We are often asked by clients if the reason we are different from other communications agencies is because we are an independent. We would say it’s not the independence in itself (after all there are other independents out there), but we would say it is what allows us to be different.
When you are part of a big, networked structure then conformity is key. The personality of your agency is imposed upon you, the structure of your team is directed for you, and the type of work you do, and how you do it, is regulated. When you strip that away, you are left with an agency that makes its own decisions.
And then there is efficiency. Structure and bureaucracy rule in a networked agency, whereas independents have the freedom to be quick, to be nimble and to be flexible. There’s no making a business case to the powers that be, and no waiting around when the right decision could be made quickly.
We think our independent state of mind makes us better to work with and to work for.
Most significantly we believe we have the very best people. We attract people with a sense of independence and motivation themselves, and who aren’t afraid of being visible and accountable within the team and with clients. And because they are more visible, their contributions are recognised more frequently than they might be in a big networked agency which leads to a fairer promotions structure. The new Account Executive is also working side by side with the Director, who gets to see their work and understand them and what they want. That is unquantifiable but ask our team and they will tell you it’s something they value and enjoy.
We aren’t told by anybody that we must freeze promotions and pay rises. We are also free to determine how we reinvest our profits. If we want to reward our team we can do. We don’t need permission and we don’t need to wait our turn.
And we believe our independent nature also nurtures respect within the team. If somebody on our team has a good idea we will implement it. Great marketing solution that we hadn’t thought of? Brilliant, let’s do it! You want to learn about that specific type of business? We’ll make that happen.
We love our integrated model and the fact that we are all different. There are no clones here. Everybody is respected for what they bring to the table and we actively seek out difference. That’s not always possible within a rigid hierarchy. There, in order for the system to work you have to mimic the person in the role above you before you can progress.
Everybody knows that a happy team makes for good work and happy clients. But what else does our independence mean to the people we work for?
Freedom to be us
Well first up, we have the freedom to choose who we want to work with. That means that we have clients we like and respect and want to work hard for. We love that we can choose to work with a small organisation, or a local enterprise. There are organisations that need formal communications support, but that won’t make it through the door in a networked agency, just because they cannot guarantee the required minimum budget. If we want to work with them, we will do. We know that we can grow and learn and find new passions through that work, so for us it’s a no brainer.
Creativity lives here
We know that our clients get the best from us because of the people we work with. Take our creative network for example. We work with photographers, writers, film-makers and creative directors that inspire us. We also work with the suppliers we know and trust to deliver for us and who work flexibly with us. We don’t have to wait for studio time, we don’t have to waste fee time haggling with colleagues over job priority. We are free to bring new organisations into our network. We can and do travel the globe to find the best partners in different countries. Nobody tells us who to work with and that means we work with the best.
Client service first
When we go out and meet new clients we often have to reassure them that the team they see ‘at pitch’ will be the same team that actually works on their business. We all know that big agencies may send senior teams to pitch, or even assemble a ‘pitch team’. This fills us with horror, but that big agency structure means they have no choice. There is no such dilemma for us. Our senior team don’t spend half their week reporting on their work, but are instead actually free to do some.
What we love
At the end of the day, there’s something fundamentally exciting and exhilarating about our independence. Every client and every piece of work matters to us. We live and die by our performance because there’s no big global safety net to bail us out. And we need to work hard every day to prove ourselves against ‘the big boys’.
We think we are up to the challenge!