography. After finishing at Kingston I moved to The London College of Communication (formerly the London College of Printing) and begun a four year BA(Hons) course in Media and Production Design. During my third year I enjoyed internships with The John Harris Design Partnership (responsible for Madame Tussauds and London Zoo brand identities at the time) in London and later six months in New York with Downey Weeks and Toomey (clients included Coca Cola, General Electric, Northwest Airelines). At the end of my final year students were required to show their work to the industries leaders – I picked up three job offers in the first two hours of the show! I received offers from Ronald Ward Design, Lloyd Northover and The Jenkins Group. I joined Ronald Ward Design in 1988.
What’s the concept behind Bate Brand?
I have always had a passion for brand identity and the complex issues that surround branding. Whether a city bank or a small start up business, the principles of branding are the same and I wanted to share this knowledge with small organisations and SMEs who typically could not afford the sometimes astronomical fees associated with branding. So, with this in mind, Bate Brand Communications evolved; a graphics communications agency with a real focus and understanding of branding.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
The most interesting project I’ve worked on was an internal newsletter for Legal & General. At the time L&G were losing staff to other organisations and staff morale was at a low point. My role was to produce an internal document that made the staff feel wanted, loved and rewarded for their efforts. We produced a monthly full colour newsletter, broadsheet (A2) size and were given a wonderful photography budget to spend. As a result staff retention increased and the L&G staff became loyal employees.
What tips would you give young designers looking to get into the industry?
Don’t! Seriously, unless you are prepared to work hard day and night (this is not a 9-5 industry), make personal sacrifices along the way and work for peanuts then don’t risk it. If you are prepared to take the risk, have a degree qualification (don’t bother without one) and have an abundance of talent then I would recommend:
1) Get some professional work experience and learn everything uni forgot to teach you
2) Network like hell – make connections, show interest in potential employers, keep in touch with everyone, keep a blog, get out of bed and go places: exhibitions, shows, conferences
3) Be original – always
4) Keep a sketch book to capture the brilliant idea when sitting on the bus
5) Keep knocking on doors – don’t ever give up
6) Be prepared to be an all-rounder, don’t get pigeon holed, employers want young talent who can do a bit of everything (you can specialise later)
7) Develop those communications skills and build confidence
8) And something I see students forgetting too easily today – be a nice person: helpful, caring, conscientious, polite and show respect
These guiding principles apply to creatives looking for full time employment and freelance work. However, if you are serious about going freelance you need to be a special kind of person and have nerves of steel to survive – not something I would recommend!
And finally, give an interesting fact about yourself?
I am a keen motorcyclist, currently riding a Honda Super Blackbird 1100cc 185mph sports tourer! Due to time restrictions I mainly use this for touring now and together we have visited Croatia, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Germany to name a few. Myself and Nicki are heading to Romania this year!