We talked to William Frank of XYLO Worldwide on how a collection of creative leaders and forward thinkers are building brands, products, individual and companies through producing seminal work and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
William Frank: This year hasn’t been like any other year. While dealing with the pandemic, I’ve also become a father! My daughter was born two days before the first UK national lockdown, which was surreal. My partner and I decided to move to her hometown of Leicester, so I’m finding my feet in a new city with a newborn during a pandemic – It’s a lot.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded XYLO Worldwide?
William Frank: I accidentally fell into my career and my company. I studied business studies at the University of Westminster 2002-2006, but always had a natural gift for art, painting, and design. I learned photoshop at secondary school, and a few of my modules also included website design, so I was early with embracing creative technology. A friend who was a nightclub promoter asked me to design a flyer for his event. I charged him £50 (€55), and off the back of that, I got asked to do more brochures and promotional materials from other promoters, then got referrals to do artwork for recording artists and small record labels.
It got to a point where I felt this could be a career for me. The money that I was making from design started to exceed my monthly salary working part-time at a supermarket. So, using what I learned from my degree, I started my own limited company in 2005. Fifteen years later and I’m still here and still loving what I do.
How does XYLO Worldwide innovate?
William Frank: Our mantra is “Keeping It Moving”; Constantly changing regardless of society and trends. When I started XYLO, it was mainly graphic design for the nightclub and entertainment industry. Over the years, we’ve adapted to clients’ needs and our own. We offer full-scale design, branding, creative content, and production for clients in Youth Culture, Music, Sport, Lifestyle & Fashion on an international scale.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
William Frank: It’s been an odd blessing. Several projects got pushed back to next year, and we couldn’t fly out to see any of our clients overseas, but I had my daughter in March, so I just used the downtime to bond with my little girl. It’s something that many fathers don’t get to enjoy (Paternity in the UK is only two weeks), so for me, just being able to spend a lot of time seeing my daughter grow and watch her character form is incredible. I don’t think I would’ve had the time if all the project planned happened.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
William Frank: Luckily, the company manages well creatively and financially, so no difficult decisions. However, I did have many personal difficulties that I had to deal with on my own. I am a classic extrovert. A lot of my time is being social and networking with clients, staff, and suppliers, going to events, charity dinners, seminars, brunches, etc. All of that went away from my life, so it was challenging dealing with little interactions with people.
The lessons learned were realizing and knowing what I enjoyed outside of social gatherings and focusing my spare time on those things.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
William Frank: Anything I find therapeutic. Creative projects never seem like work to me, and it kept my mind at ease through the difficult times. Also, cooking, DIY, swimming, speaking to family and close friends, working out at the gym, and just taking drives through the countryside controlled my stress and anxiety.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
William Frank: Our competitors vary from other design studios, advertising agencies, and production agencies. There’s a new wave of hybrid agencies popping up where they create their formats for TV and producing commercials for brands, but we’ve made the plan to focus on what we need to be doing, not our competitors.
We’ve been in the game for 15 years and plan to stay in the game for another 15 because we’re a specialist boutique agency. Our offering, ethos, culture, and visual direction is different from everyone else out there. We’re not the everyday agency. You have the traditional ad agencies for that. Brands and organizations big and small come to us when they require someone to understand their vision and get something unique created for a particular purpose.
Your final thoughts?
William Frank: It’s a tough time. We lost lives. Livelihoods were in disarray. But I have always believed that no matter what, there will be a future. Never waste a crisis. I’ve used this time to draw out new plans of how to progress in 2021, spend time with my family, and spend time on myself to be a better father and a human being. It’s always about having resilience, optimism, and belief that you will survive in the hard times. Stay in the saddle. Don’t get knocked off.