In 1997, Rob Jones and Craig Killick ‘escaped’ from their agency in Farnborough with a dream of doing things differently, but more importantly… better.
From humble beginnings under the stairs at Craig’s house in Basingstoke, their empire of two men, a little black book of contacts, a computer and a giant Nokia mobile phone opened the doors for trading.
As with many start-up businesses, the early days were uncertain and fraught with challenges, but by April 1998, the dynamic duo were ready to make The Escape Design Co. a limited company, marking our official birthday as April 1998.
A lot has happened over that time. The Escape has had 5 different offices, acquired two businesses, employed over 70 people and, most importantly, continually evolved. Over that time there has been success, failure, fun, laughter and plenty of tears, both of joy and sadness. And that’s what makes our story one we believe is worth sharing.
As we arrive at April 2018, our 20th year as a limited company, we believe there is good cause for celebration. Through all the challenges, both good and… well… ‘challenging’, we have achieved a great deal of success, both for ourselves, our partners, and most importantly, our clients. Success that we believe is reflected in our longevity, our proven track record, our reputation for building brands and the fact that we’re stronger, wiser, more talented and better equipped today then we ever have been before.
Achieving a 20 year milestone is no mean feat for any business. As a result we felt compelled to mark the occasion with a series of communications, events, celebrations and just a little bit of craziness. A hallmark we have come to be known for throughout our lifetime (so why change now?!)
We have also committed to raising money for ‘and’ giving Escapee time to our nominated local charity, Naomi House and Jacks Place. We’re huge fans of the fantastic work they do, and by coincidence, they are celebrating their 21st year, so it’s a logical alliance, all for a great cause. We hope you’ll support us by donating what you can when you can. We’ll be sure to let you know when we (and they) need your support.
So, we invite you to join us for ’18/19 is our 20’ – a year long marking of our special occasion. This website will be home to everything we are doing between now and April 2019, as well as a historic timeline and an invitation to be part of our future.
For now, we encourage you to explore, contribute, collaborate, enjoy and celebrate with us.
Our 20 year timeline
We’ve been trading for 7,300 days. That means we’ve probably consumed over 15,000 cups of tea and coffee, chewed the end off 2500 pens, covered over half a million miles in the call of duty and touched the lives of millions of people in some way or another.
Here’s a walk through the most notable milestones of the last 20 years…
Rob Jones and Craig Killick met whilst working in a print and design agency. They hatched an Escape plan and the name stuck.
Craig was the creative and Rob focused on sales. Having only one computer, Craig based himself under his staircase in Basingstoke. As there wasn’t room for Rob under the stairs, he spent his days on the road presenting mounted colour proofs, picking up films for printing and scanning lots of bromides. Sales calls were mostly made from the car and his kitchen.
Phone of the day – Nokia 6110.
Quote of the year...
Portable Document Formats (PDFs) will never take off
Craig found it difficult working under the stairs with four children all under 8, not the quietest of office environments. Together they decided they needed a “proper office” and moved to Craig’s mums’ front bedroom. Rob got a promotion in the shape of a card playing table for his desk. With still only one computer, their output increased by 30% mainly because Craig wasn’t running his daddy day care centre.
Business was going well, they became a Limited company and thought it was time to take on their first office. Think St Regis, then think a shared office above a vet’s surgery in Basingstoke, they opted for the latter. It wasn’t that bad actually, it was a lovely old listed building, with three other small businesses and one kitchen. Sadly, the building was sold and is now apartments.
They had lots of work coming in and needed more people. They employed a middleweight designer and a creative artworker. Rob got another promotion in the form of the classic iMac. We never did invite clients to this office?
One of The Escape’s first ever clients (who we still work with today under a different brand) won the best overall communications award in the Social Housing sector. This really elevated the Escape in this sector and all of a sudden we were working with some of the UKs biggest Social Landlords.
The Escape were on the move again, this time to a larger office (with our own kitchen) at the Loddon Business Centre. We started dabbling with all things digital, including Dreamweaver built websites and setup a web development and hosting company called Klue Communications.
We were producing lots of printed materials for our customers and made a decision to buy a digital printing business called the Color Company, and rebranded it to Colour Inc.
We sold Color Inc. 2 years later to Paul and Kath, their doors are still open for business today.
We expanded the payroll and moved to a larger office within the Loddon Business Centre to house for all the clients' printed materials. We developed an online print management ordering system for all our Housing sector clients and business was booming. We knew we’d made it after we purchased our first pallet truck.
The Escape trading as a limited company.
Joins The Escape (July 2003).
We acquired True Colours…. a web design and development business based in Alton. The Escape doubled in size over night and we took another office next door but one. Award winning THIS campaign was created.
Started working with: Sally Gunnell.
Started working with: Anchor Trust.
Started working with: Daewoo Electronics.
Now having a Logistics Manager, Mr. Andrew Wells King (superstar), warehouse and pallet truck, we need some wheels. Welcome Danny Da Vito…
Major redevelopment of Dover Port website.
Google purchases YouTube.
Started working with: Pillar Data.
Started working with: Symantec.
Official launch of Basingstoke Live. The Escape are headline sponsors!
Craig becomes the drumming Gorilla in a Christmas spoof of the well-known Cadburys TV advert.
Craig and Rob cycle to Paris for Action Medical Research.
We start running a series of quarterly digital seminars.
Conscious decision to market Basingstoke.
The Link, Simplyhealth's internal magazine, wins gold for Best Internal Publication at the 2007 CIPR awards.
The Escape turns 10 as a limited company.
We create the Choose30 road safety campaign for Hampshire County Council. We secure a large client, managing their global exhibition requirements. Containers head off filled with exhibition stands – lots of airmiles and stories.
The Escapees audition for ‘The Escape has got the festive Factor’ – a week of festive fun videos along the X-Factor theme.
Appointed as Creative Director (February 2008).
Instrumental in the creation of Destination Basingstoke website and the Basingstoke Perk Scheme.
Joins The Escape (April 2009).
of the Small Business of the Year Award at the Basingstoke Inspire Awards. We also created the marketing and event graphics, including video and animation for the ‘big screen’.
The Escape sponsors Basingstokes Dave Holby in his attempt to set a world record for a ‘static row’ around the world.
We run poster design workshops as part of a Hampshire County Council initiative – JRSO (Junior Road Safety Officers).
We start a new relationship with Beringer Tame, a small but leading name in the digital and e-commerce recruitment sector. A discussion on website photography evolves into a brand reposition, identity, visual system, on and off-line marketing and a shiny new website!
We pitch for and win the contract to create the brand and 'visual system for Hampshire County Council's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) – a new busway between Gosport and Hampshire.
We define and create the brand for Absolute World.
Ian speaks about the power of branding at AOCAP10, Phuket, Thailand.
The Beringer Tame website wins runner-up in the Best Recruitment Website category at the MARA’s (Marketing and Digital Recruitment Awards) 2010.
Hampshire Now (by yours truly) wins Best Magazine at the prestigious CIPR Wessex and Channel Islands Pride Awards 2010.
The Escape activate a promotional campaign to highlight what can be achieved on a tight budget – ‘The Shoestring Campaign'.
Office opened in Thailand.
We create and send out the ‘poetic voice over’ Christmas animation.
Choose 30 campaign wins award for Hampshire County Council – Prince Michael of Kent Road Safety Award and Highways Magazine Road Safety Scheme of the Year in their 2010 Excellence Awards.
Hampshire County Council's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is named ‘The Eclipse’. This signifies the beginning of a major brand development project.
We start our search for a new home – we’ve outgrown the Loddon Business Centre. Time to act our age!
We donate our talents to Breast Cancer Care, supporting their annual fashion show fundraiser. We create a brand and event collateral, including invitations, menus, promotional banners and screen graphics.
We pitch for and win the contract to create the brand, visual system and engagement campaign for Balfour Beatty's biggest ever internal engagement project – the implementation and launch of an Oracle system to manage back-office administration and processes. The campaign is named WeAsOne.
The success of Beringer Tame lifts the lid on the recruitment sector for us – we welcome Stopgap, PeopleSource, Logic and RedRock to our growing roster.
We create and send out the lottery ticket Christmas mailer.
We were on the move yet again, this time to a beautiful listed Farmhouse. This move really transformed the Escape Brand and for the first time in 10 years we weren’t apologising to clients but encouraging them to not only visit our new proud home, but to also work alongside us. Client hot desking really took off.
We pitch for and win a strategic partner identification and marketing project for Southampton Football Club.
We head to Gloucester and Aberdeen to shoot a TCASII video at Bond Aviation on behalf of Honeywell.
We donate our talents to Breast Cancer Care again, supporting their annual fashion show fundraiser.
In partnership with us, The Eclipse – Hampshire County Council's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) wins a series of awards: an Operator Excellence Award, a National Transport Award; a Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s (CILT) Excellence Award; and a Customer Care Award from the Gosport Access and Disability Forum.
We pitch for and win a contract to work with BP Shipping to produce their internal magazine, The Flag.
The Escape turns 15 as a limited company.
Joins The Escape (May 2013).
Joins The Escape (August 2013).
We start working with Serco on their content managed CSR website.
We win the contract to create the first website for the new Bombay Sapphire Distillery in Laverstoke, Hampshire.
Joins The Escape (May 2013).
We partner with Beringer Tame to deliver a digital recruitment campaign (#nextgreatleader) to find the next CEO of Lyle & Scott. We achieve our objective in 3 months!
Ian, John and Dave head off with BP to Ferrol in Northern Spain for a gas tanker tour and digital inclusion assessment. It may have also involved a couple of days on the Strawberry Daquiris!
We create the ‘You Cheeky Plucker’ Christmas game for Stopgap – a challenge to see how many Turkeys you could pluck against the clock. Mind the Ducks!
We get the colouring pens out and pitch a series of ideas to Dell for a campaign to promote and drive sales of their SonicWall Firewall product suite. The ideas generate huge excitement and engagement leading to two campaigns over the next 12 months.
BP Shipping are in their centenary year. Celebratory activity sees us busy on invitations, promotional material, clothing and merchandise for events throughout the year.
We are first commissioned by Bombay Sapphire Distillery to shoot ‘how-to-make’ videos for the winter 2015 cocktail collection. In addition to this we do cocktail photography, cocktail cards for the shop and an all new bar menu. And we’re still doing them today!
The Bombay Sapphire Distillery wins Gold for Small Visitor Attraction of the Year at the VisitEngland Awards and Best Small Visitor Attraction at the Beautiful South Awards 2015.
Joins The Escape (November 2015).
Joins The Escape (February 2015).
We start a relationship with BakedIn. Helping them go from a part time household name, to a full-time, professional, well branded household name!
We give the farmhouse a freshen up and facelift with the application of internal graphics and signage to support our new, finely tuned value proposition – ‘Mean More’.
We create and send out the batteries Christmas mailer.
We pitch for and win the contract to create a new website for the Aster Group. Our process soon uncovers a wider need leading to the discovery, definition and creation of a new brand.
We start our relationship with Infinity Motorcycles. It begins with weeks of discussions and project scoping for their new e-commerce website.
We are invited to pitch to become the brand and marketing agency for SMEG UK. We come a close second to a local rival – you can’t win them all!
We are commissioned by the Englefield Estate to develop their brand strategy and create their new website.
We are invited to attend a brainstorming workshop by Simplyhealth to generate ideas for their new headline sponsorship of The Great Run Series.
JOGLE16 Rob cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End to raise money for the Ark Cancer Centre.
We work with Serco to activate their brand values and employee culture strategy with their internal audience.
John and Buncey go to the premier and after party for Warner Bros. ‘Fantastic Beasts’ – a thank you for our hard work on the WB apprenticeships website.
Joins The Escape (March 2017).
Joins The Escape (June 2017).
We open discussions with the University of Southampton Science Park about becoming their new strategic brand and marketing agency.
Our 13 year relationship with Sentinel Housing Association changes shape after a merger with First Wessex. We pitch for and win the naming and re-brand project for the new group – VIVID.
We discover, define and create a new brand for the University of Southampton Science Park ‘The Home of the Gamechangers’.
We have a lot of fun photographing, creating and sending out the ‘Shepherds from the Farmhouse’ Christmas card/mailer.
We create and build the #millionsmoving website for Simplyhealth for the first event of the sponsorship – The Great Edinburgh Run.
The new Infinity Motorcycles e-commerce website goes live.
Joins The Escape (June 2017).
Joins The Escape (July 2017).
On the back of the success of the Englefield website, we are commissioned by their sister estate – The Benyon Estate – to develop their brand identity and create their new website.
We undertake Facebook Live broadcasts for Bombay Sapphire Distillery. The first sees us out in the festive chill of a December evening, next to the Christmas tree with a hot cocktail and another from the winter menu, hosted by Sam Carter, Senior Brand Ambassador and the newly appointed Master Distiller, Dr Anne Brock.
Joins The Escape (March 2018).
The Infinity Motorcycles website sees a 76% increase in revenue from mobile and 55% for tablet in the time leading up to April 2018. Our masterplan is working!
Stopgap's new website goes live.
18/19 is our 20 – The Escape – celebrating our 20th year.
A showcase of our 20th birthday activities
From April 18 to April 19, we will be getting up to all kinds of things to mark our 20th year. From team challenges to charitable ventures to a party or two (or three), each calendar month will see us undertake something to celebrate.
Keep up to date with what we have planned and what we’ve been up to here. Alternatively, catch up with activities through the showcase on our website or follow us through our social channels.
It’s unlikely there will ever be a dull moment!
Fit the for the next 20 years, and beyond
Our value proposition is that we work with our clients to build brand-led competitive advantage and transform their brand into a valued business asset. In a nutshell, we build brands that ‘mean more’.
This has always been our core purpose and we retain our commitment to this for the next chapter in our story.
No-one has a crystal ball to say what the future will hold, but we believe the future looks brighter, more challenging and dynamic than ever before. We’re excited by the world we live in, how it continually evolves and what that means for brands that want to succeed and grow, now and in the future.
We invite you to partner with us. Let's build your competitive brand advantage and achieve your business ambitions together.
Become part of our next 20 years, and beyond.
If you want to partner with us, get in touch.