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The legend
of Dark Horse

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Our beginning

No one could have predicted what would happen

Years ago, when Dark Horse was first being passed around by backstreet companies, it was nothing more than a whisper, a bunch of crumpled papers, some of which would appear on social media. No one could have predicted what would happen. No one could have foreseen the growth of its devoted following that this terrifying story would soon command.

Starting with the marginalised, derelict youth, junkies, outcasts, inmates, street performers, escorts, hackers, influencers and politicians – the story made its way into the hands of established ambitious companies who saw their own courage in these twisted pages.

A connection to their estranged values, a way of communicating

For the first time, this story is available in a remarkable remastered agency form, complete with appendices, benefits, footnotes, vertical structures, original digital theories and a lore that has faded to rumour and ghost amongst the noise.

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The story remains unchanged, focusing on a group of incredible brains who discover something terrible with the digital marketing industry. They set out to right that wrong and the rest has become the tale. Tale became myth. Myth became legend.

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Evidence

What others are saying  

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The team

We are legion. A collective of individuals.

We are not a No BS agency. We were the original of those but we left that behind in 2020. Too many BS agencies are now No BS agencies. We were imitated one time too many, so that those piss-poor flattering attempts gave life to “edgy” agencies which makes us a little mouth sick.

We have an office – a nice one. We are not pimping it out here to impress or attract talent. You want to see it? Hit the CTA below.

Join us or work with us

We have staged pictures on our Meet the Team page where you can see who works here

And recruiters can try and nick them. We don’t have pictures of our socials or any events we hold. The events are real but the people who need to know about them were there and present. Possibly even having a good time. We are not desperate to showcase our culture on manicured LinkedIn posts. We are comfortable with how it is. Why would any company in a candidate-market, market by touting their social events on socials? Hmmmmm. Vexing #AD

Diversity of opinion is welcome at Dark Horse. Everyone is welcome at Dark Horse. Just have a brain, always be curious and form your own thoughts. The latter sentence will exclude personal branders which is where our “Everyone” finishes.

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Our values

OUR VALUES

We have them

They are as all the books say – woven into the fabric of everything that we do. They are not a decal sticker on our walls. Nor are they just HTML written for this site. Every agency or marketing company has them. Decorators don’t. Accountants rarely do. This tells us that for the most part, values are trite, sycophantic bollox. We take ours seriously and that is why you won’t find us whoring them out here for your approval. Whether you approve or not, they won’t change and we don’t need external validation to be unapologetically us. That doesn’t mean we are a rude bunch, far from it.

Integrity

If you want to know what they are please work with us or meet us

Make up your own mind about our values and behaviours by the way we conduct ourselves and the results we get. A website telling you them means diddly and is possibly a little twee.

 

The Dark Forest

It’s getting hot in here. Nelly was a seer.

We have to do something

Good gracious, ash is not bodacious. We have a few initiatives in place at Dark Horse to help fight back. We always fight back against a big challenge. We are a small company that believe in making a big impact. To that end, we are aiming to plant 100,000 trees with a combined area bigger than Manchester Airport.

We will probably be dead before we really, really need it but our kids and future will be the ones suffering. We’re not having that. We don’t want a world where a tiger is considered fantastical to young kids. A polar bear is something to read about in books.

We’re sick and tired of watching any BBC Attenborough program through teary eyes.

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We want to clear the air. Literally.

There are 7000 trees in our forest already. That’s a saving of 700 metres of Sea Ice, 180 long haul flights or 600,000 miles driven in the car.

It’s not enough. We need 93,000 trees more and with your help, we can achieve that. We need to accelerate though otherwise we are all pissing in a very dusty, hot wind.

We’ve partnered with Ecologi to help us achieve this, mixing up planting trees internationally BUT with a COMMITMENT to plant a considerable amount in the UK as well. Look after our own back yard.

For every client that comes on board – we plant trees

For every time our team grows – we plant trees.

Every Instagram post is 1.5g of carbon. TikTok emits nearly 3g of carbon for every user, EVERY minute. Over 6bn Carbon kgs a year. Digital Carbon accounts for 5% of global carbon emissions.

We realise that we help clients harness the potential of these necessary evils so we will offset and pay the price too. We invest a solid chunk into doing this. We pay this to ease your conscience, a bit like a hitman service.

Do one TikTok

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Pride and
Zero Prejudice

We’re a tad geeky. Not just PPC geeks or SEO junkies but nerdy in general.

We’re proud of that too. The team is amazing at what it does. They have a pride in what they do. We are a group with different ambitions, personalities, interests and situations and we are extremely happy to be a mix. There’s even the odd tory here, probably.

Diversity of opinion is welcome at Dark Horse.

Everyone is welcome at Dark Horse. Just have a brain, always be curious and form your own thoughts. Pride and zero prejudice.

Please judge us on our work alone where we welcome accountability and scrutiny.

We don’t think you will find a team who are more invested in what we deliver. Meaningful digital and search marketing results that make a difference to people. Companies are people. They are not trendlines or graphs or metrics. PPC, SEO and Paid Social from Dark Horse gives people options. Holidays, savings, profits, aspirations, hopes – this is what agencies forget when they deliver their monthly PDF report.

We are Dark Horse. We are Legion. Your competition should expect us.

Awards

Crystal Death

Industry awards mean nothing to us and your bottom line. We win most of our clients from multi award winning agencies. We have never entered one award. Ever. The only gauge we seek is client praise – they are the only genuine judge. We know the only way to get that is to deliver the best possible results.

Paying to sit at a round table of 10 at an industry awards event just tickles ego’s. It does not benefit our client’s bottom line and costs 3k a pop. Those costs are passed onto clients – think about that. Awards are not earned, they are bought and we line no pockets other than our own clients. Logo’s and perspex paperweights are irrelevant – we don’t need a photo with Gordon Burns.

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Story

01 Where it all began

A blight ravaged the land, the plague offering early salvation to the suffering fortunate

An incessant, torturing, ambient drum beating to the grime and decay of Altrincham. Flickering neon the only light amongst the darkness, harking of seedy dens and siren flashes. You can almost taste the shadows, consume them. The lower levels of small business languished in this violent, turbulent and polluted Cheshire basin.

Worse It always
fucking rained

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The streets are crowded every holiday even with the pouring rain

02

Hidden in the gloom is chaos – the competition – waiting to strike weak businesses with snake-like speed and deadliness.

But we’re there, too. Watching. Waiting to strike back. Years of nights have turned us into a nocturnal animal, picking our targets carefully.

When that light hits
the sky.

It’s not just a call, it’s a warning; to them, to their competition. Fear is a tool. They think we’re hiding in the shadows… but we are the shadows.

03

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04

We weren’t always this way.

They made us. We’re scarred, left broken and bruised time after time. High and low, we searched for digital help to raise us out of the pits. Every light of salvation, every promise made – lies to keep us down, wallowing in the dark. Pots of gold, clear skies, air to breathe, the key to the executive fucking bathroom; all the things the megacorps at the top enjoyed as standard always – just out of reach.

Fear is a tool

False dawns, all of them. They got jewels and broaches, we got fools and roaches

05

Lack of processes, Johnny-No-Skills and bank credits blitzed on a post-spice comedown. It was hard to tell what was smoke and what was mirror. The agency execs at the top might care about search impression share and bounce rate but down here, in the dark, we need augs and conversions. They matter.

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06

We became the change we wanted to see. We set out to right the wrongs of the digital industry world. We wear masks, not to hide who we are but, to create who we are.

We can do better than what the sleazy bureaucrats, mob bosses and digital agencies are doing.

We know how to deliver, to face the blight. The truth is out there. Holding it in one hand, and results in the other, we will steal top spots from our clients’ competition. Robin fucking Hood with masks.

We’ve grown. We’ve learned. With a score of experts on the front line, Dark Horse embraced the shadows, terrifying the competition and winning the online battle against those with bigger, deeper pockets.

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The shadows may  be dark but results are our truth

07

The shit agency element never sleeps. Looting and lawlessness run rampant in parts of the city no one can reach. We can see things will get worse before they get better, and some will seize the chance to grab everything they can.

08

We are starting to see now we have had an effect

but not the one intended

Vengeance won’t change the past, ours or anyone else’s. We have to become more, to give businesses the hope they need – to know an agency, know an incorruptible symbol is out there for them.

This city’s angry, scarred. Like us. Our scars can destroy us, even after the physical wounds have healed. But, if we can survive them, they can transform us. They can give us power. Help us stand and endure. Give us the strength to fight.

Join us

Some are scared of the dark, others embrace it

Don’t even bother looking at this page if you don’t ooze integrity and have a solid character.

Culture

Why we exist

01

The sister company of Dark Horse is Databroker, est. 2009. From 2012-2017, Databroker used 3 different award-winning, independent agencies for PPC & SEO. The results were turd. They didnt even shout “stand and deliver”.

Dark Horse concept was created out of the fires of mediocre results, shite comms and flagrant expendability. Databroker was too insignificant for those agencies. Nonsense sales promises.

Dark Horse was the idea of keeping all the good parts of those relationships and replacing the bad. To right the wrongs of digital marketing – PPC and SEO specfically.

Give the dark horses access to premium talent and a fair crack at the whip. To give them the opportunity to beat the rich big boys. Against those who enjoyed access to all the skills from big award-winning* agencies. *Award winning… if you give us enough money and have prestige. If you ain’t John Lewis, expect our janitors to be creating the strategies.

 

Darkhorse.co was launched in Dec 2019.

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Values & behaviours

02

We have one. We ain’t smart enough to know whether it’s a value or a behaviour and we won’t waste any more time reading branding books to find out.

Doing the right thing. It touches everything.

  • Integrity to spot the right way of doing things
  • Conviction to do the right thing, even if hard
  • Brains to know how to do the right thing
  • Forensic approach to do the right thing well
  • Pride in the results of doing the right thing

 

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Careers and
Progression

03

We asked current, paid members of the team during the cost of living crisis, one month before appraisals, what they thought about working at Dark Horse. Common themes of progression and career were prompted.

“It pays half of my bills”
“They don’t force us to Like and Share company Linkedin posts”
“It’s got that community feel where you pretend you don’t see your neighbour when you are both putting the bins out at the same time”
“The grass is not always greener but it might be in this case”

Legacy & Impact

04

Dark Horse leaves what it touches stronger and better. We change the lives of our clients through best-in-class online growth. We aim to change the lives of our teams by best-in-class learning and offline growth.

With this mindset, we deliver impactful forensic PPC & SEO results that create unexpected winners with legacy.

  • Environmental – The Dark Forest
  • Team & People – Learning and Dev
  • Clients – Change their commercial lives
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