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Bringing a business to life – animating Allia Future Business Centre’s story

How do you capture the essence of your organisation – and communicate it in less than two minutes? A concise ‘elevator pitch’ can be harder than it seems. It might be straight forward if the business has a simple goal with one audience and one product line – but to articulate an ethos behind an organisation that helps others create positive impact, in different ways, in different locations, with multiple audiences is far trickier.

This was the task that a group of third year Animation and Illustration degree students at Anglia Ruskin University’s school of art took on last year. Providing them with what they called a ‘live’ project, the team of final year students were given a brief from me about Allia Future Business Centres, what we aim to achieve, our mission and our work – and then considered ideas about how this could be captured and communicated through a short animation, creating final pieces for us to view, select and use for promotion going forward.

Working in partnership with the group and the course leader, Nanette Hoogslag, we met with them a number of times over a couple of months, to discuss their interpretations about our organisation and to hear their ideas. We didn’t want them to focus too heavily on the fact that we are a business centre – its not the bricks and mortar that makes Allia Future Business Centres different, but what we aim to achieve through our centres. Our centres offer more than office space for small businesses, but we also offer free business support programmes to help companies grow and develop. Tenants at the centres love that we’re a friendly community where everyone supports each other, and we’re all focused on positive impact – on the local community, creating jobs, on the environment and through social change. So as you can imagine, the students were met with a mighty task.

We were amazed by the creativity from the students, and the different styles used – there were five different individuals and groups that took part in the project who created stunning artwork ranging from intricate paper cut outs and stop-motion puppetry,   to cartoon style drawings and funky graphics. Each one attempted in its own way to capture the essence of our work, through humour, story-telling and artistry. Given the hard task of choosing one winner, after consultation with the marketing team back at the office, we chose one highly commended piece and one winner. The winner, created by Claudia Melton, is hand drawn and focuses on the ripple effect; how one idea can create big impact. We loved this one from the start, as its use of simple colour and clever messaging gives us a unique and versatile asset that we can use on social media, online and in presentations. Runners up were Jenna Borley and Hannah Cobbold whose paper cut animations tell the story of how a dog called ‘Allia’ supports someone to create a bigger picture of environmental impact, for the good of everyone.

As a not for profit, we wouldn’t be able to commission work of this standard as our budgets don’t stretch that far! But working in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University’s School of Art meant that we all benefitted from the process –the students were able to experience working with a real business and add to their show reel, while we received a professional custom made animation. We hope we get the chance to work with such a talented group of artists again in the future. Enjoy the animations!