Meet the agency that's been profitable for 35 years

Tayburn's logo and Steven Clark their Finance Director

Edinburgh-based branding and design agency

40+ employees.

Enjoyed profitability for 35 consecutive years.

Multi-award winning for both creativity and efficiency.

Finance Director Steven Clark discusses Tayburn's core values, which are driven heavily by efficiency and transparency.

How Synergist has pulled everything together and they've gained company-wide transparency. This has dramatically reduced the time Steven needs to spend chasing the team for information and pulling together reports, which were based on questionable data.

"I used to have to sit down with the account managers every month and ask questions like 'why is this job over?' It took an enormous amount of time and we only found out what was really happening after the event.

"Synergist makes it so much easier, my month-end has been cut in half. If Synergist was somehow taken away from us, it would be worse than having a fire."

Client work by Tayburn, including Heineken and Tesco

How did they achieve that?

“In a sentence: We’ve created a remarkable culture here, and we’ve decided to make remarkable happen for our clients too. ‘Remarkable’ is our mantra word here. But what makes us different, exactly?"

Our five values

Challenge the unremarkable.

“Stand for something, be distinctive. And also improve people’s lives and get talked about."

Better together.

“Get the right people together from the outset, share things and collaborate with the best."

Act with purpose.

“Be clear on the objectives, stay focused, take responsibility and do it with enthusiasm."

Create simplicity.

“Untangle the complexity, quickly get to the point and help make all our lives easier."

Promote playfulness.

“Add some spark, have fun, celebrate success and if you like what you do, let it show."

Client work by Tayburn for Virgin Hotels

And we have four differentiators

Creativity & Astuteness

“We’re a very creative agency here, but we’re financially astute too.

"You have to have both of those traits, in parallel."


“Your work for clients has to make money for them. That’s our focus every day. So although we love winning awards for creativity, we prefer winning them for effectiveness even more."

Client transparency

“We like to offer transparency to clients, so they can see the commitment and investment we’re making on their behalf.

"It increases awareness and trust."

Team transparency

“And we give transparency to our teams, so they have the information they need to manage jobs properly. Today, designers, artworkers and account managers are knowledge workers, even mini-entrepreneurs, for us. The days of them doing isolated tasks in the dark are over."

Client work by Tayburn for Bells Whisky and Corgi HomePlan

And you have to have the right tools

“In the old days we used a clunky, horrible job management system. I used to have to sit down with the account managers every month and ask questions like ‘Why is this job over?’ and ‘Why have we not billed this one?’ and it took an enormous amount of time to sort out each month. We only found out what was really happening after the event, when of course it was too late.

“Everything took so long to do. It used to take me two weeks to do the month-end every month. It was laborious to do the billing, the accounting entries, create the reports and have many, many meetings to chase the information we needed."

“That wasn’t the only problem.

"Clients are cute, as every agency knows. They subtly ask for amendments here and there, which used to get nodded through for free. But the extra work really mounts up.

"Our system didn’t make it easy to track those changes, causing big problems. It got to the point that we had to get a better solution. So I looked at lots of systems. We chose Synergist."

Client work by Tayburn for DC Dalgliesh and the AA

What's changed since we got Synergist?


“With Synergist, I know what’s going on in every job, and the great thing about it is that I know it as it’s happening. Costs are captured in real time. So there are no surprises. And the team sees how many hours are allocated to a job and how many hours are left. So when we have a Monday morning meeting to allocate who will be working on which job, it’s completely transparent to all.

And the W.I.P. is so good. Most design agencies don’t have a clue about where they are on time spent and costs incurred for a job. They have a huge amount of money tied up, and they don’t know exactly where until it’s too late."


“We create draft invoices based on quotes, purchase orders and so on. We get monthly invoices sent out by the 2nd of the month.

“But why wait until the end of the month? We can now get them out at the end of a project. We never used to be able to do that."

Tracking pitches.

“Investment in doing a pitch is now completely visible. Time, travel, expenses, staff utilisation, it’s all in there. The team understand how it all fits together. So pitches are managed properly."

Equity investment.

“When we choose to, we sometimes invest in a start-up company’s branding and marketing. We take little or no fee but earn a slice of the equity in return. It’s a strategic investment.

"Synergist makes that feasible because we know exactly when it makes sense to do it from a staff utilisation viewpoint, and everything is tracked, so we’re in control."

Time to see it

Whatever your agency looks like – 10 to 500 people, design to digital –
Synergist can be shaped to the way you work.

See it for yourself.

Synergist consultants, Agency Works, will be in touch to arrange your bespoke demo. Their experience working with hundreds of agencies means they can help you work out what's right for you.