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Time and money: A brand manager’s guide to rapid response creative agility

Time is a valuable resource and a crucial metric. We allocate time to projects, and we measure their success by how fast they get results. Yet we waste so much time; McKinsey reports that only 9% of executives are completely satisfied with their time priorities.

In brand-agency relationships, time is especially vital. If brand managers are paying for work by the hour, is it any wonder that every delay is a cause for concern? The pressure is on for agencies to change their ways – marketers and agency heads agree that agency processes are lagging behind modern brands’ needs.

Where do those delays most often come from? More to the point – how can brands and agencies avoid wasting each other’s’ time?

The creative chain

Innovation, by its very nature, demands agility. In an ideal world we’re so agile that we know what consumers need before they need it – we’re always one step ahead.

Impact award-winning social entrepreneur (and exquisite soprano) Tania de Jong says “As the pace of change accelerates, we are increasingly asking organizations to become more agile. That means developing the systematic ability to test, learn, adjust and adapt. To tolerate missteps, mistakes, false starts, fumbles, and, yes, even failures.”

In a world of rapid response and instant gratification, where an hour could make the difference between a project hitting or missing, we can’t afford to pass everything up and down the quality control chain. If agencies pass every brief from account director to planner to head of design to creative talent and back again, they’re taking too long.

Rare’s approach strips out surplus links from the chain. Only the people who need to be involved are involved, and they work side by side, not back to back. We work directly with a single contact on the client’s side and a network of design talent on ours.

This isn’t unusual, necessarily, but it’s the culture of responsiveness and empowerment we create around that network which keeps everyone mobile. Our creative director doesn’t have to have things exactly as he needs them on every project. It’s our take on the classic 80:20 rule – 20% of little details aren’t going to stall work that’s 80% done.

We don’t let ourselves get bogged down in the micro which is often a rabbit hole of unnecessary changes and, ultimately, creative doubt. How often have you seen creative builds which chop and change, only for the original iteration to win out? Macro-management is far more effective and, crucially, quicker.

This feeds into the question of empowerment. The designers we work with – our coalition of experts – know that, while we have any given project’s success at heart, they are part of the team for a reason. We believe in their skill sets, and we don’t need to question their every decision. Talent is talent; we believe that will out.

On top of this, we charge for projects – not for billable hours – which motivates us to turn things around fast rather than delay for income’s sake.

Here’s what our latest client has to say:

Our Next Generation Product department is a fast moving area in a fast moving industry. We needed a responsive partner capable of reacting to last minute demand in a short timeframe, without losing quality and creative ideas.

Throughout our tender process Rare has been efficiently responsive to supply all we needed. In addition, Rare also met the financial constraints we had, by using their creativity to efficiently work out the best way to rationalise projects and work stream to fit within budget.

We commend the level of creativity they put into the pitch, with an effort to understand the brand identity and link it to clear, rational stories.

The way Rare is structured enables a permanent follow in project and workload, which is very reassuring for a client – especially a client who needs the process to move fast.

We put the project first. The needs, the cost, and the process are bespoke, and defined up front.. That way, there’s no standard process slowing down a simple job, and no conflict of interests between clients and creatives with their eyes on the bottom line.

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