Trust is dead: An origin story...

Author avatar

By Stuart Bradley

Published August 4 2023

It’s 2015 and I’m sitting at a silent auction, all tuxedos, black ties and evening dresses, at the Hilton on Deansgate with the heads of Greater Manchester Police at the Chief Constable's Charity Ball. There’s an auction. I feel totally out of my depth, and in an attempt to show I belong, I bid on an item. It is the cheapest thing in the auction. A signed message from the actor Ray Winston. They open the bidding at £50 and I win for £80. 🧑‍⚖️ It reads..."Onwards and Upwards."

Blog post featured image

This opulent surrounding is in stark contrast to my last ‘employed’ role, where I had become a shell of my former self. However, while I wasn’t enjoying my job, I’d been hatching an idea. The opposite of this environment. In fact the opposite of every agency I’d ever worked in. A place of trust.

I’d seen on my journey through virtually every agency in the North West, as an employee or as a freelance consultant, that no one trusted anyone. The clients didn’t trust the agencies. The creatives didn’t trust the account handlers. The employees didn’t trust the directors. And the new business team didn’t trust anyone! I knew I could do it differently. I could build an agency based on trust.

My brain child, Trust Brand Communications Ltd was ‘conceived’ in March 2011, I left my job in September 2011, and Trust was registered with Companies House on 6th October 2011.

I approached Carl Sadd to join me. There was natural balance with Carl, I was the copywriter, creative consultant, and brand strategist, while Carl had the design and photography skills to bring the brand strategies to life. It worked! We began with two iMacs on dining tables, two direct clients, and a handful of agencies who we produced ‘white label’ creative for. We soon transitioned to solely working on our own direct clients and moved into our first proper office in 2014.

In 2016 we added Gemma McCall to the team. Gemma was a tenacious new business person who we knew would drive the business forward. The three of us bonded over our respective negative experiences of the creative industry, and vowed to be different. Trust would be the antidote to agency-life.

This meant...

  • No pitching [This blew Gemma’s new-business-mind!]

  • No free or speculative work [See above]

  • No tendering [Again see above]

  • No ripping off freelancers

  • No presenting multiple ‘gold, silver, bronze’ creative treatments

  • No working late into the night


  • We presented a maximum of two right answers to the client brief

  • We trusted our clients implicitly [this has to be a 2-way street though]

  • Listened to out clients to fully understand their problems and goals

  • Putting our faith in research

  • Going home on time to out partners / families / pets / friends

  • Establishing clear vision and values for our clients

  • Giving our teams autonomy, clarity, fair pay, support and loads of love

  • And of course trust

If you’re starting a business of any sort. Please copy / steal / repurpose this approach :)