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Behind the Scenes – Dave Smith

In the first of a series of interviews that look at creative roles we might not always see in action, Tricia Stubberfield talks to Dave Smith of Just Enough Brave.

Dave Smith is the creative director and founding partner of the branding and marketing agency Just Enough Brave. In the first of a series of interviews that look at creative roles we might not always see in action, Tricia Stubberfield talks to Dave about his career in marketing and design, and what working in Plymouth means to him.

Hi Dave! Tell me a little bit about Just Enough Brave and what you do.

We formed in 2015 after I left as director of Fuel Communication. Since then, we’ve been working with all kinds of clients, from smaller companies to the bigger names in the city including Plymouth Argyle, University of Plymouth, Plymouth City College, Ginsters, TH March and The National Marine Aquarium.

Some of our most recent work has been really rewarding. St Luke’s Hospice had us working on an exciting project – b.kinda. We’ve helped them tap into the rejection of fast fashion, and to conceive a brand and an online sales platform for their excess second-hand women’s clothing. Since its launch in June, it’s been a roaring success.

I’ve also worked with the University of Plymouth and Arts University Plymouth on the Ignite Festival of Creativity since 2019. The pandemic was a real challenge – planning for events in 2020 was massively advanced and then lockdown happened! We pivoted quickly, creating the Ignite Futures platform, which was shortlisted for four awards last year.

And then there’s Project 35, a partnership between Plymouth Argyle and Ginsters. The 35 refers to the 35% of children in Plymouth who were reported to be living in poverty in 2019, and the project aims to reduce that number through fundraising, social outreach, food donations, education and charity support.

What is your role within projects like these?

My background is in graphic design and brand development, but I’m also a qualified marketer. I come from a slightly different perspective to some creatives. For instance, when I met with a potential client the other day I talked initially about their sales and customers. I look at the marketing first, then the execution.

More and more creative teams across the country are adopting an agile model – they’re deliberately small, bringing in experts to support them as needed. I do the same, collaborating with local content creators and other partners. That works well for a lot of clients. 

Do you approach your clients, or do they approach you?

Usually, it’s a referral. I’ve actively marketed before, but generally, you don’t get past the door – it’s hard to sell your offer to a big company when there are so many other creatives who want to work with them.

So what first connected you with Plymouth?

I’m from Essex originally, but I studied for a Higher National Diploma at what is now Arts University Plymouth. Then I went back to London, and went through University in Buckinghamshire. I worked in London for 10 years at different agencies and moved back down here as a lifestyle choice.

So you’ve known Plymouth for a while – what changes are you noticing in the city?

I was here back in 1990 – from a city perspective, there didn’t seem to be a lot to fall in love with. But culture and creativity are so much more visible in the city now. People might moan about sculptures that go up and suchlike, but I think it’s great because it creates a debate about art.

Being part of the Ignite project has been brilliant because you realise how much creative talent is within the city, and you hope that a proportion of that stays within it. The fact that the British Art Show has chosen to come back here is wonderful.

What would you like to see in the city going forward?

I’m interested in how art can be used to communicate social and environmental messages. The environment is so entwined with the city, with Plymouth being on the water and on the doorstep of the moors. You see some great art on that subject, but I’d like to see more installations communicating that.

At Just Enough Brave we’re certified and accredited with 1% for the planet. We’ve set in place actions to ensure we’re acting responsibly in our everyday work – we’ve changed our banking, we’re cycling to work, we have an electric fleet car and have set in place ethical divestments for our pension schemes, but we can still do more. For me it’s also rewarding to be involved in projects like b.kinda and Project 35, making a difference to communities in our local area.

What skills or experience have led to you ending up with this career?

I always enjoyed being creative. I was good at art and what was called “design communication” at school, so it felt like a natural pathway. I wasn’t particularly gifted on the numbers side of things, although that’s something I’ve had to upgrade in running my own business!

I studied Design and Advertising at Uni, and later a marketing qualification at City College Plymouth. I’ve enjoyed a nice mix of working environments ranging from larger London agencies to smaller setups.

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If you know someone who works in a creative role in Plymouth, whether hidden in a company not known for its creativity, or behind the scenes producing theatre, writing, art or some other cultural venture, do let us know! We’d love to do more features like this across the city. Contact tricia@madeinplymouth.co.uk

In the first of a series of interviews that look at creative roles we might not always see in action, Tricia Stubberfield talks to Dave Smith of Just Enough Brave.
In the first of a series of interviews that look at creative roles we might not always see in action, Tricia Stubberfield talks to Dave Smith of Just Enough Brave.

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