Dirujan Sabesan: A Brand of One’s Own
Those who are truly talented seize the profession for themselves. Creator of London Bridge-based social media and branding company ‘Creative Nerds’- a consultancy expanded from the meagre measures of his attic – Dirujan does this and more. As we discussed the intimate relationship between his team and their clients, his focus on the human value in digital design, and some practical tips for other faring fire starters, we saw a re-invention of the whole landscape. Raw and imaginative, Diri ditches the one-track chase for profit, the tired textbook theories, and electrifies prospective businesses into new and buzzing life: “I got started creating ‘MySpace’ cover images for local bands” he explained. “It was just something I really enjoyed doing”. By being direct himself, Diri brings the focus back to the heart; connecting the right customer to the desired product. At 22 years old, Diri has not just made the trade his own, he has actually made it over:
You started off at the seedling age of 15. Tell us more?
I found an interest in Photoshop early on, making little banners and graphics for websites. Eventually, I started doing that for local musicians in my area. I actually messaged Tinchy Stryder’s managers to ask if I could get involved. It was a way of making pocket money so I wouldn’t have to hassle my mum. University never appealed to me just because I am more motivated by results you can see in real life. So I took the risky move of dropping out, fell into the work as social media manager with Jamal Edwards and SBTV soon after, and the connections just kept growing.
So would you say passion has got you this far?
Yea, it’s really not a chore- it’s a hobby.I have my laptop with me wherever I go now, and my phone keeps me in contact with anything and everything that is going on within the business. You've got to sacrifice some personal time to make sure things run smoothly.
What’s your client base like?
I’ve got another leading brain on the team, Alfie, and together we work with two different types of clients: start-ups, who might just allocate a small sum of money to first gain traction with their idea, and others, including international clients, who want to re-brand everything.
Talk us through the ‘Creative Nerds’ process?
We create a positive impact by thinking outside the box. We are on trend, with an awareness of youth culture. A lot of people want to reach that age bracket of under 30s,and would prefer the intimate approach that we are able to provide as opposed to working with a larger corporate agency.
You have created original logos, from the ground-breaking 'SBTV' brand that is run by MBE Jamal Edwards to the 'Muscat Youth Summit' of Oman.What’s the common approach with all these?
There’s always a research and discovery stage. We need to understand what the client wants: more press coverage? A younger age group? We break apart the whole concept, and then the design stage comes in organically from there. We really tailor the whole experience so we are strongly and instinctively in line with their vision.
What’s a good example of design branding you’ve seen recently?
'ManVMachine’s’ innovative re-branding of ITV 2. There all these cool graphics in-between shows, where colour is also used in a quirky and stylish way. You have to stay tuned in to enjoy every possible combination.
Tell us about your experience on BBC’s Three’s ‘Be Your Own Boss’?
It was just after I’d dropped out of uni and was the last thing I expected to happen. I felt a little out of place at first because I was only 19, but I soon got talking to the other mentors such as Tim Campbell who was the first Apprentice winner; it inspired me to push my business further and it was fantastic to be surrounded by so many fellow young entrepreneurs.
Name one common mistake companies make with social media?
Not putting the customer first. You need to create conversations between the brand and consumer to break the barriers and engage with them on a personal level. You need to understand the value of that. Some companies are all ‘sales, sales, sales’ and they don’t understand the importance of social credibility. It may not yield profit in the short time, but you have a wider reach into the future. People recommending you means you are more than just a billboard; you are a lifestyle. As a brand you need to be able to relate to the consumers’ lifestyle, for example when I was at SBTV it was all about making content relevant to young people. For example, we found that comedy & off-topic but on-brand content worked really well.
Tell me about a current project?
We’re revamping our website. It will be a lot slicker, reflecting the intelligence and forward thinking of our company.
Finally, what’s an emotional mantra that has kept you going?
That I don’t want to work for anyone else; I like having a flexible, self determining job that challenges your mind and means you always think on your feet.
Diri's 3 Step Success Programme
- Always network: both online and offline.
- Look for grants and accelerator projects: For example, through Bethnal Green Ventures
- Build a good team: investors appreciate this.