Keeping things ‘inside the box’ has helped Julie Francis of Colchester design and marketing company BenBen Design win a Best Business Women award.

Julie beat five other finalists to win the Business Services award category at an awards dinner last week (20 October), and puts her success down to never making false promises - instead finding out what problem the customer needs her design skills to solve.

She said: ‘I’m absolutely thrilled to have won an award. It can be a hard slog trying to balance work, life and motherhood and sometimes you think “why am i doing this?” but to be acknowledged for your hard work means a great deal to me.’

Julie launched BenBen Design in 2012.

Of the Best Business Women Awards, she said: ‘They are an amazing celebration of talented female business owners forging ahead.’

The ‘most joyous obstacle’

Having a family has ‘been the most joyous obstacle on my entrepreneurial pathway’ says Julie. She is mum to William, aged two, and baby Lottie, who was born in March this year.

Julie says: ‘It isn’t always easy to balance BenBen with home life, but motherhood has offered me a greater inspiration, insight, empathy and patience, which has enhanced how I work with people.

‘I have also experienced mental health issues, which I feel I have overcome, in part because of the confidence I’ve found in growing my business.’

‘BenBen has given me the strength and the drive to strive for more.’

What is BenBen Design’s winning formula?

From the beginning, Julie decided she wasn’t going to compete with the ‘big boys’ by making false promises: BenBen Design wasn’t going to copy creative agencies always promising to ‘think outside the box’ and ‘push the boundaries’.

Julie knew these offers were not relevant for many companies who had to:

- Conform to brand guidelines
- Work within an existing template
- Match existing literature and communications.

Instead, BenBen specializes in functional design - for everything from brochures, websites and even beer bottle labels.

Julie says: ‘We discuss what the simplest solution would be and what it could look like. We make sure it fits in with the company’s existing materials because that’s what they want.’

‘By offering a great service that makes our customers look good to their end user, we can bring about a better, more effective design solution. We keep it in the box! That’s what BenBen is and that’s what makes us different from other agencies.’

A happy customer

BenBen Design has been working with Nina Metson and Jessica Beaven in the internal communications department of Jardine Motors Group for three years.

They are loyal return customers because, Mrs Metson says: ‘BenBen has the ability to understand a brief (even a very ropey brief) quickly and as a result the work gets completed with minimal fuss. They have taken the time to get to know our business and our objectives so we don’t have to spell it out every time. This ultimately saves us time.’


If you’d like to talk to Julie about the story of BenBen Design, the ‘joyous obstacles’ of being a mum and a business owner, and her plans for the future, please email [email protected] or call 01206 615634

Background information about Julie

- Julie was born and brought up in Colchester
- She studied design at Colchester Institute School of Art & Design, after attending Thomas Lord Audley secondary school
- Fiancé to Myles Kelly

Background information about BenBen Design

-Testimonials and work gallery at
-BenBen is named after Julie’s cat Benson (who sadly died two years ago). ‘What would benben do?’ was a household catchphrase, and an ideal name for the new company.

About the Best Business Women Awards

- The Best Business Women awards recognise great women in the business community.
- Clydesdale Bank was this year’s headline sponsor and the 2016 final was held on 20 October at Tewin Bury Farm, near Welwyn, Hertfordshire.
- [email protected]

-Tel: 01442 38268

Jardine Motors

Jardine Motors Group are one of the UK’s largest automotive retailers.

Julie Francis
BenBen Design
Address: 1 Colliers farm cottage, Elmstead Road, Colchester, CO4 3SE, UK
Phone: 01206 615634
Email: [email protected]