This week’s Small Business Star is Jamie Denham, Managing Director of London-based production company Sliced Bread Animation.

After studying animation at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, Jamie begun his career in the field of animation production, working on a number of broadcast productions for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Fox Kids (US) and was also animation director on BBC children’s animation series Star Hill Ponies.

Founded in 2002, Sliced Bread is made up of a multi-talented team headed up by Jamie and his co-founder Christina Vilics. Over the last twelve years Jamie and Christina have built a strong creative team that offer 2D and 3D animation, illustration and design for digital media.

1. We began by tapping into a burgeoning market

We set-up Sliced Bread with the primary objective to make animation accessible. Through research, we found that at that time not many people knew where to go to get animation produced for their website, which had become more of a prominent marketing tool for businesses.

Lower software and hardware costs allowed us to set up a studio, and we quickly found high interest in our work, especially given our backgrounds. Our first official project was a series of interactive animations for a NHS initiative called ‘Making Sense of Health’, where we provided tools for children to be better informed on health matters.

2. We’ve evolved as the industry changes

Since we began, the industry has twisted and shaped into many forms. Many of our projects require fast turnaround times and we expanded our offering beyond just animation. Our brand now is about bringing corporate messages to life, and we do that through many channels, working directly with some of the world’s leading brands.

We now create games, apps, animation, films, infographic, explainer videos and illustrated content for education, marketing and internal communications that push the boundaries of technology and design, whilst working seamlessly across all platforms.

3. Digital advancements bring greater opportunities

Animation as an art form is unlikely to change – it is a fixed medium. However, digital advancements allow much broader options for content delivery. Throughout our company history we’ve adapted and improved with the latest development. The smartphone was one of those, then came tablet devices – we’re watchful of how wearable tech may also bring around further developments and open up new business opportunities for us.

In fact we’re now into our second Oculus Rift project, where we are using animation to explore further inside the body to explain medical conditions. Through animation, viewers are not overwhelmed by text and are therefore more inclined to absorb key visual information points. This is particularly important when illustrating complicated medical concepts or conditions.

4. Great work is the best marketing tool

We’ve been fortunate to work with two exciting brands. In 2004 we created a highly successful animation series for Sony, called Trona. We were commissioned to produce an original online animation series to be broadcast weekly and exclusively on the MySony magazine website.

This was our breakthrough moment and the result saw the animation receive 200,000 viewers weekly (pre YouTube) and the average viewing time lasted six minutes. The series was so successful that it was rolled out to a further 20 countries on top of the initial five.

For Coca-Cola we built a complete online Flash game within Facebook, named the Neverending Dance of Happiness. We designed fully customisable 3D avatars, with 120 individual animated dance moves. We also created, illustrated and animated all the backgrounds and the dance arena in 2D vector graphics.

The game was a great success and attracted over 479,000 users in only the first weeks alone. As a part of the campaign we also created an Android game for Google Play, this was a slimmed down version of the Facebook game – six music styles with nine difficulty levels. It featured Bump technology that allowed players to unlock bonus moves when connecting with other users.

5. Our versatility is our strength

Having a singular brand identity is key, but being versatile in the approach to clients objectives means that we can meet their needs against fast paced trends.

With the movement of web based application, some customers have become inclined to create their own animations using those applications, rarely do they meet the objectives and style has become very common. Clients come to us for a bespoke service, to tailor messages in line with their brand style and statements, where the results speak for themselves.

Our main strategy is to meet with decision makers and educating prospects on why animation is good for business and communicating a message. We have a very good understanding of the channels available and can advise clients on the best approach for maximum reach.

6. Stay one step ahead

Get out there and meet new people by networking with peers and prospects. That way you get to discuss industry and market trends and understand more about where things are going. Staying one step ahead of consumer needs and market changes is vital.

Take a closer look at Sliced Bread’s animation series for Sony, Trona and Coca-Cola’s Neverending Dance of Happiness campaign.

Find out more about Sliced Bread by visiting: http://thebestthingsince.com/

For more advice and insight from business owners, visit our Small Business Stars hub.