Tony and Adrienne
Tony and Adrienne Hardy of Canny Creative.
Rebecca Wayman

Northumberland graphic design and marketing SME showcases skills at sell-out event in Canada

A Northumberland-based SME has been flying the flag for regional business at a sell-out event in Ontario, Canada.

Blyth-based graphic design and marketing agency, Canny Creative has organised and hosted the inaugural ‘Canny Live’ event to showcase how branding and digital marketing can be used to help businesses grow their presence overseas.

Attracting company owners from multiple industry sectors, all with an interest in either outsourcing work or exporting services into the UK marketplace, the success of Canny Live has supposedly opened business opportunities across the pond.

Tony Hardy, managing director at Canny Creative, said: “We have been fortunate enough to work alongside a number of Canadian and North American businesses since founding Canny Creative in 2012.

“Canny Live provided us with a platform to educate businesses in Ontario about the opportunities that exist outside of their ordinary geographical scope, and how they can use digital marketing tools to help exploit them.

“Given the uncertainty that small businesses face with trading in Europe post-Brexit, we’re proactively looking at the other side of the globe to see if we can open up opportunities to more small businesses like ourselves by bridging the gap between the UK and Canadian markets and targeting businesses with which we can develop long-term relationships.”

The event was hosted as an open discussion between delegates and the expert panel, which included filmmaker Braden Dragomir of Make Hay Media; travel blog expert Rosalyn Gambhir; co-founder and brewer, Ivan Mackinnon of Mackinnon Brothers Brewing Co; and boutique photography studio owner, Tanya Trombetta.

In order to make the event possible, Canny Creative received support from a local International Trade Adviser (ITA) at the Department for International Trade (DIT), who helped the business access matched-funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to meet the costs of their travel.

Canny Creative’s overseas success is being celebrated by DIT’s ‘Exporting is GREAT’ campaign which showcases UK businesses to inspire and support firms to export.

David Coppock, head of region fpr the North East at DIT, added: “Although exporting is often thought of in terms of goods, companies like Canny Creative are showing that there’s a strong global demand for British services too.

“Helping businesses access funding through programmes such as ERDF is just one way we support firms looking to start or grow their exports.

“In addition to our network of North East-based ITAs, who can offer one-to-one guidance to help navigate issues such as language barriers and logistics, we also run regular trade missions overseas, and local masterclasses looking at everything from managing distributors to exporting through e-commerce.

“If a local business like Canny Creative can find export success, there’s no reason many others can’t too.

“We know that exporting can help businesses boost their profitability and increase their resilience, and I’d encourage anyone interested to get in touch with our team and see how we can help.”

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