Forging a new future for The Distance

Forging a new future for The Distance

Earlier this month, we celebrated our fourteenth birthday. That would make us roughly 98 in tech years – and by that, we mean a lot has happened in what may feel like a relatively short amount of time.

Just think about how much mobile technology has evolved since we started. The Distance has been around since the introduction of the first iPhone. We’ve seen flip phones go out of fashion – and come back again. We watched as mobile technology became deeply entrenched in the lives of businesses and everyday people, and have developed apps that have personalised travel experiences, provided tailored medical and wellbeing advice and even made learning a new language that much easier.

So why is the concept of change so important to us at this point in time? As anyone with a smartphone knows, development is progress and progress is a good thing. Not only does tech enhance our everyday lives, but the industry has undergone a massive cultural shift as well.

Now it’s our turn to evolve. Over the past six months, we introduced some major changes at The Distance and are now embarking on a journey to redefine our mission, vision, values and brand.

It’s an exciting new chapter for us, and we want to invite you along for the ride.

The Distance story illustration

But first, let us tell you our story…

It’s a long one, but a goodie – so strap in (then we’ll get to the juicy bit: why we’re rebranding).

For our founder, Anthony Main, tech was like a second language. He grew up surrounded by computers. While other kids were playing video games, he was learning how they worked. When he was seven, his mother coded him his very own game, sparking an interest in coding that would stick with him throughout his entire life. By the time he finished university, he had the beginnings of a lucrative side hustle building websites in his spare time.

After uni, Anthony spent six years in digital agencies around Yorkshire. During that time, he learned a valuable lesson: how not to run a business. Working for agencies was a great education, but he believed there was a better way to do things.

So when customers started reaching out to him directly, he saw an opportunity. Soon, Anthony was doing more work in his spare time than in his full-time role. So he decided to go solo.

Then one of his web clients asked him to redevelop their app for the iPhone (which had premiered on the tech scene just a few years earlier). He ended up developing an app framework that was used to deliver projects for big-name clients like OK! Magazine and the RSPB.

As more work poured in, Anthony decided to transform his portfolio of freelance work into a small digital agency. By 2009 The Distance was born. By 2015, he had a team of 15.

Navigating an ever-changing landscape illustration

Navigating an ever-changing landscape

Despite this growth, the years that followed were tough. Major cultural shifts in the UK – like the EU referendum – and a need to restructure the business meant The Distance had to downsize. Anthony needed to focus on sales and grow the team back up – which he did. But a bigger team meant he needed support.

So he brought in Louise Toal to help.

At the time, Louise was running her own virtual business management service. The plan was for her to help with the transition as we moved to a new office. But there was something special about working with The Distance that inspired her to stick around; she loved the culture and the way Anthony supported his staff to grow into the role they wanted.

It was a refreshing change to meet a businessman that wasn’t motivated by profit, but more for the love of the wider team and the company’s culture.

Louise Toal, Managing Director

So she gave up her venture and stayed on as a Project Manager and, soon after that, as Head of Operations. From there, they continued to grow the team and improve their processes. But that was just the beginning.

Post pandemic mindset illustration

The post-pandemic mindset

Covid changed things across every industry; but tech, in particular, entered a golden age of prosperity – partly because there was an even higher demand for what the tech giants were selling. In the first year of the pandemic, Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook had a combined revenue of more than $1.2 trillion.

But what’s more astounding is the industry’s ability to pivot so rapidly into a hybrid and digital-first style of working. By going remote, tech companies were able to cut costs on things like offices, travel and entertainment – Google alone saved more than $1 billion a year by supporting their employees to work from home.

When The Distance decided to become a hybrid workspace, we didn’t expect such a positive impact on our employees’ well-being and overall culture. In fact, we were a bit hesitant to start with, but by opening up remote working options we were able to hire people from across the country. We brought on employees from London, Manchester, the Midlands and the Northeast.

And we only asked the team to come together once a quarter, but what we found was that they loved the culture so much that they were actually relocating closer to our main offices in York and coming in at least one day a week, if not four or five.

This was a massive testament to the community and values we’ve championed at The Distance since the beginning. For our team, working with The Distance has always been more than just a job; it’s a kinship. We’re a tribe of like-minded and creative individuals banding together to design apps we truly believe in. And we found our partners felt the same.

Anthony knew that he had built something special. Now it was time for him to focus on the bigger picture and allow someone else to take the reins. That’s where Louise stepped in.

Embarking on a new mission

In the six months since Louise took over as Managing Director, we’ve made some pretty major changes.

First off, we instituted a new board consisting of Louise, Anthony, our Head of Operations, Gemma Oliver, and our Head of Partner Success, Tom Boatman.

Together, they’ve worked hard to ensure a customer-first ethos in everything that we do. That, in turn, has influenced a 24% increase in turnover.

But what’s even more exciting is our decision to embark on an extensive rebrand.

Remember earlier when we said that our partners loved the way we worked as a team? It was clear that we were doing something different; something worth shouting about. Customers were coming back time and time again because we cared about the apps we were creating for them. We gave more than what was required in the brief – we shared our passion and we bought into their businesses like they were our own.

So we decided it was time to take a look at the way we were portraying ourselves and really shine a light on those positive little nuances that make us so unique.

This is still very much a work in progress, but we want to invite you into the experience and be transparent about the work that has gone into this exhilarating adventure into the core of who we are and why we do what we do.

The Distance Values Illustration

And that starts by sharing our new values

Ever noticed that we don’t refer to our customers as ‘clients’? That’s intentional. We don’t see them as clients because clients are transactional and temporary. Instead, we regard them as partners.

And that’s such a huge cornerstone of our new values. It all ties back to that customer-first mindset. You’re not just coming in and working with an agency; we’re on equal footing, and we’re doing this together.

So after months of hard work, we’ve come up with the following values:

  • Empower success
  • Passionate experts
  • Creative problem solvers
  • Enjoy the journey

Of course, that’s just the start. Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing more insight into our evolving brand as it develops. That includes defining a new mission and vision for the future of The Distance. Plus, some exciting new visuals will make an appearance very soon.


Looking to the Future Illustration

We’re looking towards a new future

The past fourteen years have been amazing, and we can’t wait to see what comes next as we dive deeper into the passions and beliefs that underpin everything we do.

Stay tuned – there are still plenty of big things still to come.


Think you’re ready to kick off a new project with us now? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch and watch us put our values into action.