Take a bow

There aren’t many City firms who are happy to be thought of as quirky. But then there aren’t many firms like Ruffer.

Ruffer LLP - Take a bow
Ruffer LLP - Take a bow

Opportunity

Ruffer is an investment management partnership founded in 1994 – now with more than £22 billion of funds under management. Ten years ago, Ruffer was one of few firms to emerge well from the financial crisis and make a positive return. Today, it continues to shield clients from market crashes and aims to generate returns well ahead of cash, regardless of how markets perform.

Most investment houses look and sound the same. Not Ruffer. With a distinctive investment philosophy and approach, it wanted its design and communications to stand out for the right reasons – so asked Sparks to help.

Review & Define

Building knowledge for a strong foundation

We held a series of workshops to get to the firm’s essence and understand its values. Originality, quirkiness, and an old–fashioned approach to service came at the top of the list. 

Not everyone who looks to invest substantial amounts of money seeks a firm with these underlying values – so, to work out how to attract the “right type” of investor, we held a visual workshop. This helped us shape concepts and move from discussing words and ideas to working with images and design.

Design & Create

Website design

With a strong understanding of Ruffer’s foundations and aims, we embarked on the challenge to create a sophisticated, high–functioning site – one that retains Ruffer’s quirky character.

Ruffer had some very specific objectives. New clients need to share its investment philosophy, not just sign up because of strong performance, so the site would have to act as a filter. Instead of graphs, charts and flickering numbers, we kept things simple, using pithy text and a clearly structured sitemap to introduce Ruffer to visitors.

The site employs illustrations to add character to the experience. For example, an animated gentleman removes his top hat to give a small bow. This plays on the home page as a user arrives at the site, suggesting – unobtrusively and quirkily – the notion of knowledgeable, deferential service.

To create an engaging digital platform, we used new technologies and methodologies, which had to work equally well on mobiles, tablets and desktops. Rather than wow users with bells and whistles, we made technology as invisible as possible – serving Ruffer’s values, and allowing the personal touch to shine through.Through a process of review, articulation and technology refinement with Ruffer and other partners, we wrote, designed and built a site to support the firm’s strong business growth, and grow with it into the future.

You can visit the new website here.

Generate

Investor communications

We’ve helped Ruffer in a number of areas. In 2013, it asked us to help launch its Charities Assets Trust, an investment fund for charities that appreciate the Ruffer approach.

Ruffer wanted a bespoke brochure to reflect its distinctive character and personal touch. We came up with a simple booklet filled with exquisite details – with a little help from the experts, book crafters Henningham Family Press. Choice of paper, foil–blocked cover and thread–sewn binding correspond with just the level of care and attention to detail you’d expect in the Ruffer service.

In 2015, Ruffer asked us to redesign its fund reports – and use the opportunity to communicate its investment approach. We oriented pages to a landscape format to provide an easier on–screen read, and (for the necessary charts and graphs) balanced traditional typography with clear modern fonts and a bright colour palette.

Impact

“Working with Sparks is a completely collaborative experience. They know the right questions to ask, to get to the heart of what we’re trying to achieve. It never feels like a shopkeeper/customer relationship; with every project, big or small, there’s a healthy back and forth process, taking our opinions on board.

On a practical level, deadlines are met, and the people are all friendly and professional to deal with. Even though it’s a small agency, there’s always someone I can speak to for updates on our project.

On a creative level, the work is outside the mainstream. Sparks’ designs for Ruffer have made people sit up and pay attention.”

Joan Gillison, Ruffer LLP