Monday Interview: Guy Utley, founder and creative director of Tall Agency

A digital creative agency founded in the bedroom of a house in Brighouse in 2011 now boasts clients across the UK and even further afield.

Tall Agency, based in the centre of Leeds, was established by Guy Utley, who has a professional background in digital strategy.

He explained he decided to set up the business because in his previous roles digital had been treated as a secondary, “bolt-on” service. He spotted early on how companies could reap rich rewards from a digital first approach.

Today his firm employs 11 people, works closely with a wider network of partners and has a turnover of about £700,000.

Utley explained he has always wanted to grow the company gradually, ensuring agility and flexibility while maintaining a core team of senior, experienced people who know how to lead projects.

“We pack a big punch and work with some pretty large clients,” he added. “I’ve never wanted a huge office and I don’t want to change our business model as I think it works well. We’re quite hard on ourselves and we always try to make sure we’re being as smart as possible in terms of our technology, processes and methods.

“Although we’ll need to grow a bit in response to the volume of work we’re getting, I want us to stay nimble and to continue to remain ahead of the game rather than chasing after our competitors. We hooked into digital first branding early on – especially in Leeds.

“Of course we have to make money and hit targets, but you have to strike a fine balance between quantity and quality. I want us to keep creating beautiful work and we do take a real pride in the quality of what we do.”

Utley said the business’s core service revolves around digital marketing strategy, guiding clients who need to know how they can best direct their digital branding budgets.

“Lots of companies still struggle to find their way in terms of how and where they should be spending their budgets on digital,” he said.

“We look at how to improve performance, creative executions, use of better technology and websites.

“We don’t pitch for work and don’t enter awards. Our business comes from recommendations and referrals and from our explanation of how we can offer a better way of doing things.”

He said one of the challenges facing the company is the cost of operating in central Leeds.

“Leeds has so many benefits, including a great quality of people and a fantastic reputation,” he said. “We have clients in London, Edinburgh, Geneva and will soon have clients in America – and they know about Leeds. It isn’t all just about London anymore.

“But the cost of offices in Leeds isn’t cheap – and parking is expensive too.”