Branding agency Surreal Creative looks to help others expand

A BRANDING agency is looking to help other North East businesses find the same success it has enjoyed overseas.

Surreal's Ian Smith (left) with Stephen Slater

A BRANDING agency is looking to help other North East businesses find the same success it has enjoyed overseas.

Houghton-le-Spring-based Surreal Creative has secured more than half its work in continental Europe after strategically reshuffling the business when the recession began to bite in the UK.

The firm now includes international businesses such as Sonae and Stryker among its client base, and is set to acquire a business in Portugal to reinforce its links with its overseas clients.

But it is now refocusing its attention on the North East, with a view to helping businesses develop their own export success stories.

The 12-strong agency now boasts a digital arm, as well as the design and branding teams on which it was initially based, and has worked closely with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), to support its exporting efforts.

Managing director Ian Smith said: “Moving our focus overseas during the worst of the UK recession paid not only commercial dividends for us, but also gave us a huge amount of practical experience of how to operate in European markets, and it’s this experience that we’re now aiming to use to help businesses in our home area achieving their export ambitions.

“Successful exporting isn’t simply about finding a way to sell your product abroad – it’s about understanding how customers think in each of the countries you’re targeting, and working in a pragmatic way to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

“We’re still very active in European and even global markets, know the systems inside out and think the hands-on heritage we’ve developed could give North East businesses looking to start exporting or improve what they’re already doing a real commercial advantage over their rivals.”

Having worked with Newcastle-based accountants RMT since setting up the business in 2007, Surreal is now working with RMT director Stephen Slater on the business’s re-emergence in the region’s marketplace.

Slater said: “From the very start, Ian has given Surreal an outward-looking and forward-thinking character, committing time and resources to securing overseas success to which no other regional competitor can come close, and the firm’s achievements stand out in a hard-hit regional creative sector.

“Working with clients to identify their strategic goals, both from a commercial and a personal point of view, and then finding ways to help them reach them is central to the business advice we provide, and we’ve every confidence that Ian and his team will achieve their latest ambitions.”



Dan Warburton
Chief News Reporter
David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Adrian Pearson
Regional Affairs Correspondent
Angela Upex
Head of Business
Mark Douglas
Chief Sports Writer
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer